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Thursday night, Rep. Marsha Blackburn coasted to an easy primary victory, winning with 84.47% of the vote. As expected, former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen coasted to victory in the Democrat primary, winning with 91.48% of the vote.

The telling statistic isn’t the percentage of the vote the winners got. The telling statistic is how many people turned out. The Republican candidates combined to win 717,885 votes, with Rep. Blackburn winning 606,402 votes alone. The 3 Democrat candidates combined to win 378,548 votes, with Bredesen winning 346,305 votes.

That means the 2 Republicans gathered almost 350,000 more votes than did the 3 Democrat candidates. While that doesn’t guarantee a November victory for Republicans, that margin of victory, coupled with the turnout, must have Mitch McConnell and Ronna McDaniel breathing a sigh of relief. Here’s what the races looked like:

The negative news last night was that Rep. Diane Black lost. She was backed by former Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer.

Tim Pawlenty has started running an ad that takes a shot at Gov. Dayton’s incompetence in administering government assistance programs. Before we watch the ad, though, it’s important to note that Pawlenty has listed this issue as a high priority on his campaign’s issues page.

He wrote “Whether it is a driver’s license renewal system that doesn’t work, broken healthcare websites, or childcare providers allegedly defrauding the state of a massive amount of money and sending some of that money to terrorists overseas, state government needs to be held more accountable. Too often, state government is not held accountable and taxpayers are left to pay the price. As just one example, a recent audit from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found the state is paying hundreds of millions in benefits to people not even eligible because state government fails to verify income eligibility. We will properly verify eligibility and use the hundreds of millions currently being wasted to lower health care costs and provide better care to Minnesotans in need. It’s time to hold state government more accountable and put hardworking Minnesotans first.”

Here’s Pawlenty’s ad:

Rating this ad

I consider this ad to be effective. First, Pawlenty ‘narrates’ the ad, in essence telling people what he thinks is important while highlighting what’s wrong with government. Next, he closes by saying that he’d use those savings to lower health care costs for Minnesotans who work hard and obey the law.

Next up is Karin Housley’s first ad:

Rating this ad

I rate this ad effective, too. First, Sen. Housley speaks for herself, which is always the most effective way of getting the message across. Next, she explains her governing philosophy. Simply put, she wants to ‘drain the swamp’ and get government out of the average citizen’s way. She wants government “working for you, not against you.” Finally, she tells voters that she understands “that the best place for your hard-earned money is in your pocket.”

In both cases, the ads were short, concise and about things that Minnesotans care about.

UPDATE: I saw Jeff Johnson’s first ad tonight:

Rating this ad

Johnson’s ad definitely goes after Tim Pawlenty, which is what I’d expect since Johnson first has to win the primary. I thought it was gratuitous for Johnson to say that Gov. Pawlenty “gave us higher spending.” When Gov. Pawlenty started in office, Jim Knoblach chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s foolish to think that there was a massive spending increase at that time because Gov. Pawlenty inherited a $4.2 billion projected deficit from Jesse Ventura. Pawlenty and Knoblach eliminated that deficit without raising taxes. It’s fair, however, to mention the fee increases.

The ad is a bit misleading in that Pawlenty had to battle DFL supermajorities in the 2007 and 2009 budget sessions. That’s when Republicans relied on Gov. Pawlenty to be our goalie.

Overall, the ad is somewhat effective because it’s somewhat misleading.

This article introduces a frightening thought to Republicans — “the Maxine Waters brigade.” Actually, conservatives should be happy for such a phenomenon.

This paragraph should explain why. In it, it talks about “Even before the prospect of a conservative SCOTUS majority, progressives were already chasing Republicans out of restaurants. Now that Roe v. Wade is theoretically at risk, what will the Maxine Waters brigade do now—start throwing them out of airplanes?”

As I highlighted in this earlier post, Democrats are losing it. Watch 15 seconds of the videos of Jeffrey Toobin and Chris Matthews losing it and you’ll know what I mean. To use an old cliche, a little paranoia goes a long way. This week especially, Democrats are living proof of that cliche.

Here’s a bigger problem for Democrats:

Yes, that’s turned around a bit in the Trump era, most notably in Alabama where a solidly red seat flipped to blue. But unfortunately for Democrats there are only so many Judge Roy Moore’s to go around. What’s happening this November is that Democrats like Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Claire McCaskill (MO) have to run against quality, non-crazy Republicans in states that Trump carried by double-digits.

