Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dave Durenberger speaks out on porridge

Republican porridge is too hot; DFL porridge is too cold. Or is it the other way around? Spot can’t remember. Rachel Stassen-Berger wrote an article in the Strib today about voters yearning, yes yearning, for a middle way as a way of pimping former GOP operative and spin doctor Tom Horner’s candidacy for governor. She even interviewed former Senator Durenberger in what looks to Spot like a setup for Horner to announce a run for the job as an Independence Party candidate. Way to go Rachel! Here’s a few words from Dave in Rachel’s sub silento endorsement of Horner:

Former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, a Republican who says the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is too far to the left and the GOP is too far to the right, agrees this could be a good time for an independent.

"You can't get to where most people would like to be through the parties, as they appear to be constituted," said Durenberger, for whom Horner worked.

It’s funny, but Spot doesn’t recall anybody beating their chests and saying, “Who will speak for the middle?” Spot’s friends and neighbors are by no means all DFLers, either.

Spot harbors a suspicion that Stassen-Berger posed the question as a way to tout Horner as a candidate.

Here in Senate District 41, there is a bitter memory of what an independent candidate can do; it is especially painful for Spot. In the last House race in 41A, the DFL candidate Kevin Staunton and the spurned-once-Republican Ron Erhardt (whom Spot supported) split an easy majority of the vote, electing the conservative Republican Keith Downey, who barely beat either Staunton or Erhardt. Erhardt, some of you will remember, was excommunicated by the Republicans because he voted for the transportation bill over Governor Gutshot’s veto.

One a statewide level, the most probable outcome of a strong independent bid would result in the election of another Republican governor. There are many reasons to worry about that, for education, health care, property taxes; the list goes on.

But one reason in particular concerns Spot: the judiciary in Minnesota. The last time a DFLer picked a judge in Minnesota was when Rudy Perpich did it. Many of you don’t even remember Rudy. But governors have a bigger and longer impact on a state through judicial appointments than probably anywhere else.

There was a case that came down from the Minnesota Supreme Court several days ago on the civil forfeiture of an SUV co-owned by an “innocent owner” of a vehicle driven by an impaired co-owner. By a vote of four to three, the Supreme Court of Minnesota affirmed the forfeiture. One reading the headline, Spot knew exactly how the Court split without even reading the opinion. The four Republican appointees voted to uphold the forfeiture. Everyone else? Not so much.

And it not just the Supreme Court that is appointed by a governor; it’s all the District Court and Court of Appeals judges, too.

It is going to take a generation of purgative to restore some balance on the bench; we can just as well get started now.

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