“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” UCLA Bruins football coach “Red” Sanders (later appropriated by Vince Lombardi)
When I look out at the coming gubernatorial elections, I see disaster unfolding before us like a gigantic black supercell slowly rolling in …
The future looks menacing. Progressives tend to be optimists. We have bright hopes for a better tomorrow. But I think we all need to consider carefully the cost of losing this election.
Obviously, I’m not a believer in Magical Blue Waves. I’m a believer in viable candidates, coordinated action, and the hard work it takes to persuade voters.
In voting to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, delegates to the 2018 DFL State Convention have a special obligation this year to fully consider all of the effects and consequences of their votes, not merely their political preferences. Yes, an endorsing convention is meant to show which candidates can capture party strength. I understand that. But this year we have to consider who is likely to win, who is unlikely to win, and who is likely to lose.
When you consider all of the effects and consequences of endorsing a candidate for governor, or of failing to endorse any candidate, I believe that Tim Walz is the clear choice and should be endorsed as the DFL nominee for governor. Here are six reasons to chew on:
- Electability = Walz
The candidate you like may not be the candidate best able to win the general election. Like them to your heart’s content, just don’t vote to endorse them unless you are sure beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she can win. You’ll still be able to like that person after they fail at the polls, the MN-GOP returns Pawlenty to the Governor’s mansion, all of the gains during the last eight years under Governor Dayton are reversed, and Minnesota turns into another Wisconsin.
The only candidate who I’m sure beyond a reasonable doubt can win is Tim Walz. How sure are you about your candidate?
Walz is gregarious and charismatic. Likeability has always been a major factor in elections because voters like to vote for people they like. Are the other candidates for endorsement likeable enough to get elected in the general? Will they capture the hearts and minds of independents and cross-over voters across the state? I’m quite sure Walz can do both. I have serious doubts about the other two candidates. If you have doubts, you need to re-think your support.
- Our Standard-bearer for Down-ballot Races = Walz
For candidates and campaign fundraising up and down the ballot and across the state, ask yourself which candidate will appeal more broadly in the general election among party Democrats, non-party Democrats, other progressives (e.g., Greens, Socialists, etc.), independents and cross-over Republicans?
Which candidate is more likely to appeal to rural voters across the spectrum and help the party to regain the legislature?
The job will be much harder this time. There is now a body of rural voters who are simply unreachable by facts, data, rational argument, or even their own self-interest. They’re political Pod People, captives of the Fox News hive-mind and utterly incapable of independent thought or action. They’d ignore reports of the Second Coming of Christ unless Fox News confirmed it – and claimed him a Republican. They’re the reason why Mad King Don currently enjoys a 45% popularity. The least you can expect from them is acidic disdain. Fronting a left-of-left progressive or a well-meaning but uninspiring techno-nerd as our party’s political head will cause them to rise up en masse and fly across the woods and fields like Howling Banshees on Judgment Day. They’ll make our work in rural elections many times harder. So here’s an idea: Let’s not do that.
The RNC is salivating over the chance to again control Minnesota government. With outstate GOP groups expected to pour in dark money, the DFL is going to need a lot of money to counter it. We’re all going to have to ante-up much more than usual to hold back the Dismal Tide. That’s what Citizen’s United bought you, m’boy: a de facto poll tax courtesy of the Supreme Court. American Democracy for sale.
Nobody likes throwing money down a dark hole and the big donors to the DFL are no different. If our endorsed candidate doesn’t ‘Show the Go,’ the money boys can get real stingy, real fast. Why shouldn’t they? Their money spends the same on other candidates more likely to win public office and make themselves useful.
Walz leads on fundraising – confidence in his ability to carry the election is one reason why. He’s a proven draw at fundraisers. He works a crowd like a jackleg preacher. The stip! and snak! of checkbooks and purses opening and closing is a kind of ad hoc brass band at those events, which makes Walz a maestro of money music.
Finally, Walz has won multiple times in a red district while he led ahead of his district. In the house, Otto, to her credit, led ahead of her district. Murphy leads behind her district. Who do you think best understands the dynamics of fundraising and vote-getting in Minnesota’s rural districts?
- Rebuilding Party Unity = Walz
“For the first time since 1992, I hold no party office in the DFL – not even precinct chair,” an activist of donkey’s years recently told me. “The party is as dysfunctional as I have ever seen it … “
No sh*t. The DFL in some ways has become a motley cobble of naysayers, fault-finders, and finger-pointers utterly intolerant of anyone – even fellow Democrats – who happen to disagree with any idea or opinion or position they might hold, no matter how trivial. Hillary-hating Berniecrats, boomer-blaming millennials, feminist killjoys, left-of-left kulture kops, and armchair urban environmentalists have splintered party unity and will undermine coordinated action out of sheer petulance unless they each get their tinkler tickled just the way they like it. Ken Martin and Marge Hoffa seem helpless to manage the problem.
