Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans D
Democratic candidates: Mark Dayton, former U.S. senator
Republican candidates: Tom Emmer, state legislator
Independent candidates: Tom Horner, PR Executive
Recent updates from the Crystal Ball
Update: October 5, 2010
Democrat Mark Dayton has usually posted a lead over Republican Tom Emmer, though it is not always an impressive or stable one, given the presence of Ventura-Party candidate Tom Horner. All things being equal, we’d expect Minnesota to lean to Dayton and the Democrats, especially because Emmer is probably too conservative for this unpredictable but generally liberal state. Let’s see where Horner goes (up or down) in the next month, but it will be a surprise if the Democrats don’t re-take the statehouse after eight years of Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R).
Update: June 3, 2010
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has White House fever and isn’t seeking a third term. The floodgates opened, and every state politician with a decent resume gave or is giving this race a serious look. Republicans would gladly have nominated former Sen. Norm Coleman, but he declined to step up to the plate after an exhausting recount battle with now-U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Instead, the GOP faithful decided to nominate a very conservative but charismatic state legislator, Tom Emmer, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin. Minnesota has long ceased to be the predictable liberal state of Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, so Emmer’s pedigree isn’t an automatic disqualifier and early polls show Emmer essentially tied with the Democratic frontrunners. Still, Democrats have a reasonable chance to take over the reins after the Pawlenty era if they can successfully make their way through a vigorous nominating process. Another former U.S. senator, Mark Dayton, is running on the Democratic side, and state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher is probably a co-frontrunner with Dayton, who had an unhappy D.C. tenure but is wealthy. This being the land of Jesse Ventura, there will also be a representative of the Independence party on the ballot, Tom Horner, and his percentage points could tip the balance one way or another. For now, we call it a Toss-up.
Update: October 8, 2009
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has White House fever and won’t seek a third term. The floodgates have opened, and every state politician with a decent resume is giving this race a serious look. Republicans are waiting to see if former Sen. Norm Coleman will step up to the plate after an exhausting recount battle with Sen. Al Franken. Most observers will be surprised if Coleman actuallymakes the run. If he doesn’t, a slew of GOP unknowns will try their luck. Another former U.S. senator, Mark Dayton, is running on the Democratic side, and he has lots of company from ambitious state legislators and others, such as state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. The smart money in Minnesota has been tentatively placed on the Democratic nominee–whoever that turns out to be. The identity of the actual major-party nominees (and, who knows, maybe an independent, too, in this unpredictable state) will matter enormously. Therefore, the cognoscenti’s instinct about an impending Democratic victory may be dead wrong.
Update: March 26, 2009
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R): Most people assume that Pawlenty is running for a third term, though he hasn’t given the final word and the assumption may be wrong. Republicans need him to do so, since the state GOP has been on a severe downward spiral in the last two elections, losing at least one and probably both U.S. Senate seats, several House seats, and a slew of local offices. Barack Obama carried Minnesota handily, too, with 54%. It says a lot that Pawlenty is the GOP star in this state despite never having secured a majority of the vote in his two gubernatorial victories. In 2006 Pawlenty received 47% to edge out a damaged Democrat in what turned out to be the closest race for Governor in the nation. At the same time, Pawlenty’s 47% is much better than the miserable 42% mustered by both Al Franken and Norm Coleman in the contested 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota. The 2010 contest won’t really begin until we know Pawlenty’s decision on reelection. There will be a free-for-all in both parties if he steps aside. Otherwise, Pawlenty will start out as a slight favorite for reelection. The biggest “name” Democrat so far is ex-U.S. Senator Mark Dayton. His one term (2001-2007) was less than successful, as he himself admits, but on the other hand, he’s rich. Democrats will also have other choices; already, a gaggle of state legislators and local officials are stepping up to take a chance at the big time. Leans Republican if Pawlenty runs, otherwise Toss-up.