Dayton v. Kennedy

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

2/11/2005

The “Consensus Candidate”

Even before Kennedy’s announcement today, the Congressman made a bold step towards unifying the GOP field as he was endorsed by Minnesota’s soon-to-be senior senator, Norm Coleman.

”Seeking to avoid a bruising fight within the Republican Party, Senator Norm Coleman said on Thursday that he is backing Kennedy even before the congressman had a chance to announce he’s running. Kennedy has scheduled an announcement at 11 a.m. today in Watertown, where he lives. “I expect to be on Mark’s list” of backers, said Coleman, adding that it was important for the party to have a “consensus candidate.”


Coleman’s endorsement should come as no surprise considering his statements in December at a year-end fundraiser where he all but officially threw his support behind Kennedy. Expect the rest of the GOP’s Congressional delegation, sans Gutknecht, to fall in behind Kennedy now that Coleman has put his arm around him.

Significant members of the Republican leadership, elected or otherwise, are already following Coleman’s lead. Other rumored Republican candidates are also embracing Kennedy, including State Sen. Michele Bachmann and Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer:

”State Sen. Minority Leader Dick Day said Coleman was showing great leadership in trying to unite the party, calling Kennedy the party's "lead horse."

Minnesota Republican Party chairman Ron Eibensteiner said that Coleman's endorsement "carries weight with a lot of Republicans."

State Sen. Michele Bachmann of Stillwater, who had been considered a potential Republican candidate, said that "we could not do better than to see Mark Kennedy run for this important position." And Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, another person named as a possible candidate, said: "There's no doubt about it; I think Mark Kennedy will make a great senator."


This isn’t to suggest the entire Republican Party has stepped aside for Kennedy yet. As former Senator Rod Grams confirmed that he is indeed running for the party’s endorsement, another prominent Republican dipped his toe into the Senate speculation pool---House Majority Leader Erik Paulsen:

”Paulsen, the GOP House majority leader, said that since Dayton's announcement "people have talked to me about it, and I am considering it." A business analyst for Target Corp., Paulsen noted that he has experience working for Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad and once ran his Minnesota office. He also has considerable campaign experience, along with a decade in the House. He is the second highest-ranking House member in the Republican majority, behind Speaker Steve Sviggum.”


Is an intra-party battle in the GOP soon to follow? Probably not. Rep. Gutknecht, who many Republican insiders expected to at least announce his candidacy, may now completely back off in the light of the ”families” gathering with Kennedy. Grams is in until at least the March caucuses when he realizes that not as many GOP activists have his portrait on black velvet as he thought. Paulsen is a GOP team player with a low statewide ID and will likely follow suit and back Kennedy.

Kennedy’s anointing begs the question, who is the “lead horse” in the DFL right now?

--Posted by First Ringer

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