‘Dull’ primary night produced no surprises, no suspense

The results of Tuesday’s primary contained no surprises in any federal race, by which I mean races for U.S. Senate or U.S. House.

As expected, incumbent Republican Norm Coleman easily dispatched his only challenger, Jack Shepherd, a dentist who lives in Italy and is, I kid you not, a fugitive from justice. (He’s wanted in Hennepin County to face arson charges.) Coleman cruised with more than 90 percent of the vote. (For all results, visit the secretary of state’s Election Center.)

DFL-endorsed Senate candidate Al Franken trounced six other candidates for the Democratic ballot position in the general election. The runner-up, attorney Priscilla Lord Faris, made a spirited but hopeless bid (after originally supporting Franken and contributing to his campaign), based on the argument that Franken’s negatives would make it impossible to beat Coleman.

Some analysts may feel that the nearly 30 percent of votes she received is a comment on Franken’s problems within his own party. Franken has these problems, for sure. Polls consistently show him getting a smaller percentage of Democratic voters than Coleman gets among Republicans. But Faris’ showing is not a significant new demonstration of this problem. He ignored her candidacy, beat her easily, and we don’t know how many of her voters were mischief-making Republicans or people voting for a female name, as opposed to DFLers disaffected from Franken and therefore available to Coleman.

The Independence Party had seven names on the ballot, including two of the party’s important founding fathers, Jack Uldrich and Dean Barkley. Barkley, who was appointed by Jesse Ventura to serve out the last months of Paul Wellstone’s U.S. Senate term, won easily.

What might have been the closest race – the Republican contest in the 1st Congressional District – also turned into a no-contest. The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Brian Davis of Rochester easily bested state Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna. Because of his prominence in the state Senate, Day started out with name advantages. But Davis was the Republican endorsee and, as usual in such cases, that proved to be an overwhelming advantage. Davis will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato in November. Walz is favored, even though the southern Minnesota 1st is considered a swing district.

Another fresh(wo?)man incumbent, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Stillwater, cruised past token challenger Aubrey Immelman of Sartell, a psychology professor. She’ll face Elwyn Tinklenberg of Blaine, who will give her a tougher contest. He’s endorsed by both the DFL and the Independence Party.

Minnesota’s third freshman House incumbent, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, also survived a non-scare from Gregg A. Iverson of Minneapolis.

The hottest congressional race in the state, between Republican state Rep. Erik Paulsen and Democratic Iraq vet Ashwin Madia to fill the seat of the retiring Jim Ramstad in the suburban 3rd District, barely made the ballot Tuesday. Neither Paulsen nor Madia had a challenger. Businessman David Dillon of Maple Grove easily beat Steve RamsDell of Eden Prairie (who boasted a MENSA I.Q. Score of 152 on his literature) for the Independence Party nomination to run against Madia and Paulsen.

There was one close congressional primary. Accountant Glen Menze of Starbuck edged Alan Roebke of Alexandria for the Republican nomination to face Rep. Collin Peterson. Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is rated a shoo-in for re-election.

All in all, a dull primary night in Minnesota. Am I allowed to say that?

Eric Black writes about politics and government of Minnesota and the United States, the historical background of topics and other issues.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 09/10/2008 - 02:47 pm.

    I don’t think you’re wrong, Mr.Lawler, but I also don’t think we should let the Republicans in (and running for) office con us into thinking that privatizing or otherwise getting rid of essential programs like social security or Medicare/Medicaid will solve the problem. We need to divorce ourselves from the awful corporate/governmental marriage called corporatism, a form of fascism that equates corporate interests with national interests.

    We need to RIGHT NOW stop the drive toward a two-tier society by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (with which they do not create jobs). In some (all?) years, this lost revenue equaled the budget deficit.

    And we must stop giving gigantic corporations huge subsidies and/or tax breaks to simply do their jobs. Those no-bid military and DHS contracts have to go, as does letting their lobbyists write legislation to benefit those they represent (Medicare drug bill, bankruptcy bill, financial services “modernization” that gave us Enron, etc etc etc).

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/10/2008 - 09:49 am.

    You can say it, Eric; but everyone will know you’re whistling past the graveyard.

    Franken has been campaigning for almost two years; Faris campaigned for what, 2 months?

    How many millions has Franken spent to date to buy 60% of the *Democrat* vote?

