Tuesday, May 11, 2004

She'll make it a race 

Local talk is swirling about the entry of Patty Wetterling into the Congressional race against Rep. Mark Kennedy. Wetterling lost her son to a gunpoint abduction in 1989 and has since worked hard on enacting sex offender registration laws. Not surprising,
Children will be a major focus of her campaign, and Wetterling says she would not be a candidate were it not for Jacob...
... her lost son. Kennedy is viewed by many around here as a likely opponent to Mark Me Loony Dayton, the senior senator about whom the Northern Alliance has said so much. Wetterling was wooed into the race by a letter from Nancy Pelosi (who could better use C.J.'s makeover advice than Wetterling), and the field that had three other possible candidates has been cleared out for Wetterling to go one-on-one with Kennedy.

There is a sympathy vote to be sure; you still see Jacob's Hope signs around St. Cloud and nobody needs to be told what they mean even fifteen years later. But there will be a number who want to know if she can broaden her appeal. Already she put off the announcement of her candidacy after a story broke concerning Jacob, and she held the news conference to start her campaign at his old junior high (which is pretty much out my back door.) Some will want to say she's another Carolyn McCarthy, but McCarthy ran only three years after a double homicide and her issue had not been settled to the satisfaction of her liberal Long Island constitutency. The very success of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation will in that sense work against Wetterling's electoral base.

No doubt Wetterling make it a race because the media here has no other race worth watching, and Dayton's money will help take a few bullets out of Kennedy's 2006 holster. But I doubt she wins.

UPDATE (May 12): Powerline makes some observations as well.