The Sneezing Opossum
For the second time this fall (going by the calendar, not by the white stuff on the ground), I had a column all worked out that I have to abandon because of circumstances beyond my control—to wit, reality.
This column was going to be a clarion call to replace Stewart Mills III as our Eighth District Congressman.
I even toyed with running this column last issue, so it would come out one week after the election, but I thought that would be pressing my luck.
I had a compelling case against Mills. First, I was going to argue that, since he was elected (five weeks ago), he had done absolutely nothing.
Not one vote in Congress. Never even appeared on the floor of the House. Obamacare? Still running rampant. Clearly, we have to get rid of this guy.
Second, I was going to point out that, since Election Day, Mills has only gotten richer. I do not know if this is true, but either it is, in which case I am fine, or it is not, in which case, if a guy cannot increase the personal fortune he inherited, why in the world would you trust him with the public’s money? Win-win for me. Lose-lose for him.
Third, I was going to note that Mills has never served his country. I got that idea off a political flyer from Frank Jewell’s opponent. Again, I do not know if it is true about Mills, but I assume if he had served in the military, he would have said something about it.
Plus, the public wanted to see photos of him with short hair, just to know it is possible for his hair to look that way if he wanted it to.
I really thought we had a shot at the record for consecutive one-term congressmen from a single district (not that I actually know what the record is). But I am absolutely certain Mills would never have been re-elected.
During a presidential election, young people vote, and they tend to vote Democratic in this neck of the woods. In the midterms? Not so much, as Jim Oberstar learned.
What happened? Why did Mills—ahead in the polls—end up losing? Was it the hair? Did it boil down to his wife or his campaign manager or one of the Koch brothers not sitting him down and shearing his locks?
I blame that damn Jon Hamm. The Mad Men actor showed up at UMD and if all of the students who took selfies with him voted, that would account for the margin of difference in Nolan’s win.
Oberstar won four elections—three times by doubling the votes on his opponent and always getting between 64 and 69 percent of the vote.
In 2008, he got 240,586 votes (67.6 percent), while his challenger, Michael Cummins (raise your hand if you actually remembered he was once Oberstar’s opponent), got 114,588 votes (32.2 percent).
Two years later, redistricting saw Republican Chip Cravaack get 133,479 votes (48.2 percent), while Oberstar dropped to 129,072 (46.6 percent). Adding Republican voters and subtracting Democratic ones apparently works.
At the time, Oberstar complained that Democrats failed to get out the vote, which sounded like sour grapes and wishful thinking. But two years later, he was proven right when Rick Nolan got 192,748 (54.5 percent) of the vote to defeat Cravaack, whose total actually increased to 161,113, while his percentage dropped to 45.5 percent.
Did Cravaack do anything to be ousted? Can anybody remember anything that Cravaack did?
Clearly, redrawing the district’s boundaries (done by Republicans in St. Paul) was part of why a blue seat suddenly turned red, but two years later, Nolan loses about a third of his vote total, down to 128,919, while Mills only gets 125,225 votes, losing almost a fourth of what Cravaack received in 2012.
The pattern is clear: Whoever runs against Nolan in two years is going to get crushed. Unless the Republican shows up at UMD with Brad Pitt or Robert Downey, Jr., which is unlikely since neither is a Republican, and somehow I do not think Vince Vaughn, Tony Danza, Stephen Baldwin, or LL Cool Jay would cut it.
Kristen Chenoweth would most certainly wrap the theatre majors around her little finger, but there are not that many of them. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and James Earl Jones would probably work better with their parents than with most students these days.
But if the Republican nominee in 2018 brings Adam Sandler to UMD, then all bets are off, especially if he makes up a song about the candidate.
And you heard all of this nonsense here first.