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Will the DFL Cancel Minnesota's Membership to the 'Lonely Republican Governors Club' in 2010?

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Minnesota could emerge from Election 2010 as one of just two states in the nation with a Republican governor and Democratic-led delegations to the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State Senate, and State House

As reported a few months ago by Smart Politics, the DFL's failure to win gubernatorial elections over the past two decades has put the Gopher State in unusual company - Minnesota is third behind only the archly conservative states of South Dakota and Utah for the Democratic Party's longest gubernatorial droughts in the nation.

The DFL entered the 2010 election cycle with high hopes to take back the governor's mansion - first hoping to ride the remaining waves from the 2006 and 2008 Democratic tsunamis and then learning last June that Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty would not be seeking a third term.

With 15 GOP and DFL candidates still officially in the running for the chance to represent their party on the November general election ballot (not to mention the Independence Party), no reliable matchup polling exists as of yet to know which party, if any, enters the race on the inside track.

In fact, all major political analysts are currently handicapping the Minnesota gubernatorial race as a 'toss-up' (CQ, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, Larry Sabato), and the DFL therefore runs a real risk once again of extending their gubernatorial electoral drought for another four years, from 24 to 28 years.

The novelty of this drought occurring in a state as blue as Minnesota is quite striking. Here's why:

· Minnesota is currently 1 of 24 states in the nation with a Republican governor in office.

· Of these 24 states, Minnesota is 1 of 11 that voted for Barack Obama in 2008: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

· Of these 11 states, Minnesota is 1 of 8 that is represented in the U.S. Senate by two Democrats (or independents caucusing with the Democrats): California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. (One other state helmed by a Republican governor also has two Democratic U.S. Senators - North Dakota, which voted for John McCain in 2008).

· Of these 8 states, Minnesota is 1 of 7 that also has a Democratic-controlled state legislature as well as a Democratic majority in its respective delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

· Of these 7 states, Democrats are poised to take back the governor's office in 5 of them in 2010, according to projections by several leading political analysts: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

That means if the DFL fails to win the Gopher State's gubernatorial contest this November, Minnesota could very well be 1 of just 2 states in the nation with a Republican governor and Democratic-led delegations to the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, State Senate, and State House.

While Election Day is still more than seven months away (and the DFL still has to earn its majorities to the US House and state legislature), it is already apparent that there are not too many states that would likely end up joining New Jersey (and potentially Minnesota) in this unusual club.

· For example, even if the Republican Party should hold its gubernatorial seat in Florida, Democrats are not likely to win the open U.S. Senate seat, nor will they end up in control the GOP-dominated state legislature or the state delegation to the U.S. House.

· And even if the GOP should win the open gubernatorial seat in Iowa, Republican Charles Grassley will more than likely hold onto his U.S. Senate seat to take the Hawkeye State out of the running.

· And if Republicans pick up the open gubernatorial seat in Michigan, the GOP is unlikely to lose hold of its advantage in the Michigan Senate.

· Republicans could win Ted Strickland's seat in Ohio, but will almost assuredly not lose hold of their large advantage in the Ohio Senate.

· And while the GOP could pick up the open gubernatorial seats in Colorado and Pennsylvania, should they do so they are also equally likely to pick up U.S. Senate seats in those states this November.

· In Wisconsin, Republicans stand a strong chance to win the open governor's race. However, should they do so, their strong performance at the top of the ticket would likely mean they would also take back either the State Senate or Assembly, both of which currently have narrow Democratic majorities. (Not to mention what a potential Tommy Thompson candidacy might do to Russ Feingold's chances to win another term in the U.S. Senate).

· That leaves Illinois which finds Democrat Pat Quinn struggling to retain his gubernatorial seat, but also Republican Mark Kirk as a strong candidate to pick-up the open U.S. Senate seat for the GOP.

Should all these scenarios play out, which is possible but unknowable at this point in time, Minnesota's membership in the scarcely populated Lonely Republican Governors Club would add yet another chapter to the already very colorful political history the Gopher State has written over the past few decades.

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73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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