When is the election for governor lost?

Not that long ago I heard what I think is a particularly sagacious comment. 

Often, the election is not lost in November.  It is lost at the primary.

Simple, but so true. 
 
We’ve seen it again and again.  It happened two days ago in Massachusetts.  I didn’t follow the race closely, but all reports seem to indicate Coakley ran a bad race.  Would Rep. Capuano have run a better race?  Seems like he wouldn’t have done worse.
 
What about the 1998 governor’s race.  Skip Humphrey beat the DFL endorsed candidate Mike Freeman by 16% in the primary.  I know “what ifs” are worthless, but I am a firm believer that Mike Freeman would not have lost to Jesse Ventura.  Heck, I don’t think any of the other three candidates Humphrey beat, Doug Johnson, Mark Dayton, or Ted Mondale would have lost to Ventura. 
 
And we keep doing it.  People close to me and who knew Mike Hatch told me not to support him.  He couldn’t win.  Too many people don’t like him.  They were right.   Every DFLer won, except Mike Hatch in 2006.  Becky Lourey?  We’ll never know.
 
So who is the likely primary winner this year?  Conventional wisdom says Dayton or Entenza.  Conventional wisdom hasn’t been wrong recently.  It was Hatch’s, Moe’s and Humphrey’s primaries to lose, they didn’t.
 
Is Matt Entenza or Mark Dayton the best candidate to win in November?  Does name recognition or money make you the best candidate?  Hatch had both.  Humphrey had both and finished third!
 
Dayton’s negatives are high.  It doesn’t help that last night’s WCCO News story about his official announcement also mentioned that Time once rated Mark Dayton among the nation’s “worst” senators.
 
Earlier today Matt Entenza posted a note on facebook that said:

We must remember who we are as a party and as a state. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of wimpy Democrats. It’s time we get tough.

I’ve seen him a few times, and tough is not a description I would use.  Maybe he said it is time we get tall?  I believe he might be a tough politician, but voters are looking for a physical toughness that demonstrates a toughness of conviction.   I hope he gets physically tough because I think he will be the candidate.  I will support him if he is the candidate, but I don’t want to see another third place finish for the DFL because we blew our chance when another candidate could have won.
 
I think we have candidates who can steamroll the GOP this year, candidates with authenticity, trustworthiness, charisma, great ideas and toughness.  But it might end up being a “what if” year if a candidate is chosen in the primary because of money and name recognition, rather than at the endorsing convention by people who want a winner.

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3 thoughts on “When is the election for governor lost?”

  1. I think Rybak would have the best shot. Being that I’m not a Democrat or even really a Republican, I haven’t followed either race as closely as I probably should. I just can’t imagine either party really putting up a politician worth getting behind. But Rybak seems to have the most potential within the Democrats. I like what I’ve seen in him so far.

  2. Entenza’s a puke. The party, and the state, are doomed if they let this Richie Rich buy his way into the governor’s mansion. He’s already damaged goods, and that’s from the problems he’s had with Democrats. Wait till Republicans start digging into his ugly past.

  3. I just hope the Democrats can see eye-to-eye enough to maintain a modicum of unity. It’s time to elect a Democrat and undo the awful legacy of Pawlenty.

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