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Whirl from the north country

I usually think I have a bead on the feelings of my fellow Minnesotans, but this year I have no feel at all for what is happening. We seem to be exempt from the wave that is about to wash up on the Obama shore, with the Democrats’ extraordinarily weird gubernatorial candidate having held a lead of questionable size over Republican contender Tom Emmer since the race took shape this summer. Mark Dayton’s millions — both his own and those of his ex-wife — and the nonfeasance of the Minnesota media have proved to be an invaluable asset to Dayton’s campaign.
If only for his own sake, Dayton really should have made a side trip to Washington this weekend for that Restore Sanity rally. If he makes it into the governor’s office after the election next week, the rest of us are going to need some of the same meds that have seen Dayton through so far.
The Republican challengers to Minnesota’s five incumbent Democratic congressmen make us look a bit more mainstream this year. All five of them showed up to speak at our small chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition on a beautiful Sunday afternoon this past July. They each made excellent presentations and favorable impressions as challengers undertaking difficult races. In retrospect, I can see that they are representative of the many outstanding challengers running around the country in congressional races this year under the Republican banner.
The three strongest were Randy Demmer challenging Tim Walz in Minnesota’s First Congressional District, Teresa Collett challenging Betty McCollum in Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, and Chip Cravaack challenging 18-term incumbent Democratic porkmeister Jim Oberstar in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. The only thing these challengers have lacked is financial resources.
Teresa Collett has taken a break from her career teaching at the University of St. Thomas Law School to run against McCollum. She has doggedly kept at the race and given the strongest showing of any Republican congressional candidate in the Fourth District in living memory. No one can doubt that she has undertaken the race for any reason but belief in the principles she espouses.
Professor Collett nevertheless remains a longshot to unseat McCollumn. The hometown paper could easily have phoned in a routine endorsement for the incumbent this year. However, yesterday the St. Paul Pioneer Press ran an editorial recognizing Professor Collett’s strengths and declining to endorse either McCollum or Collett. This is a tribute both to the fair-mindedness of the Pioneer Press on this occasion and Professor Collett’s extraordinary character. Win or lose, Professor Collett emerges from this race as a leader to whom attention must be paid.
If something is happening here, I think it’s in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. The district holds the birthplace of Bob Dylan as well as Dylan’s childhood home. This year it’s not “Girl from the North Country,” but, thanks to Cravaack, whirl from the north country.
Cravaack attended the Naval Academy and served in the Navy reserve. He wears Naval Aviator Wings, Navy/Marine Corps Parachutist Wings, and Air Assault Badge as well as being a designated Navy Master Training Specialist. After retiring from the Navy Reserve he flew for Northwest Airlines. This past Sunday the Duluth News Tribune endorsed Cravaack over Oberstar.
An earlier internal Cravaack campaign poll showed the race to be competitive. I thought that was interesting and noted it at the time. Now SurveyUSA has released a poll of the race showing Cravaack neck and neck with Oberstar at 46 to 47 percent. I find this result stunning, almost unbelievable. To all our faithful readers, and especially those in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District, please get out and vote on Tuesday.

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