Friday, May 1, 2009

The Fajita Flu

Media Matters has a nice video compilation of some right-wingers waxing conspiracy theory about the new [insert reference to Mexican culture here] flu strain.

When Joe Scarborough is your party's voice of reason you know you're in big trouble.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sen. Vacant

I got an email from MoveOn today encouraging me to go to my nearest Senators office and explain to them why they should support health care reform. So far so good, they were even kind enough to point out where exactly the nearest Senators office is to me.

Here's the office closest to you (or at least we hope so; see the P.S. for other options) 

Sen. Vacant Vacant's District Office 
2550 University Ave., West, Suite 100N 
St. Paul, MN

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Maybe Michele Bachmann isn't crazy after all

While the entire left leaning blogosphere has been pointing our fingers and laughing at all the crazy things that Michelle Bachmann says, the Sixth Congressional district representative has been hauling in the dough. Apparently there is a method to her madness. In Q1 Bachmann raised $313,686, a 20% increase over her haul from Q1 '07 and almost 30% more than the next biggest Minnesota fundraiser, Eric Paulson. In fact the three Republican members of the Minnesota delegation collectively raised more money than the five Democratic members.

On the surface this looks like bad news for state Democrats, but there are some caveats, the biggest one being that none of the seats held by Democrats are likely to be competitive in 2010; of the five congressional races that Democrats won last November Tim Walz 62%-33% victory was the closest. So there isn't really any fundraising pressure on any of the Democrats, but for Bachmann and Paulson, both of whom can expect vigorous challenges in 2010, there is a very pressing need for cash now.

In Michelle Bachmann's case:

In addition to her growing national profile, the Republican's fundraising success likely also stems from concern in some quarters that she could be financially vulnerable in 2010.

Her 2008 opponent, El Tinklenberg, had nearly $453,000 on hand at the end of the election and still has $183,503. Tinklenberg gave away significant chunks of his war chest, returning $250,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and much smaller amounts to Minnesota members' PACs and election committees.

Regardless of that, over $300,000 in the first quarter of a non-election year for a two-term member not in any kind of leadership role is an impressive haul. For some context, Bachmann raised more money than Colin Peterson and Jim Oberstar combined, both of whom are chairmen of powerful House committees. Michelle Bachmann, all by herself, raised half as much as the five Democrats combined.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Hill backs Coleman all the way

In an article published yesterday The Hill does its best to assist Senate Republican's push back against the emerging "Norm Coleman is a sore loser" meme. The article consists of eight quotes from GOP Senators in support of Norm Coleman and one quote from a Democratic Senator who, as you can guess, doesn't support Norm Coleman's legal efforts beyond the state level. What sort of gems can be found within such an article?

"I'll back Norm as far as he believes he should go," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). "He's there on the ground, he's the one with the best information and he's a good and honorable man. It's very hotly contested, very close, and there's a lot of questions."

There certainly are a lot of questions, the FBI just so happens to be asking some of them.

"Norm is somebody I greatly respect, I think he has very good judgment, and he has a great sense of what ought to be done. It's his case and he's in the middle of it," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). "I know it's not damaging the party because I don't hear that. But I do think Norm is a very sensitive, thoughtful person and whatever Norm is doing I'm sure he believes is exactly the right thing to do and I support that."

As long as it's not damaging the GOP I guess its okay. I mean, who cares about the people of Minnesota who are underrepresented during perhaps the most important legislative session in at least forty years. After all, Norm is a sensitive, thoughtful guy, who would only do the right thing.

"This is about making sure every legal vote is counted, this isn't just about Norm Coleman. This is about protecting the rights of voters," said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas). "It's to my mind a very noble endeavor and one in which, frankly, I admire his perseverence. [sic] I support getting it right, and if that includes a federal lawsuit, then so be it. I do think there are important legal issues that don't just affect Minnesota, or affect this race. They affect elections all around the country -- a uniform standard to make sure which votes are counted, and which are not."

John Cornyn wants you to forget that he doesn't care one bit about making sure every legal vote is counted and only about preventing Al Franken from being seated. Of course he is not challenged by the reporter with his past comments on the issue.

"Whatever he says," said Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine.). "So much has been committed. He's obviously invested so much in time and commitment and money -- it's staggering -- so I think it's important that either side abide by the final process by which the final decision will be rendered. It would put your mind at peace with the outcome."

