In the Spotlight

News & Features

Moe wins DFL Party endorsement; GOP says he's easy to beat
By Mark Zdechlik
Minnesota Public Radio
May 5, 2002

Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe beat State Auditor Judi Dutcher and State Sen. Becky Lourey to win the party endorsement over the weekend. Republicans say DFL delegates could not have picked an easier candidate to beat.

Sen. Roger Moe speaks to the convention after his endorsement. His running mate, Rep. Julie Sabo, is at right. Listen.
(Photo courtesy of

In selecting Roger Moe, delegates to the State DFL Convention choose a familiar face. Elected to the Legislature in 1970, Moe has been the Senate Majority Leader since 1981. And he's no stranger to gubernatorial politics.

Four years ago the DFL ticket featured Skip Humphrey for governor and Roger Moe for lieutenant governor. Jesse Ventura won that election. The Democrats finished last - behind Republican Norm Coleman - with less than 30 percent of the vote.

But Moe says the situation is entirely different now. "In 1998, the economy was raging, governor was not relevant in people's lives and they decided to choose entertainment. Well, it's not funny anymore. People want a steady hand on their government. They know that you can not gamble away another four years without putting Minnesota's good reputation in jeopardy," he said.

In making his case for the DFL endorsement, Moe presented a video, portraying himself himself as an authentic politician concerned about Minnesota and calling Gov. Ventura "authentically unauthentic."

Three Stooges music played behind scenes of Ventura's on-the-side return to pro-wrestling and his stint as a part--time professional football commentator. In the video Moe accuses Ventura of doing for Minnesota what he did for the miserably failed XFL. And Moe suggests Minnesotans are ready for a boring politician with a flare for good government not entertainment.

"He is the perfect candidate for this very point in time," said Pat Forciea, who was involved in Sen. Paul Wellstone's first campaign, and is working for Moe now. "The fact that Roger has a 20-plus-year record certainly carries some risk with it but it carries far many more advantages."

If Moe sees opportunity to tear into Ventura's record, Ron Eibensteiner, chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, says Republicans will have no problem defining Moe as a liberal, tax-increasing, anti-reform Democrat.

State Auditor Judi Dutcher tells the convention she's dropping out of the race. Listen.
(Photo courtesy of

"Of all of the candidates they could have put up, Moe is probably the most beatable from our perspective," according to Eibensteiner. "There's just so much there to rip apart. There's so much material there; over 30 years of his whole philosophy towards government. This is great material for us because it does in the sense that it clearly will delineate the differences between Republicans and Democrats and just like last time when we had Humphrey/Moe, that message got 28 percent of the vote."

Eibensteiner says Judi Dutcher would be much more difficult to beat than Moe. Republicans will choose their candidate for governor in mid-June they hold their state convention. Vying for the Republican endorsement are House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty and businessman Brian Sullivan.

Gustavus Adolphus political science professor Chris Gilbert says given Ventura's upset victory in 1998, and a primary battle Moe won't face this year, comparisons to the last gubernatorial election are questionable.

"It's very, very different to be number one on the ticket than it is to be number two. It's all about the person at the top. So you can say Humphrey/Moe but it was about Humphrey a lot more than it was about Moe in 1998 and this time it's Roger's campaign to decide what to do and how to do it," according to Gilbert.

Moe told delegates over the weekend if he's to blame for Humphrey's defeat, Mae Schunk should get the credit for Jesse Ventura's victory.

Democrats held their convention early this year to get a jump on the fall elections, but work at the Legislature will likely keep Moe busy in St. Paul for the next couple of weeks. He'll formally kick off his post-convention campaign just prior to Memorial Day, traveling the state with Sen. Wellstone and the rest of the DFL ticket.

More from MPR
  • Campaign 2002: DFL Convention
  • Convention endorses Wellstone