The Midwest Exception

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The Midwest Exception

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 25, 2006 7:02 pm

The Midwest Exception

MILWAUKEE -- Republicans are going to get whacked this November, or so we keep hearing. Maybe in Washington they deservedly will. But the hole in the doughnut of this election year may turn out to be the upper Midwest, where the GOP has an excellent opportunity to win some major state houses.

In Minnesota, Republican incumbent Tim Pawlenty is a heavy favorite to win a second term, and Republicans are hoping his coattails may even carry Congressman Mark Kennedy across the finish line in that state's open Senate contest. In Michigan, businessman Dick DeVos is already leading Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm, who is saddled with an underperforming economy and her ties to labor unions. GOP prospects in Illinois aren't quite so good, but state Treasurer Judy Topinka is within six points of Democratic incumbent Rod Blagojevich in one recent survey, despite an inept state Republican Party and a fund-raising disadvantage.

Here in Wisconsin, Green Bay Congressman Mark Green is making a spirited run to knock off Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who is both charismatically challenged and too liberal for the state. The polls show a dead heat, with Mr. Doyle's disapproval rating in the 50% range. Mr. Green is running as an outsider against the Madison establishment, promising lower taxes and ethics and electoral reform.

Mr. Green wasn't helped by former Governor Tommy Thompson's recent tap-dance that he might get into the race. If Tommy's ego really demands a return to the political spotlight, how about taking on incumbent Democrat Herb Kohl, the Senate's Mr. Anonymous? My sources say Tommy will soon announce he is going to keep making money in private life.

Why this Midwest exception to the national trend? The same sour public mood hurting Beltway Republicans works against Democratic incumbents in three of the states, and their industrial economic base hasn't boomed the way much of the rest of the country has.

One leading GOP source also argues that Minnesota* and Wisconsin are both slowly trending more Republican, driven in part by the growth of exurbs beyond and around Milwaukee and the Twin Cities. These booming counties are dominated by young parents who want lower taxes and culturally congenial schools. Fast-growing Carver County, southwest of St. Paul, is one example. President Bush lost both states in both of his races. But a GOP victory in those states this year, amid a national Democratic tide, would bode well for 2008.

-- Paul Gigot

*This will kill Keillor. He will have to move to a blue state - again to foster his delusions about red-staters.
Corlyss
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Corlyss_D
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Granholm Struggling

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 25, 2006 7:03 pm

Granholm Struggling

For the third time in two weeks, a poll has come out showing Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm trailing Republican challenger Dick DeVos. The latest survey has Ms. Granholm behind Mr. DeVos by three points, 45-42, while two surveys conducted during the first week of May showed Ms. Granholm down one point to Mr. DeVos.

Ms. Granholm's problems are twofold. First, she faces a challenger with bottomless pockets. One reason for Mr. DeVos's rise in the polls is that he's spent an estimated $4 million since mid-February saturating the airwaves with ads, while Ms. Granholm has yet to launch a paid media campaign for her reelection bid.

The bigger issue facing Ms. Granholm, however, is the Michigan economy. Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the state's unemployment rate jumping four-tenths of a percent in April to 7.2% -- two and a half points higher than the national average. While some of the service sectors of Michigan's economy are showing very modest growth, the all-important manufacturing sector continues to contract, shedding 3.1% over the last twelve months.

Ms. Granholm has been scrambling to create the perception of positive economic momentum. A trip to Japan last week netted commitments from a dozen companies for more than $80 million worth of investment in Michigan and an estimated 400-plus jobs. This week Ms. Granholm signed legislation shifting millions of dollars worth of road projects scheduled for 2007 forward into the election year, a move she says will eventually produce another 7,100 jobs.

It may not be enough. If the economy continues to sputter, Mr. DeVos's biggest asset in this race may turn out not to be his vast wealth but his experience as a successful businessman. "I understand how to turn around an enterprise that is in serious decline," he told a group at the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday, "When I look at Michigan, I see the same challenges, and I know the same approach will work." If voters agree, Governor Granholm could find herself among Michigan's unemployed come the end of this year.

-- Tom Bevan, executive editor of RealClearPolitics.com
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