This is merely a collection of thoughts on Margaret in response to some criticisms and based on seeing her in action on the campaign trail and in St. Paul:
I am thrilled Margaret Anderson Kelliher is the DFL nominee for governor for a variety of reasons. When she first became Speaker of the House, I was skeptical of her mostly due to her metro roots. I wanted someone who had concern for rural Minnesota and understood the issues. Gradually, she earned my respect and admiration. She has demonstrated a deep understanding of rural issues and concern for getting results for rural Minnesota. Perhaps this is due to the fact that, as I later learned, she actually has deep rural roots.
She has proven able to collaborate and negotiate without compromising her ideals. She has led an incredibly diverse caucus with common purpose and that is no small feat. These are skills unique to Margaret and will serve her well as a candidate and governor on a broad range of policy issues and the redistricting battle that is to come.
Margaret has been criticized for not having fire in her speeches. That simply isn’t her style. She instead is very poised, calm, and collected. During the campaign (and her tenure as governor) she will instead come across both as thoughtful. As it is important to look presidential when running for president, Margaret will come across as clearly gubernatorial.
I have seen Margaret and other candidates campaign in rural Minnesota. She has a rare ability to create a personal connection with voters and earn their trust. Her calm, steady demeanor comes across as nonthreatening even as she promotes bold progressive initiatives. People grow to trust her as they come to know her.
After losing the governor’s race for two decades, it is important to try something different. In many ways Margaret is a different kind of candidate who will change the dynamics of Minnesota gubernatorial elections. Though she is a steady and calm leader, she is something of a ramrod when it comes to passing legislation. She won’t be a governor who picks one legislative battle while hedging or forgoing others. After seeing her in action at the capital, one thing is clear: when Margaret sets her mind to something, she is relentless and it’s time the DFL has a champion, not just a spokesman.
Some argue Margaret failed in 2009 to propose a DFL budget. Not only is that blatantly false, but it is difficult to blame her for not getting it passed. No one foresaw Pawlenty abusing his power and the law to use unallotment and judging in 20/20 hindsight isn’t reasonable. We must remember also that voters have a short memory and few know what happened in 2009 much less whether or not it was a successful session. Considering the budget crisis the state faced and the arrogant governor Margaret faced, she did remarkably well.
There has been concern that Margaret will be stained from her legislative battles. I believe that logic is flawed for two key reasons. The first is that both of her potential GOP opponents bring legislative experience. But most importantly, this is an anti-incumbent-party year and the incumbent party in the governor’s mansion is Republican. By nominating Margaret, we have nominated the clearest anti-Pawlenty candidate as no other candidate can be more closely identified with providing consistent opposition to Pawlenty and his policies for the last few years. There could be no clearer contrast.
This election we have a rare opportunity with a credible candidate who is not afraid to campaign in Greater Minnesota and who has a unique ability to connect with voters on a personal level. Margaret is politically savvy like few others. She has a great grassroots operation and will be a unique candidate on both accounts compared to past nominees. After years of third party candidates from the left spoiling elections, we will have an Independence Party candidate from the right (Tom Horner). And the GOP candidate is effectively a Tea Party candidate, Tom Emmer. If there has ever been a window for winning the governorship, it is now.