Saturday, April 29, 2006

 

Some Points and a Story

Because they continually get buried by other issues, here are the links to my interviews with CD5 candidates - If other candidates or staffers are reading, the invitation is still open and waiting for you. Plus I like getting to talk one-on-one with the candidates. Makes me feel special.

Keith Ellison
Gail Dorfman

Hopefully there will be many more to come. But onward and upwards with this weekend's missive. It's not reporting per se, rather it's a story. It's my story. Since being publicly identified by Jay Ziegler, I figured that my readers and the blogosphere as a whole deserve to know where I come from and how I got involved in Minnesota politics.

My name is Joe Bodell. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in North Reading, Massachusetts, about twenty minutes north of Boston. After graduating from NRHS, I went to Tufts University, a bit closer to Boston, and majored in Computer Science and Political Science. My fiancee still maintains that neither area of study makes me a scientist.

You see, it's my fiancee that brought me to Minnesota. We met at Tufts in 2003. I graduated in 2004, already employed by the Kerry Campaign in the Boston field office. It was our job to make sure New Hampshire went blue - we went from a 2000 deficit of 7,000 votes to a 2004 win by more than 10,000. In the aftermath, we told ourselves that if we had won Ohio and not New Hampshire, we still would have lost. What we did had meaning.

My fiancee was slated to graduate in the spring of 2005, and wanted to move home to the Twin Cities to be near her immediate family. I decided that us being together was the most important thing in my life, so I decided to move here with her. Around Christmas 2004, we came to visit, to scope out the city so I had some familiarity with it before we moved. While here that frigid week, I was lucky enough to meet a State Senator by the name of Steve Kelley. We chatted over a tasty lunch about Minnesota politics, and he told me something that sticks with me to this day - "Minnesotans care about a lot of things, but there are a few that a big majority agree on - transportation, and education. If a candidate can focus on those things, they can really bring the entire state together." In the following months, I devoted my free time to studying the current state of political affairs here, the political history, the caucus process, and anything else I could learn about what would soon be my new home.

We moved in May of 2005, deciding to spend a few months living with my fiancee's parents in St. Louis Park while we found jobs and saved a bit of money. Steve Kelley announced his candidacy for Governor four days after we arrived. I made a couple calls, sent a couple emails, and that, as they say, was that.

Unfortunately, a political salary....is something of an oxymoron, actually. Political pay tends not to be very good, especially for the hours political staffers keep. In order to afford getting our own place, I regretfully had to interview for and find another job in technology (to put that CS major to work!). I started in October of 2005, and am still in that job now.

Politics is my passion. It's my hobby. It's pretty much the only thing I'm interested in other than my fiancee, cooking, and my cat. And baseball. Since I started MNCR in August, I have tried, albeit sometimes unsuccessfully, to regard political goings-on with a critical eye, separate from my past work and continuing support of Senator Kelley. I believe I have something to offer the grassroots, the netroots, the establishment, everyone, by my education, my passion for writing and speaking about politics, and I will continue to offer my opinions and reasons why I have them. I will be at the State Convention in June working for my horse, and others will be there working for theirs, and if the Gubernatorial endorsement is nothing more than a referendum on whether Steve Kelley deserves to be on the ballot in September, so be it. I believe he's done the work necessary to claim a right to be there, raised the money to make it possible, and will make a great Governor of Minnesota.

But that part of the story is yet to be written. Don't you worry - you'll be able to read all about it right here at Minnesota Campaign Report.

 

Interview with Gail Dorfman

Widely considered one of the front-runners to succeed Martin Sabo in Congress, Gail Dorfman currently serves as a Hennepin County Commissioner, having previously served as Mayor of St. Louis Park, SLP City Council, and on Capitol Hill in Washington for some politicians close to my ancestral heart. More on that later, I suppose. Ms. Dorfman's bio can be read here. We talked on Friday about the myriad issues facing Minnesota and America right now, and what she would do to solve them - and how.

-------------------------

MNCR: So - what does a Hennepin County Commissioner do?

G. Dorfman: The Hennepic County Commission has an annual budget of 1.7 billion, second only to the state. We're involved in a host of issues that make a difference to quality of life - hospital and health care systems, social services for the most vulnerable among us - immigrants, mental health sufferers - we take care of all of those issues. We run the suburban library system, do a fair amount with transportation, we're one of the primary funders and instigators of light rail, and continue to work on improving the transportation system in and around Minneapolis.

People generally don't know much about this level of government except for when we confront contentious issues, but we have a big impact on the communities we work for.

MNCR: What do you consider your greatest acheivement in your role as Commissioner?

G. Dorfman: I took on the issue of homelessness on my first day in the Hennepin County Commission. In the past we've done a pretty god job managing homelessness through shelters and other mechanisms, but I've been determined to change that paradigm from managing homelessness to ending homelessness. We've made significant progress toward that end - we've build three thousand units of affordable housing, reduced family homelessness by 65%, and we're now working to end homelessness for teens and single adults. We've been creative about it, and we've become a national model to the extent that three weeks ago, I was invited to testify before the Senate Banking Committee - they wanted to know more about our ideas and programs so they could be implemented across the country.

I love to think outside the box and work with the community to get things done. A great example of this was the start of Excelsior and Grand in St. Louis Park while I was Mayor.

[Instead of imposing a design and requirements from the top down, the City Council let the community determine what they wanted in the development, and the council stuck to it, even firing their first hired developer who concluded that the community's ideas weren't feasible. Really a fantastic story all around -- MNCR]

MNCR: If elected to Congress in such a safe Democratic seat, will you be more of a progressive crusader or will you reach across the aisle to get things accomplished?

