But she was…
Blinded by the light
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night
Blinded by the light…
Mannfred Mann’s Earth Band, 1976; lyrics by Bruce Springsteen
Let me be clear at the outset – given nearly any other scenario that I can imagine, I would be supporting and endorsing Tina Smith for the US Senate.
Instead, I’m endorsing Richard Painter. (Insert cries of derision and outrage here).
The reason is simple: Richard Painter is a better candidate and will make a better US Senator for the people of Minnesota.
And Richard Painter, unlike Tina Smith, wants Donald Trump impeached and imprisoned. That’s a BIG plus for me, even if Painter didn’t support many of the progressive policies I believe in. But he does. He comes at them from more of a wonkish angle than I would take, but he gets there in the end all the same. For example, he supports single-payer because it makes the most economic sense. For me, health care is a human right and we can pay for it by eliminating corporate welfare.
I’ve said before, here on MNPP, that if two candidates of different gender stack up roughly equally, I’ll preferentially support and vote for the woman. That’s because, as a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, I believe in Democratic principles of political representation. With only 23 members of the US Senate currently women, we need to double that figure to achieve something close to gender equality. So I’d much prefer not to replace Smith with Painter, if it were avoidable.
But this US Senate race is another situation where the party leadership has jammed their preferred candidate down our collective throats and expects us, as always, to fall in line. Had it been former Speaker of the House and Champion of All Things Righteous the Honorable Rep. Paul Thissen, I might have been able to handle their uninvited intimacy with good grace. But they picked another Bogan top-sider and I, for one, am Reggae Tired of t’all, mon. I’ve said many times that all the party leadership really wants from its activists is money, time and shoe-leather (our candidates excepted). When it comes to influencing the appointment of candidates that we’d like to see in office, the attitude among the party leadership is: Stay in your lane and let the grown-ups make the important decisions. We got this.
That’s exactly what they did with Tina Smith: a vacuous tool of the party bosses, an uninspiring wallflower of a political candidate, and no-show when it comes to many of the issues that the DFL rank-and-file care most about including environmental protections, opposition to nickel-sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters, single-payer healthcare, economic relief for the middle-class, and so on.
It’s nothing new. That’s exactly what they did when they fronted Skip Humphrey for Governor in 1998. Humphrey, a feckless gadabout in the Minnesota Senate who was never heard from again, was shaping up to lose the election against former DFL’er and St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, now (then) running as a Republican. That is, until a former Navy Seal, former bouncer at Moby Dick’s, former WWF pro wrestler, former Mongols M.C. biker, former action film actor, and former Mayor of Brooklyn Park, threw his hat into ring. Minnesota voters loved it.
That’s politics. The stakes are so high that everybody’s trying to queer the game in their favor. It’s not that I really blame them for doing it. I blame them for getting it wrong. As a friend once told me, “It ain’t illegal until you get caught.”
Well, the DFL over-seers done got caught. Nobody really knows Smith. She looks like the shy girl who came with a friend that everybody ignores at the after-game party. Her campaign is lifeless. Her campaign team is clueless. Plato Boulevard is on auto-pilot. And the political cross-currents created by #45 among progressives of all stripes across Minnesota are threatening to swamp her boat.
Tellingly, the word on the street is that internal polls show Painter running neck-and-neck against Smith. Oh, you’ll hear plenty of denials, but a big reason for all the sulfur and brimstone coming from DFL-HQ against Painter speaks volumes: The numbers ain’t lookin’ too pretty. If Painter were 20 points back, Ken Martin would be extolling the virtues of an inclusive, Big Tent Party. But it looks like Smith could lose. With less than a week to go, panic is starting to set in.
Add to all that the likelihood of a massive turn-out of primary voters on August 14 due to a high energy, high interest gubernatorial contest – not to mention a high energy, high interest congressional contest in the 5th CD – and you have the makings of a … a … my god, dare I say it … a popular referendum on the current leadership of DFL party. It won’t be the party rank-and-file who decide this primary election. It’ll be any voter who decides to vote the Democrat side of the ballot. A lot of them will be unhappy millennials, current Berniecrats and new voters. In light of the progressive contingency that detonated the DFL State Convention last June, dude, that can’t be good.
One week from today, it will all be over but the weeping and the shouting. If things turn out the way I suspect they’re going to, a lot of resumes will hit the job boards on August 15.
Comment below fold.