Posted: 07/28/14 17:45
by Dave Mindeman
The Republican race for the GOP Governor standardbearer has been particularly tough to figure out. Characterized as anything from "sleepy" to a "yawner", it hasn't attracted much serious excitement. And there haven't been many actual debates to gain more information.
But heck, I'll go out on a limb and rank them anyway. The GOP isn't going to pay any attention to what I think, so here they are in reverse order....
4. Scott Honour - Honour doesn't strike me as much of a retail politician. His whole premise for running is that government has too many career politicians and its time for a change. But a change to what? Honour is an enigma that few have figured out. Some of his bio sounds pretty familiar:
For much of his career, Honour was a major investment manager with the Gores Group in Los Angeles, which is involved in global transactions and handles multibillions of dollars in private equity, including investment from major pensions. The company specialized in buying companies and then finding efficiencies through layoffs, closing plants and other reductions, sometimes resulting in bankruptcy.
So he's another private equity guy. Made his money in California, not Minnesota. So he is trying to tell us that a guy who hasn't really engaged in the Minnesota economy, hasn't live here for awhile, and has never been involved in politics in any way....should be elected governor? Sorry, I don't get that one at all. Honour is a bank account and that's about it.
And as for his running mate, Sen. Karin Housley. That's another puzzle. She doesn't add much for geographic help coming from Stillwater - an eastern suburb. But at least she's a Senator and won't cost the GOP anything in the legislature.
3. Kurt Zellers - Actually, I have to admit, Zellers looks more comfortable as a governor candidate then he ever did as speaker. But this idea that he is the "only one who has taken on Gov. Dayton" rings pretty hollow. He let the stadium go through and he shut down the government over a budget where Dayton gets his revenue and Zellers opts for borrowing rather than taxes. Then he takes another "no taxes" pledge after the Democrats have managed to fix the previous budget with taxes they passed in the previous session. Standing his ground? More like standing on quick sand. Zellers opted for former Rep. Dean Simpson as his running mate. Simpson was also his campaign chair - so was he having trouble getting somebody to yes? Simpson has little name recognition outside of western Minnesota. Not sure what the strategy is on that one.
2. Jeff Johnson - The endorsement moves Johnson slightly ahead of Zellers, but his cash reserves are bleak. He may have a chance in a 4 way primary but going into the general, he will be a weak candidate. If the GOP ground game apparatus has improved, it might be enough to get Johnson through an intraparty fight. However, the endorsement process left some splits out there. And the Tea Party groups have been strangely silent - another area that Johnson has been actively seeking. And his odd choice for running mate was Bill Kuisle - a former Rochester legislator. Kuisle got the ticket in trouble with comments on fracking - and although I am sure Johnson was trying to cultivate some favor in Olmsted County, I'm not sure Kuisle has much of a reach anymore.
1. Marty Seifert - This is going to be a close election, but I think that Seifert's outstate credentials will be the deciding factor. Honour and Johnson will probably split any Twin Cities vote and Zellers might be favored in the burbs, but Seifert can speak to the rural vote - its just a question of will they go to the polls. Seifert did make a strong showing at the last convention and got some brownie points by his graceful pullout after Emmer won the endorsement. However, he botched those brownie points by a very awkward end to the Johnson endorsement win. That may cost Seifert in the end. His running mate choice - Rep. Pam Myhra, was a good one. She isn't well known but will bring in some Burnsville votes and dip into the surburbs. A good geographical balance - if that is worth anything anymore.
So, there is my reading of the tea leaves. Could be completely wrong, been wrong before. And, granted, I have a vastly different perspective than the primary voters...but heck, we shall see the real "polling" in a few weeks.
In any event, the "sleepy" race should be interesting.