Barring a scandal or some other seismic event, then, Hutchinson's chances of becoming governor seem incredibly remote. What is far more likely is that he'll pull enough votes from either Pawlenty or Hatch to doom their prospects. But which one?
The conventional wisdom is that the 16 percent Penny polled in the governor's race in 2002 helped secure Pawlenty's eight-point win over DFL-er Roger Moe. Hutchinson, like Penny, has DFL ties, albeit as an unelected member of Perpich's cabinet and adviser to other Democratic governors. And if Olson is right that this election is essentially a referendum on Pawlenty, Hutchinson divides the anti-Pawlenty vote.
Consultant and gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson: He came, he saw, he branded
The most likely Hutchinson voters would appear to be fairly affluent moderates, trending socially liberal and fiscally conservative, in the urban enclaves like Kenwood and suburbs such as Minnetonka and Roseville. (Former Minnetonka Mayor Karen Anderson gave Hutchinson's nominating speech at the IP Convention.) These are old Arne Carlson voters, who swung against Perpich in 1990, later grew aghast at Pawlenty's disinvestment in basic government services, yet may still be spooked by Hatch's abrasive style and habit of suing big businesses, particularly health care businesses. But Hatch isn't conceding these voters to Hutchinson; his selection of Judi Dutcher as a running mate is partly a nod to the Carlson-moderate crowd. ("Dutcher is Arne Carlson's protégé," Blois Olson points out. "He's the one who recruited her into politics.")
Hutchinson says he will raise and spend the legal limit of about $2.4 million allowed candidates who accept public campaign subsidies, something neither Ventura nor Penny was able to accomplish. But where Jesse was the victor, and Penny the spoiler, Hutchinson may need every dollar in order to drum up the 5 percent of the vote necessary for the IP to retain major party status.