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MN 2018: How the MN Races Look Right Now

Category: 2018
Posted: 07/17/18 14:14

by Dave Mindeman

After that ghastly Trump/Putin "summit" meeting yesterday, it becomes more imperative than ever that Democrats organize to win in November....everywhere.

So what is happening in Minnesota? Let's take a look:

First generally, I feel that the embrace of Trump by MN GOP will be their undoing...instead of turning red, they will be bleeding come the fall. Erik Paulsen has read the tea leaves early and he is starting to run away from the Trump train.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

CD1: Dan Feehan is looking competitive in the open Walz seat. Hagedorn and Carla Nelson still have a primary fight going on which will cost them some funding. This district is in flux. They voted Trump in 2016 - but that support is beginning to peel off (very slowly but some). Feehan is positioned to hold the seat which I didn't think likely a month ago.

CD2: Angie Craig is running a super campaign here and Jason Lewis isn't sure how to deal with all the recent Trump fallout. His base is solid Trump and he can't afford to offend them. Craig is matching him dollar for dollar in fundraising as well. Unless there is another national Democratic collapse like there was in 2016, I cautiously think Craig is going to win this one going away.

CD3: Paulsen is running scared. Really scared. There has to be some awful polling data for him because he has reversed course on Trump like a Fast and Furious spin out. Fortunately, the Dems have a solid candidate in Dean Phillips. He's a little behind in money, but his decision to not take any PAC money is giving him an extra push. Still too close to call - but the trend is toward Phillips.

CD4: McCollum is in solid shape.

CD5: With Ellison running for Attorney General, the Democratic field is wide open. And the Democratic primary will probably decide who the next representative will be - once again the GOP has a very weak candidate. GOPer Jennifer Zielinski has only $3,000 cash on hand. But the Democratic field is very competitive. Rep. Ilhan Omar jumped in quickly and leads the field in funds. However, this is much earlier than she expected to have this seat in play and I'm not sure she is ready for a national agenda race. She has a learning curve to work on. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, a former Governor candidate for the DFL, is second in the monetary race and has more experienced credentials. She could sneak past Omar. Senator Patricia Torres Ray has been far behind in money, but she is popular in her district giving her a base to work with - but even if she doesn't end up the candidate, she can still continue her work by going back to the MN Senate. I do not know much about Jamal Abdulahi - he has very little money and is yet to make any impact. The August primary will determine who the next Congressperson from the 5th will be.

CD6: Tom Emmer will probably be returned in the 6th, even though he has gone full Trump. Ian Todd hasn't got any momentum and little money to make anything happen. Emmer will get re-elected.

CD7: Collin Peterson is still the fixture in the 7th. And this time he did a little serious fund raising to make sure he didn't get surprised again. He'll be back for one more term.

CD8: The 8th is going to be interesting. GOPer Pete Stauber has the Republican field to himself, but he may end up regretting that Duluth rally with Trump. The President surprised people by a strong showing in the 8th district, coming out of nowhere. But I believe that has dissipated quite a bit. Especially in light of recent events. The economy has improved greatly and of course the Republicans are taking credit - but other issues might steal the limelight in the end. Rick Nolan (now running for Lt. Governor with Lori Swanson) retired from Congress late and no endorsement could be garnered from the convention. So we have 5 Democrats vying for the November slot.... Jason Metsa, Joe Radinovich, Michele Lee, Kirsten Kennedy, and Soren Sorenson. Kennedy is the North Branch mayor and has not been able to register much yet. Sorenson, (a DFL activist) has $74 to his name right now. That leaves 3 viable candidates. Michele Lee is a former TV personality, but she barely hangs for money and impact. The two major candidates here are Jason Metsa and Joe Radinovich. Both are popular in their home districts so each has a base. Fundraising is even between the two - somewhat behind Stauber but still both are competitive. I don't have any guesses as to which one will emerge in the primary - I expect it will be very close. The general will be as well. I imagine this race will have a lot of outside money to nationalize it - so outside events might be the final factor.

US Senate:

Because of the Al Franken resignation, MN gets to have both Senate seats running for November.

US1 (Amy Klobuchar Incumbent) - Amy should have little trouble getting re-elected. Her opponent is a marginal candidate for viability - and is a right wing nut at that. Amy seems safe.

US2 (Tina Smith appointed) Tina Smith will be running as a statewide candidate for the first time here, but it is not like she hasn't got political experience. She has been campaign manager for Ted Mondale, Walter Mondale's late replacement bid after Wellstone died, R.T. Rybak's gov campaign, and Mark Dayton's first Governor campaign win. Then during Dayton's 2nd campaign, she became the Lt. Governor. And then appointed Senator after Franken left. So she is far from a political novice - most of it was behind the scenes but excellent learning potential. So the idea that she is not capable of winning a full campaign as a candidate seems odd to me. She knows how this works. She has a primary opponent in Richard Painter. Painter is a former George W ethics chief and has gained some notoriety as a full boar Trump critic on talk shows. But that has not translated into monetary support as he only has $13,000 in the bank with a primary and a general election looming that will be heavily contested by a pretty well funded GOP candidate Karin Housely. I have confidence that Tina Smith's political acumen will win the day in the end, especially since here fundraising has been stellar.

Governor:

The attention getting race will be Minnesota Governor. We have three very viable candidates running in the primary. 1st District Congressman Tim Walz (LtGov Peggy Flanagan), Attorney General Lori Swanson (LtGov Rick Nolan), and Rep. Erin Murphy (LtGov Erin Maye Quade). Murphy is the endorsed DFL candidate winning an upset bid at the June convention. Murphy went all out for the endorsement and depleted her funds to a dangerously low level. She has the party backing her now, but she is up against some formidable opposition. Lori Swanson has raised a lot of money quickly using the Hatch network - and Walz has been raising funds well all along. Still, this is going to be a close 3 way race as each has a solid base of support. Murphy in the Metro. Swanson in the North. And Walz in the South. To me, it looks like how the Metro splits will determine the winner. The Dem winner will probably be taking on the retread, Tim Pawlenty. He will be faced with a different electorate this time around but he will pour unlimited resources into the campaign.

There. That's the basic outlook. Lots of great races and the Democrats are in a better position then they were a few months ago. Still have a ways to go.

So make sure you VOTE!
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