Hutchinson gaining momentum?


Could the Peter Hutchinson gubernatorial campaign finally be showing signs of real traction? I’m told by various sources that the campaign has been breaking its own fundraising records each week and that the number of volunteers has skyrocketed in the past month.

Hutchinson, who is drawing 5-9 percent of the vote in the most recent polls, yesterday announced his plan for how to distribute the state’s surplus (he’d refund half and pay off transportation debt with the rest), and sounded positively Venturian in his willingness to connect with regular taxpayers.

This budget surplus solution may be the hot-button issue Hutchinson’s been looking for in a campaign that has won high marks for innovation but has seen little movement in the polls. Both Gov. Tim Pawlenty and DFLer Mike Hatch have been vague about how they would use the surplus, which could give Hutchinson an edge among the kitchen table economists who like their budget explanations brief and to the point—the point being refunds.

It’s too early to tell whether this will be the issue that pushes Hutchinson into serious contention, but we may not have to wait too long to find out. The Star Tribune is said to be conducting a gubernatorial poll that will be published early next week. If Hutchinson is still mired in single digits, it could be too late for him to convince disgruntled DFLers and Republicans that he has a real chance of winning. But if he makes a significant leap—say to 15 percent—people will begin looking at him in new ways.