Do you want to overthrow the government? Or maybe you think things are going just fine.
Either way, Tuesday’s primary election is the time to take a stand.
Midterm elections generally attract a low voter turnout. Primary election turnout is historically even lower.
Voting is always the most important action of civic engagement, but because of a unique set of circumstances this year, voters must participate, starting with the primary.
Statewide, voters will elect a new governor. Mark Dayton is ending two terms so Minnesotans will have a new administration regardless of which party wins.
Party endorsements don’t mean much this year.
On the Republican side, endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson, who lost to Dayton in 2014, is being challenged by former two-term governor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty’s opponents are already running ads against Pawlenty, assuming he will beat Hennepin County commissioner Johnson. The ads remind voters of Pawlenty’s cuts to education and health funding while he stresses job creation.
Democrats endorsed Erin Murphy. She’s a former state House majority leader and represents the Summit Hill neighborhood of St. Paul. She faces challenges from Tim Walz, who represents Minnesota’s First Congressional District, and Lori Swanson, current state attorney general.
Walz is to the right of Murphy and his ads stress his background as a teacher and his rural roots. The TV ads don’t mention he’s served in Congress since the 2007 election. Swanson joined the governor’s race late after she failed to get the DFL endorsement for attorney general because DFLers didn’t like her A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.
The Democrats also have a hot race for attorney general. The five candidates are Keith Ellison, Tom Foley, Debra Hilstrom, Matt Pelikan and Mike Rothman. The DFL endorsed Pelikan. Ellison currently represents Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District and is giving up his increasingly larger role in Congress to run for state office. Analysts think Ellison is trying to build his resume for bigger things such as U.S. Senator or governor.
Both U.S. Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, are running for re-election. Klobuchar should have no trouble with her four challengers, but Smith has an interesting contest. You’ve probably seen Richard Painter on cable TV pushing for Trump’s impeachment and calling him a crook. Painter was ethics lawyer during George W. Bush’s administration but he’s running as a Democrat, He’s taken some positions to the left of Smith, including opening up mining in northeastern Minnesota.
Locally, Stearns County will have a new sheriff. The candidates are Dave Bentrud, Bob Dickhaus, Dwight Pfannenstein and Steve Soyka. Pfannenstein withdrew from active campaigning after he was appointed St. Joseph police chief in June but his name remains on the ballot. All the candidates have extensive law enforcement experience backed up by strong academic preparation.
Showing up on Tuesday is important. We keep hearing Donald Trump won the electoral vote while Hilary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016. But the real winner was nobody. Trump’s 63 million votes and Clinton’s 66 million came in behind the 111 million people who did not vote. Nationwide, 55.5 percent of eligible voters showed up. Minnesota again led the nation with 74.16 percent turnout.
Let’s do better.
If you want to overthrow the government, the time is now.