Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

On Running Mates and Opponents

Last day of May! Eleven days till the end of the State Convention AND the end of new content here! Update your links: http://www.mncampaignreport.com

In a yawner of a news piece, since accurate rumors have already been in the wild for several days, Becky Lourey will today announce Tim Baylor as her running mate. Mr. Baylor is a business leader in Minneapolis, is a former Vikings player, and is black. All of these things make sense - as a candidate from Greater Minnesota, Lourey needs to have something to appeal to Metro voters, and inroads in minority communities are important as well. Although I’m sure the campaign will say it’s solely because of Mr. Baylor’s leadership qualities and great work ethic, we cannot forget that it’s politics first, last, and always. For all candidates.

As for the Opponents bit in the post title, have a look at this MSNBC article on the US Senate Race. Especially this excerpt:

For his part, Republican Kennedy will make national security a dominant issue.

“How you win the war on terror is going to be one of the top issues” in this race, Kennedy said. “Clearly there have been mistakes made in the war on terror. And there have been corrections made. But the real question is: what is your focus? Is your focus just impeaching the president and having partisan investigations? Or is your focus on how to win the war on terror, how do we keep America safe?”

Considering how screechy Mr. Kennedy is in person, we must remember that most Minnesotans won’t see or hear him in person or on TV until the very late stages of the campaign. But this statement, whether from Kennedy’s lips or not, is a very carefully laid out set of talking points that Republicans across the Federal spectrum will use to defend themselves against a slaughter in November. My point is this - Kennedy has an uphill climb against sagging approval ratings for Congress and the President, but he is not stupid. Nor are his people, and none of them are to be underestimated. The Senate race must not be taken for granted, and the Minnesota race is nothing like that in Connecticut, to which the article draws a parallel. This is not the time or the place for an ideological purity debate. Mark Kennedy would be vastly worse for progressive ideals than either of the DFL candidates, but only one has demonstrated the ability to raise the money necessary to stare down the Republican machine. Forcing Amy Klobuchar to spend her way to the DFL nomination in September for the sake of ideological purity would be a pyrrhic victory of the worst sort.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

On the Race for Governor

This site will be going dark for new content after the DFL State Convention, June 9th-11th. Update your links: http://www.mncampaignreport.com

In a well-worn thread at MN Publius recently, Centrisity's ever-poignant Flash makes a good point in comment #25:

This thread demonstrates why the GOP wins the Governor's chair in what should be a Blue State. A bunch of bickering loyalists blindly parroting campaign rhetoric without considerng the damage it may cause their opponent should they become the eventual nominee.

You all have a great time in Rochester, I'll be in the garage . . . . drinkin'

Mmmm....beer. The cause of and solution to all the world's problems. No, the point is generally well-taken - intra-party bickering, if we allow it to taint our views of the candidates too strongly, will lead not only to us as individuals not working as hard as we can to replace Tim Pawlenty with a DFL Governor, but this dispirited lack of action could in and of itself cause that DFL candidate to fail. We must not allow single issue disagreements with any of the three gubernatorial candidates to sway us from the knowledge that any of the three would be better than Tim Pawlenty. The same goes for our candidates for US Senate. The trolls who would have you believe otherwise are just that, and are missing the big picture. I accept no fiercely negative comment on any blog or message board as credible unless its author reveals either their identity or makes clear their political loyalties via explicit disclaimer.

That being said, I am firmly of the opinion that the reason the commonly held perception of DFLers and Democrats as cats in need of herding, own-children-eaters, whatever, is merely a product of history. If the Republicans spend a few years in the political wilderness, I submit that we might see a very similar scenario to what we saw recently in the CD6 GOP convention - lies, backstabbing, manipulation, etc. To send them into the wild so Minnesota can be brought back to the national fore as a progenitor of progressive success should be a goal around which we can all pull together.


Monday, May 29, 2006

 

Happy Memorial Day

End of the month, this link won't be showing anything new, so change your bookmarks - http://www.mncampaignreport.com

As the title says, happy Memorial Day. Have a beer or three, barbecue with friends and family, do whatever it is you do to celebrate the unofficial start to summer if you can stand the heat - but whatever you do, do take a moment out of your day to remember those who, for better or worse, have given their lives for America because they were asked to do so.

