Saturday, August 06, 2005


Senate - GOP notes

Interesting excerpt from a recent MPR article on the Senate race:

Although the White House is backing Kennedy, Cooper says it's a different scenario than Minnesota's last Senate race, in which President Bush and Karl Rove personally appealed to Norm Coleman to take on Paul Wellstone.

"The Bush people really had very little to do with Kennedy's running. I mean there was no anointment, if you will, in that connection," Cooper says. "Kennedy got it because everybody in the Republican Party thought he was the best guy to get it."

Not quite everybody.

Vietnam veteran and retired Army chaplin Harold Shudlick of Apple Valley says he's a candidate too.

Shudlick is among some Republicans who are critical of party leaders' early conclusion that Kennedy will be the GOP Senate candidate. He's been traveling throughout the state meeting with Republican activists.

"I'm going to make the best effort that I can, to give the voters of the Republican Party the best choice they can possibly have as an alternative to somebody selected by the puppet masters. And I think the delegates are responding to that," says Shudlick.

Shudlick says his main issues revolve around tightening immigration and preserving what he calls "American culture." He says Kennedy has voted for too much federal spending. He's also critical of his fellow Republican's positions on some trade issues.

Washington University political scientist Steven Smith closely follows Minnesota politics. Smith says by rallying around Kennedy early, Republicans avoid interparty competition for campaign cash and volunteers.

Smith says infighting could hurt the growing pool of Democratic Senate candidates. But he also says having top-level, outside Republicans campaigning for Kennedy is not without risk for the GOP, particularly if the "kingmaker-puppetmaster" rhetoric sticks.

"This isn't the kind of criticism that Mark Kennedy really needs, because if this kind of criticism is heard and registered, it can affect his campaign in the fall," Smith says. "He will be seen like he's a candidate of the White House and not of Minnesotans."

If only we could be so lucky. This campaign cycle will be a dogfight across the state, and I am all for allowing Minnesota Republicans a fair choice between Shudlick and Kennedy. With personal backing from Bush and Cheney, Kennedy will almost certainly take the nomination, but anything or anyone that keeps the puppetmaster's strings onstage should absolutely get airtime. Given the short description of his issues, it appears that Shudlick could steal some right-wing delegates and/or primary votes from Kennedy as well, cutting his base out from under him. Being careful not to cheer too loudly for a Republican candidate......"Go Harold!"

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