Fighting For the Rural Vote

Scott wrote a little while ago about the debate between Minnesota governor candidates that took place earlier today, at FarmFest in southern Minnesota. FarmFest is like a State Fair for farmers and the ag industries. My wife and I spent the day at FarmFest helping to man the American Experiment booth there, and we attended the debate.

This is our booth. We had a wheel you could spin to win prizes and merchandise, and a steady stream of rural Minnesotans passed through all day:

The debate between far-left Democratic Governor Tim Walz and Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen was interesting on many levels. Here are some observations:

* Tim Walz is unpopular in rural Minnesota, as Democrats are generally throughout the country. He infamously told a gathering of Democrats that there is no reason to worry about Greater Minnesota–everything other than the Twin Cities metro area–because there is “nothing there but rocks and cows.” So today’s crowd was a good one for the Republican candidate.

* The crowd was huge, bigger than a vast building could hold. Interest in this year’s election is sky-high.

* If Phil Spector perfected the “wall of sound” in popular music, Tim Walz is the “wall of sound” politician. If he were getting paid by the word, he would be the richest man in town. He doesn’t try to persuade an audience, he tries to yammer his audience into submission.

What was striking today was how angry Walz seemed. He is the incumbent governor, so why is he so mad?

I think Walz is one of many Democratic politicians who think they have bought the voters’ ballots fair and square, with government programs. If voters hesitate, they are being ungrateful, so Walz is frustrated when he meets opposition. But anger is not a good look. A farmer from Sauk Centre who is not political watched the debate and came away asking, “Why is Walz so angry?” That was a common reaction.

* Republican candidate Scott Jensen is not a politician but a practicing doctor. Walz looked slovenly because he was trying to impersonate a Minnesotan, while Jensen dressed respectably:

* Maybe the details of today’s debate are unique to Minnesota, but in reality the main issues are the same almost everywhere. Our experience manning the American Experiment booth was that the price of energy is easily issue number one. Rural Americans understand the Left’s war on fossil fuels, which is in effect a war on rural and small town life. My organization has done perhaps the most sophisticated work of any group in the country on energy issues, but it is remarkable how little explanation the people who stop by our booth need to hear. They get it. And, for what it is worth, I didn’t encounter a single “green” energy advocate at FarmFest. The energy issue is death for Democrats at the polls.

* So who “won” today’s debate between a professional politician who is an incumbent governor, and a superficially less-polished challenger who is a doctor, not a politician? I think it did not go well for Governor Walz, for several reasons.

* One, a politician who comes across as angry is generally not winning.

* Two, Dr. Scott Jensen’s closing remarks were greeted with cheers and a standing ovation. Walz’s, to put it mildly, were not.

* Three, when the debate was over, a journalist immediately started peppering Dr. Jensen with questions about Donald Trump: Has Jensen been endorsed by Trump? Has he sought Trump’s endorsement? Has he been to Mar-A-Lago? This is an obvious attempt to change the subject. The two gubernatorial nominees have just gone at it for an hour and a half in a truly substantive debate, and the Democratic Party journalist wants to deep-six all of that and talk about Donald Trump. She obviously thought Walz lost the debate.

I am not sure whether there will be any more debates between Tim Walz and Scott Jensen. Walz seems to view any challenge as an act of Lèse-majesté, and given how poorly he fared today he might not agree to any similar events in the future.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter, at least as it relates to rural and small town voters. The Democratic Party has nothing to offer to the overwhelming majority of such voters. So politicians like Tim Walz, who came from rural origins and pretend to understand rural issues, are fighting a rear-guard battle. They are slaves to the forces that control their party, and have nothing to offer residents of rural communities. The same is true, no doubt, in many other states.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that you can contribute to Dr. Jensen’s campaign here.

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