G. Dorfman: I can do both - a majority of my board are Republicans, and I've learned how to cross the aisle and talk with my most conservative colleagues to get things done. To go back to the homelessness issue, I've worked with conservative board members and demonstrated that it costs less money in the long term to end homelessness than it does to manage it, they've agreed, and we've done great things together. This is a safe seat [CD5], there's no excuse to go to Washington and play it safe. The problem in Washington is that it's become very mean-spirited and polarized. I've found when I talk to people that tey have the same values I have - my community, my kids, their schools - we have different ideas how to get there, but once we realize that common bond, then we can work on how to get there. The only problem is how you talk about these things with people who may have a different political bent. But I'm tired of just studying problems, I want to figure out ways to fix those problems.

MNCR: What's your position on Iraq?

G. Dorfman: I support Congressman John Murtha's plan for getting our troops out of harm's way, but I want to stop investing in a military-only strategy. We need to shift money to economic aid and humanitarian aid with a civilian face, not just a military one. All we're doing with our current policies is breeding hatred for America around the world, creating breeding grounds for terrorists. If we start putting more money and effort into foreign and humanitarian aid, we'll restore our position in the world, make the world safer, and stop losing lives needlessly.

MNCR: What was your reaction when you first heard Martin Sabo was retiring?

G. Dorfman: I was surprised, because I had very recently talked with him about budget issues. None of us had an inkling that this was coming. Initially I worried that he might be ill, but I was relieved when it turned out he's fine. He's served us so well for so long - he's entitled to go out on his own terms.

MNCR: What's your position on the Twins Stadium issue?

G. Dorfman: At least since 2002, I've been strongly opposed to this public funding. I'm also the only member of the board with season tickets to the Twins...it's not that I don't want baseball here, I do - but this this funding package is 80% public, 20% private, and there's no way to justify that when we have other priorities.

MNCR: Back to Washington DC - how does Gail Dorfman change the culture of contentiousness there?

G. Dorfman: When I worked on Capitol Hill, there was a different spirit of collegiality there, more of an effort to walk across the aisle and solve problems together. I'm not going to throw my hands up and say "that's impossible now!" I strongly believe that a lot of being successful is building relationships. It's the best way to get results to improve the community. I'll be clear about my progressive values, but I'll work across lines to get things done. You can be tenacious as a pitbull and still work that way.

MNCR: Who/What's your favorite:
Ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate chip
Baseball player: I love the Twins, but I grew up a huge Cincinatti Reds fan - Joe Morgan.
Local Political Figure: Paul Wellstone was a great progressive voice who has been missed. I kep hearing over and over again from delegates, "boy, we miss Paul."
National Political Figure: In Junior High, the first campaign I worked on was for Bobby Kennedy. I loved how his politics evolved over time into just a deep compassion for people who were struggling and to give them hope for the future.
Blogs: I don't read them so much, but my kids do and occasionally I look over their shoulders - they're using these codewords and I have to try to figure out exactly what they're saying. They finally told me that "MOS" means "Mother Over Shoulder".....

MNCR: You received the endorsement of Stonewall DFL recently - how do GLBT issues figure into your campaign?

G. Dorfman: They're personal issues to me, and they became more personal when my son came out. From day one I've been working on these issues on the HCC. I found out from GLBT kids in foster care that their foster parents weren't dealing with the fact that they were GLBT very well. We found we needed to do some training with foster parents on how to respond to GLBT kids when they entered the home, and we also provided information to GLBT teens beforehand so they understood their rights and the resources they could use. We've been trying to get full domestic partner benefits - we still have a ways to go, and I'm continuing to work on those issues. When our son came out, it became very clear on a personal level that he should have the same rights, including the right to marry, and I feel very strongly about that.

MNCR: It's a powerful issue all around. Any closing thoughts?

G. Dorfman: I think that the overall theme for me in this campaign is that we have to stop fighting this war in Iraq so we can start fighting for what matters here at home. That's the central message, and that's why I'm running for Congress.

MNCR: That's all I have for now - Thank you for your time, and best of luck!

G. Dorfman: Thanks so much!

Friday, April 28, 2006

 

More, More, More

From Jay:
Pam's mistake was something that a more seasoned operator would have not engaged in, or got caught in. And, if caught, would have resigned from the campaign. Her apologizing is great, but responsibility lies at the top. Where is Steve on this?

Personally, I take everything with a grain of salt from you.

Joe Bodell a rich kid from Wayzata who is twenty years behind me. You're not a homeowner (property taxes), you're not raising a family (schools, health care and safety) and you haven't built a business over the last 15 years (taxes,health care costs and other economic issues). So, why would I listen to you on what or who's best for Minnesota?
Who's most inspiring? Motivating? Maybe even enlightening? You can certainly have the inside scoop in those things but, the bread and butter issues are tough (not impossible) to hear from a campaign where the experience is light and the ages are enviable. I think the only candidate that could get away with this is Hatch as he has a 30 year record with the DFL party and a 20 year record serving the citizens of Minnesota. His personality and name rec over-shadows the youth.

A good campaign will have a healthy mix of both youth and experience, and traditional party insiders as well as those who come from outside the DFL processes.

Get mad at the Lourey campaign if you want but, look at yours. Kelley is coming up on one year in this race. He raised decent money. His staff is from all over the state. Yet, he finds himself, not in a struggle with Hatch (who has been pretty low-key this cycle), but with Lourey who got in the race six months beyond Kelley, supposedly has no money, bad strategy, no message, a mean-spirited staff and a cow uterus story. Who put him there? If it wasn't Lourey's strength, it has to be his campaign.
Even experienced campaign staff across the spectrum from ravenous reactionary Republican to loony liberal Democrats sometimes don't know much about the blogosphere or the caveats that go along with getting involved in it. I don't blame any staffers for their mistakes in this venue as long as they own up to it.