I had a chance yesterday to attend a meet-and-greet with Mark Ritchie, Wendy Wilde, and Andrew Borene in an air-conditioned home in Minnetonka. Had I gotten the chance to do so, it would have been a perfect opportunity to interview Mr. Borene, who's running in a blue-trending Senate District in Edina and has a great chance to keep the DFL majority solid. I'll get to him at some point. Having permanent office space this early in the campaign means the campaign is doing very well. Mr Ritchie, the guest of honor, noted that his campaign was almost at their fundraising ceiling, and had begun raising funds for the coordinated campaign fund, an activity certain to garner good feelings from the party. Judging from his comments on the convention, it will be a very interesting time for those delegates and alternates still left on Sunday.

Ms. Wilde also had a chance to speak, and she's a candidate I did get a chance to speak with, although not one-on-one. According to Wendy, she's brought on John Wodele as a communications manager, and she's hoping that the Ventura connection will help to bring over independent-leaning voters in the 3rd. She correctly expressed exasperation that several big-time DNC donors across the country have also donated to her Republican target, Jim Ramstad. These people do need to learn that whether Mr. Ramstad is a nice guy or not (maybe, haven't met him), a moderate or not (voted 82% with President Bush last year, so I'm leaning toward not), his presence in Congress and lockstep-Republican voting record on many issues enables a right-wing extremist agenda to drive this country into the dirt.

I wonder if the Freedom Club of America has donated much to Ramstad....

One last thing about the meet-and-greet. There was a certain group at Camp Wellstone in 2005 that turned out to be pretty impressive. Check out this roster:

  • Mark Ritchie - candidate for Secretary of State
  • Tim Walz - candidate for Congress, CD1
  • Betsy Sheurer - Hopkins school board member, elected 2005
  • Andrew Borene - candidate for State Senate

and a couple of other notable-and-quotables from the political scene. Not a bad performance, I'd say, from a pretty small group.


Friday, May 26, 2006

 

Told Ya So

If you've been to http://www.mncampaignreport.com, you know that I already posted a quickie today about there not being much news. If you haven't, however - why haven't you? Of COURSE there would be news today! Dan Dorman (R), representing district 27A in the State House, has decided to retire from that role. From his announcement message:

At noon today I am going to announce that I will not seek re-election. Serving the people to District 27A for the last 8 years has been one of the best experiences for my family and me.

Two years ago, I considered not running. The 03 and 04 sessions were difficult times in St. Paul for Greater Minnesota and when the Republican Caucus went to 81 it felt like the moderate voices were no longer heard. But I decided to give it one more try. After winning relection, the Speaker of the House asked me to serve as the Chair of the Capital Investment Committee. Boy am I glad I stayed.

Serving as the Chair of the Committee I was able to leave my mark on two really good bonding bills. Bills that I think will make Minnesota a better place to live, work and play. In addition, I got to work closely with some great people. Including but not limited to the Committee Administrator LaRissa Peltola and the Committee Legislative Assistant Rory Koch.

I am not sure what the future holds, but our oldest son is finishing up 10th grade and our other son 8th grade. I know I want to be around more. It has always seemed that as one door closed another opens. So for now, I am taking a break but don’t be surprised to see me back in some fashion.

Dorman has a reputation in St. Paul of being a strong moderate voice in what he cites as an increasingly un-moderate Republican caucus. His retirement joins a litany of departing legislators, a slight majority of whom are Republicans. Courtesy of Minntelect, the DFL already has a contender lined up in Robin Brown, a teacher and horse breeder from Austin. Dorman beat his 2004 opponent 56-37 with a third-party candidate taking a small percentage, so this new open seat doesn’t immediately become a horse race until Ms. Brown does something to make it one. However, The Senate District does have two DFL incumbents, and if they’re smart they’ll work with Ms. Brown to build a unified message for the entire district. It’s yet another seat the MN-GOP is going to have to fight to defend, expending valuable resources there instead of districts already identified as battlegrounds.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

MN-05: Erlandson In

http://www.mncampaignreport.com. You know what to do.

It’s not really news, but it’s worth some more analysis - Mike Erlandson has confirmed that he will face Keith Ellison in the September primary in CD5. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see at least one or two of the other non-endorsed candidates drop at this point - Rep. Ellison will get the lion’s share of DFL loyalist votes, and if the rest are split four ways, Ellison will win walking away.