This is actually a sensible answer, from the only sensible GOP Senator quoted. She's right; so much has been committed by Norm, not just in terms of time and money, but in terms of his political career. He has committed the future of his political career to this election contest and subsequent appeals. The damage has already been done, so for him to give up now would be stupid.

"They know what to do based on their intimate knowledge of the case," said Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). "I wouldn't presume to give them advice."

I can't tell if this is an attempt at humor or if Senator Kyl is serious. Either way it's funny.

"The question is, 'Should every Minnesotan's vote count?' And there are lots of votes out there that weren't counted, so the process ought to be played out until it's concluded," said Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). "He should be able to exercise his options... There's a pretty good rationale for taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Anyone who has actually paid attention to the recount and subsequent election contest knows that this is not quite what the question is. The question is "which votes should count?" No one, not even Norm Coleman, is arguing that every vote should count. It doesn't help when the media adds to the confusion by just regurgitating what uninformed Senators have to say. The question is, why does the media continue to come to Norm's defense?

"It seems to me, based on what I know, that (Minnesota) courts haven't fully understood that concept," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "Therefore this might be a federal constitutional issue, that you're constitutionally required to count ballots by the same standard statewide."

It seems to me, based on what I know, that you don't know shit. The Minnesota courts (Supreme, ECC, canvassing board) understand the concept just fine and have been consistent and mostly unanimous in their rulings. All of these entities are bipartisan in nature, containing members of or appointees of all three major Minnesota political parties. It seems to me they probably have a better understanding of election law than a Senator from Alabama.

"There are very important issues involved -- constitutional issues -- and I have no qualms about saying that if he can, he ought to push it all the way," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "We're so sick and tired of having one set of rules for Democrats they don't abide by, and then another set of rules for Republicans. The Democrats didn't count the ballots the way they should and they didn't put the protections in that they should. It was the Republicans who were better at counting ballots and doing what was right and following the law. They don't do it on the other side as much."

I'm not even sure what Orrin is saying here and it would be nice if the reporter had asked him what the fuck he's talking about. Something like "What rules are different for Democrats than they are for Republicans?" or "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Instead Orrin was allowed to continue with his train of thought, or train wreck of thought you could say.

"I don't think it's hurting the party. I think we all realize it's so close and there's a lot involved here and I don't think it's hurt the state, either, because it hasn't hurt them either. It's always good to have two senators, but not when one may not be entitled to the position."

It hasn't hurt the state because it hasn't hurt the state. Nice! But you may want to ask your colleague Amy Klobuchar, you know, the lone Senator from the state of Minnesota, if she thinks it hasn't hurt the state seeing as she probably knows a little bit more about it than you do. As you can guess, there is no effort by the reporter to ask for a little bit of clarification as to why exactly the state of Minnesota hasn't been hurt by only having one Senator. We're just supposed to take Orrin's word for it.

Oh yea, I told you there was a quote from a Democrat, here you go.

"We believe the law of Minnesota requires a candidate to be certified after all the state appeals are through, whether someone applies to the federal court or not," said Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

So there you have it, eight quotes from Republican Senators with questionable claims that go unchallenged followed by one quote from a Democratic Senator explaining how the law works. Truly a marvel of political non-reporting. Kudos.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban

From the Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays' right to marry.

"The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution," the justices said in a summary of their decision.

The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24.

With that Iowa will become the first Midwestern state to allow gay marriage. Or will it?

"The decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court today to allow gay marriage in Iowa is disappointing on many levels," State Senator Paul McKinley, the Republican leader, said in a statement on The Des Moines Register's Web site. "I believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman and I am confident the majority of Iowans want traditional marriage to be legally recognized in this state."

He added: "Though the court has made their decision, I believe every Iowan should have a voice on this matter and that is why the Iowa Legislature should immediately act to pass a Constitutional Amendment that protects traditional marriage, keeps it as a sacred bond only between one man and one woman and gives every Iowan a chance to have their say through a vote of the people."

As I'm sure Senator McKinley is aware an amendment to the Iowan constitution requires both houses of the legislature to pass the amendment in two consecutive general assemblies (two year sessions) and then it must be approved by voters, so no earlier than 2012.

And there's more.

