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.