And now, thanks to Justice Kennedy’s retirement, those same Democrats have to vote against a conservative Supreme Court nominee…on the eve of an election. It’s like a felon robbing a bank on his way to a parole hearing—it confirms everything they feared about you to begin with.

For people who understand things the game of Cribbage, they know that a hand with all even cards is close to worthless. The old saying is that the only right way to throw such a hand is away. Democrats are looking at the political equivalent of an all even cards Cribbage hand this year.

Think about this: Joe Crowley had hoped to challenge Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House. He was defeated by a socialist who wants to abolish ICE. She’ll win that election but New York Republicans should drape her around the necks of every so-called moderate in New York. I can’t picture that turning out well for Democrats.

Think about this, too. How many voters think that getting rid of ICE is the pathway to a safer, more prosperous America? A: Virtually no one. When closing arguments are made this October and November, expect this to be part of the Republicans’ closing arguments.

Don’t expect the Maxine Waters Brigade to win that fight.

During her interview with KMSP-TV, Erin Murphy did her best to explain why the DFL endorsement for governor is important. At one point, I got the sense that Rep. Murphy almost said that it’s important because she’s strapped for cash and needs the DFL’s assistance to push her across the finish line. She stopped short of that but that’s still the truth:

According to this report, Murphy had less than $75,000 cash-on-hand as of 3/31/2018. By comparison, Tim Pawlenty has $900,000 more cash-on-hand. On the DFL side of things, Tim Walz has almost $650,000 cash-on-hand.

Let’s get serious here. With the DFL’s help, Erin Murphy should win the DFL Primary. The minute the primary is over, though, she’s in trouble. The bad news for the DFL is that her competitors on the DFL side are in worse shape. With the DFL having been taken over by Our Revolution, Murphy is the only candidate extreme enough for that organization. Lori Swanson and Tim Walz will split the outstate vote. When they lose the primary, their voters are most likely to either not vote for Murphy or they’ll switch to the GOP.

This won’t be a happy reunion. This is the DFL’s civil war. Republicans aren’t unified but the DFL is heading for outright civil war.

I’m semi-stunned with the first polling for the DFL primary in Minnesota’s Eighth District. First, the polling company was “conducted by Victoria Research and Consulting for the Radinovich campaign. The firm, based in Maryland, has worked in Minnesota’s Eighth District since first hired by the late Jim Oberstar in 1992.” Next, “the company interviewed 400 likely DFL primary voters in the Eighth District from May 12-17. Of the five DFLers in the race, Lee had the highest name recognition at 39 percent, while Radinovich was second at 30 percent. Fewer than one-in-four likely primary voters had heard of state Rep. Jason Metsa or North Branch Mayor Kristen Hagen Kennedy.”

That few people had heard of Kristen Hagen-Kennedy isn’t surprising. That few people have heard of Jason Metsa is stunning. He’s a state legislator. He’s been re-elected, too. That isn’t the only bad news for Metsa, though. Here’s more:

The survey considered the candidates support within the district’s two major media markets, Duluth and the Twin Cities. Lee had a clear lead in the Duluth market, with 24 percent support, while Radinovich was second at 18 percent. Metsa finished third with 15 percent support while Kennedy had the backing of just four percent of those polled.

Radinovich holds a clear lead, however, in the southern part of the district, with 17 percent support. Kennedy was in second place at nine percent, while Lee finished third at seven percent. Metsa came in at just two percent support.

In other words, Metsa is tanking outside of his back yard.

Lee represents an interesting dilemma for the DFL. She’s well-known, popular and she opposes copper-nickel mining:

The last thing the DFL needs is for there to be a tough fight between the pro-mining people and the anti-mining activists as their 2 finalists duke it out. That’s what this is shaping up to be at this point. It’s impossible to forget, too, that Leah Phifer won all 10 of the ballots at the DFL CD-8 Convention, though she didn’t win the endorsement. Let’s remember, too, that Rebecca Otto’s only win in the Precinct Caucus straw poll was in CD-8. They might’ve gotten rid of Phifer but they haven’t gotten rid of the environmental activists.

I expect Radinovich to win the primary because there will a significant turnout for the pro-mining Swanson-Nolan gubernatorial ticket in the primary in the Eighth. That shouldn’t be underestimated. However, it wouldn’t be wise to predict a Radinovich victory in November if the Erin-Squared ticket wins the gubernatorial primary. An Erin-Squared victory will likely have a negative effect on turnout in the Eighth District.