That I am not *yet a property-owner does not mean I don't care about property taxes and related issues. That I don't *yet have children doesn't mean I can't comment on the state of public education - after all, change and progress effected now will have an effect on my children and family in the future.

You can take what I write with a grain of salt or not. This is yet another ad hominem attack, however - Joe is not a homeowner, so Joe can't comment on property tax issues. It's bogus, Jay. I'm educated, I'm engaged, I know the issues, and I can effectively argue my points with anyone. I don't expect you to listen to me, I hope you discuss with me. That's what this medium is about.

As for all three campaigns - of course Hatch has been low-key. I don't claim to be an insider, but look at the facts - he's going to the primary. He has no reason to work hard now. Long-term, Kelley's competition is Hatch (duh). Short-term, it's Lourey, since she's put forth the most effort into the endorsement.

I agree with past analyses elsewhere that have stated, essentially, that the State Convention will be a referendum on whether Steve Kelley deserves to be on the primary ballot in September. I believe he has earned that right through his work in the Senate and on the campaign trail.

Lastly, I'm not sure who told you I'm from Wayzata, but they are entirely and 100% wrong. I'm only rich in my friends and loved ones, so tell your erroneous tipster to shove it.

 

And Now, Back to the News

Polinaut's got the scoop: Ron Abrams will finish his term representing House District 43B, and then take a position on the state bench as a judge. This leaves the local GOP an extremely short window in which to find, groom, and run a credible candidate for a house seat that could literally single-handedly shift the balance of power in the state Legislature. John Benson performed extremely well in Minnetonka in 2004, and is back for another go.

This is my Senate District.

My weekend just got a lot busier.

 

I Just Realized

It came to me in a burst of logical clarity. Thank you, Jay/Mr. Ziegler, for affording me this clarity.

The post below this one and the comment to which it refers describe an ad hominem attack against .... me? I think. Break it down. From Wikipedia:

A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:

  1. A makes claim X.
  2. There is something objectionable about A.
  3. Therefore claim X is false.
In our particular case here, replace A with "I, MNCR", X with "anything perceived as favoring Steve Kelley or denigrating to Becky Lourey," and you've got it made.

1. I make a claim that {Lourey's numbers are off, their digs against his non-public campaign staff are uncalled for}
2. I am a former campaign staffer
3. Therefore my claim is false.

While I've been writing this, I got a comment from dflmnjim, which is insightful and worth discussing.
Personally, I think the issue of campaign team experience is a debatable issue. We are all running against a very good candidate and cmapaign team (Pawlenty that is) and we need to have our best to match theirs. Hatch clearly has put together the best team and is doing so while spending minimally. While Kelley's folks work just as hard and are learning the ropes quickly, I think Barisonzi points to something that needs attention; that Kelley hired people without experience working at this level. He didn't call them jerks, or lazy, or bad at their jobs, he just said inexperience shows when trying to count delegates.

The facts of what he wrote have not been challenged by anyone, and I think that says a lot about them probobly being true. Can Kelley people refute any of the actual facts in the email?
Hatch may have a great team - Honestly, I've only met two of his campaign staffers (Hi Ken :-) ). I can't really speak to that.

I'm curious, though, as to these "facts" you refer to. Do you mean this?
  1. Early voter identification: Through both paid and volunteer phone banks, the Lourey campaign developed a baseline of support for each candidate.
  2. Direct contact: Campaign and volunteer staff attended every convention and tracked all sub-caucuses - candidate, issue and undeclared � and engaging in direct delegate contact. They tracked how sub-caucuses merged, and who were elected delegates. By comparing the results with voter identification calls, the Lourey campaign is able to identify potential delegate fluidity.
  3. Direct phone contact: Senator Lourey, surrogates, volunteer supporters and campaign staff call delegates to confirm candidate preference. Calls are made and information entered into the database from over 10 locations around the state every night.
  4. Secondary sources: Delegate lists are regularly cross checked against other candidate�s reported donor and published supporter lists.
These aren't facts - these are things that every campaign is doing. These are activities. Maybe you're referring to this?
  1. Assuming Support: Counting a person as a �hard� delegate based upon a public declaration of support is a three fold mistake. First, it will always tilt the count toward the campaign collecting the data. Good campaigns want comparative data, which public declarations of support simply do not provide. Second, there are many reasons a campaign might be provided inaccurate information. Because of friendships or loyalties, the choice of the delegate is often kept private for good reason. Lastly, people change their minds. For example, in its recent email the Kelley campaign quotes Arlene Pierce of Lake of the Woods and identifies her as a Steve Kelley delegate. She is not. As of this morning, she is a committed Becky Lourey delegate.
These are good points, but they do not establish, in and of themselves, the superiority of the Lourey campaign's methods or results. Maybe Arlene Pierce did say she was a committed Kelley delegate, and then later a committed Becky Lourey delegate. At best that means she should be entered on both campaigns' lists as "undecided" - clearly she likes both candidates for different reasons.

Keep it coming, folks. On a totally unrelated note, watch out for an interview tonight with Gail Dorfman, candidate for CD5.

 

From the Comments

In response to my previous post on the Lourey delegate numbers, frequent commenter Jay (also known as David Ziegler) decides to go berserk with my archives. Check out his comment below, seriously. That is a LOT of links he looked through. Here's just an excerpt, however:
Jay:
You're mad at them for saying that the Kelley staff lack in-depth experience at this process?

From their release the day before, they were clearly taking a shot at Lourey by marking an arrow of what they beleive Lourey numbers to be. In this case their attempt was suttle [sic], but evident. The problem is, as pointed out, you can only account for your own numbers.

