No Primary Color

No Primary Color

Moving the gubernatorial primaries up into August makes them even less compelling.

Dear Primary Voter:

I am writing you to discuss a heretofore unheard-of late-summer joy: the Minnesota gubernatorial primaries, now to be held on Tuesday, August 10. No one in this state has ever voted in a primary in August, and it may very well be that no one votes in this one.

For one thing, most of us are up at the lake. An atmosphere of lassitude settles over our dog days of summer. And speaking of dogs, we have a number of them running in our first-ever August primary.

It used to be that one had to spend 10 days eating all manner of bad food on sticks, noticing the increasing girth of one’s fellow Minnesotans in the process, and waiting until the largest hog had been auctioned off before any of us could face actually choosing who would have the privilege of running in the November general election.

It isn’t as though lots of people ever voted in any of our primary elections. Recent elections have averaged no more than 20 percent turnout—and, if broken down by party, considerably smaller percentages than that. As a result, the gubernatorial choice that the somnambulant rest of us will face in November will be entrusted to the hands of the few.

And as near as I can tell, a primary on August 10 will not be enlivened by colorful characters. We will not have, to use Garrison Keillor’s famous phrase, any Technicolor bozos running for office. For those of us on the GOP side of the ballot, it appears that Tom Emmer will be uncontested. Those few primary voters will be free to “cross over” and vote for whomever they would most prefer to run against in either the DFL primary or the Independent Party primary.

The Independent Party’s endorsed candidate, Tom Horner, will face two individuals whom no one has heard of. Given the lack of money, interest, and widespread ignorance of August 10 as the date to actually vote, neither of Horner’s opponents is likely to emerge any better-known at the end of the process than they are now. His election as the IP candidate to go forward to the general election will probably be decided by fewer votes than the average city council member receives in Minneapolis.

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