Winning back the house will go a long way to healing divisions. Winning heals a lot of hurt. Winning is good. And we’re only one special election away from taking back the senate. We need to set aside our petty differences and personal vendettas and all stand shoulder to the wheel. We need a vigorous and charismatic leader to help make that happen. Which candidate best meets that description, do you think?
- Healing the “Rural-Urban Divide” = Walz
Of course, the “rural-urban divide” is 24-carat h*rsesh*t. It’s nothing more than a marketing campaign cooked up by unscrupulous ad men to sell the sizzle. But the GOP has used it so successfully for so long that now rural voters think it’s something real. And a hurt, real or imagined, is still a hurt. Which candidate do you think will best be able to convince rural voters that he or she has the power to heal that hurt, to mend that divide, to kiss the owie and make it go away?
Early on, the Walz Campaign identified healing the rural-urban divide as crucial to success at the polls. That’s where the ‘One Minnesota’ campaign slogan came from, which shows real messaging savvy and which properly anchors the six-month debate we’re all about to have with the GOP within a DFL frame. Ours is the party of compassion and healing. Country mouse and city mouse are gonna kiss and make-up. Nice.
So now the GOP is flailing and thrashing around gasping like it has a wing-bone stuck in its throat. That’s what you get for wolfing your food …
- Avoiding a Primary Fight = Walz
A primary fight will cripple us. Nothing will help to further fracture and fragment an already fractured and fragmented party like a primary fight. Nothing will fill GOP coffers and drain DFL coffers like a primary fight. Nothing will flatten fundraising, spread out donations and drain campaign accounts like a primary fight. Nothing will provide better ammunition for the GOP to use against our eventual candidate like a primary fight. Nothing will leave the eventual victor on August 14 scrambling for money and volunteers and scratching for momentum over the final twelve weeks to the general election like a primary fight.
We simply cannot afford a primary fight. We must have an endorsed candidate coming out of the convention.
- Re-districting 2022 = Walz
Before you can hardstop any GOP plot to queer the electoral districts in their favor in 2022, you gotta have a Democrat for governor. Remember all the redistricting drama in 2012 when Pawlenty was governor? What was the problem? Republicans were trying to queer the districts. It can happen here. Texas Democrats got lazy and disinterested and now the Texas congressional district map looks like a Dairy Queen confection. The next census is in two years and Minnesota will very likely lose a congressional seat. To ensure that Republicans won’t control redistricting four years from now, we’ll need to have a Democratic riding the Big Chair.
Ask yourself who is more electable, hence more likely to be Governor in 2022 when the state is redistricted?
The notion that we must choose a progressive because Hillary lost to Trump and Bernie would have won is a weak argument. A presidential election in 2016 does not inform a gubernatorial election in 2018. The notion that we must chose a woman because it’s time we had a woman governor is also a weak argument. We should choose the candidate most likely to win regardless of their gender.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
From Mac Hall: While electability -vs- governance is a discussion for the future ( “BlueDogWalz” -vs- Sam’s Club Pawlenty) does offer one key advantage that the other DFLers don’t have. Simply stated, he has won in the county that matters.
Where will the election be decided ? Rochester … er, Olmsted County. When Pawlenty won the 2006, it was by winning Olmsted County by 9,000 votes and the state by just 21,000 (where Tim Walz beat incumbent and Rochester-native Gil Gutknecht by 1,800 votes.) Walz did have an advantage with his stance on the D&M Railroad which Gutknecht supported over the objections of many Rochester business and citizens … plus the Iraq war … but it made people look at an unknown teacher — who trailblazed the district for a year — and he has maintained his connections in Rochester … including maintaining a district office there.
While Walz has seen his margins dip over the past few years, Olmsted County has remained in his column. Not only did that prove out in 2006, but also in 2016. For reference Clinton won the county by 600 votes with McMullin and Johnson getting over 5,000 votes — Walz beat Hagedorn by over 5,300 votes but won the district by less than 3,700 votes.
On the VA Committee, Walz has injected himself into other Districts … holding joint sessions with Emmer, Peterson and Nolan. On the negative side, Walz did get ripped by the Mankato Free Press Editorial Board for missing so many roll call votes — especially the farm bill.
All that said, I heard Pawlenty on WCCO’s Chad Hartman program on Friday. Hartman asked him … paraphrasing … “OK, there were a lot of things that you did not like about Dayton’s policies, but was there any program or policy that you did like ?” A great question … surely, he could find something … but he couldn’t … instead he tasked the Legislature and Dayton for failing to address the Trump Tax Plan. That should be a key … Pawlenty will follow the Trump model and reverse every Dayton program … he will swing the Minnesota Courts … and yes, as you mentioned, re-districting will be influenced by the next governor. BTW …. what Pawlenty said on Hartman’s show should be a real concern for fiscal conservatives … he wants more tax cuts … including no tax on social security benefits … and no mention of what programs he will cut.