Sunday, April 13, 2008

Race for Ramstad's Seat Becomes Clearer

After a tight, eight ballot process yesterday at Wayzata Middle School, Senator Terri Bonoff stepped aside and cleared the way for Ashwin Madia be endorsed by the DFL for the 3rd district congressional seat. Madia was the least-known of the three initial DFL candidates, but gained steam after an early VoteVets endorsement and much campaigning in the 3rd CD.

Madia brings a dynamic to the race that previous DFL nominees have not had. He is a former Marine who spent time as a military lawyer in Iraq. He is young (30) and stays close to his talking points. Whereas Wendy Wilde and Deborah Watts were longshots who needed to be extreme in order to have a chance at competing, Madia will be able to fall back on his military experience to draw credibility to his candidacy. Here is this blog's quick and dirty take on his candidacy:

The Good: Madia's military experience brings an obvious strength to this race. He is succinct with his talking points and doesn't veer much from his script. Madia has good speaking skills and should perform well in debates. His youth could play will with a section of the 3rd district voters, and the fact that he spent time in Iraq could bring him much of the Veteran vote. He has proven that he can get union endorsements, something which plays well in parts of the 3rd but maybe not well in others. He doesn't have the disadvantage of his opponent, Representative Erik Paulsen, when it comes to previous voting records causing questions. Madia is starting his political career from scratch, outside of a stint as Student Body President at the U in the late 90's.

The Bad: Madia is an unknown to anyone outside of DFL circles in the 3rd. Whereas a Jim Hovland or Terri Bonoff were active in the community for a period of time prior to running for congress, many independents' first impression of Madia will be when he is asking for their vote for a huge job. He is not a typical 3rd CD resident -- he is 30, single, and really hasn't lived here much. He attended High School in Osseo, and moved back to the district to run for this race. Outside of defense issues, which he has an advantage on, there is no indication his experience prepares him more for other federal issues as much as Representative Paulsen's experience at the Capitol has.

Conclusion: Madia is in effective campaigner and will work hard to make himself visible. His lack of any track record and minimal exposure as a citizen in the 3rd CD prior to this run may turn skeptics off. His ideology is unclear -- we know he was a Republican in the past but some of his views in debates were the most liberal of the three candidates. Still, with Democrats having the momentum this year, Republicans need to take Madia seriously. All three DFLers who started the race, Hovland, Bonoff, and Madia, were stronger than any candidate the DFL has put up in the 3rd for a few years. I say this race will be won by less than 5 points. By whom? It is too early to tell.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry not to see Sen. Bonoff running. She has done a great job and would have been a strong candidate.

    My big question will be how liberal Madia is. I don't have a good read on his politics at this point -- I just know he is a good debater.