Some pundits eye Paulsen/Meffert race as potential DFL pickup
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 8:30 am
While most eyes are focused on Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District and the spectacle that is already Rep. Michele Bachmann vs. Sen. Tarryl Clark, some political watchers see a potential battle in Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District between freshmen Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen and his DFL challenger Jim Meffert. Though some say it’s a long shot, others think the DFL would do well to invest resources there in support of Meffert.
The New York Times’ political prediction maker Nate Silver has Paulsen the likely favorite, predicting he will finish the race comfortably with 62 percent and Meffert at 35 percent, and the Cook Political Report doesntt see it as a competitive race. It’s not even on their radar.
But the popular election tracking website Electoral-Vote.com rates the race as a pure tossup. According to the site’s author, Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Paulsen should be vulnerable even in a good year for Republicans.
Freshman Erik Paulsen won this exactly evenly split district [between Democrats and Republicans] with only 48% of the vote in a three-way race in 2008. There is some evidence that the Independence Party candidate hurt the Democrat more than he hurt Paulsen. Furthermore, Obama carried the district with 52% of the vote. All in all, Paulsen will definitely be on the Democrats’ radar in 2010. Their candidate is Jim Meffert, the executive director of the Minnsota Optometric Association, who has never run for public office before. He is clearly not as strong a candidate as the Democrats would have liked, but in an evenly split district he has a shot at it.
And Hamline University professor David Schultz, says the DFL should pull resources from trying to defeat Bachmann and lend them to Meffert.
“Since election, Paulsen has spoken moderate but voted right,” Schultz wrote on his blog. “He has a voting record nearly identical to Bachmann’s voting with her over 90% of the time. He has no real accomplishments to show, and about the only news about him has been how he appeared to gouge the House franking privilege by sending out hundreds of thousands of dollars in mail to his constituents, at taxpayer expense.”
The district, he said, is more moderate than Paulsen.
Too many people have heard me argue that campaigns are won or lost based on how well you capture the swing voter. The most critical swing voter in Minnesota remains the suburban mom with kids – the soccer mom. These women are less and less likely to vote GOP because of its agenda. These women are worried about family issues–early childhood ed, K-12, jobs, and health care for their children. Minnesota’s third district is soccer mom heaven. It is heavily dominated by soccer moms in the suburbs, and they are ready to swing.
Some analysis and polls suggest Paulsen’s agenda is way out of line with voters here. Less than half have a favorable view of him, with many outright unwilling to vote for him again were there a choice. This is where Jim Meffert comes in.
Schultz says Meffert fits the district but does not get the attention needed to be competitive.
Jim Meffert is a terrific candidate for the third district, if only he could get the attention of the media, Democrats, and the voters. He is a St. Olaf grad, serving there as the president of the college Republicans. He became a Democrat because, like the soccer moms of his district, he saw the GOP moving in a direction he did not like. Jim has worked with the PTA and on education issues, he comes from peace and justice wing of the religious community, and he talks of government and business working together to solve problems. All of these are perfect themes for this district.