Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / News / Will Minnesota be center stage in 2012?
With U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's appearance in Iowa last weekend, speculation is growing that she may enter the race for the Republican nomination in the 2012 race for president.

Will Minnesota be center stage in 2012?

Phil Krinkie

Phil Krinkie

With U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s appearance in Iowa last weekend, speculation is growing that she may enter the race for the Republican nomination in the 2012 race for president.

This would bring the number of Minnesotans with viable presidential aspirations to two.

It’s no secret that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been inching closer toward a bid for the White House for several months. His recently released book, “Courage to Stand”, and his multistate book signing events make it likely that he will declare his presidential aspirations soon.

Both Bachmann and Pawlenty certainly have increased their profiles nationally, with numerous cable television appearances along with many political speaking engagements and contributions to numerous candidates in the last election cycle.

The road to a presidential nomination is a long and difficult journey, but one that is familiar to Minnesotans. In 1968, Minnesota had two presidential contenders when Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy both competed for their party’s nomination.

Although Humphrey and McCarthy were both Democrats and this year’s potential contenders are both Republicans, there may be a similar paradigm to the 1968 campaign: a party insider against a party outsider.

As the 1968 nomination campaign got under way, Humphrey positioned himself as the more traditional Democrat in the race and won backing from the nation’s Democratic party groups that were somewhat troubled by young antiwar protesters.

McCarthy, on the other hand, ran as the liberal outsider and used civil unrest to build momentum, while campaigning on a strong anti-war message. He relied heavily on grass-roots strategies to garner support.

While Humphrey won the nomination, he ultimately lost the 1968 presidential election to Richard Nixon. Many political scholars believe Sen. McCarthy’s strong anti-Vietnam war rhetoric divided the Democrats, which in turn helped Nixon win.

The interesting point in this retrospective is that for the first time in more than 40 years Minnesota may have two state politicians vying for the presidential nomination of a major party.

This in itself is an interesting political turn of events, but perhaps even more historic is that both Pawlenty and Bachmann are Republicans – and conservative Republicans to boot.

Just as in the 1968 race, the two potential Minnesota candidates appeal to different elements within their respective political parties. Pawlenty has insisted that he has been a Midwestern “comprehensive conservative” during his public life, while Bachmann became a tea party favorite with her controversial style and fierce advocacy for every social and fiscal conservative position.

No Minnesotan has ever been elected president, but we can claim two vice presidents in Humphrey and Walter Mondale. Both Humphrey and Mondale won their party’s nomination – in 1968 and 1984, respectively – but neither was able to garner enough of the popular vote to become president.

Will 2012 hold a different outcome for Minnesotans?

Pawlenty came close to being the Republican vice presidential pick in 2008 with Sen. John McCain, but at the last moment McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. If Palin decides to stay in the role of political pundit providing conservative commentary and not seek the presidential nomination, this would be a plus for both Pawlenty and Bachmann.

With the United States on an apparent swing to the right, it looks like both Bachmann and Pawlenty are well positioned to make a credible run for White House. Pawlenty’s eight years as governor, when he led a Democratic-leaning state through difficult economic times while not yielding to raising taxes, provides a great message of fiscal discipline.

On the other hand, Bachmann provides a strong and consistent message on constitutional principles and is the House leader of the tea party caucus.

Both in their own right should garner significant support throughout the country should either or both make the decision to enter the presidential sweepstakes.

If both do decide to take the plunge into presidential waters, it’s certain that Minnesota will be center stage for the 2012 election.

While some may think it’s too early to make safe presidential predictions, look for Minnesota to have at least one favorite son or daughter on the Republican ticket.

What a difference 44 years makes!

Phil Krinkie, a former eight-term Republican state rep from Lino Lakes who chaired the House Tax Committee for a while, is president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently appointed Krinkie to the board of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. You can contact him at: [email protected].

Leave a Reply