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McFeely: Are Jensen-Birk headed toward political equivalent of 41-0?

Poll shows Republican ticket down big to incumbent Walz in Minnesota governor's race

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Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen speaks during a press conference after filing for the election at the Capitol on May 23 in St. Paul.
Kerem Yücel / MPR News file photo
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MOORHEAD — It's two months before the election and it's only one poll, but it's enough to warm a lefty's heart. Gov. Tim Walz (DFL-Mankato) leads challenger Scott Jensen (R-Warner Bros.) by 18 points, according to a survey commissioned by a Twin Cities TV station.

The Looney Tunes ticket of Jensen and Matt Birk (R-Holier-Than-Thou City) isn't exactly rolling toward November with a head of steam. There might be a 41-0 beating in their future.

That's a joke about the Minnesota Vikings, the team for which Birk used to play. Part of his attraction as a political candidate, presumably, was his celebrity as a former Viking. Turns out celebrity status doesn't overcome Birk's need to be ungracious, pious and mean-spirited.

Birk comes from the right-wing evangelical Catholic wing of the GOP, which seems to have a problem acknowledging as legitimate (much less accepting) views other than its own. Birk likes to preach at others about their alleged shortcomings, but does so with earplugs and arrogance.

The latest example came after the poll results were released this week and a longtime state Republican operative wrote on Twitter that Jensen's campaign was a disaster, as many insiders knew it would be.

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Birk responded with a personal and cruel attack on the fellow Republican, citing a long-ago extramarital affair and DUI.

It's the latest in a string of unforced errors by Birk, who has a Harvard education but less common sense and humility than your average Trump child. Matt is the smartest and most moral person in the room. Just ask him.

Jensen's and Birk's biggest problem is that they are as likable as jock itch. Well, that and their extremist stance on abortion. No exceptions, even in the case of rape or incest. Birk is so sympathetic toward women who've been sexually assaulted that he accused them of playing "the rape card" in supporting legal, safe abortion.

Minnesota nasty.

As for Jensen, he's like a 1980s hair band playing the local casino — cranking out the hits because the oldies-but-goodies are all he's got. Jensen rose to GOP prominence during the pandemic by bleating about mask mandates. His second smash single — "Anti-Vax to the Max" — came later.

He's still rocking those tunes even though we largely left masks behind more than a year ago and everybody wants to move forward. What's next, hammering Walz over the Bay of Pigs invasion? Maybe it's time to freshen up the playlist, Doc.

Jensen recently compared COVID-19 mask mandates to events leading up to Kristallnacht and the Holocaust, showing that one man's inconvenience in wearing a face-covering is another man's systematic, government-sponsored murder of 6 million people.

There's still time for Jensen and Birk to close the gap. It'll be difficult since they'll have to sound and act like something more palatable to voters than raving radical lunatics, but they can do it.

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Maybe they can close the final score to 38-7.

That's another Vikings joke, by the way, one that doesn't bode well for Jensen and Birk.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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