Will a third-party spoiler in the 19A special election usher Allen Quist back into office? The prospect is enough to make even the most secular bloggers get down on bended knee and thank the good Lord for the fodder from heaven.
The St Peter Herald's Suzy Rook reports in Three-way race likely for Morrow's Minnesota House seat:
The special election to replace Rep. Terry Morrow of St. Peter is likely to be a three way race according to First District Independence Party Chairman Mark Meyer.
“A couple of people have indicated their interest in running for the open seat on the Independence Party line. The current dissatisfaction with both traditional parties over the deadlock in Washington means that voters are looking for alternatives. The Independence Party values of putting Minnesota first and party politics last resonates with people," he said. . . .
. . .He believes a three-way race and short election period means a level playing field and provides an excellent opportunity for voters to choose the Independence Party candidate as their best option.
It's difficult to determine what percentage of voters the IP might pull from either party in a special election. Part of his assumption--that the short time frame levels the playing field--runs counter to the conventional wisdom about specials being the creature of parties.
Since turnout tends to be below 20 percent of the electorate (and this in a state that leads the country for turnout in general elections), the ability to doorknock and phonebank IDed likely voters and get them to the polls is essential. The IP has not had the resources to do this.
One recent exception? The 2010 special election in Senate District 26, which first brought Mike Parry to the legislature. Waseca's popular mayor Roy Srp ran as a pro-life IP candidate, receiving 46 percent of the vote in the home county he shared with Parry, who inspired strong sentiments from his neighbors in the southern Minnesota county. Srp's numbers diminished as one moved away from the town where both men were known; Parry won Steele County, while DFLer and mad scientist Jason Engbrecht ruled Rice County.
Quist may be disliked enough in this swing district to give an IP candidate hope. As Bluestem posted in Yabba-dabba-do! Allen Quist seriously sticks finger in wind for Terry Morrow House seat, Quist did poorly in the general election for the congressional race last month:
In House district returns for the congressional race, Quist received 37.05 percent of the votes cast, or 7959 voters, with Walz receiving 62.76 percent  . While that doesn't exactly make Quist Mr. Popular in a presidential year, it does give him something of a base; Quist took 58.41 percent of the vote in the Republican primary in August.
Recent IP statewide candidates received under 20 percent of the total of Morrow's old 23A district, which included more conservative parts of Sibley County but not areas of more liberal Mankato. In 2008, Dean Barkley received 19.51 of the vote, while 2010 gubernatorial contender received 14.62 percent.
The local GOP has signaled that it intends to make Morrow's resignation an issue in the coming special election. The Herald reported in Nicollet County party leaders prepare for special election:
Trocke said he thinks the GOP will have a distinct advantage in the special election race due to the nature of Morrow's resignation, submitted less than two months after he was re-elected.
"I think first you have to look at the fact that Terry Morrow may have had plans to leave Minnesota before he was re-elected," Trocke said. "Special elections cost a lot of money and Morrow is wasting taxpayer dollars by doing this. People are going to remember that come next election."
The Republicans failed to field a candidate to run against Morrow this year. The last candidate to run against Morrow, tweeted that she wouldn't seek the seat:
Consider this my official announcement: I will not be seeking the seat vacated by Rep. Terry Morrow. #mnleg— Rebecca Peichel (@rebeccapeichel) December 20, 2012
Will the local Republicans pick Quist? Stay tuned.
Cartoon: Ken Avidor's cartoon may have been premature, however inspired it may have been by Quist's belief that dinosaurs lived among people in historical times.
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