As a followup to my post yesterday on the media’s enabling the career of Michele Bachmann, I decided that it was only fair to give you a rundown of the persons set to challenge her for her seat next year.
Elwyn Tinklenberg, who wasn’t given much of a chance to beat Bachmann last year, capitalized on a streak of particularly crazy behavior from her that saw hundreds of thousands of dollars enter his coffers from netroots donors — money that attracted the attention of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which belatedly threw some monetary and other support to Tink. However, it was too little and too late to unseat the well-entrenched Bachmann, who has a nationwide following to rival Sarah Palin’s among reality-challenged Republican base voters.
This year it’s a different story. While Bachmann, blessedly free of any serious primary challengers, has the New York Times and the delusional GOP base in her corner — and has the campaign warchest to prove it — the two DFLers most likely to face her haven’t exactly been sitting still.
Tarryl Clark is the more progressive of the two, a state senator representing the city of St. Cloud, and is an unabashed Democrat, a longtime legislator and veteran of state and local politics, and a supporter of stem cell research, reproductive freedom (a fact that Bachmann’s anti-choice backers have noted; they’ve ignored the other DFL candidates in the race and concentrated on attacking Clark) and unions. She’s helped start a local Habitat for Humanity chapter and worked with troubled teens. Noted for her formidable political skills, her entry into the race was enough to cause El Tinklenberg to decide not to attempt another run. (She’s also the other woman in the graphic that graces this post. You know, the one with sandy blonde hair and a sane and humane expression on her face?)
In contrast, Dr. Maureen Reed is a relatively late entrant to the Democratic Farmer-Labor party, and to politics in general, having got most of her previous political experience in 2006 from running for lieutenant governor on the Independence Party ticket. In fact, many IP supporters were puzzled by her decision to challenge Clark in the 2010 Democratic primary, feeling that she should have instead tried to run for governor herself under the Independence Party banner. Also in contrast to Senator Clark, her stance on reproductive freedom is not clear, even after MinnPost’s Eric Black tried to pin her down on it; she has been equally cagey on whether she intends to abide by the DFL endorsement and withdraw from the race, should Clark win the endorsement (which is all but certain). This all has caused speculation that her candidacy is in fact intended to be a spoiler one, roughing up Clark in the primaries and siphoning enough votes from her in the general to guarantee a Bachmann win, much as Bob Anderson, the IP candidate in 2008, functioned by siphoning votes from Tinklenberg.
Fasten your seatbelts, gang — the next year is going to be interesting!