The easiest part of Tarryl Clark’s campaign probably came when she got the DFL endorsement on the first ballot:

The Minnesota DFL Party had its say Saturday about who will oppose Rep. Michele Bachmann this fall, endorsing state Sen. Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud on the first ballot. DFL delegates picked Clark over Maureen Reed, a Grant doctor, in the race to represent Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.

The endorsement doesn’t end the battle for DFL votes in the 6th District. Reed says she will oppose Clark in a primary election Aug. 10.

Tarryl still holds the upper hand in this DFL fight. I still expect her to win the CD-6 DFL primary. She’s got a ton of union endorsements, which means she’s got a substantial GOTV operation. With a mid-August primary, the importance of Tarryl’s GOTV operation can’t be emphasized enough.

While getting the DFL’s endorsement and putting together a solid GOTV operation is important, Dr. Reed is a well-financed candidate who can talk about Tarryl’s lack of centrist credentials. Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton alluded to Tarryl’s liberal voting record in his official statement regarding Tarryl’s endorsement:

“Tarryl Clark is a reliable pro-tax liberal who has voted to increase gasoline taxes, the metro wide sales tax, license tab fees and income taxes. Clark has also strongly backed Obama’s government run health care scheme and his wasteful and failed ‘stimulus.’ While Clark will now face a lengthy and divisive primary battle, Rep. Michele Bachmann will continue to work on behalf of all of the citizens of the Sixth District for lower taxes, government reform and a strong national defense.”

Since getting elected as the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader in 2007, Tarryl has voted for every major tax increase that’s made it to the Senate. This isn’t a good time to be touting that type of record. While that won’t hurt Tarryl in the DFL primary, it’ll devastate her in the general election.

The impact of Chairman Sutton’s statement shouldn’t be underestimated. Dr. Reed has repeatedly attacked Tarryl as being too easy to characterize as a tax and spend progressive. I’ve said before that I agree with that opinion.

Another thing working in Dr. Reed’s advantage is the fact that she’s a well-financed candidate in her own right. If she’s serious about winning the primary, her campaign will have the financial ammunition to win the primary. Dr. Reed knows that her only chance to win is by going after Tarryl. Going after Michele Bachmann will get a few rounds of applause but it won’t win her the primary. The risk to Tarryl is that Dr. Reed might say something in a commercial or in her stump speech that Michele can use against Tarryl.

If Tarryl wins the primary, which I’m predicting, that’s just the first step in winning the November election. While Tarryl and Dr. Reed are fighting it out, Michele Bachmann will be attending TEA Party events, marching in parades and attending fundraisers while saving her money for a massive ad blitz starting the day after the DFL primary.

There’s another danger for Tarryl that people aren’t thinking about yet. This is going to be a difficult year for Democrats. The DCCC will have tons of incumbents to defend. In 2006 and 2008, the DCCC was in acquisition mode so it could focus on spending alot of money on challenging incumbents like Michele. As a result of winning alot of seats the last 2 cycles, they now have a ton of seats to defend.

The $64,000 question that hasn’t been answered is whether the DCCC will dump alot of money into Tarryl’s race. If Michele has a solid, outside-the-margin-of-error lead in mid-August, I’m betting they steer Tarryl’s money to another, more competitive district.

Obviously, Republicans are putting a high priority on keeping the governor’s mansion and Michele’s seat. They’ll be campaigning hard throughout the summer and fall in central Minnesota because that will only strengthen the chances of returning Michele to DC and keeping the governor’s mansion in GOP control.

Tarryl knows she’s facing a tough fight this election. Even if everything falls into place for her, she will still likely lose because she still doesn’t fit the district well. Still, I expect her to fight hard through until that first Tueday in November.

Tarryl had a relatively easy time of it Saturday. That figures to be the easiest day her campaign will have.

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