Street fighter Hatch surfaces, calls reporter name

ST. PAUL -- Mike Hatch's aggressive, street fighter reputation showed through Thursday for one of the few times in this year's heated gubernatorial race.

ST. PAUL -- Mike Hatch's aggressive, street fighter reputation showed through Thursday for one of the few times in this year's heated gubernatorial race.

Hatch lashed out at Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Republicans for attacking his running mate, Judi Dutcher, over a recent incident in which the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party lieutenant governor candidate appeared to know nothing about E-85 ethanol.

"This governor is afraid to debate me on issues," said Hatch, the current attorney general who recent polls show is narrowly leading Pawlenty in the governor's race. "He wants to beat up on a woman."

His claim that Dutcher was picked on because she's a woman drew sharp criticism.

A political science professor and pollster who has donated to Hatch and other Democrats said the comments about picking on a woman may hurt.


"It probably will rub people the wrong way," said Jim Danielson of Minnesota State University Moorhead. "It sounds a little chauvinistic."

The comment is especially a problem in this age of voters picking candidates more on personalities than policy, Danielson added.

"It infers that a woman is not able to stand on the same playing field as a man," Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey said of Hatch's comment.

"If the attorney general is using gender, the attorney general should be ashamed," added Republican strategist Sarah Janecek. "As a female, I find that incredibly offensive. This has nothing to do with picking on women."

A communications studies expert said Hatch's comment sounded like the instinctive response of a man "jumping to the protection of a woman he cares about."

"Hatch is a guy, I think, who has been raised in fairly traditional kinds of notions about how men take care of women," said University of Minnesota professor Karlyn Campbell.

Voters going to the polls Tuesday could view the gender comment in a number of ways, Campbell said.

Some women may approve of Hatch defending Dutcher, she said, while others might be upset Dutcher didn't know Hatch's stance on ethanol.


Hatch's anger overflowed during a Thursday morning telephone interview.

A Forum Communications reporter asked Hatch about Dutcher's knowledge of ethanol and why she wasn't available to discuss to discuss the issue. Hatch abruptly ended the interview with: "You're nothing more than a Republican whore. Goodbye." He then hung up.

Television crews following the Duluth native and former merchant marine Thursday reported other sharp comments when reporters pressed him for response to Dutcher's comments.

By Thursday afternoon, Dutcher was fielding interviews about the E-85 gaffe. E-85 is a fuel blend of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Hatch, long known as a "street fighter," was overdue for an angry outburst, Carey said. Republicans have depicted him as a short-tempered bully.

Said Carey: "The long-anticipated meltdown of Mike Hatch has begun."

Forum Communications reporter Don Davis contributed to this story.

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