Thoughts on the first day of the post-recount era

Thoughts on the first day of the post-recount era.

Relief: (Yes, that’s more a feeling than a thought.) The scenario where Repubs engage in legal stalling tactics while Gov. Tim Pawlenty stays in office past his scheduled departure and signs bills that Mark Dayton would’ve vetoed would have been hideous, in style, substance and in tarnishing Minnesota’s reputation (although it would’ve mostly tarnished TPaw and the Repubs, as I previously argued). Those Dems who claimed to see with absolute clarity that the stall-for-Pawlenty plan was absolutely happening should acknowledge that they underestimated their friends of the other party.

This still ain’t Florida: (In fairness, maybe Florida isn’t even Florida any more; they surely learned something from 2000 election.) For the second cycle in a row, Minnesota demonstrated that its election system works, even under the strain of a recount. Improvements made after the previous round, especially in the area of absentee ballots, worked very well and the absentee ballots were a non-issue this time.

As political scientist Larry Jacobs emphasized to me this morning, once again we got a series of unanimous rulings from a Supreme Court and a Canvassing Board made up of officials with both Democratic and Republican credentials, which leaves the losing side unable to seriously claim that they got “rolled.”

Tom Emmer went out with class: Yes, the last word choice of the last bullet point was indeed a reference to Repub Chair Tony Sutton’s unfortunate utterance that his party wasn’t going to “get rolled again.” They didn’t get rolled last time, nor this time either. Sutton really needs to mind his words. The MNGOP leadership made several unfortunate overreaches, starting with Sutton’s Election Night rant that the election didn’t smell right. But Tom Emmer, the party’s titular leader, maintained his dignity throughout, claiming only that he was not interested in any stall tactics, only in making sure that the result was bullet-proof. Come to think of it, although Emmer stood for some weird stuff during his legislative career and employed  some fuzzy math in advocating for his no-new-taxes creed, I give him (and Dayton and Tom Horner) credit for running civil, substantive campaigns.

Dayton is a comeback king: This is another point that Jacobs made in our e-mail exchange this a.m. Jacobs: “Lost in the recount may be the most remarkable political comeback that I can remember in Minnesota — Mark Dayton overcame the doubts of many and what he himself describes as a poor U.S. Senate term to win.” (I’ve previously confessed that when Dayton first told me he was running for guv, I felt sorry for him and assumed he would have little chance.)

Dayton is in for a rough year or two or four: Dayton often said during the campaign that he found the U.S. Senate frustrating because as one of 100 members of one body of three branches of the federal government, it was hard to get anything done, but he found the idea of executive office more appealing because as governor, you could more directly implement your ideas. It never occurred to me to ask him whether that would apply even if he won the governorship while the Repubs took control of both houses of the Legislature (because pretty much no one saw that coming). Elsewhere on this site, Dayton shared his current hopes and dreams for the year ahead with Cyndy Brucato. He knows his budget proposal won’t be adopted but expects to find middle ground with the Repubs.

But tax-the-rich is the one thing above all on which Dayton ran, and I’m skeptical that any amount of negotiating will get to this result with a new majority for whom no-new-taxes borders on a religious principle.

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Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/08/2010 - 11:17 am.

    I was one who feared and thought the Republicans would drag this out. I’m glad I was wrong and in this instance Emmer bowed out with grace. I’ll still be looking for a Sutton quote that suggests that the election was rigged though.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/08/2010 - 11:22 am.

    “Dayton is a comeback king”

    Considering the baggage Senator* Franken dragged into office, I’m not surprised at all that Democrats found it child’s play to overlook Time magazine’s “Worst Senator in history” prize hanging around Dayton’s neck.

    He represents today’s Democrat party perfectly.

  3. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 12/08/2010 - 11:35 am.

    Classy and well informed as ever Mr. Swift.

    Rep. Emmer must have lots of grace: his supporters sure aren’t borrowing it.

  4. Submitted by William Levin on 12/08/2010 - 11:36 am.

    Mr. Black: Your comments about Mr. Emmer’s conduct are very appropriate. Thank you.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 12/08/2010 - 11:37 am.

    It wasn’t unreasonable for Emmer to wait for the automatic recount to conclude before conceding. As Eric notes, his ideas can tend towards the wacky, but conceding today was a quality move on his part.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/08/2010 - 11:37 am.

    Commentator* Swift–
    Remember that guy named Reagan who was rejected by the state of California, only to be elected to a higher office?
    And a guy named Nixon who went through the same cycle?
    People change.

    And I too was impressed by Emmer’s grace in not dragging the election out in court after the Supremes said he had no chance of winning his suit.

  7. Submitted by Rod Loper on 12/08/2010 - 12:33 pm.

    He ended his campaign with civility and good spirit. All the candidates for governor showed that civil discourse is possible in Minnesota.
    Let’s hope it continues.

  8. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/08/2010 - 12:42 pm.

    Tim Pawlenty managed to get everything he wanted from a legislature controlled by the opposition party. It’s important not to underestimate the power of a determined governor if that’s what we are going to have.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/08/2010 - 12:45 pm.