As some other folks have noted, however, I don’t think it’s altogether a terrible thing that a competitive primary take place in Minneapolis and its first ring suburbs. Congressman Sabo did announce his retirement after precinct caucuses, giving potential candidates an extremely short period of time to organize within an already-determined universe of DFL delegates. Very tough position to be in for all involved. That the Republican candidate can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn with a complete political sentence only confirms that this race should and will be decided in September, with plenty of time after that for the nominee to get on the campaign trail with other DFL candidates across the state.

All in all, CD5 represents an opportunity for the DFL to show Minnesota our quality as a political organization and as individuals. If the political sniping can be kept to a bare minimum and on a professional level, it will demonstrate that we, as Democrats, are unafraid of honest debate of the issues. It will provide a stark contrast with the endorsement-battle shenanigans conducted by a certain GOP-endorsed congressional candidate just to the north of CD5.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 

DKos Poll and a Few Words on Money

http://www.mncampaignreport.com. Change it up.

I don’t pretend that the DNC will make its decision on where to hold the 2008 Convention based on the musings of a few thousand respondents to a DailyKos poll….but as I’ve noted before, Minneapolis is a perfect place to have the 2008 DNC. And more. Anyway, check out the poll and vote for the Mini-apple!

But that’s not what this post is really about. In conjunction with my previous post on Gil Gutknecht’s latest fundraising attempt, I look a quick look at his 2004 cycle fundraising, in particular his top contributors. See that donation of ten-large by Freedom Club of America? This set off some warning bells. I don’t like organizations that include the word “Freedom” in their name; it usually means something nefarious and decidedly non-freedom-espousing. I tried Googling “Freedom Club of America” and didn’t come up with an official homepage, only references to the group as a small group of wealthy Twin Cities businessmen who have, since their inception in 1997, become heavy hitters in upper-Midwest fundraising for conservative, pro-business Republican candidates.

Here’s the group’s FEC listing. I dug a bit deeper, and found some very interesting names and very high dollar totals on their list of donors (amounts are in aggregate since 1997):

  • John Trautz, Reliance Development Co: $6000
  • John Hinderaker: $5000. You know him as AssRocket of PowerLine infamy.
  • Ron Eibensteiner: $6500. Former MN-GOP State Chair
  • William/Bill Lurton of Long Lake: $5000
  • Cliff Olson, PAC Treasurer, New Hope: $6500. Mr Olson is also the Chairman of AbelConn LLC, an aerospace technology corporation which was formed in 1997 and is listed at the same address as the Freedom Club. Not a big deal that they’re in the same place - if a donor wants to send a check to the Freedom Club, no doubt they would address it to the Treasurer, who has a day job. The 1997 part is interesting, but also not necessarily important.
  • James Bissonett, Eden Prairie: $19,000. Wow. Heavy hitter here.
  • Robert Cummins, President of Primera Technology: $28,500
  • Joan Cummins, wife of Robert Cummins: $9,000 - in matching amounts to Mr. Cummins’s donations, on the same dates.

Wow. Between the two of them, Mr. and Mrs. Cummins donated $37,500 to the Freedom Club Federal PAC between 1997 and 2006. Now, to be fair, this isn’t really a whole ton of money for political donors. But take a look where else their money went:

  • $5000 to SOUTH DAKOTA REPUBLICAN PARTY on 10/04/04
  • $2000 to GUTKNECHT FOR U.S. CONGRESS COMMITTEE on 03/26/04
  • $2000 to GUTKNECHT FOR U.S. CONGRESS COMMITTEE on 03/26/04 (Matching donations from husband and wife)
  • CUMMINS, BOB, (Zip code: 55391) $1000 to SWIFT BOAT VETS AND POW’S FOR TRUTH on 09/01/04

And that’s just in the 2004 cycle. Their names show up ALL OVER conservative fundraising lists over the past five election cycles. Just who is Robert Cummins?

So here’s the thing. This group obviously has no scruples about the candidates and character-smear groups they support. They want to win, because they’re businessmen, and they want to be allowed to do whatever the hell they want to do in order to make money. Should their companies be allowed to make a decent profit? Of course they should. Capitalism is great as long as the middle class has a chance at it. But that’s another post for another day.

The question we face now is this: should Gil Gutknecht be allowed to get away with smearing Tim Walz’s hardfought success in fundraising when Mr. Gutknecht accepts big chunks of money from people like Mr. Cummins, who do the dirty work of demolishing the institutions that made this country great so they can make more money and Mr. Gutknecht can pass himself off as a “moderate”? I leave that to you.


