Democrats Come to Minnesota

The annual summer meeting of the Association of State Democratic Chairs was held in St. Paul yesterday; the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The event does not seem to have been very successful. It was overshadowed by President Bush’s visit to the state the day before, and only three of the nine Democratic Presidential candidates attended: Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Howard Dean. Candidates Kerry, Lieberman and Gephardt appeared via video feed.
In an unintentionally hilarious note, the Democrats attributed Kerry’s and Lieberman’s absence to a nefarious Republican plot to prevent them from getting to Minnesota by scheduling an important vote in the Senate:
“Still convinced that Bush’s campaign-style stop in Fridley on Thursday was meant to divert attention from their meeting, the Democrats vented over what they called a deliberate Republican plot to keep congressional candidates marooned in the nation’s capital.
“‘They’re not no-shows — they’ve got to be in the Senate,’ Minnesota DFL Party Chair Mike Erlandson said, referring to Kerry and Lieberman. ‘The Republicans deliberately did this. It’s the third or fourth time they’ve scheduled votes when they knew we were having campaign events.'” Funny how work keeps interfering with campaigning. Of course, Gephardt didn’t show up either, and he almost never votes in the House, so it is unclear what his excuse is.
The event was another opportunity for the Strib to bewail Minnesota’s lost status as a Democratic stronghold:
“Republicans crushed Democrats statewide last fall, and President Bush ran an unexpectedly competitive race in 2000, losing by only 57,000 votes, so Republican strategists have targeted the state in 2004.
“‘It is one of the last places I would have ever picked to be a swing state, but it is approaching that,’ said Larry Sabato, a professor of government at the University of Virginia. ‘Minnesota used to be Democratic landslide territory, so nobody paid any attention to it because everyone knew what was going to happen there. Now, no one knows what’s going to happen.'” Earth to Professor Sabato: Minnesota is long past the point of “approaching” swing state status.
On the whole, not the kind of publicity the Democrats had hoped for.

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