Dayton v. Kennedy

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

2/15/2005

The Drug Trade

Is Gil Gutknecht actually threatening to run against Mark Kennedy if the Sixth District Congressman doesn’t vote for his drug reimportation bill? Preposterous? Childish? Or did The Hill interpret Gutknecht’s comments correctly?

”Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) suggested last week that he would not challenge Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) in a 2006 Senate Republican primary if Kennedy changes his position on drug reimportation.

Gutknecht did not say he will be giving Kennedy an ultimatum on the issue but said Kennedy’s position against reimportation will hamper his chances to succeed Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.). Dayton stunned Democrats last week by announcing that he will not seek reelection….

… “I was just on the phone with a big [campaign] donor, and he said, ‘[Kennedy’s position] on reimportation will kill him.’”

Gutknecht added, “Mark is on the wrong side of this issue.”

Kennedy voted against Gutknecht’s drug reimportation legislation in July 2003. The bill passed 243-186 despite opposition from House GOP leaders and President Bush. The measure died in the Senate.”


Politically speaking, Gutknecht isn’t incorrect. Dayton ran on the issue of drug importation in 2000, publicized even more so by his bus trips to Canada in which Dayton rounded up drug needy seniors and drove them up north. Even Governor Tim Pawlenty has gotten on the importation fad, a definite signal that Republican resistance on the issue is crumbling across the board. But while Gutknecht is right that Kennedy’s importation position will provide great hay to the eventual DFL opponent, Gutknecht’s position is not widely held among the GOP base---especially the delegates and alternates who decide the endorsement process. Gilly’s support for drug reimportation is seen to many Republican activists as other reason why the Congressman is Minnesota’s John McCain. But if The Hill is right, Gutknecht’s position may not matter:

”Some speculate that Gutknecht is using the Senate race to help his bill move in the 109th Congress and that he will not launch his own campaign — even if Kennedy does not change his position on reimportation….

Gutknecht is now searching for a way to get his bill to the floor this year. One option under consideration is to force a floor vote through a discharge petition, which requires 218 signatures. Every discharge petition launched in the last Congress failed, and few even came close to reaching 218. Only a handful of Republicans signed on to discharge petitions — mostly because House leadership views them as flagrant acts of disloyalty.

But Gutknecht and others believe there is a chance that enough Republicans would sign a petition because they hear constant complaints from their constituents about the price of pharmaceuticals.”


The only problem with Gutknecht attempting to leverage a potential Senate campaign for Kennedy’s drug vote is that Kennedy would have to believe Gutknecht is a serious challenger for the nomination. If Gutknecht keeps pushing his bill, especially the way he’s pushing it, it won’t be hard for anyone to call Gilly’s bluff.

--Posted by First Ringer

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