Tony Sutton's victory lap turned bitter Wednesday morning, as he struggled to comprehend how Tom Emmer had lost.
"Something doesn't smell right," declared Sutton. How could the GOP have won the Minnesota House, Senate, even knocked off Jim Oberstar and still lost the Governor's race?
Note to Tony: this is not the Oscars. Just because you won Best Actor and Best Screenplay doesn't mean that you're entitled to Best Picture. Besides, there are easy answers to his question. The presence of Tom Horner, former Republican in the race, for example. Or better, the fact that the GOP lost every other statewide race on the ballot. In a sense, a Dayton loss in the Governor's race would have been even more out of character.
Of course, this is not a real question, it's just another diva moment by the GOP. And it is beyond time to pound them for their overreaching, destructive tantrums. This ought to be easy. If there's one thing that people hate more than a sore loser, it is a sore winner. If the rest of this process goes the way that it did today, it will be an even more colossal failure than Coleman's recount debacle.
First, note the change in speakers from the Franken-Coleman recount. Tom Emmer? Nowhere to be seen - it's the Sutton/Brodkorb/Trimble show. On the DFL side? Dayton front and center. It's an interesting choice, and I have to say that Dayton was really on today. His performance was the perfect contrast to the Sutton meltdown. In fact, his performance today really reassured me that he will be a great Governor to deal with a GOP legislature. He was a calm, rational adult while Tony foamed at the mouth for the cameras. Emmer? Hiding. Dayton? Looking and acting like a Governor.
Second, the GOP can't help themselves. This will quickly become the "Election Integrity" / Minnesota Majority show, as unsubstantiated rumors and innuendo will become part of the strategy of undermining the legitimacy of the election. Sutton's pitched paranoia is intended to activate the base to help raise funds. The side effect will be to bring the cranks out of the woodwork. But ultimately this will frustrate and anger Minnesotans. Just remember this, Mark Ritchie won reelection last night. If Minnesota voters thought that the 2008 recount was rigged, he would have been bounced last night.
Pretty much everything about the GOP opening salvo was bad framing for them. The declaration that the GOP won't be "outlawyered?" "This time it's personal?" While I am always suspicious of broad brush characterizations of the mood of the electorate, I'm pretty confident of this statement.
People want action, not petty partisanship.
Minnesotans, in their frustrating wisdom, have once again split their tickets enough to ensure divided government. Minnesotans believe that the parties can, should, and damn well better work together. In 24 months, we'll be doing this all over again for the 201 legislative seats. If the GOP leadership thinks a prolonged, bitter, partisan recount is the best way to christen their new legislative majorities, then they'll be explaining another stunning reversal in 2012.
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