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ISSUE 120 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/27/2006

Who's hot and who's not in state politics

By April Wright
Variety Editor

Friday, October 27, 2006

Politicians have never been known to be the most stylish people. From the prematurely ancient-looking Amy Klobuchar to the supremely average Tim Pawlenty, here is a tour of the good, the bad and especially the ugly of Minnesota politicians.

It's hard to find anyone in Minnesota politics that really fits the title "the good." It's more like "the relatively good." And that's fine, this is politics; the takeaway message to anyone's dress is supposed to be "I'm a nice, smart person. I'm one of you. Trust me."

Some politicians excel at it.

Tim Pawlenty is the epitome of the average guy in dress. He has a normal haircut, a normal suit and tie and normal pants. Pawlenty could be the governor, but he could also be the accountant next door. The guy doesn't even bother covering his gray hairs or using expensive facial crèmes to fix his crow's feet. He's an excellent example of buddying up to the average suburban Minnesotan.

Unfortunately, Pawlenty loses a couple points because of his arrogant smirk, which leads this expert fashion critic to believe that maybe he isn't an average Minnesotan and, in fact, actually resents all things middle class.

Robert Fitzgerald wants to take you hiking. The Independence Party candidate has gone from clean-cut youngun to pseudo-Grizzly Adams sort-of hottie. In June, Fitzgerald started rocking a beard. This was most definitely a good move, as his chin is shaped funny. Fitzgerald also has exceedingly nice taste in suits; at the same June appearance he coupled the beard with a crisp white shirt. In a bold move, he went tie-less for a touch of cosmopolitan modernity.

Not everyone can be style-savvy. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar sits right at the intersection of good and bad. While her looks are often classic (think a button down shirt underneath a coat with a skirt or pants), they're also often boring and put the emphasis on the wrong parts of her body. Aside from her helmet-like hairstyle, Klobuchar is frequently a victim of the “little things syndrome." The outfits themselves are usually fine, but she wears her pants just a bit too high or the coat buttons draw one’s eye to her stomach.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kennedy has his problems, too. I think he might be able to shoot laser beams from his creepily intense eyes, which for some reason never appear to soften, even when he smiles his horrifying, open-mouth grin. Kennedy also commits the cardinal sin of folksy, down-home types everywhere: wearing a plaid shirt (with white undershirt visible) underneath a blazer. The stunning array of plaid shirts that he owns makes me wonder if his mom picked them all up on sale at K-Mart.

And now for the section you've all been waiting for: the ugly. The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of fashion gone wrong is a picture of Michele Bachmann. The Congressional candidate's hair is non-motile, leading me to suspect that it is actually an intricately painted chunk of plastic which can be snapped on and off in traditional LEGO fashion. Bachmann isn't an ugly woman, but her ensembles are awful. She appears often in monochromatic sweater sets. In a particularly hideous faux pas, she went to a hearing in a pale yellow blouse topped with sweater of the same color. Let me repeat that: Yellow sweater set. Yellow. Someone, please, name me one positive aspect to the color yellow when worn by a person with a pale complexion. Bachmann is also fond of monochromatic, "Stepford Wives"-esque suits worn with dainty scarves and pearls. After all, nothing says "I will fight for you in the legislature" like dressing up as an apparition of a 1950s housewife.

Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Rowley needs some help. I think she may actually be a walking rift in the time-space continuum: everything she puts on is automatically transported back to 1981. Between the enormous glasses and mass of frizzy graying hair, it looks like she might be going for a Patti Smith rock ‘n’ roll poet look. Too bad she's a politician. And too bad she drowns any boho vibes under freaky, patterned blazers. I'll cut her some slack, though. It must be hard to be a black hole of fashion.

There is one other thing that didn't quite fit into the Good-Bad-Ugly Spectrum that I would like to briefly address. The first is congress candidate Harry Welty's beard. I don't know much about the man, but that beard deserves to be in the Oval Office. It's full, well – kept and gray, which is far more than can be said for most other candidates’ brains.

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