Tuesday, July 19, 2005

He should never walk alone 

Not only is John Ellenbecker running for mayor (and maybe not U.S. Congress), but he may not be challenged by presumed opponent state Senator Dave Kleis. Dave Aeikens of the St. Cloud Times reports,
Kleis has been considering it, and he has until 5 p.m. to decide if he wants to challenge Ellenbecker in what would be a rematch of the 1996 Senate race between the 11-year Republican senator and the first-term DFL mayor.

"At this point, I have not decided," Kleis said. He just returned from a few days in Canada after completing a legislative session that went into overtime and ended Wednesday. Kleis' Senate terms expires in 2006. In his 2002 re-election campaign, Kleis said his current term would be his last because of a self-imposed 12-year term limit he promised when elected in 1994.
Kleis is a local entrepreneur, running a driving academy, and it's farily well-known that he'd like to get back to the private sector. The mayorship is supposed to be a part-time job, though Ellenbecker says it takes much more time than he realized. Part of that, in my view, is because Ellenbecker is quite activist as a mayor.

This could be a strategic move on Kleis' part: If Ellenbecker runs unopposed and then runs for the Sixth District Congressional seat, there could be a special election for mayor in which Kleis would be a heavy favorite if he wants the job. And he might yet run this time around. But, and this is pure speculation on my part, Dave Kleis reminds me of nobody as much as Warren Rudman, a deficit hawk and someone who became increasingly frustrated with government. I could imagine Dave running the Concord Coalition -- indeed, doesn't this look like a copy of that? He's not been as anti-tax as Phil Krinkie; he's much more an efficient-government type of Republican. More Bob Dole than Newt Gingrich. And it's possible he's just burned out and wants nothing more to do with government.

Still, somebody needs to run an opposition to Ellenbecker. There should be objection to his heavyhandedness, to the expansion of the public sector in St. Cloud, and, thinking strategically for the Republicans, someone to lay down markers if he runs for Congress next year. Someone to make John get on a stage and hopefully say something you can use in the 2006 campaign if he runs. And if you beat him, which anyone outside of Kleis would have a hard time doing, that could make the Republican primary in CD6 the real election in 2006. (Though First Ring now thinks it's possible that Tinklenberg has raised enough money to make the Republicans focus and other DFL hopefuls perhaps stand aside??)