The experts say Kline is safe, but Shelley Madore begs to differ

Rep. John Kline
Rep. John Kline

WASHINGTON — Very few people seriously believe that the Democrats have a shot to upset Rep. John Kline in Minnesota’s 2nd District.

Every D.C.-based election handicapper has it rated as not just a safe Republican seat, but as the safest GOP-held seat in the state. The DFL thought so highly of Shelley Madore’s chances that they endorsed the other guy in the primary.

But the DFL’s man didn’t win the primary — in fact, Dan Powers was the only party-endorsed candidate who lost a congressional primary on Tuesday, falling to former state Rep. Madore by almost 10 percentage points.

And Madore, who knows that the experts think she doesn’t have a chance, is confident of another upset in November.

“He’s beatable,” Madore said of her opponent Wednesday as she began the general election campaign in earnest. “It’s R+3 down here,” she reminds. That means the district is rated as just three degrees to the right side of dead even. John McCain carried the 2nd by just two percentage points in 2008, while George W. Bush grabbed just 54 percent of the vote in 2004.

Kline has steadily and predictably out-performed national Republican candidates since being elected with 53 percent of the vote in 2002. Over the last three elections, Kline has taken between 56 and 58 percent of the vote, with his 2008 total of 57.3 percent his highest. Three different Democratic opponents, over that same time, have stayed between 40 and 43 percent.

National Republicans see that history repeating itself yet again this November.

“With so many Minnesotans frustrated by the Obama-Pelosi agenda creating perpetually high unemployment, it’s going to be hard for anyone, especially Shelley Madore, to beat John Kline,” said Tom Erickson, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Not only is Madore on the wrong side of the issues, but her campaign has virtually no money and is running in one of the more Republican-friendly seats in Minnesota.”

Shelley Madore
Shelley Madore

The money gap is indeed vast. Kline has raised $1.1 million so far this cycle, to Madore’s $42,000. Kline dominates in cash-on-hand as well, with $457,000 to $6,500, about a 70:1 advantage to the incumbent.

Madore, who blames the gulf in part on donors staying out until the primary wrapped up, figures she needs to raise “at least” $350,000 to be competitive. Half her time going forward will be spent fundraising, the other half talking with voters, she says.

“Voters have become very engaged in who they give their votes to,” Madore explained. “Now our real challenge is to engage the voters and beat John Kline.”

Her message is simple: Things haven’t gotten better with Kline in Congress. Projects don’t get done, she said, because Kline won’t request the earmarks needed to fund them. National problems like the economy and unemployment become localized as she begins sentences with the words: “Since John Kline has been in office…”

Soon, she’ll begin working with the DFL, which until Tuesday was backing someone else. The party that shunned her at first now pledges to do everything it can to elect her.

The interview is almost over and we’re exchanging pleasantries as one does, but Madore has one final message for me before we hang up.

“Save this number,” she says, “so you can call me and congratulate me on winning in November.”

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 08/13/2010 - 09:38 am.


    The RNC spokesman says: “With so many Minnesotans frustrated by the Obama-Pelosi agenda creating perpetually high unemployment …”

    Wow. Just wow.

    President Obama and Pelosi have created unemployment?

    Wasn’t some other guy involved somehow? Named Bush, I think. Yeah, that’s it. Bush.

  2. Submitted by r batnes on 08/13/2010 - 10:01 am.

    While I thank Mr. Kline for his service to our country, what has this man ever accomplished in the House?

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/13/2010 - 10:08 am.

    Thanks for the story. Its quite possible that MN Post is the only news outlet covering the story outside of MN-2.

  4. Submitted by Lyn Crosby on 08/13/2010 - 11:17 am.

    Thanks for the coverage. Madore has a good shot, if not this year then the next election. I was inspired to find her web site and donate!!

  5. Submitted by David Greene on 08/13/2010 - 04:36 pm.

    Shelley Madore was great in the House. As a freshman she led the charge on transportation, eventually working with leadership to override Pawlenty’s veto. She did this even though it was a politically risky thing to do for a south metro suburban legislator. She’s proven that she’s motivated and able to get things done.

    Kline on the other hand hasn’t done much except pledge to not bring any resources to his district.

  6. Submitted by r batnes on 08/13/2010 - 07:33 pm.

    David Greene says:

    “Kline on the other hand hasn’t done much except pledge to not bring any resources to his district.”

    and put Ronald Reagan’s face on the $50.00 bill.

  7. Submitted by David Willard on 08/13/2010 - 11:19 pm.

    Ohh that ishy Bush. Ick. My garage door stuck halfway this morning. Bush! Grow Up Progressyves!!!

  8. Submitted by John Jordan on 08/14/2010 - 09:06 am.

    Madore needs to say this to raise money. Everyone knows, anyone who’s telling the truth, that she has no chance. None. Zero. Nada. She knows it, you know it, people with money know it. It’s all about raising hopes for people with checkbooks.

  9. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 08/14/2010 - 04:25 pm.

    Wallbank, your credibility is really on a down slide. One can hardly extrapolate the outcome of the general election by looking at the results of a primary with a low turnout and by drinking a candidate’s Kool-Ade. This wasn’t a news story; it was a partisan pitch.

  10. Submitted by r batnes on 08/14/2010 - 05:21 pm.

    “People with money know it”…hmmm, could you expand on that, Mr. Jordan? While you’re at, I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what Kline has accomplished or is it on the same non-existent list that follows Michelle Bachmann’s name?

  11. Submitted by Nancy Gertner on 08/21/2010 - 07:32 pm.

    Congressman Kline shows up for public events in his district about once a year, like on Memorial Day, looking sharp in a Navy blazer with a poppy in his lapel. In Congress, he rarely misses a vote, casting a predictable Republican vote of NO on nearly every regulatory piece of legislation, like improving mine safety.

    But isn’t this what we pay members of Congress $170K+ a year for?

    And isn’t that why Kline gets a lot of campaign contributions from businesses that don’t want government “interference” regulating their business?

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