Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Election Eve Conversion For Drazkowski-Sort Of

Some people are faster than others when it comes to sensing the world is collapsing underneath them. Governor Tim Pawlenty changed his tune on the gas tax within a day or so of the I-35W bridge collapse and now says he's open to a tax increase to make our roads and bridges safe.

Fellow Republican Steve Drazkowski, who would like to be the one who succeeds Steve Sviggum in the legislature, apparently is not as in tune with what is going on around him. Indisputable evidence that the state's transportation infrastructure is crumbling apparently took about a week to sink in on him. On the eve of the special election of Sviggum's 28B seat, Drazkowski finally said he might be open to a gas tax increase.

Unlike Pawlenty and Drazkowski, DFLer Linda Pfielsticker didn't need a bridge falling down to figure out that Minnesota's roads and bridges needed more funding. Her campaign for the 28B seat has been consistent: more funding for transportation is needed and all possibilities, even (gasp) a gas tax increase needs to be considered.

And while consistency in a position is the expected norm in politics, I remember Winston Churchill who said "I'd rather be right than consistent" and realize that ideally politics should be about pursuing the best solution instead of an ideological solution.

And I might have some hope that Drazkowski has come around to the Churchill way of thinking except for a few things.

1) If you're going to have the courage to change your mind, shout it from the rooftops and show your conviction. Drazkowski has done little on this front. His website still touts his draconian position on transportation: "A gas tax increase would cripple the economy in House District 28B. "

2)Even the usually conservative Winona Daily News realizes that Drazkowski is a fanatic. In it's endorsement of Pfeilsticker, it notes that Drazkowski's platform is focused on wedge issues.
"We believe his campaign focused entirely too much on wedge issues, aimed at pandering to small but vocal segments of the GOP. Abortion and immigration are federal hot-button topics meant to polarize voters. Right now in this politically charged environment, we need to talk about what issues really matter, not what issues really raise our blood pressure."
So to borrow another phrase, a leopard may be able to change its mind, but not its spots. Drazkowski has been a fanatic on his stance that no additional funding is needed for just about anything government does. While Drazkowski's election eve conversion should be applauded, Pfeilsticker has shown herself to be the more thoughtful candidate and doesn't need to be hit on the head with a falling bridge to have an open mind.

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