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Ranking The DFL Governor Candidates

Category: 2016
Posted: 12/31/17 05:11

by Dave Mindeman

2016 is upon us and the mid term election is looming. So many candidates and so many contribution emails. One of the bigger races in 2018 will be the race for Governor in Minnesota and the field is big.

Like it or not, you are about to get my first ranking of candidates. First, we are going to take on the DFL - and please remember, do not kill the messenger; it is ONLY an opinion.

#7. Lori Swanson - The oft rumored governor run for Lori Swanson has still not materialized. Since there is a healthy contingent of Attorney General candidates, one has to assume that she is not seeking re-election. However, there is one wrinkle in the mix. There is that extra Senate seat nomination to consider - and Swanson is not above challenging Tina Smith for the endorsement. As a Hatch protege, I have to say that I think this is a likely Swanson scenario. Swanson always has solid potential financial resources to get in late for either office. But for the moment, at least when it comes to the governor's race, she gets the low ranking.

#6. Tina Liebling - At the moment, I still consider Tina a regional candidate. And since that region is southern Minnesota, Tim Walz takes up a lot of the air down there. She has reached out to Bernie supporters but so far there is only a small amount of reciprocation. I haven't seen any evidence of stellar fundraising either. Dark horse.

#5. Erin Murphy - Murphy may be the hardest working candidate right now. She has traveled extensively and has made a serious pitch to greater Minnesota. It is difficult to gauge how well that is being received. And, again, the evidence of big fundraising numbers are not rumored, so financial reports in the new year will be a better gauge of where the Murphy campaign is at. She is building some name recognition and that could come into play for the endorsement.

#4. Paul Thissen - Paul has the credentials and experience. It is just difficult to break into the top tier with this field. I think his emphasis on transparency will give him an issue to work with - but it is difficult to say how his message on his tenure as speaker will play out. I'm afraid too many people have forgotten the progress made during his time in the Speaker's chair. And the rapid turnover back to Republican plays a part in that perception. Still, the record is good to draw on.

#3. Chris Coleman - OK, the top tier are where it gets difficult to rank. The level of name recognition and party work are very good for these three. And Coleman has had a high profile office as Mayor of St. Paul. His record is pretty good - St. Paul has done well. However, taxes will be an issue that the GOP will be pushing. Part of that issue is the reductions in LGA money during that time - but that will be difficult to explain, especially in greater Minnesota. Coleman has a strong campaign staff and is well liked by the party activists. But the competition is tough.

#2. Rebecca Otto - Otto has emerged as a very strong candidate. The difference between one and two are closing and becoming an even trade. Financial reports will be interesting. Rebecca's statewide credentials are stellar and even the Iron Range issues that dragged her candidacy seem to have been addressed...although still worth noting - especially regarding endorsement. The Otto campaign has a lot of energy and she is vocal and out front on detailed policy plans.

#1. Tim Walz - Walz still seems to have the most statewide appeal - at least for now. He will have some challenges when it comes to his appeal to the progressive base, but he has met most of that head on. It is like his inner progressive is coming to the fore since he is not having to defend his Congressional seat in a center right district. But those same votes may get him some support in the 7th and 8th districts, as well as his own 1st. I would definitely not put Walz way ahead of the pack - not yet. But, in my opinion, he is the front runner.

More on other races later.
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