 

Gil Gutknecht on Gil Gutknecht

http://www.mncampaignreport.com. Update your links. That means you, Northern Debater.

We here in the blogosphere have been quivering in anticipation of the fireworks to come in Minnesota's First Congressional District between incumbent Republican Gil Gutknecht and DFL challenger (and Fighting Dem) Tim Walz. After trouncing Leigh Pomeroy in 2004, it seemed as though Mr. Gutknecht would be fairly safe in a largely rural, traditionally conservative district. That was before Tim Walz. All of a sudden, Mr. Walz started reaching across all the old political lines and impressing people across southern Minnesota, and Gil Gutknecht got downright scared. Scared of a straight-talking guy who didn't drag President Bush's failed policies around like a ball and chain, and who started raising a lot of money.

How do I know Mr. Gutknecht is scared? Well, don't take my word for it. Take Mr. Gutknecht's word for it! From a source close to the campaign, I received a copy of Mr. Gutknecht's latest fundraising letter. The full copy will be coming as soon as I get the PDF edited for publication, but here are some excerpts along with comments:

I'm writing to you today because I want to bring to your immediate attention the danger of ignoring the very real threat that the Democrats pose in 2006.

The Wall Street Journal article highlights the Democrat's chances in the 1st District by saying, "The Republican nightmare here in the First District is a burly, high-school teacher and coach who is running as a Democrat but evokes House Speaker Dennis Hastert as a younger man."

This confirms what I've been saying all along about liberal Tim Walz's candidacy...and the fact that state and national Democrats are rallying around him hoping for an upset this November.

In short, I am facing the biggest challenge by the Democrats since being elected as your Congressman in 1994.

Liberal! Hey, liberal Walz! He's a Democrat, he's liberal! Liberal liberal liberal! Some children are scared of the boogeyman in their closet, apparently Mr. Gutknecht and his Republican colleagues would rather face the boogeyman than a liberal. But reality comes back and bites us once again - words like "liberal" and "conservative" are just words. How a candidate communicates with the voters and how well each demonstrates his intestinal fortitude and values are vastly more important than the slimey labels that get thrown around over the course of the campaign.

Liberal.

Tim Walz will tap into millions of dollars of out-of-state, left-wing cash that the Democrats are raising from their friends from Hollywood to Boston.

The Democrat's left-wing agenda will result in higher taxes, more government control, higher health care costs and no solution to illegal immigration...while burdening working families with skyrocketing taxes.

The Democrats want to do away with President George W. Bush's tax cuts and raise taxes by over $2 trillion. Just imagine what it would be like it the per-child-tax-credit was completely eliminated...that's why I will work to keep President Bush's tax cuts in place - permanently.

Reality to Mr. Gutknecht - you're making numbers up. Reversing President Bush's tax cuts would increase our government's solvency after nearly six years of ballooning deficits, brought about by irresponsible Republican policies of not living up to our commitments and pushing debt on to our children and grandchildren. Your party has already spent tax money that won't be paid until I'm eligible for Social Security if your party is left in power. And that's a long time off.

Illegal immigration is a homeland security issue. While left-wingers are trying to make this a political issue by inciting mass protests, we must hold our ground and increase funding to control our borders and enforce immigration laws.

Increase funding from where? You've already said you'll try to make Bush's tax cuts permanent. Where is this money coming from, Mr. Gutknecht?

Fighting for affordable prescription drugs will continue to be an important part of my legislative agenda. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry still stands in the way of making prescription drugs more affordable by blocking key reforms.

Let me get this straight. Your party controls both houses of Congress AND the White House, and it's Big Pharma that's blocking key reforms? You're kidding, right? Please describe exactly how it is that the pharmaceutical companies are blocking reforms. Are they contributing heavily to Republican leaders in the House and Senate and bribing them to keep these reforms from seeing the light of day?

Using the threat of an upset to rally one's voting and fundraising base is nothing new in electoral politics. But this effort by Gutknecht's campaign is, frankly, a little sad. Not only does his staff appear to be grammatically disinclined (perhaps a product of the so-called No Child Left Behind educational standards), but they're simply making things up! You're facing a challenge for many reasons, Mr. Gutknecht. Foremost among them, CD1 Democrats have found a candidate who speaks to the values of all your constituents. But only slightly behind that, you've failed. The Contract with America that put you in office has failed. It's time for a new Contract with America, one that doesn't involve the Republican Party leading our country in the wrong direction as they've done since 1994.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

State Legislature Open Seat Races

My apologies to the LeftyBlogs community for this post (probably) showing up twice. Soon enough I'll get around to removing the blogSpot site and making sure all posts there link to http://www.mncampaignreport.com. So should you (hint hint).

