Looking back on things, I’m left with the question of whether Steve Gottwalt’s invitation to Gov. Dayton during Gov. Dayton’s visit to St. Cloud Apollo High School wasn’t the moment when the debate reached critical mass. I’m starting to think it might well have been. Here’s a refresher of what happened Tuesday morning:
Rep. Steve Gottwalt made the biggest news of the morning, inviting Gov. Dayton back to St. Cloud for a budget summit, saying that Gov. Dayton should bring whatever staff he needs to assist with negotiations. Rep. Gottwalt said that it was perhaps useful “to get outside the Twin Cities bubble, and it is a bubble” so that the progress that was made just prior to the June 30 fiscal year end.
There’s little doubt in my mind that that moment, with the Twin Cities media cameras rolling, was a game-changing moment. While it might not have been the game-changing moment, I can’t say it wasn’t. Le’ts examine Rep. Gottwalt’s statement to see just what was at work in that statement.
Rep. Gottwalt spoke eloquently about the necessity to escape “the Twin Cities bubble.” That was a major consideration because “the Twin Cities bubble” was part of the problem.
In my estimation, there were 4 other game-changing moments of particular import.
Dave Thompson’s interview with WCCO’s Esme Murphy was a big moment, too. In that interview, Sen. Thompson took Esme Murphy’s best shots and gave better than he got, giving a brilliant defense of conservatism:
MURPHY: People are waking up to headlines like this one in the Star Tribune that spells out the additional costs of the shutdown, millions and millions of dollars a day on top of the economic and budget crisis we already have. What is the reaction in your district in Dakota County? I mean, what kind of feedback are you getting?
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, first of all, yes, there are costs associated with being shut down but there are obviously savings attached to the shutdown as well. We don’t know how all the numbers will work out.
The response that I’m getting, Esme, is that…obviously, we all have different districts with different demographic groups within our district but the sense is that most people believe that spending the same amount going forward as we spent the last biennium that just ended last Thursday is a reasonable number. So the feedback I’m getting is ‘We’ve gotta stop this spiraling cost of government so hang tough’ is the feeling I got.
That’s how Republicans need to respond when the media try their best to push them into the can’t we all just get along meme. It sent a signal that said “we’ve thought things through, we’re comfortable with what we proposed and we aren’t budging.”
Rep. Gottwalt’s game-changing moment came as a result of another game-changing moment, Dayton’s tour of the state. From the reports I’ve gotten, it’s clear that he didn’t get the response he’d expected, finding more discontent with his policies than he’d expected. Had he stayed in his bubble, this agreement might not have happened. Gov. Dayton might’ve thought that he was winning hearts and minds when he really wasn’t.
Another thing that I’ve heard rumors about is that either Gov. Dayton or the DFL has been polling the shutdown. The rumor is that they’ve asked what Minnesotans think about the shutdown and who’s getting the worst of it PR-wise. Based on yesterday’s quick about-face, I’d say that that polling, if it was happening, wasn’t going well for Gov. Dayton and the DFL.
The DFL is in a difficult position because they’re protecting public employee unions at a time when PEUs aren’t very popular. That isn’t a good position to enter an election year in.
In the end, Minnesotans rejection of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s budget was the biggest game-changing moment. Give Rep. Gottwalt alot of credit for hearing what Minnesota was saying and for getting Gov. Dayton to react to the will of the people.