Not a good tactic

Published 1:30 pm Monday, October 25, 2010

Neither major Minnesota political party has been overly polite during this fall’s gubernatorial election, and the DFL is the most recent to try a nasty salvo by calling attention to the opposing candidate’s personal finances.

DFL’ers have been talking for the past week about how Rep. Tom Emmer has borrowed and repaid money on his home mortgage. The published records tend to suggest that Emmer may not exactly be in a position of comfort when it comes to personal finances. But neither, from what has been reported, is he in real trouble. That about matches the condition of many Minnesotans these days. Of course, the DFL is just deploying the same tactic that Republicans used earlier in the campaign, when they made much of candidate Mark Dayton’s relative wealth.

Both parties — and their surrogates — have invested plenty of time and money bashing the competition, resources that could have been better spent talking about their own candidates’ strengths. That both parties are locked into a paradigm of tearing down, rather than building up, is evident in that each felt the need to play the “personal finances” card while their own candidate was susceptible to the same strategy.

Email newsletter signup

Attacks rule the day for DFL and Republican operatives alike. It’s a penny-wise but pound-foolish technique, because both parties are doing more to anger and disenchant voters than they are to attract them.

Politics is always a rough game, even in Minnesota. But just like others — from children on the playground to professional football players — both major parties would benefit from learning that being too rough too often is counter-productive.