Prof. Steven Schier’s op-ed asks a fundamental question that might determine whether Minnesota Republicans will experience a good year in 2018. There’s no question whether Minnesota is a redder state now than when Tim Pawlenty won re-election in 2006. What’s still in question is whether Minnesota will return to electing Republican governors.
Buried inside Prof. Schier’s op-ed is some information that’s gotten my attention. For instance, Prof. Schier notes that “the steadily more progressive profile of the DFL is hurting the party in greater Minnesota. Minnesota Democrats are increasingly defined by strong environmentalism and assertive social liberalism that does not receive a warm response in places such as Redwood Falls, Roseau and Blue Earth and among the state’s farm population. An increasingly progressive DFL creates many electoral opportunities for the state’s GOP. That is reflected in the trends noted above. Metro DFL activists are among the most progressive in the country, and their agenda puts substantial political distance between them and residents of most counties outside of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area.”
It isn’t that Republicans have suddenly gotten popular, though it’s indisputable that they’re more popular than Democrats. What’s most true is that the DFL is much less popular in rural Minnesota than at any time in my lifetime. A look at the Secretary of State’s website shows how the DFL went from having an 89-45 majority in the House in 2008 to a 63-71 minority in 2010. Republicans go into this election with a 76-58 majority in the House. With the margin of victory being large in most of those seats, it’s difficult not picturing Kurt Daudt as speaker again in 2019.
Further, it’s difficult not picturing Republicans being super-motivated this fall to elect a Republican governor to go along with GOP majorities in the House and Senate. It might not finish that way but Republicans must have that as their goal. That’s because it’s such a realistic goal.
This is an unexpected burst of honesty:
It’s easy to miss the recent “reddening” of Minnesota because the state’s media is heavily concentrated in the heavily blue enclave of the MSP metropolitan area. Analysis and coverage of political trends in greater Minnesota receive sporadic and often superficial coverage.
It isn’t that I think Prof. Schier isn’t trustworthy. It’s that such candidness isn’t that common. To be certain, turning Minnesota from a deep blue state to a purple state on its way to being a semi-red state is taking time. There still aren’t any conservative superstars from Minnesota.
Tim Pawlenty is the closest thing to a Republican rock star but he isn’t a superstar by any stretch of the imagination. Jason Lewis has a legitimate shot at becoming a conservative superstar because of his intellectual heft. BTW, ignore the nonsense that Angie Craig will defeat him this year. He’ll have to work hard but Jason will win re-election.