HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
November 20, 2006, Herald Journal

E-85 didn’t change voters’ minds


A number of people have asked DFL candidate Mike Hatch for governor to consider a recount, because there was a discrepancy between the polls and the election results. Hatch lost to incumbent Governor Tim Pawlenty by more than 20,000 votes.

Hatch said Nov. 10 he didn’t lose because of an inaccurate vote count, he lost because of what he called a “perfect storm.” He could have withstood two of three events that occurred in the final week, but not all three, he said.

The three events were: first, his running mate, Judi Dutcher, went blank when she was asked about E-85; second, Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson took votes from normally DFL strongholds with issues popular only in those areas in the Twin Cities; and finally, a shadowy PAC spent approximately $1 million on attack advertising, Hatch said.

I don’t have any information about the last two occurrences, but I’d be surprised if Dutcher’s gaffe had much to do with Hatch’s loss.

“I did terrible in those parts of rural Minnesota with E-85 ethanol plants . . . While we still won the northwestern counties (where there are no ethanol plants,) we got killed in western and southern counties, where 17 ethanol plants are located,” Hatch said in an email.

I took an informal survey of DFLers who chose not to vote for Hatch whether E-85 had anything to do with their decision. Most said E-85 had nothing to do with their votes. They said they believed Hatch to be arrogant and short-tempered, or they had decided whether they were going to vote for Hatch in advance.

One friend said just having Hatch blame Dutcher for his loss compounded her feeling that Hatch was a bully.

Hatch was already on the record for supporting ethanol production. It’s unlikely that when Dutcher, who was running for lieutenant governor, blanked out on the term “E-85” her gaffe overwhelmed statements Hatch had made about supporting it earlier. Most voters just didn’t like Hatch personally.

Already pundits are talking about which DFL candidates will run against Norm Coleman for the US Senate in 2008, and Hatch is on the list.

It’s time for Hatch to take a break; a good long break.