Democratic candidates and the days before the primary

It was debate weekend for the Democratic candidates for governor — one last push for them to distinguish themselves from each other before primaries. This is not an easy task, because their platforms are awfully close to each others, and, to their credit, the candidates didn’t go especially negative against each other — mostly, as Rachel E. Stassen-Berger of the Star Tribune points out, they tried to dig into Mark Dayton, who is leading in the polls. What would they do differently from Dayton? Well, they would also raise taxes on the richest Minnesotans, but not by so very much as Dayton. So it’s not like the Pharisees were distinguishing themselves from the Sadducees. It’s more like the People Front of Judea was distinguishing itself from the Judean People’s Front.

Kelliher did make occasional use of the phrase “I don’t quit” — a subtle jab at Dayton, who only served one term in the U.S. Senate, and also a subtle jab at Matt Entenza, who, as Stassen-Berger says, “left the Minnesota House to run for attorney general, then quit that race in a controversy over opposition research he authorized.” We can guarantee that should Dayton or Entenza win the nomination, those subtle jabs will become ferocious body blows from their Republican rival. At the moment, the polls have Entenza trailing but, as Maya Nishikawa of WCCO reports, there has been an absolute flurry of campaigning from each of the candidates, including television appearances, union picnics and art fair appearances in a last-ditch attempt to jostle the polls.

In the meanwhile, at the bottom of the polls, just below Matt Entenza, is Tom Emmer, the GOP’s candidate for governor, who did some jostling himself this weekend. As per a press release republished on Minnesota Public Radio’s Polinaut blog, he has a new campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan. Who? Tom Scheck explains elsewhere on MPR’s site: “Sheehan currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus. He also managed Norm Coleman’s 2008 Senate campaign.” Of course, Al Franken actually wound up winning that election, but just by the hairs on his chinny, chin, chin. Also added to Emmer’s campaign, according to the Associated Press: Chris Georgacas as the chair of a new team of strategy advisers. Georgacas was campaign chair for Tim Pawlenty when he ran for governor in 2002. Pawlenty won that one, in case you’re wondering.

Speaking of campaigning, blogger Mitch Berg, republished here on MinnPost, discusses Joel Demos’ recent ad in which the candidate, who is running for Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat, is shown dragging a monster truck toward a finish line. “[I]f great ads won elections, Demos could start measuring the drapes in Ellison’s office,” Berg says. There’s not much to the ad beyond it’s central image — some generalized messages about Demos being alarmed about the liberal agenda (never stated) and being worried about taxes being too high (never mind that they’ve gone down), and there are some accusations that Ellison’s funding comes from out of state (never demonstrated, but verifiable). But, man, that guy is dragging a truck.

Tim Pawlenty has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the building of a mosque on Ground Zero, which, for the sake of accuracy, we will instead call the building of a Muslim community center that includes a prayer room a few blocks from Ground Zero (it won’t even be visible from Ground Zero). And, just so that we have properly set up this story, there is already a mosque about a block from the site of the proposed community center, the people who actually live in the neighborhood support the building of the center by a clear majority, and not only are the people who are proposing the center in no way connected to the 911 attackers, the point of the center is about, in their words, “promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture.”

Now, with all that as prelude, what was Palenty’s view on the subject? “I think it’s inappropriate,” as Hart Van Denburg of City Pages reports. But why? “… [F]rom a patriotic standpoint, it’s hallowed ground, it’s sacred ground, and we should respect that. We shouldn’t have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way.” He also mentions that 3,000 Americans died in the attack, although he neglects to mention that some of them were Muslims. Keith Ellison issued a response, published by Jeremy Herb in the Star Tribune’s Hot Dish Politics blog: “I know he wants to be president really bad, and I know he’s trying to appeal to the most extreme elements of his party to do that, but I hope he doesn’t want to be president so bad that he’s willing to dishonor the First Amendment and our heritage of religious tolerance.”

In the arts: Rupa Shenoy of Minnesota Public Radio reports that a local team won the National Poetry Slam Championship, held in St. Paul over the weekend. Needless to say, the team celebrated by breaking out a very old bottle of Alexandrine with some especially fine hemistiches of six syllables each, which is the sort of meter that anybody can get drunk off of.

In sports: Joe Kimball of MinnPost reports that Pawlenty also has an opinion about whether Brett Favre will rrturn to the Vikings: “He’s coming back. Everybody kind of knows he’s coming back.” According to the New York Times, at least one person doesn’t know if he’s coming back: Favre, who had an ankle surgically repaired, and won’t play unless he knows his ankle can handle it.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Tom Steinlitz on 08/09/2010 - 12:52 pm.

    Max – I think it’s important that readers know that Joel Demos has received contributions from outside MN before this ad was produced (just check his FEC report).

    It’s very hypocritical of Demos to attack Congressman Ellison for receiving contributions from outside MN while Joel himself has received contributions from outside MN.

    Even more hilarious, after he released the ad (which criticizes Ellison for receiving contributions from ‘places like CA and NY’), he touted on his OWN Facebook and Twitter pages that ‘people from all over America’ are contributing to his campaign. Talk about an embarrassing screw up for Demos…

    Readers should have the full facts on Joel’s hypocrisy. He can’t have it both ways…

  2. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/09/2010 - 04:07 pm.

    The reason that Governor Pawlenty does not distinguish between Islam and a murderous terrorist organization is actually quite simple. Governor Pawlenty is a simple populist demagogue. One can only hope that, in the long run, Mr. Pawlenty is no more successful that that other populist demagogue: William Jennings Bryan.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/09/2010 - 06:33 pm.

    But did William Jennings Bryan use his talent as an orator to foment up religious and racial hatred?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/10/2010 - 08:07 am.

    It is interesting to watch these republicans thrash around for just the right wedge issue. It’s encouraging to note that for some reason most Americans seem to not be interested in divisive, intolerant, fear laced wedge issues for a change. It bodes well for liberal candidates who have the guts to propose actual policies and confront this fear mongering for what it really is. Wedge issues is all guys like Pawlenty and Emmer know how to do. Well, there is one other thing they know how to do; now that Coleman’s man is on the job for Emmer the other skill will be on full display- dishonesty. Get ready for the “moderate” Emmer who appeals to the center.

  5. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 08/10/2010 - 02:59 pm.

    Regarding the controversy at Ground Zero ….

    If it is really about a building for a community center run by Muslims, it shouldn’t really be a problem.

    What I’m concerned about is the setting up of big loud-speakers, and the public being subjected to chants of “Alahu Akbar.” That happens to be the battle cry of the terrorists as they crashed those civil aircraft into the Twin Towers.

    Incidentally Mr. Pawlenty or any other citizen, for that matter, have the right to freely state their views and positions. In the Governor’s case, however, his motives have to be questioned.

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