Say it ain’t so, Doug: Veteran DFLer endorses Coleman

I know, I know. I could have posted much sooner about former DFL Iron Range State Sen. Doug Johnson’s endorsement of GOP Sen. Norm Coleman in the Sunday Mesabi Daily News. I am the “Iron Range” blog, after all. Other blogs from far away places are commenting on this story, including the conservative PowerLine and the PiPress’s Political Animal. I guess I didn’t say anything because I was disappointed.

I worked on Doug’s 1998 gubernatorial campaign and, while I’ve always known Doug to be a conservative Democrat — pro-life, anti-environmentalist — I’ve also always admired his adherence to the central Democratic principle of fostering upward mobility among working people though the fair application of education, tax reform and economic development. So I didn’t compute his Coleman endorsement at first. Norm’s about as “Iron Range” on these issues as a yacht salesman. A second reading of the story tells me that this is part personal for Doug, as he knew Coleman when he was a fellow conservative Democrat and has personal regard for him. Doug is also a lobbyist now, and many of his key projects have enjoyed Norm’s support in Congress (most of them involve federal permits, grants or loans). The question (posed by the Pioneer Press first) is “will this change the dynamic of the Senate race?”

A little, maybe, but probably not much. Johnson has been out of office for six years and has mostly been lobbying (and fishing) since. He has loyal supporters in the more rustic environs of the Iron Range, but I don’t know that vast legions of DFL voters follow his advice on the Senate race. The Franken people know they need to close the deal on the Range because of the nontraditional nature of their candidate, and I suspect that the end result will be based on their success in handling the “temperament” attacks coming in all parts of the state.

Actually, I’m not going throw Doug under the bus here, because he did one great thing in the Mesabi Daily News story that will help Democrats. In the story he offers a full-throated endorsement of Barack Obama, comparing him to John Kennedy and even admitting that he and wife Denisse have a full sized cutout of Obama displayed in their house. (Even I don’t have that). That statement might have more impact up here among the conservative Democrats than the Coleman one.

UPDATE: The Minnesota Independent has a great post on this topic and MNPublius has started a good discussion into which I have since interjected myself.


  1. Aaron- Great to hear your perspective on this.

    Minnesota Independent has a more on this story too.

  2. Johnson has never really been a great advocate for the Range, he has always been a great advocate for his cronies on the Range. To be fair, he has a lot of cronies on the Range, so they are often the same thing.

    His publicly enthusiastic endorsement of Obama is just a way to add to the impact of his endorsement Coleman. Do you think its a coincidence that he did them at the same time?

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