Courtesy of Minntelect, here's a list of open seats in the State Legislature, along with a little analysis of how next year's House and Senate could look. Yes, I'm reaching for something to post. Too bad.

The following list obviously leaves out competitive races involving incumbents. However, among these seats alone, there's an opportunity for the DFL to take control of the State House and keep its solid, gay-hate-ballot-question preventing majority in the Senate. These are good things.

Senate Seats:

  • 8 Becky Lourey (D): In spite of Senator Lourey's campaign theme stating that she's beaten conservative incumbents in a conservative district, this one is probably a keeper for the DFL, especially with her son Tony running to replace her.
  • 23 John Hottinger (D): Rural/exurban district, retiring DFLer in a reddish area. Without looking at two-party registration numbers and local polls, this might be the GOP's best chance at a pickup in a truly open Senate Seat.
  • 30 Sheila Kiscaden (I): Traditionally red Rochester has recently trended toward the DFL, electing Andy Welti and Tina Liebling to the House on the SD30 side of town. Should be a hold, but depends on races higher up the ticket to keep DFL turnout high
  • 31 Bob Kierlin (R): Having not heard a whole ton about SD31, I'm reluctant to make predictions. However, unless Tim Walz pulls off a miracle in this rural district, the local candidates will have to settle for helping propel Walz into Congress.
  • 52 Michele Bachmann (R): A district that put a wingnut like Bachmann in office can be depended upon to vote Republican once again.
  • 57 Sharon Marko (D): Another likely hold for the DFL with Rep. Katie Sieben running to replace her counterpart across the Capitol.
  • 62 Wes Skoglund (D): DFL hold
  • 63 Jane Ranum (D): DFL hold

Special mention:
15 Tarryl Clark (D) and 43 Terri Bonoff (D): Both Senators were elected in special elections last year, so the vote totals in those elections are both low and not entirely useful for projections of this November. If the GOP picks up either seat, it will most be SD15. See yesterday's post on Jim Knoblach's retirement from 15A for more on that one.

House Seats:

  • 15A Jim Knoblach (R: See yesterday's post.
  • 18A Scott Newman (R)
  • 23A Ruth Johnson (D)
  • 28A Jerry Dempsey (R)
  • 29B Fran Bradley (R)
  • 33B Barb Sykora (R): Possible DFL pickup. Western Minnetonka may be one of the richer areas in the West Metro, but like Edina, many in SD33 are sick and tired of being handed money by Republican administrations when they want to contribute to the common good. Carol Eastlund lost by a hefty margin in 2004, but against a non-incumbent Republican, she could make a strong showing this year.
  • 43A Jeff Johnson (R): With Johnson preparing to battle Matt Entenza for Attorney General, Sandy Hewitt (DFL) is running against Sarah Anderson, a former Republican staffer at the Capitol. Plymouth represents the more conservative half of SD43, but coordinated campaign efforts are already underway
  • 43B Ron Abrams (R): I've talked about him before, but John Benson is coming off an extremely strong showing in 2004, and Ron Abrams is leaving for a judgeship. Suppress Republican turnout a bit, add a few hundred DFL votes, and Rep. Benson will be a reality.
  • 50A Barb Goodwin (D)
  • 50B Char Samuelson (R)
  • 51A Andy Westerberg (R)
  • 52A Ray Vandeveer (R): Vandeveer is running for Michele Bachmann's seat in the Senate. Likely Republican Hold
  • 53B Doug Meslow (R)
  • 57A Katie Seiben (D): Likely DFL hold
  • 58B Keith Ellison (D): More-than-Likely DFL hold
  • 63B Dan Larson (D): Is the GOP running a candidate?
  • 64A Matt Entenza (D): GOP wins 64A = pigs fly.

Monday, May 22, 2006

 

Knoblach Out in 15A

So it's as tired a theme as a Republican official talking about "tax relief." Still - update your links. http://www.mncampaignreport.com. Seriously. You'll regret it one of these days if you don't. Anyway, on with the post.

