Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District is one of the Democrats’ strongest pickup opportunities this cycle. With moderate Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., retiring, the inner-ring suburban district has a chance to pick a congressional representative in keeping with the district’s political lean, which has been moderately DFL1 in recent years. The GOP is running state House Minority Leader Erik Paulsen, R-Eden Prairie, who’s a fairly doctrinaire conservative. The DFL has turned to Ashwin Madia, an attorney and a veteran of the current war in Iraq. Madia has run a smart, focused campaign, touting his economic moderate bona fides, which, when coupled with social tolerance, makes Madia closer to Ramstad in political philosophy that Paulsen. (Indeed, Madia was a Republican until 2002, ultimately breaking with the party over the war in Iraq and social issues).
While Madia is young — just 30 years old — his military record is enough to allay doubts about patriotism, and his calm, reasoned campaign has him in good position to take the district in what should be a good year for the Democrats.
Madia lives in an apartment in Plymouth, where he grew up as the son of poor immigrants from India. He’s not married yet — he’s 30, which is not that old in the grand scheme of things. If you wonder why I mention any of this, it’s because the state GOP has. They’ve sent out flyers noting that Madia is unmarried and lives in an apartment, and GOP chair Ron Carey has said, “I’m just saying from a demographic standpoint, Erik Paulsen fits the district very well,” that Paulsen is “One of them.” And, evidently, that Madia is not.
Asked the obvious question — is this about Madia’s race? — Ron Carey issued a non-denial denial:
Now, if you’re accused of racism, you don’t respond “that’s for the voters to decide,” unless, of course, you’re hoping the voters will be okay with it.
And of course, there’s some good old-fashioned classism at work here too. Madia doesn’t have a mortgage and therefore is evidently somehow unfit to lead; never mind that a whole bunch of Americans, even in the fightin’ 3rd, don’t have mortgages. Only those living the American life as one is “supposed” to can represent that district. And choosing not to disqualifies you, especially if your skin color isn’t white.
I’d say this reflects shamefully on the Minnesota GOP, but Carey long ago showed his capacity for shame is minimal at best. More accurately, this will reflect shamefully on the 3rd, if my fellow Minnesotans in the 3rd let it.
- Democratic-Farmer-Labor, the Minnesota imprint of the Democratic party, because of the 1944 merger of the Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party. For even more fun, for about 20 years following Nixon, the Republicans in Minnesota called themselves “Independent Republicans (I-R)” to emphasize that they didn’t suck. They dropped the “Independent” at the end of the term of Gov. Arne Carlson, who not coincidentally was the last Republican statewide office-holder who didn’t suck. [↩]