Talk of a “blue wave” has receded as the GOP has drawn more or less even on the generic preference poll, and Republican voter enthusiasm has continued to mount. For what it’s worth, here in Minnesota I think we will see a red tide. Republicans will almost certainly score a pickup in the state’s 8th Congressional district (the northeastern part of the state), and probably will also pick up the 1st, the state’s southernmost district.
Then there are the Senate races. Minnesota is in the flukish position of having both its Senate seats up, as a result of Al Franken’s resignation. Amy Klobuchar is not in serious danger, but Franken’s former seat gives Republicans a good chance for a pickup. Tina Smith, appointed by Governor Mark Dayton to fill the position until the next general election, is the DFL nominee. The Republican nominee will be Karin Housley, until now a relatively little-known member of the Minnesota Senate. The Associated Press covers the race, emphasizing the gender angle:
Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement that has swept high-profile men in politics, media and entertainment out of power, a record number of women are running for governor and Congress. No race is more emblematic of the changing landscape than Minnesota’s Senate contest, where the leading candidates are women seeking election to the seat of a man who resigned due to sexual misconduct allegations.
Within days of Franken announcing his resignation, Dayton assured the party faithful that he would pick a woman to fill the seat. He eventually turned to Smith, his lieutenant governor and longtime trusted aide, who spent years as Dayton’s top staffer before joining his ticket in 2014.
Smith has a long history as a DFL staffer and campaign manager. She also exemplifies the urban uber-liberal reality of today’s Democratic Party. A former senior executive with Planned Parenthood, she has little appeal outside the Twin Cities.
Then there is Karin Housley. In her relatively brief political career, Housley has shown an ability to draw support from people who are not regular Republican voters. In the legislature, she has focused mostly on relatively uncontroversial issues. For example, she chairs the Senate’s Aging and Long-Term Care committee. This is how the AP describes her:
Housley, the Republican, once ran for lieutenant governor herself. She’s a popular figure in Capitol circles with a last name many voters in hockey-mad Minnesota connect with her husband, Phil Housley, the Hall of Fame NHL defenseman who now coaches the Buffalo Sabres.
An energetic and engaging campaigner, Housley jumped into the race early, half expecting others to follow. But big-name men, including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Reps. Tom Emmer and Erik Paulsen, quickly passed. Housley faces two little-known Republican candidates in August for her party’s nomination.
It is noteworthy that the AP reporter, presumably a Democrat, finds nothing bad to say about Housley. She is, indeed, an energetic campaigner: her excellent social media accounts show her campaigning, seemingly, in a different town every day. And she is, I think, impossible to dislike. She will be hard for the Democrats to lay a glove on. Her style and her record are as mild as–to contrast her with another Minnesota woman–Michele Bachmann’s were red-hot.
It also can’t hurt that Karin’s husband, Phil Housley, is likely the best hockey player ever produced in Minnesota. Her name is an automatic door-opener in the state, and, along with her personality, may make it hard for the Democrats to attack her with their usual viciousness. Tina Smith’s name, on the other hand, is…Smith. Despite having served as Lieutenant Governor under Dayton, she has little public profile.
I have been impressed by Karin Housley’s campaign so far. She is disciplined as well as energetic. I think she is going to win. A GOP pickup in Minnesota would pretty much put to rest any Democratic hopes of capturing the Senate this year. If you want to help Housley’s campaign, go here.