Gov. Mark Dayton addressed the media and some Republicans that were present as he said that the two sides were still not closeat the state capitol an hour left until a government shutdown.

Kyndell Harkness, Dml - Star Tribune

Short take: An early bet on GOP in budget in stalemate

  • Article by: JILL BURCUM and D.J. TICE
  • Star Tribune
  • July 1, 2011 - 4:59 PM

The state government shutdown is a high-stakes political gamble for Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican legislative majority.

There won’t be any victors, thanks the black eye the shutdown’s given the state nationally, but it’s interesting to speculate which bettor emerges from the fray with the most political chips.

A quick, we’re-just-hours-into-this analysis has our money on the Republican legislators. Their challenge is being the first to go to the polls.

Voters still disgusted with the shutdown might take out their ire on incumbents. Republicans owe their majority to wins in highly competitive districts. Still-lingering resentment could help Democrats regain majorities in 2012.

But Republicans also look like they have an edge in the budget spat, potentially allowing them to claim victory from a bad situation in the upcoming election. The reason?

Thanks to the relatively soft shutdown with many key services continuing, it’s a core group of Gov. Dayton’s supporters — public employees and now idled construction workers — who will bear the brunt of the shutdown.

Friday was Day 1 Without A Salary for more than 23,000 workers in Minnesota. And while their adrenaline is running high, financial hardship is a reality, especially in one-paycheck households.

Their hardship will make the kind-hearted Dayton hard-pressed to hold out for an extended period of time in the budget face-off.

In contrast, key Republican constituencies will face some hardships and inconveniences — businesses needing various licenses or permits, for example. But the pain won’t be felt on the same scale.

Dayton’s leverage in budget negotiations now depends on how long he’s willing to keep core constituencies out of work.

The soft shutdown gave Republicans an advantage and may allow them to walk away with a spending cuts-heavy budget and a reason to say “We prevailed” in 2012.

Jill Burcum is a Star Tribune editorial writer and D.J. Tice is the commentary editor.

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