Minnesota DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez on Thursday predicted a tight U.S. Senate race in Minnesota and said he was eager to see Gov. Tim Pawlenty named to the Republican national ticket.
He said if Pawlenty gets the vice-presidential nod he'd dub the selection as the McCain-Pawlenty-Molnau ticket.
"A vote of McCain is a vote for (Lt. Gov. Carol) Molnau for governor," he said. According to the Minnesota Constitution, Molnau would become governor if Pawlenty took another position.
Melendez and Associate Chair Donna Cassutt were on a tour of northwestern Minnesota, visiting with party activists and members of the media.
Melendez said Pawlenty has been a "crappy governor" and he would look forward to seeing Obama defeat a ticket that included Pawlenty and then having a Democrat defeat Pawlenty when he runs for a third term as governor.
He said that with the Republican National Convention featuring President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and former White House adviser Karl Rove it won't be difficult to make the case that a McCain presidency will be a third George W. Bush term.
"I think the Republicans are making the case for us," he said.
Melendez said criticism of Democratic candidate Al Franken's satirical comments has had more traction than he would have hoped but he hoped the campaign would get back to issues rather than personality or jokes Franken told 20 years ago.
Asked if Franken's background in satire might make him a more difficult sell in outstate Minnesota, Melendez said humor in the Twin Cities is more pointed while humor in Brainerd is more wry. Some material is not as funny in greater Minnesota as it is in metropolitan areas, he said.
Democrat lawmakers are at their greatest numbers in the Legislature since the post-Watergate era, Melendez said. If Democrats hold all their current seats and gain five more they will reach a two-thirds majority in the House.
MIKE O'ROURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.
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