For months, perhaps years, it’s been obvious that the energy in the Democratic Party has been in the ‘Bernie Sanders wing’ of the party. One thing that showed up bigtime in last night’s Democratic Party primaries was the ‘Bernie Sanders wing’ of the party. In “Nebraska, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wanted former Rep. Brad Ashford as its nominee for an Omaha-based seat. But Tuesday night ended with liberal Kara Eastman, a social worker, proclaimed the winner by more than 1,000 votes.”

The voters said that Ashford wasn’t radical enough for their liking.

In Pennsylvania, Greg Edwards, who lost the primary to Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, and winner Susan Wild, summed things up perfectly when he said “That’s where the momentum is. If you try and run a Republican-lite or a Democrat-lite candidate, it suppresses the Democratic vote.” Also in Pennsylvania, another moderate candidate, Rachel Reddick, “lost to ‘proud progressive’ Scott Wallace. The self-funding millionaire drenched the airwaves with TV ads that attacked Reddick for recently being a registered Republican.”

So much for Democrats recruiting candidates like Conor Lamb that “fit their districts.”

This isn’t good news for the blue wave theorists in the media:

Eastman’s victory had liberals feeling emboldened. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group, said Tuesday night that Eastman’s win should teach Democrats that “the way to inspire voters in 2018 is to campaign on a bold progressive agenda of Medicare for All, higher wages for workers, and other economic populist ideas that help working families and challenge corporate power.”

Progressives mix together with moderates like oil mixes with water. The question most likely to be asked after these primaries is whether Democrats will unite behind these candidates or will they stay home. With a message like this, Kara Eastman won’t win in November:

Seriously? Health care, raising the minimum wage and “debt-free education”? In Nebraska, she’s gonna run on those? I can’t picture those issues playing well in Nebraska.

Ed Morrissey’s post illustrates the strength of Tim Pawlenty’s position, both going into the August primary and potentially the general election. First, Ed cites this article:

“The 1,300 delegates, or so, that you need to get endorsed may already be pledged to other candidates,” Pawlenty said on WCCO Sunday Morning. “If that is the case, the cake may already be baked, but either way our campaign is not stopping with the endorsing convention. You get on the ballot in Minnesota by running and winning a primary, and that is what we intend to do.”

Ed then highlights the DFL’s difficulties:

Walz has other worries than just fundraising. It’s taken him more than a year to get to $1.6 million, which means that Pawlenty may soon surpass him. Meanwhile, his nearest two Democratic opponents (Erin Murphy and Rebecca Otto) have raised almost a million dollars between them. Furthermore, the fight in the DFL has burned through much of that fundraising; Walz has spent just over a million dollars from his coffers, while Murphy and Otto have run through most of their funds (Murphy appears to be $30,000 or so in the hole). Otto, whose campaign will challenge Walz from his left, also pledges to run in the primary, which will force Walz to either move in a more progressive direction or lose ground in the Twin Cities.

Ed’s observations are certainly accurate but they don’t tell the entire story. It’s my contention that Tim Walz sold his soul while pandering to the anti-gun left. I think that Rep. Walz did that because he needs to win tons of votes in the Twin Cities.

I don’t think Rep. Walz will like that trade-off. First, I don’t think that Walz will be that competitive against Otto in the Twin Cities. Next, by pandering to the anti-gun left, Rep. Walz likely undercut his support in rural Minnesota and Southern Minnesota. If I’m right, that foolish pandering has left Walz as a candidate without a sturdy base of support.

Outstate Minnesotans won’t like Walz’s pandering. It isn’t likely that they’ll appreciate his flip-flop on the Second Amendment, either, though the pandering is the bigger sticking point.

The other problem facing whoever the DFL candidate is in the general election is that they’re all virtual unknowns. That means the DFL’s candidate will need to spend tons of cash. Apparently, they’re already doing that:

Meanwhile, how much of Pawlenty’s funds have gotten spent? Er … $40,000 as of last Tuesday, a mere 4% of his revenue, which means that Pawlenty already has an advantage of nearly $400,000 over Walz. Compare that burn rate to Johnson (~50%), Walz (62%), Otto (74%), and Murphy (105%), and it’s not looking bad for Pawlenty in either the primary or general election.

With or without a DFL primary, the DFL candidate faces a steep uphill fight to raise enough money to compete. While Pawlenty an Johnson duke it out in the GOP primary, the DFL candidate will need to spend tons of money just to gain name recognition. Considering the amount of money that the DFL candidates have spent, they’ll need to raise literally millions of dollars for the general election.

