Pawlenty Endorses Kennedy

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has officially endorsed Mark Kennedy for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Mark Dayton. There had been some speculation that Pawlenty had been mulling a Senate run himself, but this puts a nail in that particular coffin.

Former Senator Rod Grams is reportedly quite upset with Pawlenty’s endorsement. Grams is a nice guy, but his 2000 campaign was lackluster at best, and he’s damaged goods politically. A primary fight would only hurt Grams, and Pawlenty is wildly popular with the GOP base after his arduous primary fight with activist Brian Sullivan. I don’t see Grams having much of a chance of securing the nomination at this point.

Kennedy is a solid choice for the Minnesota GOP. He’s proven that he can win elections, and he’s won them in two different Congressional distrincts. The suburbs and Southern Minnesota are both key to any successful GOP effort in the state, and Kennedy has won in both. It remains to be seen who will emerge as the DFL’s contender for Dayton’s seat (although just about anyone would be better than the lackluster Dayton) — however, Minnesota once again could provide another Senate pickup for the GOP in the midterms.

2 thoughts on “Pawlenty Endorses Kennedy

  1. Kennedy is likely to be a formidable opponent for whoever the Democratic nominee might be. As you mentioned, he has represented well over a third of the state in the two Congressional districts he has served in. This will help him produce Pawlenty/Coleman quality numbers in the northern suburbs and improve his margins in rural southwest Minnesota, which isn’t always as reliably GOP as many would like to think. This combination will make it hard for whoever the Democratic nominee may be to find a foothold. Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar appears to be the frontrunner for the donks right now, and I know very little about her.

    Whatever happens, the outcome of this race is likely to be determined by three Minnesota communities….Rochester, Edina and Shoreview. All of these communities have long been Republican bastions, but the GOP’s hard-right shift of recent years has alienated these socially moderate voters. For instance, Edina and Shoreview voted narrowly for John Kerry last year…uncharted territory for these red strongholds. Rochester, now Minnesota’s third-largest city and long labelled the “heart and soul of Minnesota’s Republican party,” went for Bush by a paltry one percentage point. Meanwhile, they dumped two of their three Republican House legislators with the third hanging on by the skin of his teeth. If Klobuchar, Wetterling or whoever the Democratic candidate may be can pull off Kerry-caliber numbers in Rochester, Edina and Shoreview, they may be able to overcome Kennedy’s substantial exurban advantage. It’s a tall order given the smaller voter turnout in non-Presidential years, but definitely possible given Kennedy’s resume as a loyal rubber stamp to the administration these same voters rejected five months ago.

  2. Being from Rochester, I could not agree with your analysis more Mark. It’s not a coincidence that practically every major (and some minor) GOP and gubernatorial events have taken place there since the elections. Kennedy needs to find a conservative issue that fits intellectuals well to trumpet in Rochester and Edina if he wants to sew up the base.

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