Both Hennepin Country Attorney Amy Klobuchar and missing childrens advocate Patty Wetterling have their U.S. Senate websites up and running and especially in Wetterlings case, raising money. Wetterling is aiming to raise $25,000 by March 20th and is already at $16,000. Klobuchar isnt countering with such a public appeal for funds, but rather demonstrating her support. 49 DFLers in the legislature have already endorsed Klobuchars yet-to-be-formally-announced candidacy. Will someone charge the DFL with queen-making?
Maybe theres another word to describe the 2006 race on the DFL side---bloodbath.
If DFLers were privately rejoicing at not having to defend Sen. Mark Dayton in a reelection effort, they certainly cant be blamed for gnashing their teeth at the thought that two of their best candidates may exhaust themselves not against the opposition, but against each other. Before Wetterlings entrance, Klobuchar appeared on the fast track to wrapping up most of the institutional support from office-holding DFLers. Not unlike Rep. Mark Kennedy, Klobuchar had put in years of grassroots campaigning---learning all the names of senate district leaders, making endless speeches, enduring numerous chicken dinners---only to see the mantle of frontrunner snatched away by a political novice in Wetterling.
Other blogs and bloggers from the Gopher State have tried (including The First Ring) to explain the appeal of Patty Wetterling to those unfamiliar with her. Garys description of her as Saint Patty over at TBFKADVK fairly well describes it. Wetterling has nearly a 100% name ID, a gentle demeanor and an apolitical aura around her. Unfortunately for DFLers, as a candidate in the 6th Congressional District in 2004, Wetterling needed to be excessively managed as she was most definitely not ready for primetime. Her command of the issues was sub-par to be generous and often Wetterling seemed to fall back on whatever the position held by the advocacy groups financially supporting her. Klobuchar, on the other hand, is a far more experienced campaigner, but expect the DFL activists to argue the age-old question about whether a candidate is more electable with or without a political record.
I don't believe a candidate necessarily needs a political record, but I want more than name recognition and a "gentle demeanor." A DFL senator needs to be someone who shows she/he can hold her/his own up against the DeLays and Frists of the body politic, and Wetterling will definitely need to show more clearly that she can before the primaries.