Apparently, there’s some sort of an election tomorrow. This weekend saw the inevitable flurry of activity leading up to it, although you won’t hear the details from the TC Daily Planet. They have taken a rather unusual ethical stance, declaring their election coverage done prior to this weekend. The reasoning? “[L]ast-minute attacks on candidates give them no chance to respond before Election Day, and that doesn’t seem fair,” writes editor Mary Turck.
While we are certain there are all sort of mean-spirited last-minute machinations bubbling under the surface, this public face of the gubernatorial election, which at first seemed like it might get a little rambunctious, instead wound up rather subdued. Friday’s debate between the candidates saw some scolding, according to the Associated Press. GOP candidate Tom Emmer took DFL candidate Mark Dayton to task for supposedly making “promises you can’t keep,” and addressed the subject of Local Government Aid, pointing out that he’s the only candidate who has actually been on a city council and dealt with aid. “You were on a city council where you raised property taxes by 16 percent and you said it was because of reduction in state aid,” Dayton shot back.
But by Sunday, wen the candidates had their final debate, they had mellowed, producing what Pat Doyle of the Star Tribune calls a “mostly tame” debate. According to Doyle, the candidates “stuck to familiar scripts and stayed clear of creating new controversies, meaning that if you’ve been watching any of the candidates’ 25 other debates, you probably already know what the message was here. Dayton plans to tax the rich, Emmer plans to cut government spending, and IP candidate has positioned himself as the reasonable middle, and will raise some taxes and also cut some spending.
Mostly, the candidates did what candidates do in the days leading up to an election: They rallied their troops and made last-minute appeals to potential voters, as detailed by WCCO; Minnesotans don’t seem to have experienced nearly the “chamber of horrors” of last-minute, extreme negative mailers that the AP decribes happening elsewhere, such as the mailer that accused Nevada Sen. Harry Reid of being “an illegal alien’s best friend,” or the mailer that charges that the New Hampshire governor released a prisoner that had “sexually molested a 7 year old.” As iffy as some of the tactics in the last election have been, it hasn’t been the race to find the bottom that is happening elsewhere in the country, although Jon Tevlin of the Strib is nonetheless disgusted enough by it to write a piece titled “Election ’10: Good riddance to all that.” “It has been the year of the quisling and the penny prankster, the season of the $100,000 waitress, the epoch of the Chicken-Little senator and the moment of the Tea Queen,” Tevlin writes, later adding: “If you’re still undecided, you should know that Bachmann is being endorsed by Pat Boone, while Tarryl Clark gets the nod from Bowzer of Sha Na Na. That’s a toughie.”
The race between incumbent Michele Bachmann and challenger Tarryl Clark enjoyed its own debate Sunday, and it would be a pity to take the Daily Planet’s stance and not report on it, for two reasons. Firstly, Bachmann scrupulously avoided debating Clark until the last minute, and so this was one of the very few chances we got to see the two actually addressing each other directly, rather than attack each other through a series of expensive television ads and new media campaigns. Secondly, it would be a shame to ignore Sunday’s debate because it was, to quote Jason Hoppin of the Pioneer Press, “scrappy.” Hoppin starts his piece with the following extraordinary summary of the state of the Bachmann/Clark race: “Lies, lies, lies. All lies.”
The reasoning behind this statement comes mostly from the candidates themselves, who did not shy away from calling each other liars, but Hoppin fact-checks each of the candidates claims during their debate and finds them wanting. Bachmann, for instance, claimed Social Security is going bankrupt, and Hoppin points out that this is, at best, factually challenged. Both candidates opposed TARP, George W. Bush’s so-called Wall Street bailout. But Hoppin points out that TARP is one of the few such program that enjoys a near-consensus among economists as having worked.
According to Hoppin, the debate also strayed into the subject of abortion, also detailed by the AP. Clark has been endorsed by Emily’s List, a “national fundraising network that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights,” while Bachmann’s opposes abortion. So Bachmann called Clark “pro-abortion,” as though she stands in front of clinics waving a flag saying “Rah.” Bachmann also insisted that Clark is in favor of partial-birth abortions.” Clark countered, saying, no, she wasn’t, except in the case where the mother’s life is in danger. “Supports partial-birth abortion,” Bachmann interjected. Clark insisted that she is the only candidate who is actually doing something to reduce abortion rates, and Bachmann disagreed, pointing out that she had raised 23 foster children and had reached out to unwed mothers. How this reduces abortions, we’re not clear, and we’re also not clear if Bachmann intends to just keep raising increasing numbers of foster children as part of her official policy on abortion.
There are, of course, a lot of other races. MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank offers up an outlook on the congressional races and also offers suggestions for districts to watch Tuesday night as a sort of barometer for how Minnesota in general may be voting. Mark Steil of Minnesota Public Radio takes a look at the Walz/Demmer race in the 1st district, which is neck and neck. Minnesota Independent examines the Obersat/Cravaack race, which is, as Andy Birkey terms it, a “dead heat.”
And, weirdly, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Amy Klobuchar duked it out. Obviously, they’re not running against each other (unless Klobuchar has her eye on the White House and this is a pre-emptive move against Pawlenty), but the two appeared on “Face the Nation” Sunday morning, as reported by Kevin Diaz of the Strib. They disagreed, as you can imagine, and Pawlenty declared that come Tuesday, we will see that Republicans have won the argument. This writer intends to email Pawlenty later this week, on the off chance that Mark Dayton becomes governor, and ask if this demonstrates that Pawlenty lost the argument. Treating every single victory in an election as though the entire population had made a definitive partisan statement? Well, it cuts both ways.
Speaking as a professional news encapsulater, it will be a bit of a relief to have these elections over, although, as stated Friday, we fully expect an onslaught of charges of voter fraud. (It’s already started, with two Willmar women accused of illegally voting).
But there is other news out there, and it tends to get crowded out by this election business. For instance, supporters of gay marriage were denied communion at the St. Paul Cathedral on Sunday, as reported by the AP. Additionally, the mummy from the Science Museum in St. Paul was driven to Children’s Hospital for a CT Scan. Turns out it was too late and the mummy was already dead, and had been for quite a while. These are interesting stories, and important, and it will be nice to be able to devote the space to them that they deserve.
In the meanwhile, in the arts, Minnesota-born filmmaker Terry Gilliam has made an 18-minute film about the supposedly haunted Talladega raceway, and it stars David Arquette, which is irresistible. The film can be watched on the superlative Super Punch blog.
In sports: Minnesota-born filmmaker Terry Gilliam — oh, no, we already covered that. Er, well, Brett Favre got hurt again Sunday, requiring stitches in his chin, meaning this season is genuinely coming to be defined by Favre’s body, both in how he hurts it and whether or not he exposes it.