Editorial: Dutcher didnt cost Hatch election

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch on Monday said part of the reason he failed to win his gubernatorial campaign was the flap over E85 fuel.

We disagree.

One week before the election, his running mate Judi Dutcher said on video she didn&8217;t know what E85 fuel was. She later said she indeed did know what it was but her memory had failed because she was weary from the campaign trail.

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People in the Albert Lea Tribune&8217;s coverage area know E85 is a blend of automobile fuel that contains 85 percent ethanol. Ethanol is typically made from corn.

&8220;While we still won the northwestern counties, we got killed in western and southern counties, where 17 ethanol plants are located,&8221; Hatch wrote in a letter to supporters.

The E85 flap might have cost him some votes, but it didn&8217;t cost him the election. Looking at results for Freeborn County &8212; home of the largest ethanol plant in Minnesota &8212; you wouldn&8217;t think his loss would be tied directly to the Dutcher&8217;s E85 flub.

In Freeborn County, Hatch won. He garnered 54 percent of the vote.

In nearby Mower County, Hatch won. He got 57 percent.

That doesn&8217;t seem &8220;killed.&8221;

Two things that really cost him the election were the perception &8212; true or not &8212; that he has a temper and, moreover, the votes he lost in the metro area to Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson. Incumbent Gov. Tim Pawlenty did a good job of painting Hutchinson as a liberal, which kept middle-of-the-road conservatives from voting for the third-party candidate.

Candidates should know what E85 is, but in the booth voters usually vote for a governor, not for a lieutenant governor.