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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Entenza drops out of race

--posted by Tony Garcia on 7/18/2006

The issues are well played throughout the right-side of the blogosphere. The result of those stories is that Matt Entneza drops out of the Attorney General race on the last day that anyone can file for their own run.
Buffeted by questions about his honesty and investigations into his wife's multimillion-dollar stock options, DFL endorsee Matt Entenza dropped out of the race for state attorney general Tuesday.

With wife Lois Quam, a top executive of UnitedHealth Group, at his side, Entenza stood on the steps of the State Capitol and said he was withdrawing despite his confidence that he still could win the election to succeed Attorney General Mike Hatch, the DFL endorsee for governor.
To be sure, it is not really his fault...
"But with so little time and so many attacks, from anonymous faxes to attacks on my family, it is impossible to fight these attacks and win this race without it taking a serious toll on the people and the party we care about the most," he said.
Those mean and nasty other people are driving him out.

If you are not of good character then you run the risk of being legitimately questioned. If the pressure gets too strong one feels driven out...but it is their own character that did it. It is not the fault of the questioner's so long as the questions are fair and honest.

In this case it is a tribute to "the attackers" that the wounded party's leader acknowledges the accuracy of the attacks.
DFL Party chair Brian Melendez said the information in the attack appeared to be accurate but that nothing illegal was done.

The DFL is in a bit of a pinch. Entenza had no real race within the DFL which leaves there very little time to vet a good 2nd choice. Today is the deadline for filing.
Meanwhile, a St. Paul attorney with a familiar surname in DFL Party history became the first to file a primary challenge.
Meanwhile, the names of several high-profile DFLers have been circulating as possible alternative candidates to Entenza, with indications that some party insiders are seeking recruits.
A few things that should be taken as lessons here.

First, unchallenged races can be good in the sense of unity (if it is truly achieved and not fabricated to fruition like some of the GOP candidates) but can be dangerous if there is ANY reason for the candidate to drop out. There is not any logical 2nd choice. If for some reason Pawlenty had to drop out of the 2002 race (health, family, whatever...you be creative) the GOP would have easily been able to get behind the runner-up, Brian Sullivan. In an unchallenged race this is not possible.

So while the DFL thought they were actually going to be able to focus on the GOP instead of a primary in this race it turns out they potentially will have an even more contentious primary instead.

Second, honest and completely accurate opposition is what wins the day whether or not it is "negative". Half-truths, innuendo or complete fabrications do very little damage especially if there is time to rebute what is said. In fact, I have learned first hand that even full truths that appear baseless or overly assumptive rarely have good results for the attacker.

I posted a while ago that a Senate campaign (and its surrogates) needs to start "connecting the dots" in its attacks. The reason is the general public likes the dots connected for them between premise/assumption and conclusion/attack. If the dots are not connected adequately enough the target can get sympathy instead. If the dots are connected but don't make sense the target can get more sympathy especially if they address the attack as specious. (Mitch & I had a conversation about that specifically this past weekend and I hope he re-emphasizes the importance of this to the necessary people.)

In the case of the Attorney General race Jeff Johnson kept the "attack" simple and fully truthful.
State Rep. Jeff Johnson, R-Plymouth, the Republican candidate for attorney general, bluntly accused Entenza not only of changing his story as details emerged, but of outright lying. "I think he lied probably several times this last week," Johnson said Monday.

Johnson said Entenza initially didn't tell the truth when he told reporters more than a year ago that there was no truth to rumors that he was doing opposition research on Hatch.

Johnson also said Entenza has tried to deceive the public on the motive for his research, the extent of the digging and the cost.
This made the pressure from all of the public more unbearable.

Kudos for Johnson for keeping it honest.



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