counter statistics

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mike Hatch: No Fire in the Belly for Governor Campaign


Mike Hatch didn't seem to have much fire in the belly when he debated opponents Steve Kelley and Becky Lourey on Almanac. Hatch was asked whether he would have signed the screw Hennepin County Stadium bill, and after being asked several times, he finally said he would sign the bill.

He was also asked about the rumor that he was going to drop back to the AG race. Hatch denied this, and said he was running for governor.

Now the Pioneer Press has a profile on Mike Hatch.

By most estimates, Attorney General Mike Hatch heads to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor state convention this weekend in Rochester as the front-runner for his party's endorsement for governor.

He should be. Hatch is the DFL's best-known political leader, its highest state office-holder and its all-time leading vote-getter.

But he's no shoo-in. He will have to fight to win the endorsement.

Why? Because Hatch is a bare-knuckled political street fighter who, during a quarter century as a major player in Minnesota politics, has made a lot of enemies.

As state DFL chairman in the early 1980s, he waged a campaign — largely unsuccessful — to weaken the grip that abortion-rights and anti-abortion factions had on the party and shift its focus to more bread-and-butter issues.

After serving as Gov. Rudy Perpich's commerce commissioner for seven years, he ran against Perpich in the 1990 DFL primary and lost. Four years later, he challenged another DFL gubernatorial endorsee, state Sen. John Marty, in the primary and lost again.

He finally won an election in 1998 — after upsetting state Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge, the DFL-endorsed candidate for attorney general, in another primary.

Hatch, 57, of Burnsville, has a history of bucking the party establishment that will control the convention this weekend.

"Mike has burned a lot of bridges over the years," Democratic National Committee member Jackie Stevenson of Minnetonka said earlier this week.

Hatch's enemies generally fall into two categories, said veteran Democratic political strategist Bob Meek. One is powerful institutions, such as insurance companies, big banks, hospital chains and other large health care organizations. First as commerce commissioner and now as attorney general, he has aggressively battled those powerful interests, ostensibly on behalf of consumers.

The second group that Hatch has offended, Meek said, is "party insiders," especially "elitist liberals." He has challenged their endorsement process and never championed their pet social issues, such as abortion rights or gay rights. Instead, he has concentrated on issues closer to the hearts of blue-collar and rural Democrats, such as jobs, education, health care and — unlike many liberals — gun rights.

"Mike knows rough-and-tumble politics," Meek said. "He's brash, ambitious; some people call him ruthless."

But he said Hatch sees himself using that hard-hitting style to "represent folks who otherwise don't get represented." He stands up for the little guy, and that's what endears him to many rank-and-file Democrats.

Actually, in 1990, Hatch ran as a pro-choice candidate against Rudy Perpich. Then in 1994, he obtained MCCL endorsement for his primary race against John Marty. Hatch also attacked John Marty for supporting Domestic Partner benefits.

Mike Hatch has never gone on the record about his position on the Bachmann amendment.

"As far as I know, we have identical positions on gay marriage. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman," he said. But he declined to support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that Pawlenty backs.

Source: Bill Salisbury, All Bets are on Political Clash of Titans; No Love Lost Between Pawlenty, Likely Foe Hatch, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
November 14, 2005

The rumor that Hatch was thinking of dropping out of the race will be a factor during the upcoming DFL convention.

I know a number of DFLers who plan to vote 3rd party (Hutchinson), should Hatch be the DFL nominee.