Iowa has no residency requirement for getting a marriage license, which some suggest may mean a flurry of people from other states.

Some suggest? There is no doubt that three weeks from now the Iowa road trip will be a very popular activity for many Minnesotans. And Missourians. And Illinoisans. And even probably some Nebraskans and Kansans.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Coleman ballot universe continues shrinkage

Yesterday was not a good day for Norm Coleman's chance of returning to the US Senate. Not good may be kind. As you all know the only way that Norm Coleman can hope to win in the Election Court Contest is by somehow finding more votes to be included in the count and than receiving a large enough proportion of those votes once their opened to overtake Al Franken's 225+ vote lead.

Well, the universe of ballots in which Coleman hopes to find more votes continued it's gradual contraction when the Secretary of State announced the results of the sorting of pile 3 ballots. Pile 3 ballots were rejected because the voter wasn't registered, these were being opened to see if the voter had placed the registration form in the secrecy envelope instead of the outer envelope.

Out of over 1500 ballots about 89 might be counted.

I say about 89 because there is some discrepancy on the exact number, 88 has also been reported, and I say might be counted because they still have to meet all of the other legal standards for absentee ballots, like the voter didn't vote in person on election day.

VoteForAmerica has a run down of these ballots by county, the long and short of it is that they are likely to be about a wash.

The only apparent good news for the Coleman team lately was the MN Supreme courts rejection of Al Franken's request for a temporary election certificate. But even this was bad news. While denying Franken's request the court also stated that they, the MN Supreme Court, are the "court of proper jurisdiction" cited in MN election law as having the final determination on the contest. In other words, you won't get to appeal to the US Supreme Court Normie.

Seemingly every day that goes by brings more bad news for Norm Coleman and I couldn't think of a more deserving fella.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update on Happy Hour

Only a couple of days after the original WCCO report there was a Facebook group called "Dear Minneapolis City Council, there is no need for you to ban Happy Hour." As of this writing that group has 2,180 members, one of which is Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. This was posted by Mayor Rybak yesterday on Facebook:

"Just to be clear, I don't know of anyone around City Hall who is even thinking about this. It was a suggestion from a citizen committee but I don't think it has much support. I certainly don't think that's where we should be spending our time. Now people can stop emailing and Facebooking me about it...and I'll get back to the budget where our focus belongs."

That pretty much puts a nail in it as there are other sources within City Hall who echo the Mayors sentiment.


Or not.

Since we're talking about posts on Facebook perhaps I should share a comment posted to my wall:

"Tony, I disagree with your stance in the Happy Hour ban. If it takes effect bars will need to start offering everyday low prices! Not just for an hour or two. Take a second to think this over."

I did. This was my response:

"While you make a good point I don't know that it's entirely accurate. Yes there would be downward pressure on prices in general, but the reason for happy hour in the first place is to create business during non-peak times. Happy hour is, in essence, a supply and demand pricing scheme. When demand is high, so are prices and when demand is low the prices are too. Without this ability to alter prices to bring in business many bars would suffer and eventually close down, thus reducing the supply of bars and increasing the demand for their services thereby causing prices to increase in turn."


This is an example of why the internet is an amazing thing that we probably take too much for granted. Go internets!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The happiest hour of the day no longer?

The Minneapolis City council is considering a ban on drink specials, including happy hour, in an effort to reduce binge drinking. Also being considered is a limit of one drink per person at a time and a ban on drinking games.

I went looking for information on the City Council's web site and came across a link to a site advertising the best happy hours in the city; it says "Minneapolis Happy Hours". Sort of ironic and it gets to the heart of the problem, everyone likes happy hour. The bar owners need it, the bar patrons love it, about the only people who are against it are public health experts, but I've got to suspect that even some of them enjoy a happy hour from time to time. There is a reason it's called happy hour after all. Cheap booze makes people happy.

This comes after the University of Minnesota decided that only the rich people can drink at their new football stadium and the Minnesota legislature decided that only out of town Republicans are responsible enough to stay out till 4 am drinking. The utter contempt for people of modest means just oozes out of all these proposals, the idea that poor people should have different rules than rich people.

The problem with this kind of solution is that it's a half measure; it is really only an impediment to poor students. Students who are financially better off will still be able to drink themselves silly and a rise in the number of house parties, which is a worse environment than the bar for binge drinking, would likely follow. It seems to me that if the real issue is binge drinking among college students and you're going to target bars there is a much simpler solution, ban the sale of alcohol on campus, including at the new football stadium.

