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Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Vin Weber assess the vote

Vin Weber
Vin Weber

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.

Vin Weber

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.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Margaret Anderson Kelliher

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.

Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2012 - 09:41 am.


    That was really interesting.

    Until the Republicans produce something other than magic as a plan for solving all problems they will find it increasingly difficult to win elections and stay in power. They’re war on women and minorities is not helping. The claim that rape is just another way of getting pregnant ain’t gonna get the women’s vote and the constant attack on immigrants won’t energize Hispanics or other minorities for Republicans.

    What’s up with Kelliher? The Republicans don’t “overmuch” rely on spending cuts, the rely entirely on spending cuts AND tax cuts. Why is Kelliher obscuring that fact? Every single Republican candidate I came across would only consider cuts in government spending and tax cuts on top of those cuts. Is Kelliher unaware of this? Romney’s plan was to cut taxes by $7 trillion and then cut government spending by $7 trillion. State Republicans offered the same plan. Let’s not dance around this madness.

  2. Submitted by David Frenkel on 11/08/2012 - 10:49 am.

    loosing touch

    Both parties have gone through periods of loosing touch with the voters. Politicans power sometimes blinds them to the politial realities. The GOP locally and nationally were just to far to the right and there were enough voters who were tired of the rhetoric. Even though democrats were the winners locally and nationally there is certainly no mandate and things could swing back in the next election. Given the power structure has not changed in DC I don’t see much change there.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/08/2012 - 01:04 pm.

    Turning the tables

    I have to agree with Paul’s first sentence – very interesting stuff, coming, as it does, from people that to me, a very ordinary citizen, can legitimately carry the banner of “political insider.” It’s a perspective that’s not always offered, and is typically informative, whether in a positive or negative way.

    Speaking as a former moderate Republican, and not a long-term resident of Minnesota, I have to say that Republican candidates with whom I’ve become familiar since my arrival in the state as a resident have been singularly unappealing at every level – local, county, state and national. The farther the GOP leans to the right, the farther I want to get from them. “Government is the enemy” is a losing, not to mention foolish, line of argument when campaigning for government office. Plenty of people who’ve read Adam Smith know that there’s no such thing as the illusory “free market” right wingers keep babbling about. Toss in the party’s theocratic and misogynistic tendencies, and, to steal from Paul, I think magic is the only thing that would reliably have Republicans winning elections.

    I see nothing wrong with a degree of fiscal conservatism. There ain’t no free lunch, and government programs of whatever stripe need a revenue stream to pay for them, so taxes and tax rates are almost always a legitimate area for debate, as are the areas where those tax dollars ought to be spent, but arguing that “smaller government” is the goal ignores a host of other issues that, to me at least, ought to take precedence, and in the process leads thoughtful observers to the conclusion that what people who call themselves “conservative” nowadays really want is NO government at all. That’s called anarchy, and is manifestly stupid as a political strategy.

  4. Submitted by David Broden on 11/08/2012 - 01:51 pm.

    Reflection on Election Results and Party Emphasis

    Election 2012 was an Event of Significance to be addressed seriously and differently than previous elections. The decisions regarding candidates, policy, etc. were not just candidate decisions they were the framework for poltics, parties, and government as well as communities for the 21st century. It is time to realize that the approach to parties, elections, and resulting government are still living in the 19th/20th century and here we are today well into the 21st century but no real change has occured in the process but the electorate has. Demograhics, need for government services vs. private sector sources, prority for education etc.— and our tax structure is built for an agarian/industrial world not the sevice and related society of today. We need to adapt the poltical processes to encourage more citizen civic involvement ( citizens care and want to participate0, we needd open primaries to select candidates, we need to redesign government, we need innovation in education and education that is continuing for all ages, We need to seek an economic model that works–not Keyesian or top down but some new realistic model that works for the economy of today. We need to encourage new industry and jobs across all of Minnesota. Today two days after an impact election it is easy to point fingers– the issue is broader than just what happenned Tuesday it is how do we go forward with an effective Mn tradition of citizen civic interest and involvement to change the process to benefit all of MN.
    Dave Broden

  5. Submitted by Eric Black on 11/08/2012 - 02:25 pm.

    Just wanted to reply to Paul Udstrand above (and thanks, Paul, for all the good comments of the past). Kelliher Anderson didn’t say the things you inferred about the Repubs overmuch reliance on spending cuts. Those were my words, paraphrasing her, and I didn’t tape the event. But as I heard it, her whole point in that remark was to push back against the idea that DFLers will reflexively raise taxes and show no restraint on running up the state budget. Rather, she said, they stood and stand for a “balanced” approach that presumably will include some tax hikes and some other things.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2012 - 03:29 pm.

    Thanks Eric

    I stand corrected… well I’m actually sitting but you know what I mean.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2012 - 03:42 pm.

