Saturday, November 25, 2023

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: New Scenarios For U.S. House Races In Minnesota

At the outset of the 2024 national election cycle, it

appeared that there would be no serious races likely 

for the eight-seat Minnesota delegation to the U.S. 

House of Representatives.

In the past few days, that scenario has dramatically

changed in at least two races.

Incumbent 5th District DFL Congresswoman Ilhan

Omar, one of the radical progressive members of

the “Squad” group in Congress, made statements

seen by many as anti-Israel in the current flare-up

of hostilities following an October 7 surprise attack

on Israel by Hamas terrorists that killed 1200 Israelis,

wounding thousands more, and 240 being taken as

hostages back to the territory of Gaza. Her statements

seemed in sharp contrast to the overwhelming bipartisan

support for Israel by her congressional colleagues.

Although she narrowly won DFL renomination two 

years before when challenged by former DFL city

council member Don Samuels, it was generally

believed she would not face such a serious opponent

in 2024, but her controversial comments apparently

have caused Mr. Samuels to announce his candidacy 


The 5th District is a very safe DFL district. Republicans

make up only about 25-30% of its electorate. In 2022,

most observers did  not think Samuels could defeat the

congresswoman in the primary, and the close final

result was a surprise. In 2024, his candidacy will be

taken very seriously. The 5th District has the largest

number of Jewish voters in the state, most of whom

are DFLers who supported Ilhan Omar in the past. In

the wake of her recent statements, she is likely to lose

much of that support, and if a sizable number of

Republicans cross over to vote for Samuels in the

primary, her renomination could be in trouble next year.

In the neighboring 3rd Congressional District, incumbent

DFL Congressman Dean Phillips had won his third term

handily in 2022, and his re-election seemed secure. But

Democratic President Joe Biden, now 81 and appearing

frail, has been sinking in public opinion polls, and has

been trailing Republican opponents, In spite of this, no

truly serious Democrat has challenged him for 

renomination. Phillips, who had supported Biden in 2020, 

initially urged the president to retire. When he did not,

the congressman announced his candidacy for president,

and launched a full-scale campaign in New Hampshire.

Phillips was criticized by many Democrats, and one DFL

legislator announced she would run against him in the

primary in 2024 (assuming he would run for re-election

after a presumed failure to defeat Biden).

But Congressman Phillips has now announced he will

not run for re-election in 2024 no matter what the 

outcome of his presidential bid.

Although this relatively purple district was a safe DFL

seat with incumbent Phillips running  for re-election, it is

potentially competitive as an open seat. A number of

DFLers will now get into this race. A strong GOP nominee

could win in 2024. That candidate might be Kendall

Qualls,  a businessman and Army veteran who was the

Republican nominee for this seat in 2020, and in 2022

ran for governor. He lost both times, but made a good

impression as an articulate candidate. Other 3rd District

Republicans might also announce.

The Minnesota congressional race that has been the most

competitive in recent years is the 2nd District, also now

a relatively purple area — although increasingly DFL with

new residents moving in the area from nearby Minneapolis.

Incumbent DFL Congresswoman Angie Craig has had 

close races in the past, but might have an easier time in 2024.

No Republican challenger has yet emerged as her likely 

opponent next year.

The 5th District is not a GOP pick-up opportunity, but most

Republicans and many DFLers would prefer Omar be replaced

with the more moderate Samuels. The 3rd District, following 

Phillips’ retirement announcement, favors the DFL candidate

as an open seat, but 2024 looks like an extraordinary and

unpredictable campaign cycle, and anything might happen.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Surprise In Argentina

Beginning with movie/TV star Ronald Reagan 52 years ago,

the world of politics has seen the electoral success of many

recent show business/celebrity personalities — figures who have

become notable presidents, prime ministers and major officials, 

and who have transformed their entertainment skills into 

victories at the ballot box.

Actors, comedians and other entertainment personalities have

frequently held political office in Brazil, Mexico, India, Thailand,

Phillipines, Japan, Sri Lanka, Italy, United Kingdom, Russia and 

other nations all over the world.

Earlier, in Argentina, actress and singer Eva (“Evita”) Peron 

became a powerful political figure.

In the U.S., actors Arnold Schwartzenegger and Fred Thompson,

and actor/wrestler Jesse Ventura attained political prominence

Two vey recent examples. of course, are Ukraine’s President

Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. former President Donald Trump.

Now a new figure, Argentine TV personality Javier Milei joins

this group, having just won a landslide victory in that nation’s

presidential election.

Although a member of the country’s parliament, Milei emerged

suddenly, as did Zelensky and Trump, on to their national

political stage.

Milei is difficult to categorize. He is a social conservative, an

economic libertarian, and has been called an “anarcho-capitalist.”

He admires Donald Trump, the late Hasidic leader Rebbe

Menachem Schneerson, the U.S.A., Israel, and free markets.

He is pro-life and anti-climate extremism. He opposes current

Argentine government regulations, and wants to replace the

nearly bankrupt Argentine peso with the U.S. dollar. 

He dislikes socialism, jihadism, and Peronism.

With his trademark uncombed hair and leather jacket, he is a

charismatic speaker who has a huge following among working

class Argentinians.

Entertainment personalities in politics have ranged from liberal

and progressive to liberal and libertarian. Some have had more

success than others.

With many South American nations, including Brazil, veering

leftward, and others like Ecuador and now Argentina moving to

the right, the election of Javier Milei might not represent a clear

political trend in the continent, but with its free election and

peaceful transfer of power, Argentina has taken a hopeful step

out from its tumultuous and problematic past.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.