Leave the rest of us our happy hour, we deserve it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What is Norm Coleman's ultimate goal?

Every new day of the Senate election contest brings a new theory about what Norm Coleman's intentions really are. Is he just stalling to withhold the Democrats 59th seat? Does he want another election? Is the whole thing a PR move by the GOP to create a new galvanizing figure for fundraising? Does Norm even care? All of these theories have one thing in common, they're theories. All of the objective evidence suggests that Norm Coleman is waging this election contest because he desperately wants to keep his Senate seat and this is the only way he can do that.

A lot of people have been reading ulterior motives into the Coleman legal teams bungling of this case; as if the last eight years of Republican incompetence is not enough to convince people that maybe they're bungling the case because they're simply incompetent. When the inevitability of a recount became apparent the Franken campaign brought in some of the best legal minds in the country. The Coleman team tried to do it on the cheap by using some local guys. Their paying for that mistake now of course, but I'm sure at the time it was seen as a cost saving measure, they were going to win after all, why waste money on the recount.

There is some aspect of all these theories that may be true, but none of them on their own explains why Norm Coleman would sacrifice his future political career, he would only do that for Norm Coleman. All of these other motivations; Republicans wanting to keep Franken unseated as long as possible, the NRSC wanting to create the next direct mailing poster boy, Norm's day job, they all contribute to the higher purpose of Norm Coleman keeping his Senate seat.

I don't think Norm is throwing the election contest, I think his lawyers have been incompetent. I don't think the election contest is being driven by John Cornyn, but Norn will certainly take his contributions. I don't think the whole point of the election contest is to delay seating Al Franken, that's just one of the upsides for the GOP.

In any of these types of analysis it's important to keep in mind the principle of Occam's razor, which basically means don't assume things. Norm Coleman is in court, fighting the outcome of the election because Norm Coleman wants to be a United States Senator because without that he doesn't really have much.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yet another example of the Coleman-Strib alliance

The headline reads "Norm Coleman reaches out to Franken on absentee ballots." The reality is that Coleman's legal team sent a letter to Al Franken, and the press, that asks him not to fight their attempt to have all of the rejected absentee ballots re-re-inspected. Which is, of course, in direct opposition to the position they took prior to the election contest being filed.

This headline would have been appropriate if, back in November, Coleman had decided to go along with counting wrongly rejected absentee ballots. But the Coleman team didn't do that did they? No, they refused to even consider the possibility of counting such ballots. It's understandable why the Coleman position has changed so dramatically, they don't have a choice. They need to find votes somewhere.

But for the Star Tribune to cast this effort as reaching out is nothing more than misinformation.

On January 21st they ran an article under the headline "Franken ratchets up legal fight." The article was about that day's hearing over Franken's motion to dismiss. The filing of a motion to dismiss is a default procedural move and is certainly not a case of "ratcheting" anything up. Coleman filing the election contest in the first place was a "ratcheting" up, a motion to dismiss is like checking on the big blind with 7, deuce off. The vast majority of the time nothing will come of it, but it doesn't cost you anything and hey, every once in awhile you can flop a boat. If the poker reference didn't make sense the point is that a motion to dismiss is trivial. It's a standard move.

This is all part of a larger PR push by the Coleman campaign and sympathetic media outlets like the Strib and the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Since the reality of a recount became clear the day after the election they've been building this story up, slowly at first, then as things started to go Franken's way the shrillness and lies came faster and from more directions.

With Norm Coleman seemingly resigned to his fate, having taken a job with a lobbying firm of all things, the question becomes how far does this get pushed? Will they appeal it all the way to the US Supreme Court, assuming it doesn't go their way? The more that Norm Coleman becomes detached from the process, the more it seems like the motivation for the effort is not his but that of the GOP leadership.

They are more relevant while the Democrats are short that one vote which will be critical for the issue they plan on making the biggest stand against, the Employee Free Choice Act. They fear Franken getting seated because there is at least one moderate Republican, Arlen Specter, who seems likely to support the bill. Specter plus Franken plus all the other Dems equals sixty votes for cloture. Another theory is that they are trying to build Franken up as a lightning rod for GOP electoral angst. Either way it now seems unlikely they will give up until they've exhausted all of their legal options.

