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While I was driving home from work on Friday, local radio buzzed about St. Paul mayor Randy Kelly and his silence so far on the presidential race. Kelly, a DFL member (Democrat-Farmer-Labor, the state Democratic party), had hinted that he might remain neutral, declining to endorse John Kerry, a stance which worried Democrats in this traditionally liberal capitol city. Kelly announced today that he will not remain neutral, and Democrats will be sorry they pressed the issue:
St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly broke Democratic Party ranks on Sunday to announce his support for President Bush's re-election.
"George Bush and I do not agree on a lot of issues," Kelly said in a statement. "But in turbulent times, what the American people need more than anything is continuity of government, even with some imperfect policies."
Kelly, who said he's remaining a Democrat, said the economy is going in the right direction. "There's no reason to believe a change of course will produce better or quicker results," he said.
And the mayor said the United States will bring the troops home from Iraq a lot sooner if "we don't try to bring in a whole new leadership team to run the show. We must stay the course."
KARE-11 news, our local NBC affiliate, gives the reaction of state and party officials to this bombshell. Both Governor Tim Pawlenty and Senator Norm Coleman heaped praise on the mayor for his courage and his bipartisanship, while the St. Paul DFL released a statement explicitly accusing Kelly of selling out to the "far right". Coleman, like Kelly a DFL mayor of St. Paul before switching to the Republicans and running for Senator, had this to say to his successor:
"Mayor Kelly recognizes that jobs are being created and that tax cuts have stimulated that job growth. He has done the same for St. Paul," said Coleman, Kelly's predecessor as mayor of Minnesota's capital city.
Perhaps the DFL leadership should have just kept their mouth shut instead of publicly pressuring Kelly to get off the fence. Kelly only stated the obvious -- that with an improving economy and an improving Iraq, it makes little sense to change horses, especially given the opacity of the Kerry campaign's policies. In the end, Kerry never gave Kelly a reason to vote for him, and Kelly merely had the audacity to say so publicly. The DFL knows that Minnesota will be a close race for Kerry, and having one of their leading members endorsing Bush will lead other DFL moderates to the same conclusion.
Kelly, by the way, plans on remaining in the DFL and running for re-election next year. I'd say that he will have an easy time of it after his display of independence this year -- if the DFL doesn't exact some retribution for his insistence that Emperor Kerry has no clothes. (Hat tip: Gerry from Daly Thoughts)
UPDATE: The Star-Tribune only reprints the same AP wire report that KARE-11 has, although they cut out the responses from local officials. However, their Politics page has an ironic juxtaposition of headlines:
St. Paul DFL Mayor Supports Bush Re-Election
DFLers Get To Work To Win State For Kerry
Well ... most of them, maybe ...Sphere It View blog reactions
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Earlier I posted about former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a old-time liberal Democrat, announcing his support for the re-election of President Bush. Well, he's not alone. Now the liberal mayor of St. Paul MN, Randy Kelly, has announced his suppo... [Read More]
Tracked on August 2, 2004 10:57 PM
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