Via MN GOP Watch, Jim Knoblach will leave the State House after six terms representing greater St. Cloud. Upon reading this, I immediately did some quick Googling to find out who's running on the DFL ticket. I could only find definitive information on Anne Nolan, who lost in 2004 and, at last website update, was running again in 2006. Any additional information is greatly appreciated, and will be rewarded with a Snickers Bar.

In a moderate-to-conservative district, it is worth of note that Senator Clark and Rep. Haws of 15B are both DFLers. Granted they won their seats in special (read: low-turnout) elections, but Knoblach's departure represents a huge opportunity for the DFL, and puts the GOP even further on the defense. The value of a coordinated campaign between candidates for congruent districts cannot be overstated. Door-knocking and community appearances should be done together, in order to conserve resources and push hard for straight-line DFL ballots in November. The same thing is going on in SD43, and it has been yielding very positive results for the DFL's candidates for the House. Philosophically, there should be no reason why a DFLer can't be elected to fill Knoblach's chair in the House, though I would be interested to see if Señor Kirchner at The Analyst has data to amend, refute, or confirm that claim.

 

$ession is Over

As always, remember to update your links: http://www.mncampaignreport.com is live!


What does the end of session mean for the many campaigns going on right now?

In a word, money.

According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, during legislative sessions, "Candidate committees and Legislative Caucuses may not accept contributions from political committees, political funds, or lobbyists during the regular legislative session." Ostensibly this rule is in place to prevent overt and undue influence over the legislative process by nefarious forces in the lobby.

But it's not just lobbyist money that candidates are missing out on during session. If you've ever spent time near a campaign, you know how important call time is. This is the time when the candidate hunkers down in a quiet office and makes lots and lots and lots of phone calls asking for money. This personal contact is key - the potential donor gets the feeling of personal connection to the process and the candidate, and tends to be more willing to part with a large sum of money than if approached by automated fundraising efforts.

This time of year thus opens itself up to political thrusts and parries. Accusations of impropriety will almost certainly be a standard feature of the next several months, as campaigns work hard to raise the money necessary to match their strategies. As one candidate for constitutional office told me in an interview, it's not necessarily how much money you've raised at this point in the game, but how you're spending it. In races with low spending limits (i.e., everything but Governor), keeping powder dry for the stretch run will be incredibly important.

As for the race for the corner office, have a look at the spending limits published by the CFB. A lot of the controls on spending in the gubernatorial race depend on the status of the primary, but take a look at that First-Time Candidate limit. I would tend to think this is what Kelly Doran was looking at in his abortive run for Governor - being able to drown his opponents with personal money in the primary, with an advantage for being a first-timer.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

More on the Stadium and Senator Kelley

Remember to update your links! http://www.mncampaignreport.com has arrived, and this post can be found there in all its glory! Workers of the world, unite! Or something. Anyway, take a moment to head over there and register to comment - especially you, Eva, although comments here still function properly. Just makes more work for yours truly.

Eva tries to make the case that Steve Kelley is in trouble over the recent conference committee compromise on the Twins Stadium bill:

Steve Kelley is very vulnerable on this issue. The reason is, he caved to the stick it to Hennepin County stadium only tax. If he’d kept the metro tax - and kept transit in the bill, he’d have gotten something.

The Stadium bill he allowed in the conference committee also stripped the provision to exclude local units of goverment from the marginal sales tax increase - which means this raises local property taxes.

This bill is wrong - if the Twins are a statewide asset, the whole state should pay.

Before I start arguing this, let it be known that Eva and I, regardless of party loyalty, agree on many issues (especially gay rights), just not on the Stadium. I just disagree with you strongly on this one, Eva.

For one thing, I don’t think Kelley’s campaign is in trouble over this, and as I mentioned in that comment thread, neither does MnpAct. They warn that it complicates matters in the endorsement, but in a general election, it doesn’t have much effect. If, however, Becky Lourey’s supports are so vehemently against the stadium (as that survey massage tends to indicate) then it may be that Kelley’s path to the endorsement lies with picking up second-choice votes from Hatch’s delegates, and not those supporting his fellow Senator. Could be very interesting. See you in June on that one.

As for the transportation funding/referendum bit that got stripped in the conference committee - be real here. If that transit funding AND referendum requirement goes to the House for a conference committee confirmation, it fails. It’s a compromise, or nothing. He did his best, it didn’t work. Note: I wasn’t there, so technically, I suppose this paragraph can be taken as hearsay.

