Parties prepare for campaign's final days; Ritchie cleared of misleading voters on voter ID
Minnesota Democrats are launching what they call the most ambitious get-out-the-vote campaign ever, including sending around the state a tour bus featuring gigantic photos of President Barack Obama, Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said that thousands of volunteers working for Democratic-Farmer-Laborites in the next few days will decide Tuesday's elections.
"This is not a wave election," Thissen said, comparing it to 2010 when Republicans did well across the country.
Telephone calls and door-knocking will make the difference, he said.
On that topic, Democrats and Republicans agree.
"Now is not the time in the campaign for analysis, anxiety, or coulda, woulda, shoulda," state Republican Chairman Pat Shortridge said in a Thursday email to GOP activists. "Now is the time for old fashioned, don't-leave-anything-to-chance hard work."
Shortridge pleaded with GOP faithful to "get off the couch, close up the laptop" and sign up for shifts at Minnesota's 39 "victory centers."
"The outcome on Tuesday is up to us," he said. "The winners will be decided by who shows up, by who works hardest and works smartest between now and Tuesday at 8."
While Democratic officials travel the state through Monday, Republicans apparently do not have that kind of coordinated tour planned.
Republican Party officials did not answer a question about their plans for coming days. But the top GOP elected official, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, has a schedule packed with campaigning alongside House candidates, not with other party leaders.
The Democrats' bus stop in front of the state Capitol Thursday morning previewed what they plan to say around Minnesota.
Gov. Mark Dayton said differences in this election are stark. "It is no Tweedledum and Tweedledee stuff."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Minnesota voters did not really know the Republicans they put in control of the Legislature. "Little did those Minnesotans know that 'compromise' was going to be a dirty word. ... That's not Minnesota."
JUDGE CLEARS RITCHIE
An administrative law judge tossed out a Republican complaint claiming Secretary of State Mark Ritchie misled voters on the proposed photo ID constitutional amendment.
Judge Bruce Johnson Thursday dismissed the case filed by Sens. Scott Newman of Hutchinson and Mike Parry of Waseca.
Newman and Parry claimed that Ritchie made false and misleading comments about the proposed amendment in an effort to get Minnesotans to vote against it on Tuesday. Johnson said that various Ritchie statements were true or "within the range" of estimates.
The secretary, a Democrat, has said the amendment would end same-day voter registration and that absentee voting could change.
Newman and Parry alleged that Ritchie forced his staff to fight the proposed amendment, but Johnson found no evidence to support that.
Parry said when he and Newman brought the action that other options were available, up to impeachment and removal from office.
The proposed amendment would require Minnesotans to produce photographic identification before voting. However, if it passes Tuesday, next year's Legislature would need to lay out specifics about how it would work.
In the meantime, if it passes Tuesday, most observers think the courts will be asked to stop it from taking effect.
ABSENTEE STACKS MOUNT
Minnesotans requested more than 240,000 absentee ballots and 184,000 have been cast.
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie predicted 300,000 absentee ballots will be filled out by election day, about the same as four years ago.
Voters who do not expect to be in their precincts Election Day may cast absentee ballots. County auditors' offices, and in some cases city clerk offices, are open to walk-in absentee voting. Auditors' offices will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and until 5 p.m. Monday to accept absentee votes.
SOME TIGHT, SOME NOT
A SurveyUSA-KSTP poll shows President Barack Obama leading GOP challenger Mitt Romney 50 percent to 43 percent in Minnesota.
That compares with a 3-point difference in a recent Star Tribune poll.
The most-discussed issue on Minnesota's ballot, whether to insert into the state Constitution a definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, is virtually tied.
The poll showed 48 percent approve the definition and 47 percent oppose. However, more than half of those voting in the election, not just on the amendment, are needed for the amendment to pass.
A second proposed constitutional amendment, to require voters to show photo IDs, received 55 percent support.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar continues to maintain a huge lead over Republican Kurt Bills: 60 percent to 29 percent. That is 3 points more than two weeks ago.