Keith Downey made a mistake taking on Matt Dean on health care. While Keith Downey was the chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, Matt Dean was fighting important health care battles on the front lines in Minnesota. Matt Dean wasn’t sitting on the sidelines. He was fighting and winning health care battles. Let’s remember that this happened when the DFL held overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. Yes, Tim Pawlenty was still governor but the DFL were only 3 votes short in the House to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto at any time.

When Downey first attacked Rep. Dean, Dean replied immediately and forcefully. The Strib noticed, writing “In a sign of Dean’s emergence as a potential front-runner, his rival Keith Downey launched the first major attack of the Republican contest last week by hitting Dean on health care, a signature issue of his campaign and time in the Legislature. Downey described Dean as a “typical politician” in one Facebook post and challenged him to a one-on-one debate. Dean responded with a bit of passive-aggressive venom familiar to many Minnesotans: “I’m confident Republicans will endorse a candidate who has the care, credibility and integrity to know his facts before blindly launching into a political attack to grab a cheap headline,” he wrote.”

The one-on-one debate challenge is an old trick. With a full field like this, it isn’t effective to criticize an opponent. Hitting an opponent with half a dozen other candidates might hurt him but not help yourself. Also, a one-on-one debate gives the appearance of slimming the field. Downey certainly hasn’t cleared the field. For that matter, nobody has cleared the field. The stunt that Downey is playing is that a one-on-one match-up gives the illusion that he’s the frontrunner. That’s a pretty nifty trick for a guy who just accused Matt Dean of being a “typical politician.”

This isn’t an endorsement of Matt Dean, though I’d feel pretty comfortable if he was the GOP’s endorsed candidate. I’d feel pretty comfortable with a couple other candidates, too. The purpose of this post is to highlight Matt Dean’s conservative policy accomplishments on health care. You know that you’re on the right track when Joe Davis of ABM insists that “Dean and Republicans have been paying lip service to health care while working to take away Minnesotans’ ability to care for themselves and their families.”

Right. It’s instinctive for Republicans to take ABM’s statements as Gospel fact. It isn’t like we’ve ever caught them lying, right? Oh wait. I’m certain we’ve caught them being dishonest. The truth is that trusting ABM’s or the DFL’s statements, especially on health care, is like trusting an arsonist to put out fires.

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