Rating the lieutenant governor candidates


So all the major-party candidates have named their lieutenant governor picks. Okay, Tom Horner hasn’t, but really, the Independence Party is only technically a major party. At any rate, all the Democrats and Republicans have named Lt. Gov. candidates. The big question is simple: how did they do? Since I’m some guy with a website, I’m going to tell you.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher/John Gunyou: A-

Gunyou was an inspired choice by the DFL endorsee. He does a nice job of balancing the ticket ideologically (Gunyou worked for Arne Carlson, and is likely to the right of Anderson Kelliher), and he brings strong government and budgetary experience to the ticket – something that whoever is elected is going to need.

Gunyou should reassure DFLers that Anderson Kelliher is in it to win it – he’s not just a pick to get her through the primary, but a pick that should help with swing voters in a general election. The only negative is that Gunyou is a metro-area pick; MAK can claim outstate heritage, having grown up in Mankato, but she doesn’t live there now.

Mark Dayton/Yvonne Prettner-Solon: B+

Prettner Solon is a safe pick, and unlike Gunyou, a pick designed precisely to get Dayton through the primary. Prettner Solon has represented Duluth in the state senate since 2002, and her late husband had preceded her in the seat, having served there since 1973. In short, the Solon brand is well-established on the Iron Range, and there are a lot of DFL voters on the Iron Range. And given that none of the other candidates on the DFL side are from the Range, that’s a big advantage for Dayton.

The question is whether Prettner Solon helps Dayton in the general election, and there I think the answer is no – whichever DFLer wins the nomination should win the Iron Range handily. I also think it’s unlikely that Prettner Solon will have a significant role in a Dayton administration, unlike Gunyou, who should be very involved in an Anderson Kelliher administration. But she’s a solid pick, one that should help more than she’ll hurt.

Tom Emmer/Annette Meeks: B-

Meeks has already had the intended effect, helping to sew up the GOP endorsement for Emmer. So it’s impossible to see her as anything other than a solid pick. But like Emmer, Meeks comes from the hard right of the Republican party, and like Emmer, Meeks comes from the metro area. (There may have been a time when Delano was rural, instead of exurban; those days are gone.)

Meeks doesn’t balance the ticket so much as reinforce it as a metro-centered, extremely conservative campaign. That said, she could be useful in an Emmer administration. She worked for Newt Gingrich when he was Speaker of the House, and certainly has intellectual experience in justifying extremely blinkered views of government. All in all, she’s a better pick than not, at least given what Emmer was looking for. She would be a disaster if she won, but that goes without saying.

Matt Entenza/Robyne Robinson: D-

Seriously, what? Huh? I…I don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, Robinson is a reasonably successful news anchor, and she’s done some nice things for charity and art. But what on earth qualifies her to be lieutenant governor? Granted, Mae Schunk managed to do the job, but the state would have been in trouble had the CIA succeeded in assassinating Jesse Ventura to keep him quiet about the connection between space aliens, the JFK assassination, Cuba, and Vince McMahon.

Robinson brings communications skills to the Entenza ticket, and the name recognition of being the lead anchor on the third-highest rated newscast in the Twin Cities. But she doesn’t balance the ticket geographically, and who the hell knows what her position is on, you know, any issue?

Robinson is a half-court, desperation shot by Entenza, who’s lagging behind Dayton and Anderson Kelliher. And no doubt, she helped him win the cycle. But she doesn’t appear to be selected for any reason other than to win the cycle, and garner some press for the Entenza campaign. Maybe Robinson will surprise, and prove to be an unbelievable policy wonk who will put doubters to shame – she’s certainly managed to be successful in business outside of her anchor career, she’s no slouch – but even if she is, that’s not the reason for her selection. In the end, Entenza picked for style, not substance. That’s not encouraging.