Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dealing with Tumult

As the DFL regroups facing yesterday's whirlwind of activity, lets look back on how the MNGOP dealt with scathing charges against their own. Two high profile examples come to mind. And in both cases, the Republicans were able to succeed.

1990 - Grunseth goes Swimming

Jon Grunseth, the IR (Independent Republicans as they were known back then) endorsed candidate for governor faced charges of sexual impropriety just weeks before the general election. Grunseth was running against incumbent Governor Rudy Perpich at a time when Perpich was very vulnerable. On October 15, the downfall began:
Grunseth's campaign went into a tailspin Oct. 15, after allegations he had invited four teen-age girls, including his adopted daughter, to swim nude with him at a 1981 party. One of the girls said he also tried to touch her breast.

He nearly resigned last Thursday, but changed his mind after a 3 1/2-hour meeting with key campaign strategists.
Grunseth began to slip in the polls. Arne Carlson, who lost the endorsement to Grunseth, initiated a write-in campaign. Then, the other show dropped on Jon:
Then, Sunday, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a story in which Grunseth admitted a ''romantic'' relationship with a 32-year-old woman. The woman, Tamara Taylor of Minnetonka, said she and Grunseth had an intermittent affair from 1980 to 1989.
Grunseth withdrew. Some legal wrangling ensued and Carlson went from write-in candidate to the new IR Endorsee. Carlson went on to defeat Perpich 40 - 47. Four years later, Carlson creamed John Marty, 63 - 34.

A clear example of the electorate looking at the person, not the party, when they went to the polls.

1992 - Pawlenty's Campaign Finance violation

Less then a month before the general election, Tim Pawlenty was found to have broke the law.

October 11, 2002
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty has now accepted full responsibility for campaign practices that a state review board found illegal. The decision could represent a substantial setback for Pawlenty, who also announced he would temporarily suspend television ads while his campaign assesses its options. But Pawlenty vows he'll vigorously press the campaign until the end.
The findings were:
The board ruled that an estimated $800,000 in television ads produced by the party were incorrectly identified as the sort of soft-money independent expenditures that are subject to limited regulation. The board's order requires Pawlenty to count the ads as direct contributions, a decision that will eat deeply into the campaign's $2.2 million spending limit.
Polling in this three way race were tight, and the general consensus was that TPaw would slip opening the door for Roger Mow, or another 'shock the world' victory by Tim Penny.

Wiki finishes the story:
Dogged by ethics complaints surrounding the campaign,[1] but buoyed by President George W. Bush's post-Sept. 11th popularity and the failure of either of his challengers to gain a solid lock on the votes of Democrats, Pawlenty hurtled ahead of both challengers at the very end of the campaign. Analyses afterward indicated that his largest gains were among voters in the suburbs of Minneapolis-St.Paul.
Final results, TPaw 44%, Moe 36%, Penny 16%, Pentel 2%

In both cases the party was under fire. In 1992, the GOP was able to regroup, re-organize and defeat a vulnerable incumbent candidate. In 2002 they were successful in standing by their man, and their man took the high road and the hits which eventually became a key factor in his election, rather then his downfall.

The DFL can learn from these experiences. The electorate will be watching to see how the party moves on, because the DFL wants to lead this state, and the people of Minnesota so desperately need that to happen. Now is when the party must show they can lead their own party, as if they stumble, it will effect the results up and down the ticket.


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