Pam Mccrory, a Kelley staffer, was also extremly disrespectful and insulting to the Lourey staff and the candidate. She's still a staffer and you seem to brush that under the rug. You (Joe Bodell), a recent former staffer and still very close to the campaign, have used your blog as a PR peice for Steve Kelley as well as a venue to attack Lourey and her campaign:
First - congratulations. As I've noted before, my goal has not been to protect my true identity at all costs, but I haven't gone out of my way to reveal myself to the world. That being said, you're not the first person who's been able to identify me. I'm curious, did you research me yourself, or did you get a tip? (the question isn't rhetorical, I'm really interested, if you're willing to tell me the truth).

Second, I'm not up in arms over them saying the Kelley staff has a lack of in-depth experience before this campaign. I'm up in arms over them saying that their numbers are more accurate because the Kelley staff is lighter on experience before this campaign. That is a mean-spirited argument, and says nothing about the Lourey campaign's numbers, but rather seeks to discredit Kelley's numbers by discrediting his staff's experience.

Third, I'm not brushing Pam McCrory under the rug. She is a wonderful person, a hard worker, and she screwed up. She's human. She's admitted as much. We've also already established that her activities as Molligator were on her own time and not in sight of the campaign or its staff, so your usage of the episode to illustrate campaign-level attacks against Becky Lourey is specious at best.

There is one issue remaining. It's your near-obsessive search through my archives. I encourage you to look back and see where I was trying to mislead readers about my loyalties to persuade them to support Steve Kelley. I have never done so - on the contrary, I have from the first time I wrote on the gubernatorial race been open and honest about my past role on the campaign (by the way, I was off the campaign by November, so your note about my November post "as a staffer" is incorrect). My point here is that I call things how I see them. Call it biased, call it whatever you want. I call it my honest viewpoint. Was the grain of salt I issued with Kelley's most recent numbers not enough for you, Mr. Ziegler?

I could respond point-by-point further into your comment, Jay...but I don't have time or effort to expend on it. We're all Democrats, and the less time we spend overtly attacking each other for who we've worked for, what we've done, and for how long, the better off we will all be in November.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

 

And Another Thing

If you're so confident about getting the DFL endorsement, why not promise to abide by it? Just a thought ("You" of course, addresses those who will, no doubt, respond at some point soon).

Over and out, catch you cats on the flip side.

 

Waiter! More Salt!

There just aren't grains big enough for these email updates coming from gubernatorial campaigns*. In response to the Kelley campaign's delegate update, the Lourey campaign has no released their version of the numbers. Surprisingly, the two campaigns generally agree on one thing - Mike Hatch's support. Not much else to be had in common, however. Senator Lourey's campaign naturally lists her with approximately a 10% advantage over Senator Kelley in committed delegates (25% - 14%), with a similarly large number of unknown and undecideds. As we have all known from day one, the truth will ultimately be revealed on June 10th. Hence why I handed over a large grain of salt in my previous post on the issue.

What gets me about this email message, however, is not the delegate count. That's just politics. I can live with that. This, however, I take issue with:

Why We Know the Kelley Campaign Numbers are Inaccurate.
It is obvious to most observers that the Kelley campaign is presenting their numbers to put their candidate in the best light in order to try to build momentum entering the convention. In their carefully worded email, the Kelley campaign qualifies its count by saying "We are including in our 'committed delegates' count only those people who have been elected in a named sub-caucus, or who have expressed publicly their support for a particular candidate." Even a casual observer knows that this methodology will provide results that do not reliably compare campaigns.

Those of us who have been working on statewide races and have lived through a number of senate, county unit and state conventions can recognize the inexperience of the Kelley campaign staffers who do not have similar experience in counting delegates.

You could just let it go. You could just chalk it up to politics, maybe even "take the high road" and let the Kelley campaign publish whatever they wanted to - after all, it's just posturing, right? But no. You take the opportunity to disrespect the commitment of his staffers to doing their job the right way? Are you kidding me? Talk about the candidate all you want. His policies, his positions, his experience, his education, whatever. That, as I said above, is just politics. He's a big boy, he can handle it.

But this "holier-than-thou" routine, along with the perfectly executed straw man technique (even a casual observer knows....really let the sarcasm drip when you say it), this is bogus! Who cares about the damned numbers anymore - this is a personal attack against people who are busting their asses day in and day out. Poor us, the Kelley people are being so negative, but just remember that we still have more experience and they're a bunch of amateur hacks. Can't you respect that these people are working themselves to the bone for something and someone they believe in? Spending time away from husbands and wives and children? They're Democrats too, ya know.

You do know we're all Democrats, right? Have a heart, guys. Northern Debater has a post up on this already, and I'm sure that both campaigns do come out of this looking petty. But if I can't stand up for my friends, who can I stand up for?

*Disclaimer: Oh, forget it. It's not worth it anymore.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

Wednesday Late Post

So it's a late night. Big deal. While you're way up here at the top of the page, go check out my recent interview with Keith Ellison, it's worth a read. Anyway: I gots me a copy of the SD43 Convention Resolutions. The Republican resolutions. I have to be totally honest - some of this stuff I can agree with, or at least see discussing on a constructive basis. Some is total wingnuttery, however.

1. Now, therefore, be it resolved that Minnesota health care providers use only mercury-free vaccines when available, and that if a vaccine containing more than a trace aount of mercury must be given, that informed consent be obtained prior to giving the vaccine.

Reasonable enough, I suppose. Mercury is bad, informed consent with vaccines is good.

4. Therefore, be it resolved that we oppose establishing universal pre-school programs in the state of Minnesota.

I'm sure there's reasoning behind this one, but I can only hope it goes beyond "but that will cost so much money to send our kids to preschool!"

7. Be it resolved that the president of the United States be given the power of a line-item veto.

I'm not sure if I remember correctly, but I seem to remember the President (Clinton) having and using the line-item veto, and it being struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Just a thought, guys.

