From the McLeod County Chronicle
A number of months ago, state Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, indicated he may not run for his District 18 state Senate seat in 2010. We hope he reconsiders. We need him, and his moderate views, now more than ever.
As partisan as Minnesota politics has become in the past decade, it comes as no surprise that Dille is dismayed over how much more difficult it has become to accomplish anything of substance at the state Legislature.
Gridlock has become the norm, and the results have seen this state get bogged down in the quagmire. Minnesota once was the leader in many respects, when what was good for Minnesota was more important than what was good for one's party.
Dille is a pragmatic legislator. Being in the minority party in the Senate for so long requires a Republican senator like Dille to find some common ground in getting something done.
And that talking-with-the-enemy approach has gotten him into trouble with his own party leaders. To them, he is too moderate in their views and needs to step aside.
Now Dille must face the party-endorsing gauntlet of his own district Republicans, who will test his loyalty to the party platform.
Dille may fail the GOP's conservative litmus test with several of his votes in recent years, including his support for the state transportation bill in 2008. That vote flew in the face of the conservatives' no new taxes pledge.
But the Republican Party has lost its moral high ground on deficit spending during the George W. Bush administration, a Republican president who ran up trillions in debt in fighting two wars at the same time, while bailing out "companies too big to fail" to boot during the current recession.
Democrat President Barack Obama then took the U.S. deficit spending into the stratosphere, and it may never come back to earth.
On the state level, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the darling of fiscal conservatives, started strongly in his tenure, but immediately boxed himself in with his "no new tax pledge." When you paint yourself into a corner, it is hard to maneuver when maneuvering is required. Ask President George H.W. Walker, breaking a no-tax promise can be costly.
But with the 2010 state budget crisis looming, legislators need to realize that no party has all the answers. They need to work together to get through this mess.
State legislators like Dille will be needed more than ever to bridge the chasm that separate the extremes in the two major parties in Minnesota.
If Dille does not get the District 18 GOP endorsement next year, we encourage him to stay in the race anyway. Whether he runs as an endorsed Republican or as an independent is not as important as the need for him to remain in the Legislature. His stature in District 18 will likely get him elected regardless, if he wants to run for re-election.