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.