Open Letter To The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee

To:  The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant Who Resents The Time He’s Wasted Listening To You People Over The Years
Re:  Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Dear JEC,

Quick – without looking at a ballot, tell us – who was running for the other Supreme Court  of Minnesota (SCOM) seat on Tuesday?

We’ll come back to that. 

Some of you are giggling like schoolgirls that Michelle MacDonald, after all of the back-and-forth over her endorsement and legal issues, got 46% of the vote for Supreme Court against Darth Lillehaug (who came in at 53%). . 

Hold the giggling.  Did you remember who was running for the other SCOM seat that was up for grabs?

It was Mimi Wright against John Hancock; Wright won 56/42.  And Hancock didn’t have the benefit of five months of media attention to his (non-existent) endorsement fiasco, party wrangling and legal travails. 

And perhaps more importantly, he wasn’t running against Darth Lillehaug

Look at every other judicial race in the state.  The challengers in the (very few) races that weren’t opposed generally netted 35-40% of the vote.  And why?  Because they weren’t incumbents. Random noise. 

So 35-40% of Michelle McDonald’s 46% were votes the GOP could have gotten by nominating Sharon Anderson or Leslie Davis or Clu Berg, my golden retriever. 

So don’t go claiming any credit for outperforming the GOP as a whole.

Now, this blog has already spent plenty of time castigating the JEC for the sleazy way you got McDonald endorsed – trotting her across the stage as a convention hall full of delegates with numb asses from 20 hours of wrangling over the Senate endorsement were getting ready for another half day of untangling a 5-way Governor race, and – unforgiveably – voting to not disclose to the delegates that Ms. McDonald had a pending court case for driving while intoxicated, rushing her through an acclamation endorsement without bothering to mention that the woman had “Media Poo-Storm” written all over her. 

We apparently didn’t need to know that. 

She spent the next five months, camera diliigently thrust in front of her, roaming the state, trashing the GOP, getting headlines from a media whose mission is also trashing the GOP, mostly winning her legal case…

A camera. Michelle MacDonald is standing behind it.

…and making people who follow these sorts of things wonder what was going on in there?

So let’s recap:

  • The JEC performs a dishonest sleight of hand, and gets Michelle MacDonald endorsed.
  • MacDonald spends months getting the kind of media attention no SCOM candidate ever, ever gets.
  • She runs against David Lillehaug – one of the few other SCOM candidates this side of Alan Page with a media profile.
  • She gets 4% better than a complete unknown running in an unknown race against an unknown opponent. 

This tells us a couple of things:

  • A good 30-40% of the vote in any contested judge race will be anti-incumbent, no matter who it is. 
  • Apparently that 30-40% doesn’t care if someone was charged with DUI, or wouldn’t know if they did. 
  • Either people liked Michelle McDonald, or they hated David Lillehaug. 

So – how could things have gone differently? 

What if you, the JEC, had tried just a skosh of honesty?  What would have happened?

Maybe you’d have lost the nomination.  And then again, maybe a straightforward minority report, coupled with an honest explanation of the exigencies from Ms. McDonald, would have won the delegates over.

Of course, the media would have have bellowed “GOP ENDORSES ACCUSED DRUNK DRIVER”. 

Which they did anyway! Only this time the GOP would have been at her back (although that would have taken some cojones).  And then it would have been off to the general election, Where 30-40% would have voted for her or Sharon Anderson or Paula Overby or Clu Berg. 

And 4-6% would have voted for her because they’d heard of her. 

And then Minnesota’s Second Amendment lobby, convinced they were backing a viable candidate instead of a skittery liabililty, could have called in the tribes and fired off some of their carefully-hoarded political capital against David Lillehaug, their sworn enemy.  If there’s anyone who wants Lillehaug to go into retirement, it’s Minnesota’s shooters.  Most of their races won; their support turned out the tribes in support of not just a few longshots.  To take down Darth Lillehaug? 

It could have been a match made in heaven.

Instead, you – the JEC – tried to manipulate the convention, and did it very badly. 

And I haven’t the words to express my contempt for what you all did.

That is all.

11 thoughts on “Open Letter To The MNGOP Judicial Elections Committee

  1. Clu Berg? as in Clu Gulager who co-stared in 1964’s The Killers with Ronald Reagan (his last movie) and Angie Dickenson?

  2. And what are “exicencies”? I like your thoughtful analysis because, frankly, I didn’t know what to think. My only exposure to the candidate led me to suspect she was a “looney tune” and I couldn’t quite get past it, nor did I have the reliable information that you just revealed as to why Lillehaug was the wrong choice in the race. I give credit to the JECs for doing something difficult that too many folks don’t care about, but yes, I wish they had done “better,” somehow.

  3. Off-topic but what is this stat being bantered around, GOP wins the House, so they got all of those votes and then the voter turns around and voted for Franken/Dayton??

  4. MYB – Representatives are elected by district. More Republicans turned out in 11 districts to fip the seats.

    But more DFLers turned out statewide – including a crushing majority, as usual, in the metro, where we picked up only one seat, in Burnsville.

    Most of the state voted narrowly GOP – but the metro and Duluth voted overwhelmingly DFL. And that’s what it takes to win statewide races.

    If the GOP had turned out at the same level they did in 2010 or 2004, we’d have flipped ten more House seats and probably won Governor and Secretary of State.

  5. As I heard the numbers, the GOP House candidates collectively out performed Johnson by 80,000 votes. Put that together with Dayton winning by 120,00, and Johnson would’ve won by 40,000 if Minnesotans voted straight ticket. Disclaimer, I’m getting the 80K & 120K second hand. I haven’t looked myself. Don’t know how that would change the other outcomes around the state.

  6. Mitch:

    This election caused me a problem. I actually didn’t vote in an election where I had a chance to vote.

    After how she embarrassed herself not to mention the party I couldn’t vote for her supreme court justice. Yet at the same time I didn’t want to be supporting a liberal democrat who I didn’t want to support. I just didn’t vote.

    And the other thing. You mentioned in a comment here our problem is that we got killed by metro margins. Guess what story got big play in August right around the time our candidates were trying to use the State Fair to say why the Republicans were worth voting for instead of the democrats? So she did help drag the ticket.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  7. I seem to remember reading somewhere that thanks to obviously activist-pushed law, in MN, if you don’t vote for a judicial race, that vote is counted as a vote for the incumbent. Judging from the results of the races on the SoS website, the incumbents all won re-election with 94-95% or more of the vote in Crystal’s wards/precincts, I think that is correct.

    Personally, I wrote in “none of the above” for every judicial race except I voted for Beverly Aho.

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