Tony Sutton’s election gripe

The state Republican Party chairman’s lack of faith in our voting institutions is disturbing.

Mike Munzenrider

The results of Election Day, one week ago showed that âÄòhope and changeâÄô was to be tempered by a majority of just âÄònopeâÄô in the Congress and that the people of Minnesota werenâÄôt decisive enough in our vote for governor. It was time for another recount, only two years removed from our last.

DFLer Mark Dayton leads his Republican counterpart, Tom Emmer, by 8,751 votes, a margin that automatically calls for a recount. That margin is much larger than what was seen in the Coleman/Franken dustup two years ago and it would seem logical to trust Mark Ritchie, our Secretary of State, along with the apparatuses involved, to conduct a fair recount.

However, from the get go, the state GOP has taken a cynical, sore-loser approach. The day after the election, speaking at a news conference, state GOP chairman Tony Sutton threw down the gauntlet.

“IâÄôm to the point now, where I donâÄôt think itâÄôs any coincidence, with Mark Ritchie administrating this process in the last two elections, that here we stand today,” he said. “Because something doesnâÄôt smell right when you take control of the State House, you take control of the State Senate, we win the in the 8th Congressional District, folks. And yet somehow, somehow, we donâÄôt win the governorâÄôs race.”

Later in the conference, hitting stride, Sutton states emphatically, “WeâÄôre not gonna get rolled this time.” He vowed the GOP would “overturn every stone, looking for the votes.”

ItâÄôs understandable Sutton would be a bit disillusioned and confused with the outcome of the race, in light of the examples that he listed. On the other hand, implicitly stating that Mark Ritchie was somehow involved in rigging the gubernatorial race, and the Senate race from two years ago, is downright laughable.

WhatâÄôs not funny is the tone of victimhood found in SuttonâÄôs remarks. That he even feels “rolled” in the first place points to a definite feeling of injustice, which could only be residual from not prevailing in the previous recount. If that feeling is indeed linked to 2008, then one must also assume it involves the recount proceedings from top to bottom, from the Secretary of StateâÄôs office, to the Minnesota Supreme Court Justices. While heâÄôs already expressed his opinion of Ritchie, Sutton is also indicting the whole of the Minnesota judicial system as biased. His cynical and victimized point of view is exactly what Minnesota doesnâÄôt need in light of another stint in recount purgatory.

On the heels of SuttonâÄôs minor temper tantrum came word it would be quite difficult for the GOP to prevail and that this recount was very different from its 2008 counterpart. Guy Charles, a law professor at Duke University, told MPR that overcoming the 9,000 or so vote lead is “[A] significant mathematical shift that would require a fair number of systematic errors.” A lawyer who represented Coleman during the 2008 recount, Fritz Knaak, agrees, saying, “Nine thousand is a mighty steep hill to climb, and I think the Emmer folks know it.”

Perhaps Knaak hadnâÄôt heard Sutton before making that statement.

Dayton has come out and criticized the GOP for taking such an adversarial stance, saying that getting the election process right should be the focus. “To carry it beyond that and take it into the political realm … especially at this stage, is highly irresponsible,” he said.

Emmer has yet to make any public statements since Election Day. He should speak out and change the tone; Cynical victimization is exactly the opposite of what Minnesota needs
right now.