    “Franken dragged into office, I’m not surprised at all that Democrats found it child’s play to overlook Time magazine’s “Worst Senator in history” prize hanging around Dayton’s neck.”

    Overlooking Time magazine, the very embodiment of inside the beltway conventional chatter but not wisdom, is something I easily do just about every day. For the life of me, I could not figure out why Republicans thought that Time magazine was some sort of authority on politics that the people of Minnesota were in any way obligated to take seriously.

  10. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/08/2010 - 12:54 pm.

    I always get a kick out of the shots Tea Partiers hang on Dayton…then I think it’s even more hilarious that: (a) given the sea of Red that engulfed the nation; and (b) given all the “baggage” that Dayton had, they still couldn’t come up with a candidate that could win.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/08/2010 - 02:03 pm.

    Emmer did do the right thing, and I’m a little impressed. I’ll give credit where credit is due, I didn’t expect him to bow out this gracefully. However, he didn’t really have choice and we shouldn’t break our arms patting someone on the back for doing what their supposed to do when they lose an election. Your supposed to concede when lose an election. Let’s not lower the bar any further by giving people medals for meeting minimum requirements.

    There has been more than a little hypocrisy displayed by the Emmer camp. Today Emmer talked about the importance of the people’s confidence in the election system. It’s nice that he realizes that this morning but let’s not forget he’s spent the last 30 days issuing meritless statements that were calculated to undermine that confidence. He still claims to have made a case regarding reconciliation despite the fact that he’s produced no evidence of an over vote.

    I think one lesson that seems to have been lost during this election cycle is the power of the liberal message. The thing that is so frustrating for Swift and his kind is the fact that they were delivered their dream adversaries in Al Franken and Mark Dayton. The republicans could barely contain their excitement when Franken and Dayton got the nominations because they were convinced that big government liberals would be easy marks. Many Democrats likewise, apparently Mr. Black amongst them agreed and were convinced that the weakest candidates had gotten nominated. The thing to notice here is that the Republicans were handed a tax raising liberal on a platter and they couldn’t beat him. The one candidate that openly and unashamedly advocated taxes won the election. Nationally progressive Democrats survived the shelacking while the moderate “electable” Democrats got creamed.

    The Tea Party likewise largely went down in flames in the most notable contests in the country from Alaska to Delaware.

    I think the Republicans are in for a rough ride, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’s tax deal goes down in flames.

  12. Submitted by Sue Halligan on 12/08/2010 - 03:10 pm.

    “I think the Republicans are in for a rough ride, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama’s tax deal goes down in flames.” From your lips to God’s ears…

  13. Submitted by B Maginnis on 12/08/2010 - 03:23 pm.

    Tom Emmer, and his family sharply represent what Minnesota needs to be again.

  14. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/08/2010 - 06:22 pm.

    Since Mr. Swift, unlike Mr. Emmer, can’t find it in himself to be even a little bit gracious, I’m going to drag this little gem out, although until now I had decided not to:

    “You know, polls aside, there’s no chance that Dayton is going to win.”

    That would be Mr. Swift on Oct. 25, on this very site:

    I guess political prognostication isn’t really your thing, Mr. Swift. Don’t you ever tire of spewing political bile? Your guy Emmer demonstrated how to be gracious in his comments, which Gov-Elect Dayton reciprocated in his. I guess the attack dogs haven’t gotten the word that this particular fight is over.

    Take a deep breath now and try to enjoy a non-political holiday season, if possible. There will be plenty of future battles to fight. Dwelling on the past, which after all cannot be changed, is futile and silly. It tends to make one bitter and joyless – obviously.

  15. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 12/08/2010 - 11:17 pm.

    Actual attack dogs are bred to be that way.

    Sadly “attack dog” humans just have so many pieces of their original personalities missing; so many pieces that have been extracted from them by the overly-severe criticism and discipline supplied by their own families, friends, communities and churches that the “attack dog” is the only piece they have left.

    “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

    Of course “attack dog” humans can find counseling and the healing needed to restore their missing pieces, which would enable them to lead healthier, happier, better adjusted, more balanced lives, but few of them will since, to seek such help would imply that their behavior had previously been “wrong” in some way, and admitting fault in even such an oblique way is anathema to them.

    That being said, I admire Mr. Emmer’s final play in this fall’s election game. It demonstrated class, humility, and grace.

    I thank you, Mr. Emmer, for not allowing those who were seeking to do so, to convince you to carry this game into overtime in hopes of allowing the citizens of Minnesota to suffer a major King Timmy hangover.

    Somehow, I suspect the same sons who took you to Canada on a fishing trip immediately following the election may have helped you, once again, as they did then, to remember who you really are, and what is most important to you, so I thank your sons, as well.

  16. Submitted by Tim Walker on 12/09/2010 - 10:21 am.

    Did Time magazine really call Mark Dayton the “Worst Senator in history” as Mr. Swift has stated?

    I wondered about that, seeing as a certain Joe McCarthy was also a U.S. Senator.

    So I did a Google search using the terms: “Worst Senator in history” time magazine

    And guess what, I only got THREE hits, and two of those were MinnPost comments made by Mr. Swift.

    So, I think Mr. Swift might be playing fast and loose with the facts. Shocking, I know.

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