Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bonoff-Madia: 2010 Rematch Unlikely

I emailed Ashwin Madia the other day asking whether he'll run for Congress again in 2010, among other things. Madia ran a strong campaign in '08--even polling ahead of Paulsen once. (I supported Madia and still stubbornly fly the Madia for Congress bumper sticker on the old Kia Rio.)

Ashwin Madia looks back on his candidacy as being 'one of the best experiences of my life.' Perhaps Madia's plans are well-known to campaign insiders, but I learned new stuff in the candidate's friendly response: 'I want to run again for office, and I want to win next time. However, for a number of reasons, I don't think that I'll be running for Congress in 2010. I had a good shot at it, I gave it everything I had - as did my team - and I came up short. While, in retrospect, I think I made some mistakes that I'll correct the next time I run, I think somebody else should run against Paulsen in 2010 - and beat him.'

So Madia isn't entirely closing the door on a 2010 re-try, but he doesn't now appear excited about the prospect.

During the last cycle, Sen. Terri Bonoff and Ashwin Madia clashed for the DFL endorsement for US Congress. That contest culminated in the lengthy floor fight at Wayzata Central Middle School on April 12, 2008, but Team Madia's powerful performances at the DFL senate district conventions during the weeks preceding April 12 were key to the endorsement win. And Ashwin Madia's success at the senate district conventions was the result of very energetic efforts during the earlier weeks and months.

The Bonoff-Madia clash is fairly caricatured as a clash between the CD3 DFL hierarchy and the rank-and-file. Once it became clear--going into the April 12 CD3 Endorsing Convention--that Bonoff had far fewer democratically-elected delegates, the state senator continued to fight ferociously to get the nomination. So Team Bonoff essentially had to convince wavering delegates that--in the interest of beating Erik Paulsen--the excited newbies outnumbering her supporters had to be overridden.

So it's funny that Terri Bonoff is now arguing that the candidate-selection process is excessively under the control of party insiders--as just ten months ago she appeared to be making the opposite argument.

Sen. Bonoff is aware that the change she is proposing will significantly destigmatize challenging endorsed candidates in primaries. People are free to change their minds; perhaps Bonoff has a different interpretation of her conduct at the end of her congressional campaign. Alternatively, Bonoff might be thinking, 'Politics is a messy business; do not judge my political philosophy based on April 2008. My real, principled belief is that our candidate selection process ought to be more democratic.' Something like that?

If Bonoff is planning on trying again for the US House in 2010, it would seem strange she'd now be seeking to reduce the importance of the April CD3 Endorsing Convention. You'd think Bonoff would prefer maintaining the present system, which discourages unconventional candidacies and intra-party populism.

Perhaps Bonoff isn't interested in running for Congress again. Or perhaps she's so principled she's even willing to advocate rule changes specifically harmful to her own political prospects. Or perhaps she hasn't thought it through--or is receiving mistaken advice. Or?
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