Tuesday, April 22, 2008


FROMA HARROP, REAL CLEAR POLITICS [St Paul] will be hosting the Republican National Convention starting Labor Day. In the interests of showing Republicans a good time, the Minnesota state legislature voted to let bars here and in Minneapolis stay open until 4 a.m. during the convention. The closing time is now 2 a.m. But the very Democratic St. Paul City Council voted against extending the bar hours, which may have reflected a reluctance to stretch the rules for Republicans as much as for drinking. Council member David Thune put it memorably, "I got 8,000 people who live downtown who don't want a bunch of Republican lobbyists puking on the streets.". . .

Of more lasting importance to the nation is the bruising race between Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and his likely Democratic opponent, Al Franken. National Democrats have targeted this race as one of four in which they have a decent chance of knocking off a Republican incumbent -- and thereby gaining a working majority in the Senate. Other vulnerable Republicans are John Sununu of New Hampshire, Gordon Smith of Oregon and Susan Collins of Maine. . .

Complicating matters, the liberal Franken now faces a credible challenge from the left. Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas, here in St. Paul, is running for the nomination and doing surprisingly well in the state's liberal corner. At the Democratic convention in Olmstead County, he tied Franken by scoring nine delegates. And in Mower County, Nelson-Pallmeyer won 50 percent of the delegates against Franken's 20 percent. The state convention takes place in early June.

Franken is most everybody's idea of a liberal, but Nelson-Pallmeyer seems to have edged to the comedian's left. He wants all American troops out of Iraq in six months, while Franken wants the soldiers withdrawn, but "responsibly." Nelson-Pallmeyer endorses a national single-payer health plan, while Franken wants states to develop their own universal plans.


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