Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 20, 2006, Herald Journal

Wetterling betrays her friend


Minnesotans have lucked out. Patty Wetterling has decided not to run for US Senate. The chances of her getting elected were slim, but no chance is better for us who didn’t believe she could pass muster as a senator.

However, the people of Cokato, Wright County and the rest of the 6th Congressional District aren’t quite so fortunate. Wetterling decided to run for Congress in the 6th district, and stabbed her friend and supporter in the back in the process.

Back when Wetterling announced she was running for senate, the mayor of Blaine, Elwyn Tinklenberg, one of her DFL supporters, approached her. He asked Wetterling if she was sure she wouldn’t change her mind later and run in the 6th District, as she did in 2004. He didn’t want to run against his friend, invest all that time and money running for Congress himself, disrupt his family life, and then have her turn around and run against him later.

She assured him she wasn’t going to do that. He and his wife even contributed money to Wetterling’s senate campaign.

“She is a person of her word, and I take her at her word,” her friend had said.

Lo and behold, Wetterling figures out she’s not doing so well running for the senate. She drops out of the race and goes back on her word to her supporter not to run against him in the 6th District.

Tinklenberg, now her opponent for the DFL endorsement, asked her how she could do that to him. The money he and his wife gave Wetterling will be used against him.

“Things change, the world moves on,” she said.

“Uh, Patty,” her handlers probably told her. “That makes you sound opportunistic. Can you change the wording on that?”

So then Wetterling claimed she betrayed her friend because people in the 6th District urged her to run again. I guess that makes questionable behavior OK, if someone else tells you to do it.

DFLers are hoping the voters will forget by November how her lack of integrity was exposed in January.

There is a silver lining to this cloud, though. Wetterling’s chance of winning a congressional seat is almost as slim as it was for the senate. The people of the 6th District have slews of good choices, including State Sen. Michele Bachmann, (R-Stillwater,) State Rep. Jim Knoblach, (R-St. Cloud,) State Rep. Phil Krinkie, (R- Shoreview,) and Jay Esmay, a Republican businessman from St Cloud.

The voters of the 6th District aren’t likely to forget Wetterling’s betrayal. Tinklenberg definitely won’t.

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