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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Minnesota's Potential for a Brokered Convention

Category: Presidential Politics
Posted: 12/22/07 12:39

by Dave Mindeman

Last night on Almanac, the political panel was asked if the Twin Cities GOP convention would be a brokered one. The panel, 2 Democrats (Mary Jo McGuire and Wy Spano) and 2 Republicans (Brian Sullivan and Andy Brehm), had a majority that said it would. Only Brian Sullivan didn't think it would happen. Both Sullivan and Brehm indicated support for Mitt Romney (although Brehm said his first choice is still McCain).

Let's examine why this is a possibility by having a closer look at the GOP candidate field:

Mike Huckabee: It wasn't even 6 months ago that Huckabee was still nothing more than a footnote in the field. But he caught the attention of the evangelicals with his religious views and he moved into contender status overnight. The flame burns brightest in Iowa and South Carolina where evangelicals make up a significant portion of the GOP base. But he still has a lot of work to do to convince the rest of the Republican establishment. His numbers in New Hampshire are still in the single digits. Huckabee's success has caused some additional fragmentation among potential delegates and made a brokered convention a real possibility.

John McCain: Another factor is the re-emergence of John McCain. After the contentious immigration debate many people (including myself) thought his campaign was finished. The money dried up to the point that he opted for public financing and his numbers in the early states were dropping out of sight. But the rest of the field has made mistakes and McCain's early support for the Iraq surge strategy are factors in a renewed interest in his campaign. His main chance is a strong showing in New Hampshire.....and that looks to be happening. McCain is now in a position to retake the front runner status if the others continue to self destruct. His rise adds to the brokered convention scenario.

Rudy Giuliani: The Rudy implosion has begun. Bad news has been plagueing the Rudy camp for several months now and his support is peeling off. His big state strategy was OK if he survived the early states without being drubbed. Get ready for the drubbing. However, Rudy still has a significant base that could keep him in the race for awhile. It still looks like New York and New Jersey with their winner take all primaries may keep him in the game. He is now completely dependent on a win in Florida; and even that is suspect now. Rudy now needs some help from the others to get back to a potential nomination. His fall adds to the brokered convention scenario.

Mitt Romney: Romney's flirtation with the evangelicals seems to have failed. They are now in the Huckabee camp. But Romney still has some support among the rest of the conservatives. He was in danger when Fred Thompson entered the race, but Thompson turned out to be a dud and Romney holds on as their second choice. He can withstand a loss to Huckabee in Iowa if he can win big in New Hampshire. So far, that seems to be in place. But Romney's initial plan to sweep the early states and ride that to the nomination is all but gone. Another element for a brokered convention.

Fred Thompson: Fred looks dead. Figuritively and literally. His late entry was treated with fanfare but the trumpets were off key. His campaign has been lackluster and blistered with mistakes. The conservatives are not impressed and seem poised to dismiss him as irrelevant. However, in a field that now has no frontrunner, he still has some opportunity. He needs to win somewhere... maybe Tennessee... to keep him in the game. If everyone else starts hurling salvos at each other, Fred may be able to pick up some of the pieces and make himself a player. His only hope is a brokered convention.

Ron Paul: Paul barely registers on some of the national polls. He normally picks up single digit support. But he has raised an extraordinary amount of money and his supporters are knowledgeable in the workings of the party delegate process. It is very possible that Paul could wind up with a number of delegates to the convention as his people concentrate their numbers in key areas. He is another wild card in the mix. And he, again, adds to the brokered convention scenario.

A brokered convention would have to have a perfect alignment of the stars. The powers that be want a strong single candidate to emerge and move quickly into the general election. As Brian Sullivan said on Almanac, the tendecy is to coalesce around one person.... and that will probably still happen. However, this field has had a problem with someone emerging... it seems to have a pack mentality and the GOP attack mode is in full swing. There are enough candidates to divide up this convention and force the GOP to move into September without a consensus opinion.

Spend Labor Day in Minnesota...the GOP will be working hard.
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IRV vs. Minnesota Voter Alliance

Category: IRV Voting
Posted: 12/20/07 16:49

by Dave Mindeman

Minneapolis voters approved IRV voting in municipal elections some time ago -- and it was a significant majority. Yet, we have a group filing a lawsuit to block it.

The Minnesota Voter Alliance is the organization behind the lawsuit. This group has another favorite issue.... political party endorsement of judges. The latter issue is heavily favored by the Republican party.... so it doesn't take a lot of dot connection to make a similar assumption about whose funding and encouraging the MN Voter Alliance.

They are claiming that IRV is not constitutional. Alright, fair enough..argue that on the merits. But I take issue with some of the other criticisms, such as:

Opponents say the instant-runoff system is confusing, open to manipulation and depresses turnout.

You get a ballot, you rank the candidates in order of preference. How confusing can that be? Open to manipulation? Frankly, I am more worried about computer voting scams than I am about any manipulation of IRV. And finally, depresses turnout? How in the world do they make that correlation? Are people going to stay away from the polls because they may be asked to make more than one check mark?

IRV has the voter rank the candidates. If you get no candidate with more than 50% of the first choice votes, you eliminate the last place candidate and add the second choice of those voters to the totals. That process continues until you have a 50% majority candidate.

That is not confusion or manipulation or voter apathy.... that is voter empowerment.

Let the courts decide its constituionality on the merits, but don't tag IRV as anything other than an improvement in voter participation.
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Pawlenty's Word: Redundant

Category: Tim Pawlenty
Posted: 12/19/07 20:18

by Dave Mindeman

The Legislature has decided to begin its own investigation of MnDOT's responsibilities....including a separate investigation of the bridge collapse.

Pawlenty wasn't happy, but it has its own irony.

Here is an excerpt from a news article on August 3, 2007...shortly after the bridge tragedy:

The governor also ordered an outside firm be hired to conduct its own investigation into what caused the 40-year-old span to collapse, sending people, vehicles, concrete and metal into the river during the Wednesday evening rush hour, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Police said four people are confirmed dead and another 20 to 30 were missing. We want redundancy, Pawlenty said of the investigation running parallel to that of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Here is an except from today's Star Tribune about the Legislative investigation:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, called the Legislature's review redundant. "It doesn't seem to be a very wise use of tax dollars," Pawlenty said, adding that it appeared the Legislature wanted "to make political hay out of a tragic situation. I hope they would not do that."

Redundancy is in the eye of the political beholder.

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