University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs hosted former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of the DFL and former Republican Congressman Vin Weber early Wednesday to analyze Tuesday night’s results.
Rather than try to weave any kind of narrative thread through the hash of my notes, I’ll just pass along a few of the more interesting things they said.
Weber, who served in Congress in the 1980s and is now a lobbyist, has worked as an inside adviser with Republican presidential candidates in every recent presidential cycle. He supported Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination in 2008, started this cycle advising Tim Pawlenty, then switched back to Romney after TPaw dropped out, said:
That overemphasizing the role of Hurricane Sandy in the bad election results for his party would be more of an excuse than an explanation. He said that Republicans need to look at things over which they had actual control, such as their convention, which he panned;
And that Democrats did a good job of persuading the electorate that the bad economy was President George W. Bush’s fault and that Romney was an out-of-touch elitist.
Despite the wreckage of election night, Weber said he still believes Republicans can put together a majority coalition that is consistent with the party’s governing principles, but a Tea Party approach, which he described as “denying that there is any role for the government in a whole bunch of things,” will not work.
On the Minnesota front, he cautioned Democrats that they should beware of going overboard on tax increases with their newly-won control of both houses of the Legislature.
Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Anderson Kelliher, who was speaker of the Minnesota House for two terms before narrowly losing the 2010 DFL gubernatorial primary to Mark Dayton, pushed back against the stereotype of the DFL as tax-happy, saying that anyone who has watched the party would know that they always advocate a “balanced” plan, in contrast with the Republicans who, she implied, rely overmuch on spending cuts to balance the state budget.
She also said the Minnesota business community had shown a lack of balance by showering the Republicans with campaign funds, turning 2012 into a record year for spending. The business community “needs to get some reality about how they’re going to enter into the debate” about government in Minnesota.
Reflecting on the unintended consequences that parties can invite when they go too far in one direction, Anderson Kelliher suggested that by putting two controversial proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot (the same-sex marriage ban and the voter ID proposal), the Republicans had ended up energizing DFL turnout and contributing to the Repubs’ own demise.
Minnesota, where 76 percent of eligible voters cast ballots on Tuesday, once against led the nation in turnout. Anderson Kelliher specified that many of those voters were motivated by the amendments.