Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

2/11/2005

American Spectator: Kennedy "The Favorite Among Serious Republicans"

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE DAYTON announcement, the name on many Republicans' lips was Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The popular first-term Republican is up for re-election in 2006, and has been identified by cultural conservatives as a possible dark horse presidential candidate in 2008. "But if he really wants to be in the presidential hunt, he isn't going to give up the governorship at this stage of the game," says a Republican National Committee staffer. "We're going to make a run at him, but we expect that he is going to want to run for re-election. If you by into the strategy that you can't win the presidency from the Senate, you don't give up a good, fairly safe governorship for that, particularly in a battleground state like Minnesota."

A Pawlenty run, some believe, would scare off some DFL challengers, including Mike Hatch, who in turn might run for the open gubernatorial slot. Pawlenty would certainly fit the profile for the White House in recruiting candidates for Senate seats: seasoned politico, with good fundraising roots and current, statewide appeal.

Other Republicans mentioned are the man who lost to Dayton in 2000, Rod Grams, who was telling local media outlets that he was already in the race. Perhaps the favorite among serious Republicans is Rep. Mark Kennedy, a solid conservative from the St. Cloud area, who backed the Bush tax cuts, but worked to repeal the Bush steel tariffs.

In the end, Republicans anticipate having a cleaner, more unified search and clearing of the field than their DFL counterparts. "The DFL is still coming to grips with its Wellstone/Humphrey past," says the RNC staffer. "Do they go with the political 'progressive' or do they try find some middle ground? Either way, I think the GOP is in better shape."

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