The big question among Minnesota politicos last week: How will it play in November?
The question refers to the acrimonious end of the legislative session and Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of the major tax and spending provisions sent to him by the GOP-led Legislature.
Who will take the blame? How will voters react?
You can game out the various electoral consequences, but you should also consider this: It may not matter much.
A wide range of interest group representatives and political players obsessively monitor a legislative session’s final hours. But the confusing rules and process, contradictory political claims and harsh partisanship, and the weekend timing of the final hours, are all ingredients for lack of widespread public engagement.
It all leads one to ask whether the Minnesota public might not have tuned in to Capitol happenings at the level lawmakers might want to believe. The ramifications of Dayton’s tax bill veto will be real for Minnesotans filing taxes next year — but that’s not until after the next election.
Then there’s the blast of political noise coming this fall: As Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections reported recently, various campaigns and political spending groups have $20.3 million lined up for TV spending in the Twin Cities market — just on U.S. House races. That’s $5 million more than Philadelphia, the next largest spend. Now add two U.S. Senate races in Minnesota and the wide -open governor’s race. Plus the torrent of news out of Washington about President Donald Trump.
Bottom line: The battle for the Legislature, a major feature of Minnesota’s 2016 election, will be much less noticeable this year. The state Senate isn’t on the ballot — though a special election could overturn the GOP’s majority in that chamber — and it’s unclear there’s going to be any narrative around the fight for control of the House.
If anything lingers to November, it might be the bitter tone of the session’s last days and the immediate fallout.
Dayton described the actions of Republican lawmakers as “vile.” Sen. Roger Chamberlain, Republican chairman of the Taxes Committee, compared Dayton to a “toddler.”
And after all the accusations, recriminations and political posturing, this year’s session produced few major accomplishments. If that sounds familiar, it’s a lot like Washington in recent years, where ideological polarization, social media, the money chase, cable shout fests — name your favorite cause — have left Congress’ esteem at single-digit levels in public opinion polls.
J. Patrick Coolican • 651-925-5042 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @jpcoolican