MOORHEAD, Minn. — We'll find out soon whether the gambit Minnesota Republicans made this election cycle was worth it. All the signs say "no," and that's the way it should be.
There should be a price for minimizing a deadly virus, for denying science and for mocking those who took the coronvirus seriously (i.e. wearing a mask) from the beginning.
There should be a price for choosing politics over public safety.
The state GOP gambled by going Full Trump, and it should pay the price for doing so.
Minnesotans will know by the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 3, whether following President Donald Trump off the COVID-19 cliff was sound strategy or a political disaster. The state GOP was hoping to hold a slim majority in the Senate and re-take the House of Representatives in its goal to hold DFL Gov. Tim Walz in check until he is up for re-election in 2022.
If polls are accurate, Minnesota Republicans will rightly be licking their wounds.
Led by Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka, House minority leader Kurt Daudt and the state party, Minnesota Republicans early in the pandemic decided their best path to an Election Day victory was to oppose anything Democrats did or wanted to do, no matter how non-sensical the opposition.
Oh, that and demonizing Minneapolis whenever they could.
If Walz wanted a mask mandate, even if it was the simplest step Minnesotans could take, Republicans opposed him. If Walz wanted to limit business capacity to slow the spread of the virus, Republicans opposed him (even if the public largely agreed). If Walz called for hybrid learning as a cautious compromise, Republicans opposed him.
Republicans spent the summer firing the governor's agency leaders in a losing power struggle. They needlessly held hostage for months a $1.9 billion infrastructure bill in another futile power play. Their last campaign message was a pledge to fully "open" the state, even as COVID numbers were surging.
The Minnesota GOP became the opposition party to common sense.
This was the danger all along in hitching their fortunes to Trump, the president who at first covered up his knowledge of the virus before calling it a hoax before saying it would magically disappear before saying it was no big deal.
Republicans doubled-down on Trumpism even when it was being rejected. It's as if they couldn't see outside the conservative talk-radio and Fox News echo chambers.
Combine COVID denial with their attempts to scare suburban voters by exploiting the social unrest and violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul and you have a recipe straight from the Trump cookbook — divide, divide, divide.
Like the president, the Minnesota GOP strived to please their base when most reasonable Minnesotans (even many Republicans) were already feeling stressed and unsure about the pandemic and the crisis in the Twin Cities.
They should be punished by Minnesotans for their obstinance. The DFL deserves to keep the House and win the Senate.
Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist Mike McFeely at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 451-5655