Minnesota's in the Middle

All things Minnesota politics

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Al Franken's decision

Al Franken appeals to the base of the DFL, he says what they want to hear, he calls Republicans out every chance he gets, and would be the dream candidate for the average Democrat. If Al Franken enters the race he becomes the strong favorite to win the DFL endorsement and primary. Which means the upcoming announcement of his decision to run or not means everything in this race. If Franken enters the race those considering a DFL run will realize they are up against the odds, and credible DFL candidates will choose not to run. The bigger story though is it will drive quality candidates that want to be on the November ballot to look at the Independence Party.

No matter who runs for the Independence Party though an additional factor is in play. The Independence candidate will probably fair as well if not better then Robert Fitzgerald's 3.2% showing. If the race is close in Norm Coleman's favor the democrats may once again call the Independence party the spoiler. From the perspective of November of 2006 looking forward on this race, it is clear to me that the DFL and/or Franken control that spoiler variable. Bringing a candidate forward who does not have a wide range of appeal, or for that matter credibility, will drive the Independence campaign up, will encourage DFL leaning quality candidates to run IP, and ultimately will increase Norm Coleman's chances.

Franken's decision means everything in this race, even if someone knocks him off come 2008 he has the potential to do damage to the DFL's chances. Maybe that will be OK, maybe the wave we saw this year doesn't stop and Al Franken can win in 08 even with the best possible DFL leaning Independence Party candidate "trying to spoil things", but if that's the case a lot of liberal Democrats can win who don't turn moderates and Independence off in the way Franken does. The quality of candidates that come from the DFL and Republican parties are what drives people to run Independence. What we saw in the final moments of the governors race was absolutely a driving force in Peter Hutchinson's decision to run for governor, if Norm Coleman were to decide to step down and Michele Bachmann became the favorite to become the Republican candidate, it would drive a strong candidate with Republican leanings towards the Independence Party, Al Franken represents the exact same thing on the other end.

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