    I just get nervous

    I’ve been through this too many times over the last 30 years. The Democrats spend decades telling us what they want to do, and then we put them in power and they just decide not do it for a bunch lame reasons. I’ve been listening to Democrats for 30 years. I go to the town hall meetings and they’ve been complaining for ten years that they can’t move their agenda because Pawlenty would veto it or the they didn’t have the numbers in the legislature. Now they have numbers, we put them in power, and all I’m hearing is re-assurances to Republicans that things aren’t going too liberal, as if the Republicans put the Democrats in power. I’ve seen this before and it’s always been precursor to disaster. This is how Democrats yank defeat out of the jaws of victory. The Democrats need to follow through this time, they’ve got perfectly good plans that will fix the problems here. If they don’t follow through, the problems will remain, and they’ll get voted out again.

  8. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 11/08/2012 - 03:43 pm.

    Still grieving

    Sorry for the delay in responding. As a conservative Republican, I’m still grieving and trying to process what happened. My community happily re-elected our conservative state senator and representative so I didn’t realize the rest of the state was dissatisfied with theirs. This caught me by surprise.
    As for the presidential election, I thought Obama’s abysmal performance with the economy would play a bigger role. Obama can’t budget his way out of a wet paper bag. I was wrong. The voters preferred a “cool” president over a “competent” one, as long as the government keeps the freebies flowing.
    Weber is right, Superstorm Sandy had nothing to do with it.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2012 - 05:04 pm.

    Rosalind and the economy

    The problem was the Republican’s own the lousy economy and most people know that. Bush created it, and congressional republicans followed through on their promise to stifle it for Obama so they could run on it. I think people just saw through that. Romney was offering the same magic plan that create the recession in first place, cut taxes and wait for the magic to happen. It just didn’t sell this time.

  10. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/08/2012 - 05:59 pm.

    The success of liberal initiatives, and the defeat of socially conservative senate Tea Party candidates and Mitt Romney suggest a movement towards a more socially liberal country. Historically, the last great economic dislocation in the 1930s also led to rapid social liberalization as conservatives, exposed as unable to manage a successful economy, lost their moral sway as well. This seems to be happening in the wake of today’s economic crisis. The social compact allows the establishment to dictate moral and political standards as long as it delivers stability and prosperity.

    On a contrary note, the success of the House Republicans (widely regarded as a bulwark against rising taxes), the widespread success of Republicans in state government, and the preference for Romney over Obama with regards to managing the economy (and little else) argues that fiscal conservatism is alive and well. The Democratic party has the lead on their embrace of libertarian with their social liberalism, but the opening for small government, balanced budget Republicans is clear if they can learn to silence the voices for social conservatism, and selectively embrace a few socially liberal goals (and embrace immigration reform).

    The young, educated elite who create jobs and lead opinion trends are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They support useful benefits and efficient government but not deficits or bureaucracy. The boomers, who have become less socially liberal with age and have always been fiscally profligate, are electorally important today but a diminishing breed. Getting in front of the libertarian trend will require adjustment by both parties, the Republicans most obviously, but the Democrats too. Some of the members of the Democratic coalition are pulling them the wrong direction.

  11. Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/08/2012 - 06:56 pm.

    And that Ms. Kohls

    Is why you lost, and will continue to lose. Your side cannot fathom that the reason for your defeat is not that the electorate is wrong, stupid, or as you so inelegantly stated “looking for freebies”. The reason is that your positions have been exposed as fundamentally incorrect, enough people have finally woken up to that reality to defeat your candidates. Continue to double down on the Randian social darwinism if you like, but understand that is never going to provide you with a winning position.

  12. Submitted by William Pappas on 11/08/2012 - 09:27 pm.

    Republicans should be further dismayed by the inability of two of their former leaders, Kurt Zellers and Matt Dean, to have any clue as to what happened Tuesday night. Both men refused to acknowledge the role their two amendments had in motivating a progressive turnout that ironically flipped both houses. They steadfasty held to the idea that democrats outspent them, fear mongered and lied. Sitting on the wrong side of same/sex marriage, these two men are hoplessly out of touch and will never lead their party anywhere. They are the very embodiment of why the Republican Party cannot confront changing US demographics. They are a clear example of why Republicans, hating the idea of government, cannot govern.

  13. Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/09/2012 - 06:05 am.

    With respect Mr. Schulze

    I would assert that the success of Republicans in the House and in State government has far less to do with some mass shift of the younger generations toward fiscal conservatism than it does with Republicans placing far greater emphasis on redistricting and its attendant advantages to the party in power at the time of its implementation. Were the trends you speak of correct there would be no difference in the number of fiscally conservative candidates elected to statewide office and regional ones. That is simply not the case in the past election. Not every state has the advantage of a mainly impartial judiciary to draw their lines and many don’t have a split government that forces such measures anyway. Had Emmer taken the governorship, its likely we would have one party republican rule, but not because we all suddenly turned conservative.

    • Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/09/2012 - 05:27 pm.

      Very persuasive Mr. Haas. On

      Very persuasive Mr. Haas.

      On a similar note, I think that if a strong leader moves the Republican party just a little, the Tea Party will self-deport itself. The Republicans adopted the Tea Party when they were down in 2009 and the Tea Party looked like a way to win. Now that the Tea Party looks like a way to lose, I don’t think they’ll be tolerated for long. Republicans are nothing if not ruthless.

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