Minnesota politics once had a reputation for civility. Of course, that was when the Republican Party was weak and could be relied on to roll over in a pinch. Times are different now; under the leadership of Bill Cooper and Ron Eibensteiner, the Minnesota Republican Party has become one of the strongest and best-organized parties in the country. Republicans now control the Governorship and the state House, and will probably take over the Senate soon if present voting trends continue. Meanwhile, the state’s Congressional and Senatorial delegations are evenly split, with the prospect of more Republican takeovers in upcoming elections. The issues and demographics are pushing more and more Minnesotans into the Republican camp.
Hence the demise of civility. Faced with the loss of their dominant position, Minnesota’s Democrats have turned nasty. Open war has broken out beetween Attorney General Mike Hatch, the state’s highest-ranking Democrat, and charismatic Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. Hatch, who openly lusts to be Governor himself, has spearheaded a series of vicious attacks on Pawlenty. Some of these included a series of bogus “ethics” charges, obviously unfounded but intended to generate newspaper headlines that would tarnish Pawlenty’s strong reputation for integrity. Yesterday the State’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board threw out the ethics charges against Pawlenty (while, at the same time, sustaining an ethics charge against one of Pawlenty’s sharpest DFL critics in the legislature).
That presumably brings this phase of the Democrats’ attack to an end. But the war is far from over, and our sources tell us that the Democrats have up their sleeve one of the most outrageous power plays ever perpetrated in American politics. Stay tuned.
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