Monday, October 25, 2004

Things looking up for Kennedy: Big poll result and a surprise endorsement 

Two big pieces of good news for the 6th District incumbent Mark Kennedy in his race with Patty Wetterling. First, WCCO released about 30 minutes ago a poll showing him ahead of Wetterling by 52-34, with 14% undecided. It's a relatively small poll of 351 likely 6CD voters, a district which typically identifies as 4-3 Republican. The margin of error is 5.3%. The margin of the poll is quite close to the margin with which Kennedy defeated Janet Robert in 2002.

Second, in a relative surprise (to me), the St. Cloud Times endorses Kennedy. (I'll set up the link for Monday here.)

There are two ways to look at the race for the U.S. 6th District House seat between incumbent Mark Kennedy and challenger Patty Wetterling.

One is through partisan glasses. If you do that, you need only know that Kennedy is the Republican and Wetterling the Democrat.

The other way is by looking at who has more experience and knows the issues more thoroughly. Using those lenses, ask yourself which candidate will most effectively serve Central Minnesotans the next two years.

The answer is Mark Kennedy.

I didn't expect this, and I am pretty sure the Kennedy campaign didn't either. The Times has been big supporters of Wetterling and the Jacob's Hope Foundation over the years, and ran a big page one story marking the 15th anniversary of Jacob's abduction last Friday. But to their credit, they understood the difference between an advocate for a single issue (no matter how important an issue it is) and an effective legislator.

Wetterling clearly believes her strength rests in her ability to work across party and bureaucratic lines to get the job done. Indeed, her work on behalf of missing children and public safety is impressive and shows great potential.

But she's running against an incumbent who has compiled a strong record in serving Central Minnesota. Plus he can point to votes supporting more special-education funding, against oil drilling in sensitive areas, and even against Bush's No Child Left Behind Act.

Such actions, coupled with a social-issues platform that (sadly) better matches the majority of area voters, make Kennedy a strong incumbent.

That 'sadly' is a note to the editorial board's own preferences, but give them credit for recognizing that the market they sell into is socially more conservative than they are, and remembering whose paying for government. I suspect it pains them no more serious politician has come forward to challenge Kennedy, but none has emerged. The two Cities newspapers (and our silly student newspaper), of course, couldn't resist running to the Democrat (she crows for all three endorsements on her site), and yet the people who know Patty best have decided to back Kennedy.

The commenters in the Times chat area were pretty darn disappointed too.
The editorial board could also be working on the assumption that you don't fire the incumbent without cause. That's certainly reasonable, though a disappointment for me personally as someone who believes we desperately need an advocate for missing, exploited, and murdered children in Congress.
I'll update the Times link and kick this ahead to Monday in the morning. DONE (7am Monday)