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November 28, 2006


The image of Alfred E. Newman “What Me Worry” pops in my head whenever I think of Gil’s re-election campaign.

The question is : did Walz beat Gutknecht or did Gutknecht lose ? I think a little of both, but more so that Gutknecht lost. With a history of decisive re-election victories, a war-chest of $900k and being the incumbent, I wrote in March that the only person that could be Gil was Gil.

I do not understand the reference to Iraq. In Minnesota, there were three contested Congressional races – Bachmann –v- Wetterling, Kline –v- Rowley, and Gutknecht –v- Walz. The pro-war Republican won over the “Bring’em home tomorrow” Democrat in the first two contests. But Gutknecht injected himself into the debate when he returned from a visit to Iraq and suggested reducing the troops … that was a politically stupid comment that eliminated his ability to use the War as an issue … albeit it would have been a difficult issue considering Walz’s support of the troops.

The DM&E was actually two issues in one. Gutknecht should have known that this was viable issue considering how Mary Reider used to campaign against him. Ignoring the “coal trains” issue, the other issue was that it illustrated how pork/earmarks are driving excessive Congressional spending. Gutknecht’s fiscal hawk status was seriously questioned when anti-tax advocate David Sturm showed up with Walter Mondale to denounce this legislation. Gutknecht may feel that he “stood up for his principles” when he didn’t back down on the “coal trains”, but he never understood that fiscal conservatives were outraged.

The comment that this was a nasty campaign is also interesting since I never received one piece of mail from Gutknecht that wasn’t an attack on Walz. The TV commercials, including those by the RNC, were attack ads. Gutknecht never spoke about what he would do in the future … it was just that Walz would raise taxes and give benefits to immigrants.

Looking at the election results, it was clearly a rejection of Gutknecht and not a rejection of Republicans. Pawlenty won in Rochester; Gutknecht lost. Pawlenty polled better than Gutknecht in Winona. Those two areas were critical to his defeat.

Let’s also give some credit to the Walz campaign. He persevered by talking to people at county fairs and was well versed on a variety of issues. I had a one-on-one talk with him in January and hit him on issues that were not in his talking points (trade deficits, China, global warming, workforce education, national debt, immigration, etc.) Walz was knowledgeable and impressive. I’m an independent and I knew after a twenty minute talk with Tim that if all voters could spend that time with him, that the First District would elect someone who could represent us rather than big business.

So Gutknecht is thinking of becoming a radio personality. Makes sense … Coleman spent time after losing the Governor’s race spewing his views and keeping his name on the radar. If Gutknecht is looking for a wacky sidekick, how about Gingrich? Can you hear the promos now for a national morning show “Gil & Newt in the Mornings” ? Ah, that is what I suspect that Reagan was talking about with “A New Morning in America.”

Regarding Dick Day, I think that is unlikely. Day is almost 70 and not even in a leadership capacity in the State Senate. Making a commitment for a Congressional run is a major impact on a family and I suspect that Day would be unwilling to due that at this time in his life. I would think the Republicans would look for a candidate that would be able to hold the seat for at least a decade. Besides, isn’t it too early to consider 2008 match-ups?

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