    If by “Faris’ showing is not a significant new demonstration of this problem” you mean to say that Al “Porn-O-Rama” Franken was in the tank before Faris appeared and remains in the tank now, you’re dipping your toe into the truth..why not just jump in all the way? Trust me, you’ll find it’s really refreshing.

  3. Submitted by David Lawler on 09/10/2008 - 11:45 am.

    Eric…Election wise, Spring Training is over and the real season is beginning. No one is dealing with the real issue of our lives. Well, it isn’t yet, but it will be.
    Our unfunded liabilities (what we the people owe to banks and foreign countries, and ourselves with our social security, etc.) has now topped $50 TRILLION DAMN DOLLARS!!!!
    If we had leaders who thought that was a problem (apparently none of them do), they might come up with a plan to pay it back. If they did, and they decided that it would be good to get even in say, fifty years, we would have to pay $1 TRILLION DAMN DOLLARS!!! for fifty years to be even. That means we would have to have a surplus of $1 trillion every year for fifty years in our budgets.
    When it becomes obvious to us in the USA that this is a huge problem, it may be too late for any solution. It may be close to too late now.
    No one running for anything has mentioned this.
    Am I wrong?
    Dave Lawler

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/10/2008 - 10:01 am.

    One more thing, if you don’t mind.

    I have enjoyed reading MinnPost since it’s inception.

    Since it’s ranks were filled from the lefty diaspora of the various dead tree publications in town, I fully expected it to lean left, but I’m a guy that believes there is value in listening to spin from every direction.

    I’m even willing to admit that having a token “out of the closet” DFL hack has it’s amusment value..keep the “Daily Glean”, by all means.

    However, I really have to say that in the past few weeks, the lefty lean of the entire enterprise has taken on all of the aspects a full on port side capsizing.

    Partisan takes on issues can be interesting; but outright shillery? Well there is more than enough of that being widely ignored already, isn’t there?

    Suggestion? Take a breath.

  5. Submitted by Gail O'Hare on 09/10/2008 - 01:12 pm.

    A different take on the Faris vote is that it represents sincere and angry rejection of the party convention. The move to nominate by acclamation, with no opportunity for committed delegates to change their votes in further balloting and no energetic discussion of concerns and questions, was abrupt and ham-handed. Why have a convention? The DFL needs to rethink its nominating process. Still, have no doubt that all the Faris voters will vote for Franken in November.

    And yes, Mr. Lawler, it is time to talk real issues.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/10/2008 - 01:18 pm.

    The Franken v. Lord Faris (a bit aristocratic, don’t you think? 😉 outcome was, as you say, not news.
    It’s no secret that a third of the Minnesota DFL voters are uncomfortable with Franken — the state caucus outcome was the same margin.
    This does not mean that most of that third will vote for Coleman; just that they are not completely comfortable with Franken.

    In the First District (my home) I’m predicting Tim Walz 60-40. He’s very moderate and has concentrated on basically nonpartisan issues like veterans affairs and agriculture. Not much for the Republican culture warriors to get a handle on, and he’s a really nice guy.
    The First District, BTW, has always been a bit swingy. We elected Tim Penny back when he was still a Democrat. Bread and butter issues usually trump ideology, and that’s Tim’s strong point.

    and for Thomas Swift–
    How many millions has Norm Coleman spent against NO primary opposition?
    The fact is, Franken and Coleman have ignored the primaries and campaigned against each other. Lord Faris got her 30% mostly on the basis of her father’s name.
    And actually, Franken has campaigned for closer to three years — he was active in congressional campaigning in the 2006 election. I saw him at a number of Walz events. That’s how you build up party loyalty.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/10/2008 - 05:28 pm.

    I suspect that Lord Faris’ showing indicates a less than total satisfaction with Franken; not any indication that DFLers are going to vote for Coleman or sit out.
    Remember that Franken won the state caucus by about the same margin.
    We’ll see ….

  8. Submitted by John E Iacono on 09/10/2008 - 03:28 pm.

    Spent yesterdat from 6:00am until the ballots were submitted election judging. Always delightful to watch the procession of American humanity that comes to the polls.

    We were somewhat surprised that the number of voters exceeded expectations by almost 5% at our precinct, a strongly dfl location.

    My speculation was that there was more interest than the results suggest in the dfl senate contestants.

    If I was correct, this might indicate that the Farris showing might indicate more trouble for Franken than one might think. She got about the state average in the precinct.

    A view from the trenches.

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