Bad week for Radinovich, but will Stauber blow it with e-mail coverup?

Few if any candidates for Congress in Minnesota, or anywhere in the country for that matter, had a worse week that Joe Radinovich.
In a span of a few days, the DFL nominee in Minnesota’s Eighth House District lost his campaign manager, over $1 million in critical advertising support and fell behind by a whopping 15 points - if a poll commissioned by the New York Times is accurate.
One doesn’t need to be a soothsayer to see which way the wind is blowing in what, by all accounts, had figured to be very close race.
Stauber, the Republican nominee, seems well on his way to succeeding Rick Nolan in Congress.
Some national observers have shifted their ranking of the race from the toss-up to lean Republican category.
And even if the Times poll is off, as some have suggested, Stauber seems to have ample breathing room to roll to victory on Nov. 6.
In fact, it seems that only a scandal of some sort or a monumental Stauber gaffe could breathe new life into Radinovich’s sputtering campaign.
Yet developments during the middle of the week have shown that Stauber, a St. Louis County Commissioner, could indeed provide Radinovich a lifeline.
Democrats are already making hay of Stauber’s refusal to release e-mails he sent and received from his county e-mail account.
The e-mails were reportedly to a Republican campaign committee and in violation of county policy.
Stauber’s foes and media outlets have demanded access to the e-mails and an advisory opinion issued by the Minnesota Department of Administration this week revealed that they are indeed public data.
Despite the ruling, St. Louis County won’t release them without permission from Stauber and takes an opposing view, contending the communications are private.
We’ve watched this play out with befuddled amusement and can’t help but think that Democrats, with a big assist from Stauber and St. Louis County, are making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill.
What’s the big secret? That Stauber communicated with Republicans about his campaign on a public e-mail server? Big deal.
The county and its taxpayers are out nothing.
It’s not even the political equivalent of jaywalking.
Perhaps Stauber could have and should have clicked his computer mouse a couple of times and sent the e-mails from a private, personal account, but he gained nothing - and taxpayers lost nothing - by the oversight.
If this truly is the best fodder the Democrats have against Stauber, one can see why the race is nearly over.
Stauber, however, is playing right into his opponents’ hands by holding his ground and denying the release.
We’ve seen it all too often with government officials, and Stauber is falling into the same trap: keeping secrets when none need to be kept.
Stubbornness often trumps transparency, and that’s the case here.
Stauber’s best move is to release the e-mails and tackle what’s inside head on.
Secrecy breeds suspicion, and Stauber is giving Radinovich an opportunity to get back in the race.
Maybe we’ll have a nail-biter after all.