9. Revamping our social security system to ensure equity for future generations.

Sigh..."revamp" is the new "privatize," I suppose. Want to improve Social Security? Take a look at the SS retirement age. People are living longer, folks. Raise the Social Security-related retirement age, you start saving money. It can be indexed by current life expectancy even. Argue, argue, argue.

10. Be it resolved that we commend and applaud Judy Johnson for her hard work.

(clap, clap, clap)

11. Be it resolved that we urge Congress to oppose all human cloning, whether reproductive or therapeutic.

And human chimerae too, right? If behind this resolution lurks a thought of outlawing stem cell research...good luck taking that to an electorate worried about cancer rates, about Parkinson's Disease, ALS, Hodgkins Lymphoma, and Alzheimer's Disease.

12. Be it resolved that we support the President's continued commitment to achieve democracy in Iraq.

It's difficult not to be snarky on this one, but ..... does 33% mean anything? What price are you really willing to pay for a country that ***news flash*** had zero to do with 9/11? You didn't care about Iraqi democracy before March 2003, you have no good reason to care now. Other than politics. But I digress.

13. Be it resolved that we stand opposed to the MN Supreme Court decision, Doe v Gomez, which established an absolute right to abortionfor any reason in the MN constitution.

Get your constitutional law correct, guys. Supreme Court decisions at the state or federal level do not establish rights IN the Constitution, they establish rights as protected UNDER the constitution. It's an important distinction, especially with such reactionary justices as Antonin Scalia proclaiming no right to privacy "in the Constitution."

15. Therefore, be it resolved that we oppose state and federal support of International Baccalaureate (IB) and the adoption of IB by local school districts.

The person who provided me with these resolutions informed me that IB, the widely-renowned advanced high school education program, was referred to as "commie" at the SD43 GOP convention. Whatever, too many more to get to before I'm done. This next one's good, anyway.

17. Therefore, be it resolved that the Republicay Party supports and encourages school districts and teachers to include original sources showing the important role of religion in our Nation's founding while teaching history.

First science, now history, huh? At least in history you have a somewhat valid case, since it's a social science and not physical. However, are they talking about *Christian* religion? What about Judaism (early Jewish settlers in Rhode Island, for example)? Islam in America? It's really another post altogether, but the SD43 GOP is running itself into a philosophical corner here - they want everyone to know that the US was founded by Christians, when really they were a bunch of Masons who cared little for the trappings of their Puritan upbringings and were really concerned with preventing the tyranny of the majority, whether political or religions. But as I said, that's another post.

23. [Paraphrase the Bachmann Amendment].

....No use beating a dead horse.

24. Be it resolved that the Minnesota Legislature pass legislation to prohibit the promotion of the acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgenderism when they are discussed in Minnesota public schools.

It's not about accepting homosexuality itself, you twits, it's about accepting people. As equals. As brothers, and sisters, and sons and daughters, because they're humans. And Americans, in case that slipped your mind.

26. Be it resolved that the Minnesota legislature pass legislation protecting property rights of families and individuals from inappropriate government taking through eminent domain when the property taken is transferred to private parties rather than used for a public use.

On its face, I agree with this one, but then I did some research. Read up on Kelo vs. New London for more information on eminent domain issues. The majority opinion determined that since the ED claim was not of primary benefit to the private developer, it was permissible since the city showed a strong probability of positive benefit in community development and tax revenue. Interesting stuff.

28. Making English the official language of the state of MN and the USA.

Keep all 'dem forners out too!

29. Submit to the people of Minnesota to establish term limits for all elected officials.

Good luck getting that one past a legislature filled with, ya know...elected officials.

30. Therefore be it resolved that the Republican Party supports increased state investments to expand the number of Minnesota children who are ready for Kindergarten through legislation that supports parents, improves the quality of early care and education programs, increases access to high quality experiences for all children and coordinates the efforts of parents and programs.

And you pay for these improvements....how? Since we've already established that tax increases are anathema to your political thoughts.

Now, as I end this surprisingly long post, a caveat - SD43 DFL had some pretty silly resolutions on the ballot too. I didn't vote for the silly ones, and I hoped that not many did. I would really be interested in seeing what kind of support each of these I've mentioned received at the convention - perhaps Matt Abe or someone from the SD43 GOP would be willing to comment. It is also worth noting at this time that there are a couple that I could at least envision debating on the merits....but some of these really make me remember why I'm a Democrat.

 

Interview with Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison moved to Minnesota in 1987 from Detroit, attended the UMN Law School, and made his way as a lawyer until running for and being elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2002. We spoke over the phone today; while dueling with the T-Mobile-filtered sounds of the Capitol, I asked him some questions about his experiences in the Legislature, his campaign for Congress, and what he'll do if sent there by the voters of the Fifth Congressional District.

----------------------------

MNCR: What do you consider your most important accomplishments in the State House?

K. Ellison: I was elected in 2002, and since then I've passed five bills, and I have several more pending now - I know how to get legislation passed. I've stood up against fear-mongering tactics - the anti-marriage amendment, anti-immigration measures, and I think I've done a good job of projecting progressive values in the House.

MNCR: And what are the major issues for you in this campaign?

K. Ellison: The major issue is Peace First. We must retool our relationship with other countries on a basis of peace and cooperation, not militarism. Beyond that, economic justice is a big issue. We've seen executive pay rise steadily, middle-income wages stay flat, and poverty increase. Universal health care is a must - Americans already pay for it, we just don't get it. We must push for universal health coverage. We also need to incentivize renewable energy initiatives to make them economically feasible.

MNCR: I notice that you've used the frame "economic justice" to describe efforts to level the income chasm that currently exists between the rich and the lower classes - this sounds like an opposing frame to the well-worn Republican line of "tax relief" and describing taxes as a "burden." If elected to Congress, will you try to work mainly to advance a party-line agenda, or will you try to work across the aisle to accomplish legislation that works?

