The DFL Primary: an embarrassment of riches
They’re all good. They’re all very good. So, who do you vote for in the DFL Primary for Governor on August 10?
They all have their good points. They all have experience. They’re all smart, and the Ship of State would probably be guided well by any pair of the three sets of hands.
What’s the alternative?
The Republican candidate, Tom Emmer, is worse than Pawlenty. Pawlenty has all but destroyed the state. In a grandstanding gesture to save money he appointed his Lt. Governor to be head of Department of Transportation. No need to appoint someone qualified for the job, because what could go wrong? They ignored warnings about the state of the 35W bridge. They kicked the can down the road to let some future Governor worry about it, because what could go wrong? And then the bridge collapsed and people died.
Pawlenty cut aid to cities, saying they could just tighten their belts. He didn’t want to end the tax breaks for his rich buddies. He knew the cities would have to raise property taxes to meet their budgets, and he knew that property taxes were a much more regressive and unfair form of taxation, but, once again, he was looking out for his buddies. One serious casualty of this slash in aid was the City of Minneapolis Library system. Once, one of the great reference library systems in the country, it was turned over to the County and is becoming suburbanized with plenty of best sellers and less attention to serious and scholarly works. It’s a dumbing down that will make us all poor.
His cuts to Medical Assistance programs have left poor people throughout the State without medical care. This is criminal neglect. People will suffer and die because of those policies, but Pawlenty is unconcerned. He’s
running for President with a record of cutting taxes and stopping the growth of government.
His unallotment actions during the previous budget crisis were dictatorial and unconstitutional, and he was told so by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Tom Emmer endorses all of Pawlenty’s policies. He promises to cut government even further. The Republican/Tea Party seems to agree with Grover Norquist that the point is to make government so small you can drown it in a bathtub. Well, they certainly have a right to that opinion, and this election is a referendum on that vision of the State.
This year there are clear choices between the Republican Party and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The Republicans want to drown the government in a bathtub, and the DFL wants to feed the poor, nurse the sick and educate our young. The lines are drawn pretty clearly.
If it’s that obvious, then why won’t the DFL win? No Republican has carried the state for President since the Nixon landslide in 1972. But the DFL has lost the last five races for Governor. Why?
Eric Black does a good job analyzing the reasons in a piece for MinnPost.com. He says the main reason is that voter turnout is always lower in the Governor’s race than in the Presidential (57.7 percent versus 75.5 percent, almost a 20 percent difference), and a low turnout always favors Republicans.
Probably one of the major reasons for voter apathy and indifference in South Minneapolis is the life incumbency of our local elected officials. Except for the top of the ticket, there’s nothing to vote for. Every DFL incumbent is going to get re-elected. Why bother going to the polls?
Normally the top of the ticket helps turnout for the folks at the bottom. Obama, even though he didn’t campaign for Franken, gave him a turnout that helped him win. But in South Minneapolis it’s going to be the responsibility of the DFL incumbents at the bottom of the ticket to generate a turnout that can help the DFL candidate for Governor at the top.
In that sense, a contested Primary might be a good thing. As long as the candidates don’t chew each other up in the process or burn any bridges. Anything that builds interest and enthusiasm has to be considered a plus. People who want a change in State government should hold Primary Election Night fundraisers and give the proceeds to whomever wins, and if Obama can welcome Biden and Clinton into his administration, then whoever wins the DFL Primary should make good use of the talent and intelligence of their team of rivals.