The trial phase of the election contest begins tomorrow as the never ending Senate race enters yet another stage.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Would a run-off be a better way?

Reforming our election system is already getting attention from the legislature and one of the ideas being pushed by members of both parties is a run-off in cases of a close result. From one of the supporters herself, Sen. Ann Rest of New Hope:

"It would be $3 or $4 million instead of $250,000, which is the cost of the current recount. But I think voters would believe that is a worthwhile expenditure to have a clear result in an extraordinary circumstance."

In other words because the recount had a few glitches we should spend anywhere from 12 to 16 times the amount of money. And what happens if the runoff is really close? Do you have a recount of the runoff?

The other question to ask is would Minnesotans even want to go back to vote again for a single race? In Georgia this year there was a huge drop-off between turnout on Election Day and turnout in the Senate runoff. This means the people who ultimately decide the race will be a different group from the people who decided all the other races.

Another runoff supporter Laura Brod had this to say:

"The voters are the ones that are looking at it, saying it's a confusing process, I don't understand why these votes were counted and these votes were not. I don't understand how a recount total can be used in one place and not in another. I think a runoff vote -- not an instant runoff vote, but a runoff vote -- would create clarity. I think it would lessen confusion in the system, and I think it's something we should very closely look at."

I don't see how a runoff creates any clarity; there is the very real possibility that the person who wins the runoff is not the person who won on election night. I don't think that's clarity and I'm not so sure that clarity is something we should aspire to. Transparency, yes. The issues she brings up are clear though, not confusing. The issue of the missing ballots in Minneapolis is unfortunate, but to then say that those votes shouldn't count is ridiculous. This is a human system so mistakes will happen and ballots will be lost and it's not the voters who should be punished because of it. Just because some people are allowing themselves to be confused doesn't mean the process is confusing.

A runoff election is a solution to something that isn't a problem, a close election. A close election will expose problems in any voting system, but that doesn't mean that the closeness of the election is the problem, the problems are the problem. The number of rejected absentee ballots are a problem. The lost ballots are a problem. The ballots that were found while looking for the lost ballots are a problem. There were certainly problems with the election and the recount, but they are all problems that can for the most part be addressed with tweaks and changes to Minnesota's existing election law.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rejected absentee ballots are being counted

You can watch the action live on The Uptake. Meanwhile Nate Silver is up with an analysis of the 953 rejected absentee ballots that will be counted; he's predicting that Franken will net 31 votes, extending his lead to 80. He throws cold water on the idea that Coleman has excluded many more ballots than Franken from the counting.

The apparent edge for Franken comes as each campaign has had essentially a unilateral veto to prevent any particular absentee ballot from being opened and counted. Initially, based on a review of the process in Democratic stronghold St. Louis county, it appeared that the Coleman campaign was being far more aggressive than the Franken campaign in exercising its veto. Information gathered by additional counties by the Star Tribune, however, suggests that this may not be the case, and that the Franken campaign has been at least as aggressive as Coleman in exercising its veto.

Also the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Coleman campaigns request to put a halt to the whole thing in order for them to change the rules to their liking. Lots of action going on today.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Vikings Stadium? Ha!

In a display of what can only be described as monumental balls and extreme tone deafness, the Vikings are asking for a new stadium. No really, I'm serious. The idea is for a new, almost billion dollar stadium, with more than 60% of the funding being provided by tax payers. Lester Bagley, vice president in charge of taxpayer fleecing stadium development tried his best to sell the project:

"Why not, the Vikings are a public asset. This is going to create an economic boost."

Why not? Why not? Seriously dude, why not?

Larry Pogemiller:

"It certainly will not be a high priority. We have a fiscal and job crisis in Minnesota."

Margaret Anderson Kelliher:

"There is no chance. It's a great idea if they would pay for it themselves. But we are in uncharted economic waters. We are in a crisis situation, and we have to focus on the financial and economic health of the state."

Governor Pawlenty also seemed to laugh off the idea. The very thought that this would happen this year is ridiculous and why the Vikings would even bother to bring it up I don't know, but it gave me a good laugh.

2006 to 2008, Part 2: the Senate race

Even though the winner is still up in the air, I think we have enough information to begin breaking down what happened and why.

