Brad Carlson and I were on the air until 11 last night. And I’m happy to see the MNGOP has finally learned to do elections for radio; the final call on the gubernatorial race came 5-10 minutes before we went off the air. Couldn’t have timed it better myself.
A few notes about the evening:
Turnout, Schmurnout: The media – and some commentators on the right – are fretting about the “turnout”.
The goal of a primary isn’t to get a majority of the voters to come to the polls to vote about what is, at the end of the day, party business.
It’s to get people who are “base” voters to turn out. The Secretary of State’s office says about 10% turned out – which is actually a healthy increase from previous primaries.
More Democrats than Republicans turned out (although there are some nuances to that as well – see below); I’m not sure that that should be either a surprise or an omen in a stte with higher Democrat party ID.
It’s Jeff: Johnson won. I had predicted (privately) Johnson 31%, Zellers 28%, Seifert 25% and Honour at 18%; in fact, the final results were Johnson 30%, Zellers 23%, Seifert 21% and Honour at 20%. Not bad.
Now that the primary is over, I can say it; up until convention time, I was evenly torn between Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson. I saw merit to Zellers, Seifert and even Honour – any of them would be a better governor than Alita Messinger – but my conservative heart was with Dave, and my pragmatic brain was with Jeff. After Thompson bowed out at the convention, Jeff became my short list. I didn’t talk about that in public – I figure nobody cares about my “endorsement”, and even if they did I’d rather they made up their own minds; also, it’s hell on bookings. While I’m a party officer (with CD4 and the Saint Paul GOP) and am bound to either support my endorsed candidates or resign, I did firmly believe Jeff was the best combination of attributes to tackle Governor Messinger, and win – and I don’t have to say that just because I’m an officer.
And now let’s hope some of that K Street money keeps flowing.
In The Vacuum: One interesting result; in the Secretary of State race, Dan Severson – one of very few candidates I ever have endorsed – an unopposed on the GOP side. The DFL endorsed candidate,
Alita Messinger Steve Simon, ran against two challengers; perennial candidate Dick Franson, and Gregg Iverson.
And the DFL endorsed candidate got 42%. Each of the challengers got around 28-29% and change. That’s barely better than random distribution.
Of course, constitutional officer races tend to track with the Governor’s race. But the DFL base’s lack of enthusiasm for the SOS race (especially compared with the GOTV effort in the Auditor race on behalf of the hapless Rebecca Otto).
Of Consequence: In the legislative races, the big winners were pragmatism and the endorsement.
In 48B, Jennifer Loon beat Sheila Kihne 60-40. That was a tough one – I’ve been a fan of Sheila’s for years. But Loon is a senior leader, she’s got a good conservative track record, and even the gay marriage vote that sparked Kihne’s challenge tracked pretty well with the general election voters in the district; even with that, Loon has a lifetime 92% from the Minnesota Family Council, so calling her a social RINO is still misleading. Which isn’t to say that Loon doesn’t need to communicate with her consitutents, especially her Republican base, better than she does. This whole primary challenge, I’m told by people in the district, could have been avoided with a little better communication.
In 30B, Eric Lucero, who won the endorsement over Dave Fitzsimmons over the same gay marriage vote (which was put to the caucuses with just the same lack of context), handly held off Kevin Kasel. I’ve had my words about Lucero in the past – but the base has spoken twice. I’ll look forward to helping him obliterate the DFL in whatever way I can.
In 47A, Waconia mayor Jim Nash, riding a wave of high-profile endorsements, handily topped Bob Frey, whose main talent seemed to have been playing to liberals’ most provincial stereotypes about conservatives, to the point where I thought he might be an Ed McGaa-style plant.
And in 51A – the west side of Eagan – Andrea Todd-Harlin won a hard-fought race against Victor Lake. I like both of them; Victor Lake has a great story, and I hope he stays involved in politics. Andrea is a very sharp person who I think can provide a solid challenge to DFL incumbent
Alita Messinger Sandra Masin – provided the Republicans in the district get past the emnity that has rattled 51A this past few months. I’ve been personally involved in both of the HD51 House races over the years, and flipping both seats back to the good guys would be a huge personal satisfaction.
So – on to November!