U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills is in trouble. Allen Quist still needs to prove he can win a general election. And Rick Nolan’s victory is a win, too, for the DFL endorsement process.
Those are the initial observations of Tuesday’s primary election shared in an interview by Republican consultant Michael Brodkorb, who makes good on his promise to cast a gimlet-eyed look at both parties in his new blog, politics.mn.
• Bills’ GOP primary victory of 51 percent in a three-way race was a relatively poor showing for an endorsed candidate.
“Bills’ campaign has to realize there are serious concerns about the state of his campaign,” he said. “The campaign has not established itself as being a credible viable alternative to [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar. They should take stock of those results and recalibrate and re-establish where the campaign should be going.”
• Another winner with a cloud over his victory is Allen Quist, who battled Mike Parry for the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District. Brodkorb’s concern echoes that of many party activists:
“He’s shown an ability to organize at grass roots but not shown an ability to win an election. I’ve yet to be convinced that he can pull together the necessary coalitions to win against Congressman Walz.”
Tim Walz is formidable, he says. In the moderate to conservative 1st district, “Walz has done a good job as portraying himself as a conservative, but in reality he is not.” (Before offering his assessment, Brodkorb noted that he worked briefly on Parry’s campaign.)
In Brodkorb’s view, there were two clear winners Tuesday: House Speaker Kurt Zellers and the DFL endorsement process.
Zellers broke with tradition to publicly support legislative candidate Cindy Pugh in her nomination fight against a member of Zellers’ caucus, state Rep. Steve Smith.
“It was a huge risk for Zellers, and it paid off for him,” Brodkorb says. “That’s the kind of bold decision that people are going to gravitate toward. All politics is local, but the reverberations are not just in the 33rd [legislative district].” Brodkorb predicts that Zeller’s stand moves him up on the list for a statewide office in years to come.
He said another primary result with impact beyond the vote came in the 8th Congressional District, where, with 38 percent of the vote, former Congressman Rick Nolan, the DFL-endorsed candidate, beat two challengers, Tarryl Clark and Jeff Anderson.
“The main thing I read from this is that the DFL is taking their endorsement process more seriously than they have in the past,” he said. Brodkorb considered both Clark and Anderson strong opponents but said the DFL endorsement process proved stronger.
“This is impressive,” he said. “It’s going to be a very good match for [Congressman Chip] Cravaack.”