Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Morning After

All in all, great election results nationally for Republicans. While it would have been nice to have picked off a few more Senate seats (which were there for the plucking), taking back the House and doing it in a convincing manner was a huge victory. Throw in some key governor's races and statehouse gains and it's hard not to be ecstatic over the sweeping Republican gains. California is a notable exception. The state seems intent on carrying out a de facto secession from the rest of the country by turning left when almost everyone else is heading right. Good luck with that detour guys. Don't even think about asking us for gas money.

On a local level, the results are mixed. Losing all the constitutional offices and likely the governor's office is deeply disappointing. While the focus today is on the recount process and voting and counting irregularities, the truth is that Republicans have no one to blame but ourselves. We all know Hugh Hewitt's line about "If It's Not Close..." and the race for governor should have not been close. The biggest reason that we ended up with Al Franken as our Senator in 2008 was not because of Mark Ritchie or felons voting. It was because Norm Coleman failed to convincingly beat a vastly inferior candidate. Likewise, if Mark Dayton does end up becoming the next governor of Minnesota (shudder), it will be because Tom Emmer failed to seal the deal with voters in a Republican year against a very beatable opponent. Just win and we won't have to worry about whining.

It was also discouraging to see how Tim Walz managed to pull the wool over the eyes of voters in the First Congressional District again ad win reelection as a "moderate" despite having a pretty much down the line liberal voting record. And seeing Theresa Collett and Joel Demos get thrashed in the Fourth and Fifth Districts respectively indicates that it just might be impossible for a Republican to ever win either one as they are currently constituted.

Keeping on the sunny side, Republicans appear to have won both the Minnesota House AND Senate. This is a huge turnabout and happened much sooner than most expected was possible after the dark days of 2006 and 2008. While it's true that the governor's office does wield a great deal of power in Minnesota, it's mostly defensive in nature. Tim Pawlenty did a masterful job in this role over the last four years and kept the DFL legislature largely at bay. I just can't imagine the less agile Mark Dayton successfully playing goalie as well as T-Paw did if he's in the same position (even if he is taped to the crossbar).

The one wild-card here is redistricting. I don't understand the process well enough to know how it will play out under a divided government scenario and who has the upper hand between the governor and legislature. I do know that having all three branches under DFL control would have been an absolute nightmare.

One of the reasons that the GOP now has the majority in the MN House is that our friend King Banaian won his race in 15B. It was a squeaker and we'll have to wait for the recount to make it official, but since the initial results usually hold in these cases, we're happy to wish our warmest congratulations to King.

Last but not least, it should be reported that the sun did not rise in the east in Minnesota this morning (although there was quite a glow coming from Wisconsin). No, it rose in the north where Chip Cravaack's improbable victory over entrenched incumbent Jim Oberstar in the Eighth District shone a light that will bathe Republicans in its glorious warmth for a long time. This is one of sweetest wins that I can recall in all my years of following Minnesota elections and one that I will not soon forget. Thanks to Chip Cravaack for running an excellent campaign and to everyone who helped make his victory possible. Sometimes the good guys do prevail.