Whether you agree or disagree with Tim Pawlenty, he’s a good debater:

Here’s something worth thinking about. Pawlenty is prepared to defend his record and tout his accomplishments. The DFL candidate, whoever it is, won’t have many accomplishments to highlight. Jeff Johnson is kinda stuck in the same situation as Walz. The activists know him but he isn’t well-known beyond that. His fundraising hasn’t inspired much confidence either.

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Prior to Saturday’s DFL Convention, I thought that the DFL’s best chance to hold a battleground congressional district was the Eighth District. Based on Saturday’s CD-8 DFL convention outcome, I won’t predict that anymore. Based on reports like this article, it sounds like the convention ended in discord.

Sam Brodey reports that “it’ll take an August primary to determine which of these Democrats earns the chance to compete in the general election, and that primary has the potential to showcase the party’s rifts on issues like mining and immigration, which were on full display at Saturday’s convention.”

One of the early casualties was Rep. Jason Metsa. Rep. Metsa got into the race late. Still, he might run in the DFL primary. Others sure to run in the DFL primary are Joe Radinovich, Leah Phifer and Michelle Lee. Each of those candidates have flaws.

For instance, Phifer is an environmentalist who worked for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That put her at odds with “members of the Latino DFL Caucus.” Rep. Radinovich was a one-term wonder from Aitkin before losing to Dale Lueck. After that defeat, Radinovich was Nolan’s campaign manager before becoming Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s chief of staff. When Nolan endorsed Radinovich after the 6th ballot, Frey held up a sign announcing Nolan’s endorsement.

Frey, who traveled to Duluth to work the floor for Radinovich, got on top of a chair with a hand-written sign broadcasting Nolan’s endorsement to the delegates. But ultimately, Nolan’s support was not enough for Radinovich to eclipse Phifer.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin addressed the convention:

Addressing delegates earlier in the afternoon, Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin urged delegates to unite behind a candidate. “If we come out of here divided, we’re not going to win,” he said.

It’s still to be decided whether the primary will split or unite the DFL but it can’t be denied that the DFL isn’t off to a good start of uniting the party. It can’t make Martin feel good that the candidates essentially ignored his exhortation to unite.

Looming large over the convention was a candidate who wasn’t even in the room: Republican Pete Stauber, who is a lock to earn the CD8 Republican Party endorsement. Democrats are concerned that a bitter and drawn-out primary will give Stauber time to raise money and consolidate support, boosting his campaign to win this seat in November.

National Republicans like Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner who formerly served with the Duluth Police Department, and they view CD8 as one of their best pick-up opportunities in the entire country. President Donald Trump won here by 15 points in 2016, and Republican candidates are making inroads in places like the Iron Range, which has been a DFL stronghold for the better part of the century. Nolan’s retirement, in the eyes of the GOP, only increased their chances of flipping CD8.

The biggest advantages of not getting primaried is that the opposition doesn’t get additional ammunition against the candidate, in this case, Mr. Stauber. The other advantage is the opportunity to open some deep philosophical differences. Mining is something that the DFL, especially Chairman Martin and Congressman Nolan, have worked hard at avoiding.

That’ll be difficult in the primary since Radinovich is from the ‘other’ Range, aka the Cuyuna Range. Meanwhile, Phifer is a diehard environmental activist. Those wings of the DFL mix together like the DLC wing and the MoveOn.org wing of the DNC.

At minimum, the DFL will spend this summer fighting and burning through cash while possibly dividing the party for both the congressional candidate and the gubernatorial candidate. If the DFL isn’t united this time, it will be a tough year for them up-and-down the ballot.

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This weekend, Gov. Scott Walker, (R-WI), visited New Hampshire again. Thus far, Gov. Walker’s message is resonating:

Attendees at a New Hampshire Republican Leadership Summit on Friday offered plenty of reasons why Gov. Scott Walker sits atop a burgeoning field of potential 2016 GOP nominees in the latest Granite State polls.

But some cautioned that while Walker may check many of the right boxes, he is still a largely unknown quantity, and as voters get to know him better they may have concerns about his shifting positions on various issues, his lack of foreign policy experience or the divisive nature of his politics.

When you’re the frontrunner, it’s inevitable that people will criticize you. That’s already happening:

“There’s a lot of goodwill,” said Vernon Robinson, the director of a super PAC supporting retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson for president and a featured speaker at the event Friday. “Folks don’t know a lot about Scott Walker other than he beat the unions. As the vetting process goes forward, the good governor may have peaked too soon.”

That’s certainly mild criticism, far milder than Hillary and the DNC will throw at him if he’s the nominee. This mild criticism, though, tells me more about Dr. Carson’s team than anything else.

