Everyone knows by now that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer has two DWIs on his record - one from 19 years ago, the other from 29 years ago. Fellow Republican and Emmer's only real legitimate threat to endorsement, Marty Seifert, paid for and sent out a letter to GOP delegates that was written by a Republican activist and state convention delegate whose family had been injured by a drunk driver that reminds delegates of Emmer's transgressions.
The letter included information about Emmer's record and his efforts to weaken the state's DWI laws and cover up his mistakes, Seifert's Web site said. Emmer authored legislation that would have eliminated from public record arrest information about DWIs more than 10 years old, thus keeping his driving record away from the voters' eyes, the site said.
Is this front-page news? Hardly. Is it politics? Unfortunately, it is. Welcome to the game.
Seifert said he's taking issue, not so much with the DWIs, but with the law changes Emmer has proposed.
We'll all take sides on this one. One group will chastise Seifert for a sucker punch against a fellow Republican days before the Republican State Convention and question what a pair of decades-old DWIs has to do with Emmer's political acumen. The other will tell you those DWIs speak to Emmer's character and credibility and we shouldn't vote for someone who has broken the law. Neither side is right, neither is wrong, because a vote is nothing more than an opinion and no one thinks their opinion is the wrong one.
There are no winners when politics gets personal. But it always does and that's why people grow so tired of back-and-forth attacks. You probably already are.
"I understand my colleague Marty Seifert and his desire to win at any cost, and I know that politics can be a contact sport for many," Emmer said on MinnPost.com. "But even I have to say this attempt to smear my good name (in light of the fact that I have long been public with my past) reaches a new low and ignores the understanding and compassion for others in Minnesota who, after making the same mistake, have gone on to be some of the best leaders and teachers in this state."
We know Seifert and Emmer's battle for the GOP endorsement was bound to heat up, but we urge Seifert's camp to not stir the pot, for Seifert to stick to promoting his campaign and avoid dredging up his opponent's past, and for Emmer to abstain from firing back. And vice versa. Seifert is a seasoned lawmaker, a strong candidate who's been around the block, and he needs to remember that, in the end, he and Emmer are supposed to be on the same side. In a race that could go a long way in determining Minnesota's next leader, party should be thicker than water.
"Issue by issue, we're mostly on the same side on things, but obviously if this is brought up I would not vote for it," Seifert said. "It is a different dynamic, but there are delegates who are concerned about electability. If delegates go in blind and don't know all they should know about potential nominees, that's not fair."