K. Ellison: I think you have to do both. Again, I've authored and passed five bills since 2002 - I've had to reach across the aisle to get those done. At the same time, I think I've spoken in a bold way for strong progressive values.

MNCR: What was your first reaction when you heard that Martin Sabo was retiring from Congress?

K. Ellison: My first thought was - is he going to be okay? Once that was assured, I started thinking that we need someone to speak out strongly against the current Administration, and I determined that I can do that.

MNCR: Have you decided whether or not to abide by the DFL endorsement?

K. Ellison: I will abide by the endorsement. If there's no endorsement, I will run [in the primary], but I think I can get the endorsement. People are listening to my message, and responding very positively. If there's an endorsement and I don't get it, I'll return to the Minnesota House and continue fighting for progressive values.

MNCR: Money question: In such a crowded race, how do you appeal to donors?

K. Ellison: I'm making the same argument to donors as I am to delegates: step forward and do your duty for your values and your country.

MNCR: Offbeat time! Who/what is your favorite...
Baseball player: Hank Aaron
Ice cream flavor: Vanilla
National Political Figure: Historically, Martin Luther King. Currently, Jim Hightower.
Local Political Figure: Paul Wellstone was just a tremendous individual.
Blogs: You know, I haven't been able to get into the blogs as much as I'd like to; my schedule hasn't permitted it, but I really would like to.

MNCR: I know the feeling of a cramped schedule. Any closing thoughts, and then I'll let you get back to work?

K. Ellison: I'd just like to leave readers with this thought - our country can be better than it is. We can relate to other countries on a basis of peace and cooperation. We can build a universal health care system. We can have a sustainable environmental policy, and we can build economic justice. If we believe it, we can do it.

-----------------------

As a busy State Representative and a congressional candidate, Mr. Ellison gets a mulligan on not keeping up with the blogosphere. If you're around tonight, go to the 331 Club for Drinking Liberally tonight, where you can meet Rep. Ellison and several other candidates for CD5.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

 

With a Rather Large Grain of Salt

I fully admit this: I'm reluctant to post this information. Given the flaring tempers and heated opinions on the DFL gubernatorial race, as well as my role in these tussles...it gave me pause when I received an email update from the Kelley Campaign containing delegate numbers.

So here's the disclaimer: Before you read any further, take these numbers as you would from the campaign itself - with a grain of salt. Accept their rationale for these numbers as well for what it is - the result of a great deal of hard work being done by human beings who care about what they're doing. Call it shilling for my former boss if you want, but hey, you get the same email updates I get, right? Has there been anything interesting lately? Commenters...start your flamethrowers!

Per the Kelley Campaign's current numbers:
Mike Hatch: 333
Steve Kelley: 280.5
Becky Lourey: 187
Uncommitted/Undecided: 555

I've removed the campaign's percentages based on these numbers because they appear to be using the wrong denominator. It's possible they've contacted about 1145 of the delegates, and that's what the percentages are based on. Their numbers are still their numbers, however. The campaign's rationale for trusting these numbers:
Why Trust Our Numbers? It’s true--there are many numbers flying around and different campaigns seem to have different interpretations. It is also true that nothing is for sure until that first ballot at the state convention. And there is always room for human error.

We feel confident, however, that our count reflects the reality among delegates. We have been conservative about our numbers. We are including in our “committed delegates” count only those people who have been elected in a named sub-caucus, or who have expressed publicly their support for a particular candidate.
--Kelley Campaign Newsletter
The message goes on to provide some anecdotal evidence of inaccuracies elsewhere, but in the interests of fairness to other campaigns, you'll have to just sign up for the Kelley Campaign's newsletter if you want to read those.

Some thoughts on these numbers:
  • If they're anywhere near accurate, the Convention will be interesting. They're not wildly unrealistic, in any case: all three candidates have bases of support among delegates and will try to build from them into the undecideds
  • Speaking of undecideds - where they go, so does the endorsement. Whoever does the best job of at least getting them to lean one way or the other will have a great chance in June. I like that the campaign is confortable enough with its delegate outreach to admit that a lot of delegates will most likely arrive in Rochester on June 9th still decidedly undecided.
So there you have it! Thoughts? Anyone? I can't imagine an evening with crickets on this one.

 

When in Doubt about Site Traffic...

...Link to MDE. It improves your Google Analytics reports, especially when Mr. Brodkorb responds directly. Trust me. While you're here though, check out my recent work on the 2004 House DFL campaign fundraising numbers. I found some interesting stuff. You could scroll down too, but clicking is fun. Anyway!....MDE.

At Mr. Brodkorb's site, you can view in all its tactical glory the strategy undertaken by the MN GOP to execute a hatchet job against Sue Jeffers. I can't say I didn't see this coming - as soon as a candidate, any candidate decided to challenge Mr. Pawlenty on his promises (broken or otherwise) to his reactionary right-wing base, out come the hatchets to whack Ms. Jeffers, her political donation history, her campaign manager, her business choices (Sam Adams or Pabst? Sam is from Massachusetts, ya know, those damned libruls out there don't deserve to drink beer, let alone make it), anything. Maybe her dog has some skeletons buried out in the yard that can used against Ms. Jeffers.

I said it before: I don't support Sue Jeffers the candidate or Sue Jeffers the ideologue. But the hypocrisy on the part of the Republican Party here can be cut with a knife. The DFL is not facing a Party of Conservative Ideas - we're facing a Party of Our Way or Get Attacked By Ravenous Dogs in the Media Every Day Until You Drop Out or Cry on TV. That's not right for Minnesota politics, it's not right for American politics. Honest debate within and between party organizations about issues, candidates, their positions, their styles, the whole package, is what made us Americans in the first place. Suppressing that debate is no better than the regimes our President Bush seeks to supplant in the Middle East. Shame the President's minions keep forgetting that.

