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It may have been the first day of the fair, but by noon or so last Thursday the scent of frier grease smelled like it had been hanging in the air all summer. And the politicos seemed like they'd been there pressing flesh even longer. Is anyone shocked that there isn't exactly a public stampede to hear what the 2010 gubernatorial candidates have to say just yet?

PIM goes to the fair, lives to tell

It may have been the first day of the fair, but by noon or so last Thursday the scent of frier grease smelled like it had been hanging in the air all summer. And the politicos seemed like they’d been there pressing flesh even longer. Is anyone shocked that there isn’t exactly a public stampede to hear what the 2010 gubernatorial candidates have to say just yet?

Some of these items were excerpted from last Friday’s PIM Weekly Report. Most of the photographs are by PIM staffer Peter Bartz-Gallagher.

Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) was exultant about his status as the only 2010 gubernatorial candidate with a booth at the fair. (And in a swell location, too: It’s right across the street from the ever-popular live reptile exhibit.) “I thought there would be a dozen candidate booths,” he said. But no. Seifert think that’s a mistake. “You hear that everybody’s busy right now trying to work the delegates, but I’ve met and talked with half a dozen delegates right here on the first morning of the fair.”

The most eye-catching candidate we saw, without question, was Tim Utz, a Republican candidate for the District 50A House seat now occupied by DFLer Carolyn Laine. Utz, a carpenter by trade–and a sight to behold in his airbrushed, hip-hop-graffito style T-shirt proclaiming “I’m the Candidate” on front and IDing his district on back–calls himself a “Constitutional Republican.” He says that means “the state and federal constitutions are the law of the land. We have gotten away from that, and we have created a dependent quagmire of society. That may work in China or Russia, but the founding fathers said you have to help yourselves. I want to go to the state legislature to start saying No.”

That sounds sooo familiar: Never let it be said that the GOP field lacks for new ideas. The slogan that appears on perennial candidate Phil Herwig‘s bumper sticker at the Republican party booth: “Change we can believe in.”

There were no curbside booths for the Greens or the Constitution Party. Both wound up on the second floor of the grandstand building, a sort of Mecca for low-market-share exhibitors of all kinds that feels more like a giant rummage sale than a trade show. The Constitution Party, whose literature shouts in bold capital letters that “Rights come from God, not the state!”, was up at the north end of the pavilion, where the sixty-something couple working the booth seemed to be drawing even less interest than the neighboring Dish Network booth. Down at the Green Party booth, Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon slouched in front of a tattered, much-traveled vinyl party banner. Were many people stopping by to talk? He looked around with a thin, despairing smile. “No,” he said. “Not many.”

At the Minnesota Senate booth inside the Education pavilion, Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley) was captivated by a fairgoer’s lengthy and thoughtful remarks.


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