Retired Lt. Col. Joe Repya has decided not to challenge Sen. Norm Coleman in the GOP primary next year. He wished Coleman well, saying that the strain on his family would just be too great. This comes as good news to Sen. Coleman, whom some Republicans say is too liberal. Actually, though, while he is not exactly Tom Coburn, Coleman has compiled a fairly conservative voting record and typically toes the Party line on most major issues.
This means that Sen. Coleman can run a general election campaign starting today while his Democrat opponents, most notably Al Franken and Mike Ciresi, compete to see who can satisfy the most extreme elements of their Party to win the primary. Fortunately, cooler heads usually (but not always) prevail in Minnesota politics, and elections are typically won by the candidate least associated with his national Party. Heck, the Democrats even go under the banner “DFL” instead of just Democrats. Coleman, an independent conservative, certainly fits that mold better than the knee-jerk liberals running against him.
While this certainly does not end the race, it does make things much easier for Republicans as the Democrat tide continues to ebb. We can focus on the Democrats’ records while they spend time knocking each other around. Ultimately, it is likely that when the primaries are over Coleman will emerge as the sensible moderate-conservative while whichever Democrat emerges appears to be a Michael Moore protege. If that happens, Coleman should win fairly easily, but by no means in a cake-walk.