On Saturday, April 10, Dan Powers won the endorsement of the DFL Party to challenge Rep. John Kline in the Second Congressional District. Powers’s opponent for the nomination, former State Rep. Shelly Madore, had agreed to abide by the endorsement process and conceded the race at the CD 2 Convention.
Last Friday, however, things changed. Madore jumped back into the race, announcing her intention to run against Powers in the primary.
In her announcement, Madore cited Powers’ low fundraising totals as a key consideration for getting back into the race, as well as the urging of a number of unnamed supporters.
In response, the video of Madore’s pledge to abide has been circulated, and numerous e-mails have circled the respective DFL mailing lists in recent days, prompting an outpouring of support for Powers’s campaign.
If you’re going to run for office, choosing to bypass the endorsement process and run in the primary is a perfectly legitimate approach to take. Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza, and Susan Gaertner have all gone for this approach in the governor’s race this cycle. Does it make the route to the nomination harder? Definitely, but it’s hardly novel or unusual.
This probably would have been the best approach for Madore to take in this race. Frankly, she was late to the race, entering 10 weeks before the CD 2 convention. Powers’ campaign had been up and running for several months, and he had been doing the hard, hard work of reaching out to delegates across the district for all of that time. Say what you will about Powers as a candidate, no one has ever knocked him for not working hard. Earning the endorsement was always going to be an uphill battle for Madore based on that perspective. Delegates respect the folks who are willing to do the work. Dan Powers earned that respect, and those votes.
And while Madore makes some valid critiques of Powers’ campaign (although Madore’s own fundraising is hardly awe-inspiring, either), she alone bears the responsibility for making the decision to say she would abide by the nomination.
If you say you’re going to abide, then you’ve got to abide. Nothing fundamentally changed from the time she conceded on April 10 to when she got back into the race six days later. Madore has a compelling personal story, and she has a record of electoral success that Powers doesn’t have. She could have been far better positioned to make that case in a primary than she is today. Today, she finds herself having lost much of the base she did have with the party activists and weakened in her ability to make a compelling case against Powers through what will look like “politics as usual” to many voters.