Criticizing a candidate in a crowded field often isn’t effective. Even if the criticism hurts the target, what often happens is that it hurts the candidate that did the criticizing. In the early stages of a presidential campaign, it’s best to just build your team while building enthusiasm and momentum.

Compare the Carson campaign’s criticism with this response:

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for Walker’s political nonprofit group Our American Revival, declined to comment on polls. She said Walker would continue to talk to Americans about the principles he has promoted in Wisconsin and how he was able to win three times in four years.

That’s pitch perfect. It says that they won’t get drawn into silly tit-for-tat spats. Further, it emphatically states that Gov. Walker will take the high road by talking about his successes in Wisconsin.

That’s a smart approach. Gov. Walker has a lengthy list of accomplishments as the conservative governor of a blue state. Reminding people that your message and your conservative policies have won people over in Wisconsin is a great reminder to people that conservatism is a winning message.

No post is complete without Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s feeble attempt to criticize a Republican:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called Walker “one of the most divisive leaders in recent memory.” “The more voters get a close look at what Scott Walker’s actual policies are, the more they will be repelled,” she said.

That’s hilarious, especially coming from the woman that told Megyn Kelly that late term abortions are a private matter between a woman and her doctor. Rep. Wasserman-Schultz’s position isn’t just held by a minority of people. It’s a position that great liberals like the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said was “too close to infanticide.”

If Ms. Wasserman-Schultz wants to promote a procedure that’s “too close to infanticide,” that’s her right. It’s just a foolish decision that a vast majority of women disagree with.

There are at least a dozen lifetimes between now and the first-in-the-nation primary, which means there isn’t a true frontrunner at this point. Still, if you’re Gov. Walker, you’d have to be pleased with the rollout thus far.

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When Dave Brat defeated Eric Cantor last night, it was the stunner of news stories this year. Here’s Brat’s explanation to Sean Hannity on what he did:

Here’s the partial transcript of Hannity’s interview with Brat:

BRAT: I ran on Republican principles. We have this Republican creed in Virginia and the only problem with the Republican principles is no one is following them.

The first one is commitment to free markets. We don’t have any free markets in this country any more. Then equal treatment under the law, fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, peace through strong defense and faith in god and strong moral fiber. That’s what I ran on: The Republican creed. But the press is just always out there to have these exciting stories to sell papers, and the people actually do care about policy. When you’re serious… I give 30 minute stump speeches on policy, and the press made fun of me. They said ‘these aren’t good stump speeches. You’re talking serious issues.’ Well, the American people are ready for serious issues.

People bought into Brat’s message because he won by 7,000 votes. Cantor lost because Cantor didn’t take Brat or his district seriously.

One disturbing thing that came out of last night’s coverage is that the celebrity TEA Party organizations didn’t lift a finger to help Brat. Laura Ingraham told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that Jenny Beth Martin of the TEA Party Patriots, “much to my consternation”, didn’t take Brat’s calls.

The reality is that too many of these ‘official’ TEA Party organizations have drifted from the TEA Party’s principles. Martin didn’t respond to a true TEA Party activist.

I attribute that to a steady drift from TEA Party celebrities from TEA Party principles. Celebrities like Sarah Palin and others endorsed candidates who wouldn’t know the first thing about TEA Party principles. I know because I criticized them months ago when Palin endorsed Julianne Ortman.

I’ve had my own fight with a different TEA Party organization. Specifically, I had a fight with TEA Party Nation. I wrote this post about TPN’s endorsement. Here’s what they said about Sen. Ortman in their endorsement:

She is running and has racked up an impressive series of endorsements. She has been endorsed by our friends at Tea Party Express, the Conservative Campaign Committee, Citizens United and most recently she was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

She is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-low taxes and perhaps most importantly in favor of a complete repeal of Obamacare.

When I criticized them for not doing their homework, TPN attacked me, saying:

@LFRGary If I had a nickel for every time a liberal told us we were losing credibility, we’d be rich.

I don’t know who’s runnning communications for TPN but they’re overpaid if they’re getting paid. First, they support a liberal candidate, saying that she’s conservative. When I criticized them for supporting a liberal, they criticized me by calling me a liberal.

Frankly, it’s time to start holding these celebrities’ feet to the fire. They’re celebrities who don’t think they have to do their research. I shot TPN’s, Sarah Palin’s and Citizens United’s endorsements down in less than 15 minutes each.

Eric Cantor lost because voters perceived him as thinking he was too important to worry about his constituents. Celebrity TEA Party organizations lost because they didn’t support Brat.

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