On a more practical (and less prose-filled) topic, I'll be speaking with Keith Ellison, candidate for CD5, today over lunch. Check back later today or tonight for the transcript of our interview.

Monday, April 24, 2006

 

House Fundraising Trends

This one took a while. Inspired by Polinaut's recent post on the cost of votes and in-state campaign fundraising, I decided to go ahead and grab what data I could from the cited website, and put together some numbers.

In 2004, all 134 State Representatives were up for re-election. The results are well-known by now - the MN GOP hemorrhaged seats, coming very close to losing their rock-solid majority with a final count of 68-66 in favor of the GOP.

In light of the DFL's gains in the State House, here are the fundraising totals for winning DFL candidates and their opponents. If you're counting, you'll notice that some are missing - these represent the four DFL reps that ran unopposed. The opponent numbers represent their leading Republican opposition in the general, as only seven Independent or Green candidates raised more than $10,000.

DFL Winning Candidate Amount Raised Opponent Raised DFL $ as % of GOP $
DORN, JOHN - 023B $14,249 $30,348 47%
POPPE, JEANNE - 027B $24,734 $46,764 53%
LIEDER, BERNIE L - 001B $29,677 $54,834 54%
LIEBLING, TINA - 030A $38,762 $58,766 66%
HORTMAN, MELISSA - 047B $34,830 $49,064 71%
KOENEN, LYLE - 020B $28,726 $38,267 75%
JUHNKE, AL - 013B $27,375 $35,449 77%
FRITZ, PATTI - 026B $42,807 $55,420 77%
SIMON, STEVE - 044A $84,162 $90,843 93%
MOE, FRANK - 004A $41,510 $42,447 98%
HUNTLEY, THOMAS - 007A $26,753 $26,327 102%
RUUD, MARIA - 042A $37,050 $35,254 105%
SCALZE, BEV - 054B $38,530 $36,482 106%
JOHNSON, RUTH - 023A $39,041 $36,900 106%
SAILER, BRITA - 002B $37,608 $35,272 107%
HOSCH, LARRY - 014B $33,191 $30,920 107%
HILTY, BILL - 008A $18,613 $17,225 108%
HANSEN, RICK - 039A $34,868 $32,010 109%
PETERSON, SANDRA - 045A $55,531 $44,822 124%
WELTI, ANDY - 030B $36,405 $27,108 134%
GREILING, MINDY - 054A $34,546 $25,706 134%
LILLIE, LEON M - 055A $33,481 $23,666 141%
WAGENIUS, JEAN - 062B $19,268 $12,855 150%
JOHNSON, SHELDON - 067B $23,129 $14,964 155%
OPATZ, JOE - 015B $20,172 $12,838 157%
SLAWIK, NORA - 055B $39,915 $23,973 166%
HILSTROM, DEBRA - 046B $27,621 $15,774 175%
LARSON, DAN - 063B $32,520 $18,077 180%
EKEN, KENT - 002A $37,520 $20,409 184%
SOLBERG, LOREN A - 003B $31,951 $17,275 185%
PELOWSKI JR, GENE - 031A $32,315 $16,144 200%
CARLSON, LYNDON R - 045B $39,870 $19,786 202%
THISSEN, PAUL - 063A $45,063 $22,131 204%
MURPHY, MARY - 006B $22,142 $10,603 209%
PETERSON, AARON - 020A $45,452 $21,610 210%
MARQUART, PAUL - 009B $28,845 $12,295 235%
DITTRICH, DENISE R - 047A $99,360 $42,212 235%
OTREMBA, MARY ELLEN - 011B $31,476 $13,090 240%
MARIANI, CARLOS - 065B $16,724 $6,928 241%
LATZ, RON - 044B $38,364 $14,754 260%
HAUSMAN, ALICE - 066B $26,220 $9,998 262%
GOODWIN, BARB - 050A $33,001 $12,204 270%
BERNARDY, CONNIE - 051B $57,354 $18,935 303%
ELLISON, KEITH - 058B $20,646 $6,592 313%
PAYMAR, MICHAEL - 064B $27,782 $8,534 326%
SERTICH, ANTHONY (TONY) - 005B $27,475 $8,233 334%
ENTENZA, MATT - 064A $34,049 $9,822 347%
LENCZEWSKI, ANN - 040B $45,471 $12,947 351%
RUKAVINA, TOM - 005A $41,091 $11,213 366%
DILL, DAVID - 006A $60,760 $15,886 382%
MAHONEY, TIM - 067A $28,507 $6,572 434%
SIEBEN, KATIE - 057A $43,935 $9,766 450%
MULLERY, JOE - 058A $32,304 $6,795 475%
HORNSTEIN, FRANK - 060B $43,909 $8,205 535%
NELSON, MIKE - 046A $31,936 $5,625 568%
ATKINS, JOE - 039B $83,508 $13,781 606%
LESCH, JOHN - 066A $26,913 $3,994 674%
LOEFFLER, DIANE - 059A $31,716 $2,210 1435%
KAHN, PHYLLIS - 059B $24,852 $1,200 2071%
THAO, CY - 065A $13,739 $425 3233%
CLARK, KAREN - 061A $30,417 $425 7157%
KELLIHER, MARGARET ANDERSON - 060A $43,480 $426 10207%

Note the position of the fourteen bolded names - those of the "New DFLers", those who contributed to the DFL's tremendous gain in the state's lower legislative chamber. Their position at the top of this list denotes the competitive nature of their fundraising efforts in 2004 - as a percentage of their GOP opponents' fundraising efforts, these Representatives (and current incumbents) are most likely to face competitive efforts from the GOP in 2006, looking to exploit the combination of non-presidential-year low turnout and a competitive fundraising environment.

