Thursday, July 2, 2009

It has to feel rough to be Norm Coleman...

So you're a serious politician with a bit of a political career behind you, and you very narrowly lose an election to a political commentator - a radio show host - in a statewide election that attracts national attention. That has to be stunning; it has to be disappointing, to know that you could quite possibly have defeated the victor of the election.

But Norm Coleman didn't let that halt his political career in its tracks. He picked himself up and kept going while Minnesota got used to its new image as the home of its new governor, Jesse "The Body" Ventura - who, according to exit polls, would have lost to Norm Coleman, and barely came out ahead of him in the actual plurality count. It was a tragic demonstration of the weakness of a plurality vote.

Now, ten years later, the 2008 election stands beside the 1998 election as being another case of Norm Coleman losing narrowly to a political commentator and radio show host. One with a background as a comedian, rather than a professional wrestler; and by the narrowest margin of counting ballots, rather than a structural flaw in the procedures for elections.

For all that I know, Minnesota has attracted such attention on the national political stage three times since the day I was born: The only state voting for Walter Mondale over Reagan in 1984, and Norm Coleman's two narrowest electoral losses. I wonder if he will take a chance on statewide office ever again - or if the Republican primary crowd thinks his losses have been too dramatic and too public to ever again take a chance on a man who has now lost to two radio show hosts.

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