Perhaps a portent of things to come in the race for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, one reporter’s criticism of a poll last week sparked a tweetstorm that continued to rage, even today, almost a full week after the first shot was fired. So far, it’s involved the managers for both Democrat Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills’ campaigns, other operatives for both sides, and the deputy chairman for the Minnesota GOP. Like allied states during the onset of World War I, or the bannermen lords from lesser houses in Game of Thrones, they saw the initial skirmishes and rushed in to help their side.
This cruel and unnecessary Twitter conflict began innocuously enough, when Pioneer Press reporter David Montgomery tweeted about an internal poll the Mills campaign released. Both the poll firm’s memo to the Mills campaign and the campaign itself touted the fact Mills was within the margin of error of Nolan, although it showed Nolan up by three points.
— David Montgomery (@dhmontgomery) April 7, 2016
In subsequent replies, Montgomery added that internal polls, especially the ones campaigns release to the public, tend to be biased in favor of the particular candidate that commissions the poll.
That did not sit well with Mills campaign manager Charlie Szold.
@dhmontgomery this is hilariously wrong. No "spin" on challenger w/in MOE in late March poll.
— Charlie Szold (@Szold) April 7, 2016
Former Nolan staffer Justin Perpich began sparring with Szold.
— Justin Perpich (@JustinPerpich) April 8, 2016
And then Nolan campaign manager and former DFL legislator Joe Radinovich got into the action.
— Charlie Szold (@Szold) April 8, 2016
After a while, it got personal.
— Joe Radinovich (@joeradinovich) April 8, 2016
Yesterday -five days after Montgomery’s initial tweet- Deputy MN GOP Chair Chris Fields weighed in, refreshing the conflict anew.
— chris fields (@ChrisFieldsMN) April 12, 2016
As a side note, Fields recently called an article he didn’t like, written by Strib reporter Ricardo Lopez, “one of the dumbest ever.” He did it in a reply to Lopez’s tweet with the article link, the Twitter equivalent of calling the reporter dumb right to his face.
— chris fields (@ChrisFieldsMN) April 11, 2016
Lopez was one of the reporters who covered Fields’ very public Twitter misstep in 2014, when Fields politicized Robin Williams’ death.
The entire poll tweet episode reminds of the aphorism that you can judge a man’s strength by the size of the things that make him mad. In the 8th District race, you have two largely untested campaign managers in Radinovich and Szold, neither of which have run a federal-level campaign before. Hopefully the two can learn from the experience, before they give millennials in politics a bad name.