One obvious counter to this is the result of each of these candidates' elections - even if they were outraised by their GOP counterpart, the DFL candidate got more bang for the buck. Fundraising is not everything - much depends on the personality, style, and political acumen of the candidate/Representative. But off-cycle elections are funny creatures. The current split in the House is not the DFL's high-water mark - the way I look at it, if the DFL has a Senator in a district, there should be little reason why it can't have at least one State Rep there as well, especially in the increasingly blue West Metro. Supporting each of these fourteen first-time incumbents and pushing competitive candidates like Will Morgan, Shelley Madore, John Benson, Jeremy Kalin, and others over the top could bring a DFL legislature to bear on the real issues facing Minnesota today.

 

News Flash: GOP is not the Borg

I was trying to find a good way to simulate a "not equal to" sign in the title, but "is not" works just as well. Anyway, give this Strib article from Saturday a look-see. Basically, the idea is that Sue Jeffers, who has been running for Governor as a Libertarian, now wishes to seek the Republican endorsement against the incumbent, Tim Pawlenty. Ron Carey refuses her access to the party's state delegate list. In case you just can't make yourself click away from the brutally poignant prose....
Jeffers acknowledges that few people think she has even a remote chance of knocking off an incumbent governor at his own party's convention in June. But she says she speaks for many fiscal conservatives who are unhappy with Pawlenty's compromises and reversals on a host of issues.

"Let's slap him up a bit, at the very least," Jeffers said.

But Republican Party chairman Ron Carey noted that until recently Jeffers was running as a Libertarian Party candidate and has its endorsement. The state convention "is reserved for Republicans and Republican candidates," Carey said. "We can monitor who we want there."

Carey said the party's executive committee will not provide Jeffers with the lists of some 1,500 recently elected state convention delegates, an essential tool for organizing an endorsement campaign.
By no means am I even venturing close to supporting Sue Jeffers' candidacy in and of itself. I agree with close to zero of her economic ideas, and I've seen little from her press releases other than "I'm the only fiscal conservative in the race - LOW TAXES ARE GOOD. *ROAR* " I think her presence as a political force is good for the DFL, as it forces Mr. Pawlenty to serve the wishes of his far-right activist base, a fact aluded to in the article. From a purely political standpoint, I feel bad for Mr. Carey (!) - he's in a difficult position, and his job description includes statements about supporting incumbent Republicans, including the state's chief executive. I'm not exactly complaining about news that the Republican Party is not a monolith of political opinion any more than a Republican blogger would complain about a report depicting the DFL as a disorganized bunch of cats in need of herding. I've said it before and I'll say it again - political stereotypes help no one.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

 

Wow. Just Wow.

Courtesy of Northstar Politics: http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/004423.php. Click there. Read it. Laugh. Read it again. Revel in Powerline's constant and unending apologist tactics and shilling for George W. Bush and his crony Congresscritters.

And besides, I had to post SOMEthing this weekend.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

Updated Site Template

I've updated my site template - for those of you using Internet Explorer, I'm well aware that the right side still looks a bit weird. I'm working on that part. If you're interested to see what it SHOULD look like, however, try Firefox - I'm confident you'll thank me, and not just for making your favorite local political blog look better. Overall, however, it's an improvement in both major browsers.

I've added a few links as well to blogs which I'm fairly sure aren't shilling for any campaigns or parties - if I'm missing anyone still, please let me know and I'll give'em a look-see.

 

Responses, Links, and Apologies

Apologies first: to the Drinking Liberally crowd. Hell AND high water showed up, in the form of transmission trouble in my car. I can't think of a better personal argument in favor of a Metro-wide rail transit system. The Wege has a brief roundup of events last night at the 331, as I'm sure others will soon.

Eva Young's comment on my last post regarding Gov. Pawlenty's opposition to the DREAM Act:
"The argument against the bill needs to be why the bill is a wrong or a bad idea - rather than it's divisive, or it's immigrant bashing - otherwise those opposing the bill will lose the argument in the battle for public opinion."
Eva, you're absolutely correct, although it seems to be a moot point as the bill was passed out of committee intact yesterday. The argument goes thusly: it is in the economic and societal interest of Minnesota to keep prospective college students, whether documented or not, as close to Minnesota as possible, so they can grow into economically productive members of the Minnesota community. Opposing this bill runs counter to the ultimate goal of improving the quality of our economy and community.

But again, it's a moot point. Props to Eva for making me actually make the positive argument rather than just digging on its opposition. However, here's one that I think Eva and I may disagree on: Spotty at The Cucking Stool makes an excellent point connecting the Hate-Gays Bachmann Amendment and the Stadium issue. As far as political figures involved in these debates go, consistency is of paramount importance. For a Senator or Representative to advocate letting voters have their say on one issue but not on the other denotes a palpable lack of consistency. Statute or not, waiver or not, there are some elected officials who have been dangerously inconsistent in their approach to these two issues, and some who have been consistent regardless of what we think on the issues themselves. It's worth noting.

Another thing very much worth noting: Blue Ox on anti-choice billboards. Worth a read and worth keeping in mind. On a related note, I saw a bumper sticker this morning with the words "Abortion: the ultimate child abuse.".......hmm. That's funny. I strongly advocate policies that seek to reduce abortions and unwanted pregnancies without restricting access to contraceptives and birth control. That being said, I've always thought of drug use and drinking while pregnant as slightly worse than abortion. Sexual assault against children and minors too. But maybe I'm just splitting hairs on this one.

Congressional District Conventions coming up! Who's got excitement ahead at theirs?

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