No one wants to talk to Erik Paulsen
Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen is having the damndest time getting anyone to call him.
A new study from Smart Politics found that Paulsen gets by far the least amount of attention of Minnesota's congressional delegation. That means he's not only losing out to flamethrowers like Michele Bachmann and Keith Ellison, but also miles behind less-quotable politicians like John Kline and Chip Cravaack, who's only been in office about an hour and a half.
Since January 2008, Paulsen's name has only been mentioned on national TV or radio three times. Even if you put those three mentions back-to-back-to-back, Paulsen's total airtime would come out to less than half-a-minute.
Funny. City Pages tried to call Paulsen last week about the Carver County Republican Party's clay shooting competition, where he was one of the politicians being "auctioned off." He never called us back.
The entirety of Smart Politics' accounting of Paulsen's time on TV consists of two tiny video clips on Fox News, which aired on the same night in March 2009 -- truly, a magical evening in the Paulsen home -- and Maddow's shot at him in June 2010, which went like this:
"What should be even more politically damaging than doing fundraising with Joe Barton? How about this? How about fundraising directly with BP? Cut out the middle man. That is what Republicans Marsha Blackburn and Erik Paulsen did this afternoon. They held a $1000-a-plate lunch for a Republican candidate for lunch, Cory Gardner of Colorado."
While technically that's a mention in the national media, that can't be what Paulsen's going for.
Michele Bachmann, Keith Ellison: Super popular.
The distance between Paulsen and the other Minnesota representatives is gigantic. Even ruling out Michele Bachmann, who is pretty much sucking up all the oxygen in American politics, the avergae -- the average! -- number of appearances and mentions in national media is 55 since January 2008. Paulsen, just to hammer this home, has been mentioned three times, each of which would be missed if the viewer sneezed.
Bachmann's total, of course, annihilates all others. Are you sitting down?
Michele Bachmann has appeared or been mentioned in national media 3,098 times in the last 32 months. That number doesn't count multiple mentions in the same broadcast. That's about three times a night, and means she is literally 1,000 times more famous than Congressman Erik Whatshisname.
Keith Ellison comes in second among Minnesota representatives, with 194 mentions.
Analyzing Paulsen's paltry showing, Eric Ostermeier at first attributes it to the nature of his district. Minnesota's third is one of only nine out of 435 that the influential Cook Report rates as "even," meaning neither Democrats nor Republicans have a natural advantage. Ostermeier posits that by flying under the radar, Paulsen might be trying not to alert Democrats that he's a conservative -- while also not letting Republicans notice that he's not actually that conservative.
But even that, Ostermeier writes, doesn't explain it:
[T]he district's moderate ideology did not stop Paulsen's (popular) predecessor Jim Ramstad from getting his name into the national spotlight. During Ramstad's last 32 months in office, he appeared or was mentioned on 23 national broadcasts: 12 on CNN, seven on NPR, two on ABC, and two on FOX.
So, that does it: Not even strategically playing to his district explains why Erik Paulsen is pretty much never in the national media. Either he's shy, or absolutely no one is trying to talk to him.
Congressman Paulsen, call City Pages back! We promise, we'll pick up. Well, probably we will. What time were you thinking of calling?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.