“I find it objectionable to bail out insurance companies. It’s not who we are as Republicans.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY)
“Admitting that both parties routinely ignore the Constitution, reject the rule of law, and erode liberty is the first step to recovery.”
Rep. Justin Amash (R – MI)
One of the more noteworthy trends in Minnesota politics is the shift of large swaths of rural Minnesota from blue to red. In some cases, districts that had been in DFL hands for generations are now represented by GOP legislators.
What is happening in rural Minnesota (and other rural areas of the country) likely represents a true political realignment as voters in these areas realize they now have very little in common with the DFL ruling elites and the liberal DFL rank and file from the urban core.
The first glimmers of realignment began in the 1980s as the DFL became an abortion-on-demand party, causing many lifelong Democrats to migrate to the GOP because of deep seated beliefs regarding the sanctity of life.
Next came gun control, as Democrats in the urban core became avowed enemies of law-abiding gun owners.
The latest split on social issues has occurred in recent times over the gay marriage issue.
After Minnesota Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) legalized gay marriage in 2013, many rural Democrats lost their legislative seats in the 2014 election. The GOP held these seats in 2016, despite claims by the DFL that the seats were merely “rented.” If those seats are rentals, they are surely long-term leases.
After the schism caused by social issues, the DFL suffered a catastrophic breakdown of their coalition over economic the economic issues that have become preeminent in recent elections.
Strident DFL objections to mining, pipelines and oil extraction have proven to be the final straw for legions of erstwhile rural DFL voters.
Ultimately, all voters vote their pocketbook in some fashion.
This is especially true when good paying jobs are scarce in your area.
In many places in rural Minnesota, jobs in mines or in the kind of construction that builds pipelines are the best jobs around, offering good pay, health insurance, and a pension.
Another chapter in the saga of the DFL turning their backs on rural Minnesotans is being written right now.
The state is considering permits to replace the Line 3 oil pipeline that runs through the northern tier of the state.
The pipe line was installed in the late 1960s and needs replacement to install a pipeline consisting of safer material and capable of more efficiently moving oil.
As you might expect, many DFLers, including elected officials, are fighting the replacement project tooth and nail.
In opposing the pipeline replacement, here’s what these Democrats are opposing:
Over $2.1 billion in private investments by Enbridge, the company that owns the pipeline;
Thousands of high paying construction jobs that sustain families;
A major boost to the local economies along the pipeline from ancillary spending
Over $50 million in local property taxes paid by Enbridge;
The safety of a pipeline that moves an amount of oil every day equal to over 10,000 rail cars or 24,000 tanker trucks.
Considering all that, it’s rather astonishing that so many Democrats would oppose this project.
Just this week, 36 legislative Democrats affixed their names to a public statement of opposition to the project.
This is the list of shame:
Rep. Frank Hornstein (Minneapolis)
Rep. Jean Wagenius (Minneapolis)
Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (New Brighton)
Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (Roseville)
Rep. Susan Allen (Minneapolis)
Rep. Peggy Flanagan (Saint Louis Park)
Rep. Karen Clark (Minneapolis)
Rep. Rick Hansen (South Saint Paul)
Rep. Alice Hausman (Saint Paul)
Rep. Lyndon Carlson (Crystal)
Rep. Carlos Mariani (Saint Paul)
Rep. Diane Loeffler (Minneapolis)
Rep. Rena Moran (Saint Paul)
Rep. Paul Rosenthal (Bloomington)
Rep. Erin Maye Quade (Apple Valley)
Rep. Jim Davnie (Minneapolis)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minneapolis)
Rep. David Bly (Northfield)
Rep. Tina Liebling (Rochester)
Rep. Raymond Dehn (Minneapolis)
Rep. Erin Murphy (Saint Paul)
Rep. Paul Thissen (Minneapolis)
Rep. Dave Pinto (Saint Paul)
Rep. Mike Frieberg (Golden Valley)
Rep. Connie Bernardy (Fridley)
Rep. Fue Lee (Minneapolis)
Rep. Andrew Carlson (Bloomington)
Sen. Scott Dibble (Minneapolis)
Sen. Carolyn Laine (Columbia Heights)
Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (Minneapolis)
Sen. John Marty (Roseville)
Sen. Sandy Pappas (Saint Paul)
Sen. Greg Clausen (Apple Valley)
Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (Minneapolis)
Sen. Kari Dziedzic (Minneapolis)
Put another way, 40% of Democrats in the legislature formally oppose safer pipelines, good construction jobs, and higher tax revenues for rural Minnesota.
Stunning. And that’s why the DFL has lost rural Minnesota.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ELEPHANT’S ROOM
Don’t think for a moment that former Governor Tim Pawlenty isn’t contemplating running for governor in 2018.
The opportunity to govern with a GOP majority in both houses might be inducement enough to take a third non-consecutive run at the mansion he occupied from 2002-2010.
If he got in, Pawlenty would be the most formidable candidate on both sides of the partisan divide.
Big name recognition, ready access to a nationwide donor network, and deep experience in the state and national political arena are assets no current candidate can match.
Pop quiz: Who was the last Republican to win state-wide office in Minnesota? If you said TPaw, that would be correct.
If you guessed that last win was over a decade ago, you would be correct again.
With those credentials in place, Pawlenty can afford to stay on the sidelines for a bit and assess the situation.
His campaign could be quickly spun up, easily counting on an experienced cadre of former campaign and gubernatorial staffers to reassemble in quick order.
The Watchdog has heard from multiple GOP opinion leaders and high net worth donors that they want to know what his plans are before committing to other announced candidates or candidates contemplating a run for governor.
Stay tuned. The race for governor has only just begun.