Monday, January 18, 2010

So Long Norm--For Now

So former Senator Norm Coleman isn't going to run for Governor of Minnesota. He posted a statement on his Facebook page that made it very clear why.

I have to say that even though I really like Norm, I think this is probably the right decision. It's a little bittersweet; I think he would make a great Governor for Minnesota, but I also feel like I know it would be wrong for him to run. Frankly, I think we need to bring the Republican party closer to the Tea Party definition of what a conservative really is. That movement has such momentum that I think it will define who should run and who will ultimately run in all upcoming elections for a time. Norm is more of a centrist, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But right now, I think conservatives are craving a real conservative.

I don't know Norm personally. I met him on several occasions during his run for Senator. I volunteered a lot for his campaign, and I have photos of him with me, my husband, my children and holding my granddaughter. I have shaken his hand and spoken with him more times than I can count; I believe you can tell a lot about someone by shaking his hand and looking him in the eye.

What I felt viscerally about Norm was that he is a good man. Hearing him speak just enforced that. I really feel his intentions are pure and that he has a genuine love for this country. I also think he possesses the traits necessary to work across party lines and not alienate people (unlike the current occupant of his job).

Early on in the campaign when I spoke with him about issues, he had an energy and passion that was palpable. But what I remember most is an appearance I attended with a very small group of people about two days after the ludicrous charges came out about his wife funneling money through her employer to him (more about that in an upcoming column). When I shook his hand and looked him in the eye, when I handed him my granddaughter, he seemed as if he had been punched in the gut. When he spoke briefly about the allegations, you could feel the anger bubbling below the surface. One can hardly blame him. The eleventh hour attack was malicious and despicable. But mostly, he seemed beleaguered. That's the word that keeps coming to mind when I think about it now.

The protracted recount process for the Senate seat didn't seem to help. Photos of him in the courtroom show a stressed-out, tired man.

And now? Norm looks like he did when I first met him. He looks healthy, energized and happy. Again, I do not know Norm Coleman on any level but as an occasional acquaintance while volunteering for his campaign, and I'm just trying to convey my innate sense of the man.

I hope he continues to thrive in his new life. But, as I said, it is bittersweet. Since he's not running for Governor, what's next for him in public service? I really think he should hold public office again; I just wonder what it could be. I, and many of his other supporters, aren't ready to say good-bye just yet.

In the meantime, Norm, so long, good luck, and thanks for your service.

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