"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nobody Likes a Sore Loser

It looks like two closely contested elections are going to be decided soon in favor of the Democrats. In Minnesota and Upstate New York, Republicans hopes of grasping an electoral victory on which to pin their "we're on the rebound" talking point are rapidly evaporating. But the news is worse than the simple loss of a Senate and House seat. Republican strategists "win at all costs" approach have been dangerously short-sighted, threatening to undermine their future viability in critical swing regions.

Former Senator Norm Coleman's stubborn insistence to continue fighting for a seat even conservatives now believe has been lost is alienating voters. Will his inability to "do the right thing" have repercussions for current and future Republican candidates in the North Star State? Beyond the local ramifications, his intransigence has put the squeeze on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's presidential aspirations. One of the more moderate voices in the modern Republican Party, Pawlenty is forced by Coleman's refusal to throw in the towel into a difficult political dilemma as to whether or not to sign the looming election certificate. Refusing to sign (and ignoring state law) would delight the conservative base but undermine his moderate credentials.

In New York state, the bizarre and desperate attempts to challenge multiple absentee ballots shines the spotlight on the ugly reality of bare-knuckled political fighting. While both parties always look bad in tight tussles, the tactical blunder of challenging the legitimacy of Sen. Gillibrand's ballot scars the Republicans most deeply. If a Republican resurgence is possible in the northeast, it is in the traditionally conservative regions of Upstate New York. At this point, it looks like that renaissance is a remote possibility.

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