here are a number of Republicans chomping at the bit to unseat Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014, and you can expect a full field and primary next year leading up to the election.
This is a good thing - not necessarily because of something Dayton has or hasn't done in office, but because, like in professional sports, competition is a good thing. Unlike professional sports, however, sometimes, the more competition there is, the more likely you're going to be hearing plenty of empty promises.
We've entered the telling-us-what-we-want-to-hear phase from the candidates. Nothing against these candidates; they're politicians, it's what they do. Even those who aren't politicians but are hoping to become one do it. They're not lying to us, they're simply trying to put themselves in a position to be able to do what they think is best for the state.
The question you have to ask yourself is: Do I believe/agree with him/her?
Each of these candidates have one simple goal during the next year-plus: selling themselves. Some are better at it than others. You're going to be hearing and reading a lot of Democrat-bashing from the candidates, and plenty about what's wrong with this state. The governor has said he will save his ammo until the real battle begins after the primary. You're also going to be hearing and reading a lot about what the candidates plan to do about things they perceive are wrong with this state. That's why it's good to have a barrel of candidates to listen to, rather than a handful.
We already have that handful, and as the weeks and months go on, the list of candidates will likely grow. So pay attention to what these candidates have to say. Pay close attention to the ones who choose the high ground and avoid mudslinging. It's easy for the candidates, or anyone for that matter, to sit there and say the governor and the DFL leaders made this mistake or that mistake, but that's not what we want to hear. There's a world of negatives floating around out there, but we want to hear about the positives and about what the candidates plan on doing to, for example, keep Minnesota's unemployment rate down and help our schools thrive.
I liked some of the things candidate Kurt Zellers said during his visit to Marshall on Monday. I believe that he can relate to the middle class. But here's the catch: All of the candidates will tell us they can relate to the middle class, because they know we're the ones hurting most. I also like what candidate Dave Thompson said earlier this week when defended things he has said on his radio show: "I tried to call it like I saw it."
Straightforwardness should be a prerequisite for political candidates; it should be on their resum. And we should care more about what comes out of the mouths of our potential future governor than what comes out of Paula Deen's. Eventually, this pool of candidates - some you may have heard of, others you wouldn't know if they weren't wearing one of those "HELLO" name tags - will shrink, but because we don't know who will survive the primary, it's vital we all pay attention to what each of the candidates have to say and what they believe in.
This past session was truly a historic one with a number of controversial issues on the table - some were voted on, some were put in that can that annually gets kicked down the road - and sessions filled with controversy, passion, protests and vitriol have a way of leading to attention-grabbing elections, filled with upsets and shake-ups. So that means this next election, like all before it, will be a big one.
It also means that all incumbents have a target on their back, only next year, some of those targets will be much bigger.