The Long Shot and the Colonel

The DFL picked neophyte Teresa Daly to unseat Bush lapdog John Kline in the conservative Second District. Does she even have a chance?

The Kline camp displays little concern about the congressman's vulnerability, not even bothering to hire a professional to run his campaign. "The groundwork for Teresa Daly to win this campaign simply does not exist," scoffs Steve Sutton, the congressman's chief of staff. He says that the Kline campaign conducted a poll in early October that showed the incumbent with a commanding lead, although he declines to make the data available. "It shows that we do not need a campaign manager," he says.

The Kline campaign has leveled three attacks at Daly in an attempt to derail her campaign before it can gain any traction. There have been accusations of her running for Congress simply for the money, of being negligent in her duties as a City Council member (she missed 11 meetings in her first 17 months in the post; the Burnsville City Council meets three times per month), and of supporting John Kline in 2002. The latter assertion is probably the most damaging. Daly admits to attending two Kline fundraisers that year, contributing $50 to his campaign, but says that she ultimately decided to support Luther after learning more about the Republican challenger.

Sutton has a less charitable analysis, arguing that Daly opted to publicly support Kline because it would help her campaign for the City Council in GOP-friendly Burnsville. "While she was privately supporting Bill Luther she was publicly supporting John Kline," he asserts. "She put personal ambition ahead of personal belief. Is that not an issue?"

Daly believes that Kline is resorting to personal attacks because he doesn't want to run on his congressional record. "I am disappointed that the only communication that the people of this district have even heard from him, their congressman in this campaign, are three personal attack pieces against me," she says. "That's all he's done in this campaign. I don't think that's what people want to hear from their congressman."

Daly has tried to counterpunch, asserting that Kline has failed to support transportation and police funding for Minnesota, and that he's paved the way for pharmaceutical companies to reap unsavory profits by voting for the Medicare prescription drug bill last year. Most audaciously, given Kline's background, she's gone after him for failing to adequately support benefits for veterans.

As in the 2002 Second District congressional race, neither Kline nor Daly bother to hide their antipathy for each other. While questions about the viability of Daly's campaign persist-despite her fundraising acumen-there's no doubt that Kline will respond to any perceived threat during the final two weeks of the campaign with the political equivalent of shock and awe. "If she takes a slap at John, it will be ugly," Sutton promises. "It will be ugly."

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