Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Looking back; Moving forward

As my Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg and myself were about 5-10 minutes away from signing off on our primary election night broadcast, Jeff Johnson was declared the winner of the MN Republican gubernatorial primary. If you’re a believer in the state party endorsement, you’re likely feeling a sense of vindication today as each of the MNGOP endorsed statewide candidates emerged victorious Tuesday evening.

But as I plod through this day on about 3-1/2 hours of sleep, I realize that the real work is just beginning.

Right now, the MNGOP has to overcome the fact that enthusiasm for Republican candidates has been quite low in 2014. Attendance at the February caucuses was down, we never had full voting strength at the state convention and, despite not having any significant primary challengers to its endorsed candidates Tuesday, the DFL had a larger voter turnout than the GOP. Based on all that, Minnesota Republicans have significant obstacles to overcome in a mere 83 days. But if social media is any indication, many supporters of the three major gubernatorial candidates who lost called for the party to unify behind Johnson. Let’s hope that the significant dollars raised by those three candidates can start coming Johnson’s way as well.

A few other takeaways from last evening:

-I was ridiculed by some folks via Twitter when I declared the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of Rhonda Sivarajah over Tom Emmer for the CD6 GOP nomination would carry little weight. Sure enough, Emmer won in a rout 73% to 27% (He was endorsed with approximately 78% at the CD6 convention last March). Sivarajah, who is chair of the Anoka County board, did not even win her home county, garnering only 43% of the vote there.

-While it’s true that Federal and State officeholders receive the sexy headlines, the most egregious offenses of waste and corruption take place at the county and municipal levels.

The folks in the city of Crystal know this all too well and have been diligently working to turn that perpetually blue suburb into a conspicuous blob of red among its fellow CD5 cities.

With a right-of-center mayor (Jim Adams), Crystal could really implement meaningful reforms if indeed the city council can be dominated by an ideology similar to that of the mayor (right now the “nonpartisan” council is comprised of 3 righties, 3 lefties and 1 Green Party member). My friends and fellow righties Jeff Kolb and Elizabeth Dahl each finished with more than 57% of the vote in two different Crystal City Council wards, both besting incumbent lefties. Add to that another right-of-center candidate, Olga Parsons, earning the majority of votes in Section 2 against another incumbent lefty, you have November shaping up to be quite the donnybrook in that little ‘burb just northwest of Minneapolis. Keep a close eye on Crystal, folks.

-In two high profile MN House races where same-sex marriage was at the crux of the primary challenge, the results went as expected.

Jenifer Loon, incumbent in HD 48B who voted “yes” to legalizing same-sex marriage last year, defeated challenger Sheila Kihne 61%-39%. That district had voted 60-40 “no” on the MN Marriage Amendment in November 2012.

In HD30B, the GOP endorsed candidate Eric Lucero (who rode a wave of socially conservative delegates at their endorsing convention in February) defeated primary challenger Kevin Kasel 64%-36%. The incumbent rep in that HD, David FitzSimmons (1 of 4 GOP reps to vote “yes” to legalizing gay marriage), declined to seek reelection after it appeared he would not be endorsed (not to mention having his character impugned). The 30B voters were in favor of the 2012 MN Marriage Amendment by a 53-47 margin.

While last night felt pretty satisfying overall, there’s little time to enjoy the moment. These next 83 days are going to pass by awfully fast. Time to get after it.


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