Minnesota Republicans, this is your guy to try to unseat DFL Gov. Tim Walz in 2022?
We know this: Mike Lindell is Trump’s choice. During a pre-election rally in Bemidji the president told the wealthy pillow magnate to run for governor and that “he has my complete and total endorsement.”
That is no small thing. Meaning Lindell, if he follows Trump’s urging, could be a force with whom to be reckoned in what is likely to be a crowded GOP gubernatorial field.
Who would be your choice for Minnesota governor in 2022?
This will be a major storyline in Minnesota in 2021, for better or worse. Minnesota Republicans are confident they can beat Walz, based on the governor’s unpopularity among COVID deniers and law-breaking restaurateurs, and they’ll likely be lining up to take their shot.
State senate majority leader Paul Gazelka appears to be positioning himself for a run. Former Minnesota Vikings star and fervent religious right-winger Matt Birk has hinted he might be interested. There will be many others.
But Lindell has Trump’s blessing and a recognizability because he’s the MyPillow guy many have seen in TV infomercials. He also has a Trump-like knack for talking big while glossing over details, plus an interesting life story that includes overcoming bankruptcy and a crack addiction.
He is everything the modern Republican Party loves. And, of course, he is unwavering loyal to Trump. With the support of Trump’s base, Lindell will be difficult to defeat for the Republican nomination.
Which leads to the obvious question: Is that good thing or bad for the Minnesota GOP?
Lindell is an extremist and conspiracy theorist, literally calling for martial law in Minnesota, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nevada so the military could seize voting machines.
Lindell wanted the military to overturn the election and install Trump as president. That would be the textbook definition of anti-democratic sedition, which not that long ago would be a disqualifier for an American politician.
Now it tragically seems to be a mark of pride for Republicans. Trump before country.
The question is whether Trumpism from somebody who isn’t Trump could win a statewide race in Minnesota. Remember that Trumpism from Trump himself couldn’t carry the state in 2020 or 2016. The president received 45% of the vote each time he was at the top of the ticket in Minnesota. Barring a third-party candidate who could siphon votes from Walz — and there’s little question Republicans will attempt that trick with a pro-marijuana candidate — that’s not enough to win the state.
It won’t help, either, that Trump won’t be on the ballot in 2022. His base won’t be as fired up to vote, even if he throws his full support to Lindell. A cheap knock-off just isn’t the same as the original.
These are odd times, though. The fact we’re even discussing Lindell, who called for martial law, is evidence of that.
Readers can reach Forum columnist Mike McFeely at [email protected] or (701) 451-5655