I decided to do a little lunch-time blogging, which I normally avoid these days, and it turns out I picked the right moment for it. The AP reports that the Republican Party has selected the Twin Cities for its 2008 national convention:
The four-day event will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild.
By choosing the Twin Cities for 2008, the GOP will ensure plenty of news converge in media markets in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa _ all battleground states in the 2004 election and ones expected to be competitive in the next presidential race.
Minnesota had been seen by some as an unlikely host, with just 10 electoral votes and the nation’s longest streak of voting for Democratic presidential candidates.
In 2004, Democrat John Kerry won the state 51 percent to 48 percent. The last Republican to win a presidential race in the state was Richard Nixon in 1972 and the last national convention happened in when the GOP backed President Benjamin Harrison in an unsuccessful re-election bid.
But Minnesota’s national image as a traditional Democratic bastion has become outdated and the state was a hard-fought battleground in 2004 and 2000. Republicans hope to court voters in a region Republican and Democratic strategists alike say will play a critical role in winning the White House in 2008.
This is a smart move, and not just because it will take place about 20 minutes from my house. Minnesota has been turning purple for the last few elections, and our neighbor Wisconsin even more so. This selection will motivate the state GOP even more than before and will have an impact throughout the entire Upper Midwest. Iowa barely went to the GOP in 2004, and Wisconsin barely went to the Democrats.
Norm Coleman will run for re-election in 2008, and he’s expected to square off against Al Franken for the Democrats. Regardless of his opponent, though, the Democrats will work hard to take the seat from the GOP, especially if Mark Kennedy can beat Amy Klobuchar this November. It will also spotlight Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has built a solid approval rating and demonstrated an ability to work across party lines to get things done — even if it has irritated Republicans here. Having the GOP at the Xcel Center will also remind people that Norm Coleman got that facility built and helped energize the economy of Saint Paul.
Needless to say, my fellow bloggers will be delighted to have the convention in our back yard. I had a great time in New York in 2004, and we’ll have fun showing off our state capital to bloggers from around the country. The only way this could get better is if the Democrats decide to show up here as well.
What a great piece of lunchtime news!