Two of the five living U.S presidents will be in Minnesota this weekend, messing with our football games. First, there will be Barack Obama, who will be speaking on behalf of DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton on Saturday at a rally at the University of Minnesota. As Lindsey Seavert of WCCO points out, this will be at the exact time when a Golden Gophers game is going on. “On Saturday, the crowds coming into the University of Minnesota won’t just be cheering for the maroon and gold, but also for the red, white and blue,” which has got to be eligible for some sort of award for corny phrases used in broadcast television.
And then, on Sunday, Bill Clinton will be in Minnesota to support Tarryl Clark in her race against 6th District Rep. Michele Bachmann. Additionally, according to MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank, he’ll be watching the Vikings-Packers game. We like to imagine Clinton wearing one of those horned helmets with golden braids attached, but we suspect that’s unlikely. Seavert doesn’t seem to have covered this story, so we’re going to have to come up with a phrase for her: On Sunday, President Clinton will go from tax hikings to Favre and the Vikings. Hmmm. That actually sounds sort of partisan, as it’s Bachmann that has been accusing Clark of being tax-hike hungry. Let’s try a phrase from Clark’s camp: On Sunday, Clinton goes from battling Tea Party spin to watching the Vikings battle with pigskin.
It’s hard to discuss the Bachmann/Clark race without a little partisanship slipping through. After all, aside from being an enormously costly race, it has also been a pretty negative one, as Allen Costantini of KARE11 details. Its price tag is about $6 million to $7 million on Clark’s end and $10 million on Bachmann’s (with roughly half of Bachmann’s war chest coming from “across the country in the 3rd quarter of 2010 alone.”) The story comments on the negativity in the campaigns, which have featured volleys of attack ads and Internet campaigns: Hamline University political expert David Schultz says of the ads that “Bachmann … has always been more of a negative campaigner than she has been a positive one. Second, the Democrats, I think, especially Clark, are getting somewhat desperate at this point. They have not been able to budge and move her in the polls.“
And while we’re on the subject of negative campaigning, let’s look at the race for governor. According to Paul Schmelzer of Minnesota Independent, IP candidate Tom Horner has gone negative in his latest ad, “somewhat.” The ad represents GOP candidate Tom Emmer as an elephant crowded into a kitchen, and shows Mark Dayton as a donkey looking on disinterestedly as an eye-rolling man goes through the “help wanted” section of his paper. In truth, the ad isn’t all that negative — it’s consistent with Horner’s campaign, which has always been that the other guys are too extreme, and he’s comfortably in the middle.
For a taste of really going nagative, we need to look at the DFL, which has raised the issue of Emmer’s finances. According to them, Emmer has taken out seven mortgages on his home in six years, totalling $1.6 million. Their reasons for bringing Emmer’s home financing into the public light? According to Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent, it’s because Emmer has campaigned extensively with the slogan “live within your means.”
Of course, even that’s nothing compared with the dirt that’s been heaped upon Dayton in the past few weeks. He was the subject of an especially pernicious smear campaign, which was mostly ignored by the local press, as it lacked any evidence. We won’t deign to discuss the details, and neither does Dayton, but he obliquely references it in his newest ad, which can also be found on Minnesota Independent. “The Republicans can’t beat Mark Dayton on the issues,” the ad says, “so they’re trying to destroy him with last-minute personal smears and gutter politics.”
And what of the issues? Well, there’s an ad from the Republican Governors Association that actually manages to pass Pat Kessler’s Reality Check on WCCO and gets the rarest of all all-caps verdicts: FAIR. The ad, which can be viewed here, sums up Dayton and Horner as follows: “If you support Obama’s health care plan and think we should raise taxes to balance the budget, then your choices are Mark Dayton and Tom Horner.” And of Emmer? “But if you oppose Obama’s health care plan and think we should balance the budget by cutting taxes instead of raising taxes, then you have one good choice: Tom Emmer.” As Kessler points out, Emmer really is running on a platform of budget cuts and cutting taxes, while Dayton and Horner actually will raise taxes. So if that’s your only issue, there it is, put as simply as possible.
But, for many, taxes aren’t the only issue — there are social issues to consider as well. But, as Andy Birkey points out, Emmer has been steering clear of these subjects while campaigning. “My campaign has been entirely focused on the economy and jobs, but there’s no question, I have a record on my position on these issues in my six years in the legislature. People know exactly what that is,” Birkey quotes Emmer as saying. And Birkey sums up Emmer’s record: “[H]e led the charge to amend the constitution to bar gay marriage, tried to prevent same-sex couples from using surrogate mothers, and called an AIDS outreach program to gay men ‘disgusting discourse.’ “
It will be interesting to see how the election plays out — the last senatorial battle was such a circus, with its protracted recount and accusations of voter fraud. Actually, it turns out some of those accusations were true: Hennepin County has charged six people with voter fraud, according to the Associated Press. All six were convicted felons who went ahead and voted anyway. Now, it was a tight election, but Franken didn’t win by six, so these felons wouldn’t have pushed the result one way or the other. Additionally, there’s no way to know they voted for Franken; there is exactly one vote by a convicted felon in which we know whom he voted for. That’s the vote of Eric S. Willems, who cast his ballot for Coleman.
In arts: Hey! It’s more election stuff! If your issue of choice isn’t, say, taxes, but arts instead, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts has put out a handy guide to candidates. And while we’re discussing the arts and elections, local singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith will be opening for Obama on Saturday (via the OIM/OMG blog), which means Messersmith has had a very exciting few weeks, because a song he wrote about “Star Wars” went viral recently.
In sports: According to Karla Hult of KARE11, the St. Paul Saints have started pushing for a new stadium. If they can raise enough money, perhaps they can have it ready in time for the next election, so that one of our former presidents can schedule a rally nearby while the Saints are playing.