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Governor's race recount: Much a-Twitter about Ritchie's recount retweets

Not only is this a recount battle for the governor's office, but now it's also a retweet battle.

DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a favorite target of the Minnesota Republican Party, is coming under fire from former Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer for retweets on his Twitter account.

She is calling them "deeply inappropriate and highly partisan."

Kiffmeyer alleged that his tweets are being posted on his "official" Twitter account, but that's not correct. They are being posted on his personal account — which does identify him as the secretary of state — but that’s linked to his political campaign site.

The official secretary of state Twitter account is different and controlled by Ritchie's communications chief, John Aiken.

In any event, Thursday about midday, Ritchie retweeted an earlier retweet by Sen. Al Franken's chief recount lawyer, Marc Elias.

In that first retweet, Elias — himself retweeting a tweet by MPR's Capitol reporter Tom Scheck — posted a comment by former Sen. Norm Coleman's lawyer, Fritz Knaak, about a potential Tom Emmer-Mark Dayton recount. Knaak said on an MPR show that GOPer Emmer's approximate 9,000-vote deficit is a "mighty steep hill to climb." 

Retweeting is an action that is generally meant to promote the content of that original item by having it echo through the Twittersphere.

Ritchie also retweeted a St. Paul Pioneer Press story that also asserted the difficulty of Emmer flipping the election results via a recount.

Kiffmeyer conducted a news conference this afternoon and issued a release this afternoon saying in part: “It is clear that Ritchie has lost the ability to remain neutral and objective ... Can you imagine a referee in the NFL publicly stating that the Vikings have no chance in a game he will be officiating in a few days? It is incomprehensible and Ritchie’s conduct is way out of bounds."

Ritchie, who was re-elected Tuesday, is a progressive DFLer. While Republican activists have blamed him for contributing to the outcome of the 2008 U.S. Senate recount, the judges on the State Canvassing Board who worked with him — including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson — praised Ritchie and his staff for their work on that lengthy process. Of course, the outcome of the election was upheld by a trial court and the Supreme Court — eight judges, four of whom were appointed by Republicans, two by Democrats, and two by Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura.

In response to the Kiffmeyer charges, John Aiken, Ritchie's spokesman, said: "This office is not going to respond to partisan attacks ... We remain focused on the potential recounts" in a handful of legislative races and the governor's race, he said.

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Comments (10)

One big pitfall of Twitter is that every tweet is devoid of context. When all you have is a tweet's 140 character content and the fact of its communication, its meaning may be obvious, but often it can be cryptic or misleading. A retweet could be meant in an approving manner, or could be just to rebroadcast without approval.

This problem is compounded for public figures, whose Twitter "audience" is the public, who isn't always disposed to give your tweets a charitable read. It's contrived blow ups like this that force our public figures to sanitize their communications to the point of pointless sterility.

"This office is not going to respond to partisan attacks"?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

That office's chief executive is *initiating* partisan attacks! Is this some of the "fun" Ritchie said he was going to have with this recount?

Tom, it's important to note that Mary Kiffmeyer is the *former* chief executive of the office. Mark Ritchie has been Secretary of State since 2007.

I'm not seeing how retweeting a reporter's comments is "initiating partisan attacks", but maybe Mr. Swift refers to another incident.
There's a difference between the official office and the political office. Gov Pawlenty says a lot of un-governor things while pursuing poltical ends. But he's relatively reserved with his Governor hat on. As it should be.

The truth is, and any intelligent GOP analyst would agree, it IS a steep hill to climb. Wait for the recount to see how it turns out, but when a candidate is behind nearly 0.5% it is difficult to make that up on recount. No matter who the SOS is, no matter what party the candidate is from.

Maligning the process strikes me as short sighted. If it was Emmer ahead by 9000 votes would they cast doubt on the results of the fairness of the election? Minnesota has a relatively clean voting system and deserves respect. Even if the outcome is that Emmer wins.

Our state and our country are the sum of our citizens. When we attack each other we weaken the whole.

Ha, Kiffmeyer accusing Ritchie of partisanship, that's rich. Pot calling kettle...

Republicans seem DESPERATELY intent on doing whatever they can to falsely label Mark Ritchie as partisan.

Re-tweeting without comment information that is factual is hardly partisan.

You might call it a Tempest in a Tea(party)Pot.

A couple of thoughts. First, unlike most other elected officials, the SOS is responsible for running fair elections, thus even allowing for the appearance of impropriety reflects rather poorly on Ritchie's judgment.

I actually found it more troubling when earlier in the day, every news item that mentioned "Poll challengers," Ritchie tweeted about as "voter intimidation." Then you read the article and not only is it quite a distance from the New Black Panthers, the articles tended to not even mention "voter intimidation."

I would not be tweeting if I were Secretary Ritchie. However, I for one am tired of hearing from Mary Kiffmeyer on the subject of the SOS office. As has already been pointed out she is the previous holder of that office, having been voted out. She lacks class and is an ungracious loser. A well brought up person goes out of their way in a situation like this to avoid criticism of one's opponent. George Bush-both- are models of this. Let other people do it. For this reason she ranks near the top of those who are bringing down the tenor of our Minnesota culture with her inordinate and in her case self centered/interested partisanship.

The SOS has to be neutral, or at the very least keep his radically leftist opinions restricted to ACORN meetings.

What would loyal Viking fans think about a referee that sends messages that say "the Vikings don't have an ice cube's chance in hell" a day before the Super Bowl?

The SOS's partisan cheer leading is an example of why the Democrat party was just sent to their lockers...may they remain there until they get their minds right.

Both Ritchie and Kiffmeyer seem to have too much time on their hands. This exchange about tweets seems like high school gossip to me.

Obama and camp were master's of the use of Facebook and look at the wonderful result that got them (devastating losses in midterm elections). Ritchie and Kiffmeyer may wish to observe and learn.

Personally, I think politicians have always talked too much and adding tweets to the equation is toooooooooo much.