It's something that you don't get to say very often, but the Minnesota DFL is very lucky this year. The Republicans have a candidate so embarrassing that any one of our candidates is polled to win against him. In essence, whoever wins tomorrow's primary is already ahead, and already heads and shoulders a better candidate for governor than the alternative. Overall, I should be happy regardless of who wins, and I likely will be.
But of the two leading candidates for the DFL nomination, I will be voting for Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher over former Senator Mark Dayton.
In general, I feel that Anderson Kelliher has a better legislative experience than Dayton when it comes to the sort of qualifications a governor needs. While it is true that Dayton served as United States Senator, he made decisions only for himself, as one among many other fellow senators. A senator votes as one voice in a collective, but doesn't have to actually develop and push through an agenda on his own.
A governor will need to bring together legislators to further bills and laws. A governor has to make the decisions single-handedly, versus being one voice in a crowd pushing his or her own interests. A governor will need to know how to find the right people to lead the right commissions, how to pick the right judges, fill in the right vacancies.
When you are running a business and you need a new CEO, you could pick a board member and have that person take over. But if you pick a board member on a 100 person board, how well would that member know how to run the company from the day he or she starts the job, simply because that member did a stint on the board? Wouldn't you rather elevate the Executive Vice President of Operations, knowing that the EVP already worked with the other employees and managers, already has years of experience with the company, and deals with its problems in and out every day, rather than comes in for board meetings a few times a year to vote?
Those are my logical reasons for choosing the Speaker over the Senator. Then there are my more emotional ones. As a reproductive health activist, I worry about Dayton's stands on waiting periods and parental notification laws. We've had our reproductive rights gutted under Pawlenty. We cannot take more, or unplanned pregnancies will continue to skyrocket, more women will be forced to wait longer and lose more time at work to access their rights, and more teens will participate in dangerous practices to try and end a pregnancy they just can't tell their parents about. I believe the Speaker will be an advocate for women's health rights in a way that Sen. Dayton just will not do.
It makes me sad that I am not allowed to say that I think it is time for Minnesota to have a female governor as well, without being attacked even by people who claim to be progressive, saying I am playing gender politics. But frankly, it is time, and since to me the most qualified candidate is female, I am happy that I can vote both my conscience and support my favorite candidate.
Finally, I have one last reason I will chose Anderson Kelliher over Dayton. I believe in the DFL. I believe that wanting to advocate for and with the party matters. I believe that a person should be able to succeed because they have put in the hard work, found the people to support them, worked through the system, and eventually will be rewarded for it. I do not like the message it sends that you can succeed because you have endless sums of money to spend, that you can skip over areas that require too much work. I don't like the fact that various interest groups can be weighed, and a candidate can decide that he can bypass the DFL activists, who are comprised of a large group of backgrounds, issues, needs and desires, to focus heavily instead just on one constituency because that way he can win.
Is Mark Dayton a bad candidate? Not at all. Would he be a better governor than Tom Emmer? By far. But in the primary, I have the option to reward the person who I think will be the best governor, not just better than the Republican candidate.
That is why I will be voting for Margaret Anderson Kelliher tomorrow.