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GOP Unlikely to Take Back Minnesota House in 2008

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The new Smart Politics commentary for Twin Cities Public Television's Almanac: At the Capitol site is now posted here. Several commentators and news reports have filled out their 'DFL scorecard' as we pass the halfway point in this year's legislative session. My commentary suggests no matter how poorly or how highly one thinks the DFL has performed in the House thus far, it is unlikely to lose its majority party status in 2008.

First, historically it is very rare for party control of the Minnesota House to change hands in consecutive elections. Second, the amount of turnover in back-to-back elections that would be required for the GOP to take control again in 2008 would be unprecedented in modern times: after each 'landslide' election in modern legislative electoral history (the DFL picked up 19 seats in 2006) there has been a period of relative stability in the party composition of the House. In short, the Minnesota electorate is prone to give that party some time to implement its agenda -- usually across several election cycles. For the full commentary, please visit the Almanac: At the Capitol website.

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Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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