When looking to make comparisons I think it is more appropriate to compare this year's Senate race to the 2006 Governor's race than to the 2006 Senate race. The dynamics between the 2008 Senate and 2006 Governors race are similar while the dynamics of the two Senate races are quite different. First of all the 2006 Senate race was for an open seat previously held by the DFL and the race featured a successful, dynamic and generally well liked woman against a generic GOP white male. In both the 2006 Governor's race and the 2008 Senate race we had a GOP incumbent running against a white male DLFer.

Let's take a quick look at the numbers from the two elections


Pawlenty(R-inc) 47%

Hatch(D) 46%

Hutchinson(I) 6%


Coleman(R-inc) 41%

Franken(D) 41%

Barkley(I) 15%

Obviously the biggest difference in the numbers is the amount of support received by the IP candidate. The few polls that tried to measure who Barkley was drawing votes from seemed to indicate that he was drawing about equally from both candidates, maybe slightly more from Coleman than Franken but look at this pollster graph:

Almost from the moment the election started Franken was losing support. Coleman, on the other hand, was doing okay until two things happened that began to bring his numbers down, Dean Barkley entered the race and the economy went south. In fact Barkley's peak conforms almost exactly to Coleman's low point. You can see that some of these people went back to Coleman before the election, as the ramifications of the bailout began to sink in and anger subsided a little, but the damage was done.

How many of these Barkley voters could have been persuaded to the DFL? Probably not many, too many people were turned off by both Coleman and Franken. A poll conducted by SurveyUSA on December 4th showed that if the election were held again people would pretty much vote the same way, meaning even though Barkley voters knew how close the race was and how much their vote really mattered they would still cast it for Barkley. The Senate race was a really nasty campaign so it's no surprise that many people still feel unable to vote for either major party candidate.

Another of the similarities between 2006 and 2008 to consider is that the DFL was somewhat divided on who to nominate. In both cases some progressives were disappointed in the DFLs choice and this disappointment carried through the entire election. I went door-knocking with more than a few people who were still not sold on Franken, even though they were passing out his literature. I heard similar sentiments in 2006 about Hatch. I felt the same way about John Kerry in 2004. It's difficult to overcome your chosen candidate's loss when you suffer from rabid True Believerism.

How do you bring a party back together after a closely contested primary? That was the question on everyone's mind even before we knew who got the Democratic Presidential nomination but in the end it didn't matter, that race was a blowout. The emergence of groups like PUMA goes to show that some portion of the activists will have a hard time getting behind the nominee, even when it's a once in a generation caliber candidate. There are a lot of activists that lie somewhere in the middle though and these people need to be given a reason to support a candidate, not just party unity, and that reason needs to come from the candidate.

How much of an effect this had in the end is hard to know, but in a race this close, that everyone knew would be close, any little thing can be huge. During a Presidential cycle when enthusiasm on our side was sky high, Franken wasn't able to generate any more enthusiasm than Coleman. In the closing days of the campaign the best reason the Franken campaign could give people to vote for their candidate was that he could provide Barack Obama with the Senate majority he will need to pass key legislation. How this became the campaigns closing argument I'll never understand, but it seems to me that a closing argument should explain why a candidate could best serve the people voting for them. The best the Franken campaign could come up with for this was that he'll vote with Obama.

I don't think it can be overstated how weak this argument is on its own, much less as a closing argument. During a campaign when Al Franken criticized Norm Coleman incessantly for voting lockstep with President Bush, the reason he gave people to vote for him was that he would vote in lockstep with President Obama. Among the many messaging mistakes of the Franken campaign this was the largest.

The thing is this; both Norm Coleman and Tim Pawlenty are smart politicians. They both ran with the advantages of incumbency and are very popular within the GOP base. That said the DFL had a shot in both races and a good one, even with a somewhat fractured base. You put a candidate like Amy Klobuchar in an open seat race with the party united behind her and it's no contest. The DFL has a structural advantage in the state and if the 2008 Senate race and 2006 Governors race can teach us anything, it's that we need to make an even bigger effort to consolidate our base in the future.

If there is one thing the Obama campaign can teach us at the state level it's that we should not be afraid of all the ways that the opposition can attack a candidate or that candidates perceived inability to win. We should instead focus on who we want to represent us and who can bring the party together behind them rather than trying to drag the party along with them. A really well run campaign helps too.