The epicenter of yesterday's local political earthquake was the steps of the State Capitol, the time just before noon. Matt Entenza, former minority leader of the Minnesota House and DFL-endorsed candidate for Minnesota Attorney General, dropped out of the race. This move set off a chain reaction, a mad scramble, and will prove to be a defining moment of Election 2006.
As a resident of Entenza's district - 64A in Saint Paul - I can tell you that I am more than a bit sad about this news. Despite the ridiculous assertions by Nick Coleman - what exactly do you know about conflicts of interest, Nick? - Entenza is a stand-up guy who honestly believes in Minnesota. I don't blame him for pulling out of the race; the accusations and insinuations over the past two weeks have been deafening, and I know I would not want to put my family through another four months of that. And Entenza's responses to those accusations were not what they should have been. But alas...
After the annoucement, however, came the craziness. The filing deadline was also yesterday, and Entenza's annoucement gave potential candidates just five hours to decide whether to run or not. Almost immediately, rumors circulated throughout the Minnesota political landscape. Who would step up to the plate? Some said Mike Freeman, others Steve Kelley, Bill Luther, David Lillehaug, Lori Swanson. Some lesser-knowns showed up also at the SecState's office. When the dust settled the only candidates with statewide recognition and the moxy to really pull through were Steve Kelley (who recently lost the endorsement for governor to Mike Hatch) and Bill Luther. Now, the state central committee must decide who gets the endorsement.
My personal endorsement goes to Steve Kelley. A patient, down-to-earth politician, Kelley has proved himself wise at the Capitol and willing stay above politics in favor of his constituents. A good Attorney General needs to be someone trustworthy, competent, and capable of skilled leadership. Kelley has proven this time and time again.
Also, as opposed to Coleman's baseless assertions, Kelley was not hand-picked by party elites. This was a mad dash, where candidates had to decide for themselves whether to shoot for the moon or not. That takes guts. Coleman, however, would have us all voting for Jennifer Mattson, who just finished law school three years ago. I'm sorry, Nick, but you need to know the law and how to lead in order to be AG.