The monoculture of Minnesota daily newspaper endorsements — all for Tom Horner so far this year, 14 of 17 for Norm Coleman two years ago — is a pretty good argument against left-wing bias, on editorial boards, at least. (I know my GOP readers would say it proves the unsuitability of DFL nominees, and provides a fig leaf against the bias charges.) It also fascinates me that, if current polls are to be believed, 80-plus percent of Minnesotans will vote for someone other than the consensus choice.
Still, even if we cluck about opinionators’ heads all bobbing as one, there are interesting nuances in each of these endorsements. I was particularly struck by this passage in the McLeod County Chronicle, based in Glencoe:
While we are not enamored with Horner’s positions on things like same-sex marriage or support for public financing of a Vikings stadium, we can live with that for now if he can get the state’s financial well-being back on solid footing.
Normally, we do not endorse candidates this early, but we will make the exception this year. Normally we favor the Republicans and their more conservative approach, but we will make an exception to that this year as well.
If anything shows the waning power of the gay marriage issue, this might be it. I’m not saying it won’t motivate many voters, but not so long ago, the prospect of Bob and Bill marrying in the local Lutheran church would have been nuclear for a small-town, conservative, Republican paper taking a stand.
Like Al Franken’s perceived shortcomings two years ago, Emmer’s bluster plays a part here, and so does the scary state of the budget that has overwhelmed all else. None of the campaigns have played up social issues — Emmer has literally refused to go there — leaving the work to outside groups.
Another factor in non-metro Horner endorsements that city slickers might overlook: What Emmer’s cuts-only approach will mean for the editorial writers’ subsidized part of the state. This morning’s West Central Tribune captured that:
[Emmer’s] cut-government-only strategy to fix the budget deficit would devastate rural Minnesota and the state’s economy. … His budget plans would cripple rural Minnesota health care, likely closing many rural hospitals and nursing homes.
The Tribune is part of the conservative Forum chain, which makes statewide endorsements as a bloc. But its largely non-metro newspapers depend on an economy that includes money from St. Paul.
To be sure, there’s no love lost for Dayton’s tax-the-rich approach, which helped cost him the support of a rather big Minneapolis-based paper. As colleague Doug Grow notes, there’s a big difference between being Governor of the Editorial Pages and governor of the state, but if Emmer runs weaker in non-metro precincts, the editorial boards may be providing a “tell” right now.