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Capitol Chatter: Minnesota may not get presidential race love

ST. PAUL—Minnesotans may not be very involved in the presidential campaign.

The state often does not draw the candidates because of its tradition of voting Democratic. Republicans see little hope in Minnesota and Democrats see little reason to leave a swing state to campaign in a state they expect to win.

On top of that, there is so little love for either candidate this year that many party activists on both sides are expected to spend most of their time working on other races, for U.S. House in some areas and for the state Legislature in much of the state.

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are seen unfavorably by more than half of Americans, the worst case in presidential campaign memory.

Some party activists say voters may be so unhappy with presidential candidates that they could go to the polls but not vote for the top spot. At least they may not intend to vote for president, but they could change their minds when they get to the polls.

"I just don't see good Minnesota citizens sitting it out," GOP delegate and long-time party activist Marty Seifert said.

Supporters of both candidates blame the media for their unfavorable acceptance.

Clinton backer Don Bye of Pequot Lakes, a retired Duluth attorney, said Clinton became a "whipping boy" for her efforts to advance affordable health care.

"Popularity is influenced greatly by pronouncements of Republicans to vilify Hillary Clinton back in the 1990s when she became the spokesperson for universal health care," Bye said.

Who turns out affects who will win. With an unconventional candidate like Trump and a pair of unpopular presidential hopefuls, predicting turnout is tough in 2016.

Democratic national convention delegate Karl Keene of Moorhead, who supported Bernie Sanders, has an idea: "I think the turnout for the Democrats and Republicans will be pretty pathetic. I think the turnout for the Libertarians and Green Party will be pretty good."

De ja vu for reporters

Minnesota political reporters following the presidential race the past few days could be forgiven if they felt they have heard it before.

Reporters who have covered Minnesota for a while thought back to former Gov. Jesse Ventura when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he was just joking when he suggested that Russia should investigate Hillary Clinton email woes.

"Of course I'm being sarcastic," Trump said a day after he made the comments about seeking Russian help to investigate rival candidate Clinton's private email server she used as secretary of state.

Reporters spent a day covering the Trump remarks as if he were serious, and many continued doing so even after he said it was a joke.

Ventura often had the same trouble. Like Trump, it often is hard to tell when Ventura is joking. After that happened several times, Ventura started to end a non-serious comment with "joke, joke, joke" so reporters did not take him seriously.

Looking ahead

Hillary Clinton had not even accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for president when Roll Call, a Washington political newspaper, asked: "Who will be the next female presidential nominee?"

No Minnesota political observer will be surprised to learn that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is on the newspaper's short list. She often is mentioned as a potential presidential, vice presidential or Supreme Court justice candidate, although she says little about moving on up.

In addition to Klobuchar, in the middle of her second Senate term, Roll Call says Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire have shots at presidential runs.

"Timing is everything in politics, so it's tough to predict who will be the second women to lead a presidential ticket for a major party," said Nathan Gonzales, Roll Call's elections editor. "But Gillibrand, Klobuchar and Ayotte have the resumes, credibility and campaign experience to run for president if they get the opportunity."

Klobuchar and her colleague, Sen. Al Franken, were in demand as speakers during the Democratic National Convention. Both spoke to several state delegations and at other events, including the full convention.

GOP launches 'Crooked Together'

Minnesota Republican leaders say their "Crooked Together" social media campaign better describes Democrats' Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine campaign.

State Republican Chairman Keith Downey said Democrats proved they are crooked when emails revealed that national party leaders were working to elect Clinton even while Sen. Bernie Sanders remained a candidate.

"But it's not just nationally; the same problems are on display with Democrats here at home in Minnesota," Downey said. "It's time the public sees the evidence of the systemic corruption in the Democrat Party, and our 'Crooked Together' campaign will educate them on the facts so they can make up their own mind."

Davis covers Minnesota government and politics for Forum News Service. Read his blog at capitolchat.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @CapitolChatter.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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