Election by the parties gets overruled by the people

The rules governing a primary election are written by and for the two major political parties. It’s their way of picking who will represent each party in the general election. At least, in theory.
For the DFL, that doesn’t always work out so well. While the DFL held a state endorsing convention to give voters an “endorsed” candidate, that endorsement can be of little or no use.
Case in point. The governor’s race. The party loyalists decided they wanted someone more liberal than who was presented to them as the front runner, Tim Walz. So they picked Erin Murphy.
Walz even teamed up with Rebecca Otto to try to persuade the convention to go with no endorsement. That didn’t work. Party operatives pushed for an endorsement and got the liberal candidate they wanted, Murphy, endorsed.
This was a disaster. Voters flatly rejected Murphy and Walz became the DFL candidate on the ballot in November for governor.
Lori Swanson was in line to continue her 12 years as attorney general but the DFL rebuked her as well. The party endorsed Matt Pellikan who got shellacked after Swanson dropped out and Keith Ellison got in.
Swanson surprised everyone after the convention by teaming up with Rick Nolan to run for governor. Polling showed Swanson and Nolan in the lead heading into August. The DFL, however, would have none of this as party operatives sabotaged the campaign by smearing Nolan’s name in the weeks leading up to the primary. To make sure Swanson couldn’t get in, they went after her as well, launching new attacks just days before the primary so Swanson couldn’t respond in time worked.
Despite a strong showing in northeastern Minnesota, the DFL was able to keep Swanson and Nolan from making an end run and getting on the November ballot.
Will voters in the Eighth District give up on the DFL in the governor’s race and switch over to Jeff Johnson, who defeated the heavily funded and twice-governor Tim Pawlenty?
That remains to be seen. But the Eighth has already surprised by going for President Trump in the last election.
Yet it was Nolan who was able to hold off a strong and heavily fi nanced race by the Republicans to hold on to his seat in 2016. What did he get in return from the DFL? Not even a parting gift.
Keep an eye on the race for the Eighth Congressional seat as well. The Republicans have already backed Pete Stauber with visits from both Trump and Vice President Pence. You can bet there will be more help from Washington.
Finding his way through a crowded DFL primary was Joe Radinovich. But he wasn’t the endorsed candidate. The DFL couldn’t muster up enough votes to endorse in the Eighth.
Lessons may be learned in November.