And lastly, the Twins as a statewide resource…I just don’t know. I know they pay state income taxes, and the case can certainly be made that they’re a statewide resource, but I think the case also can be made (reasonably) that they are not a statewide resource - what percentage of their ticket sales come from outside Hennepin County? Outside Hennepin/Ramsey? Outside the seven-county Metro? I’d be willing to be that an extremely high percentage of Twins ticket buyers live in the Metro as compared to ticket-buyers in Greater Minnesota. If this percentage is greater than the general population split, there’s at least a reasonable case to be made that the seven counties should bear the brunt of any financial burden - I’m fairly sure that was the thrust of Senator Kelley’s proposal.

With a referendum to boot too. That he compromised to get not just the Stadium bill done, but also the entire legislative session, shouldn’t be a shot against him.

But I’m biased.


Friday, May 19, 2006

 

On Ideological Purity

Remember to update your links! mncampaignreport.com is coming.

But today is a good day for a substantive piece, on a subject that really concerns me: ideological purity in politics. How often have we heard "I'd rather vote Republican than vote for a Democrat who supports (fill in the issue du jour)? How many times has the Sierra Club endorsed Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who is environment-friendly in his own work, but votes in lockstep with the Republican majority in their efforts to install federal judges who routinely hand down bitch-slaps to the environmental protection community?

More locally, we've seen this in relation to two issues - sports stadia for Democrats and abortion for Republicans. "I'd rather vote Republican than vote for a Democrat who supports stadiums"...."I'd rather stay home on election day than vote for a Republican who won't fight against those baby-killers".... sound familiar? Single issue candidates lose, folks. Single issue groups do not win elections, and single issue parties do not survive long in politics. Compare stadiums to education, to health care, to metro transit - vehement stadium opponents on the left would rather have a Republican in charge of those? Compare abortion to taxes, to national security, and yes, to education (Republicans care about it too!) - is turning an incumbent out on his or her ear over that one issue worth risking the middle of the political spectrum voting --gasp-- Democrat?

Unfortunately, I think the blogosphere does little to mitigate this problem; if anything, we tend to worsen it. In a medium that was intended to bring people together, finding our individual voices too often allows us to demand that political leaders convey each of our personal positions, damned be he who disobeys. I'm not saying we should all give up our pet issues - we should push them as hard as we're willing and able to achieve a better future. But to say you'd rather see a member of the opposite party in office solely on the basis of one issue - that's just silly, folks.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Change is Good

Short post today - I've been up to my eyeballs in real work and work on the new MNCR. It's finally ready for an alpha-phase looksee, if you're interested, but it's definitely going to change. From here on out, posts will be showing up here and there until I'm finally comfortable enough with WordPress and the remote hosting to cut over to the new site exclusively. If you have any feedback on the site theme, by all means, register to comment and let me know. It's a pre-packaged theme that I found in the WordPress codex, but i can tweak it here and there.

But that's not the point! The point of this post is this: Change is good. In several CD conventions over recent weeks, we've seen party leaders turned out on their ears for the sake of change. This is a good thing - if those who are most active within the party sense that their leadership is not doing enough to utilize the tools at their disposal, replacing those leaders provides an opportunity for fresh ideas to find their way into the political process.

Yet the Republican Party still clings desperately to that creaky old frame that Democrats are just angry and don't offer any new ideas. Here in Minnesota that's not so easy to do - ideas come out of the DFL-controlled Senate every day on how to improve the quality of life in our state. They're derided and removed from debate and vetoed by the House and the Governor, but at least they're out there. At the national level, however, this meme simply breaks down under the weight of its own pomposity. With a Republican President, Republican Senate, and Republican House, the logic of the GOP's digs at the Democrats clearly states "We may suck, but those guys over there aren't any better."

In desperate times, change can produce positive results all on its own, simply by bringing previously suppressed ideas, people, and leadership to the fore. I'm not so naive as to predict royal flush this November and a sweep of the Congressional elections, but I don't think it's a stretch to posit that, at very least, two of our four challengers have a very strong chance at picking up two seats for the Democratic House caucus. If seven or eight other states can say the same thing, we'll be in very good shape in November.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

Why Is It

Why is it that when I say something that could be construed as incendiary, I get lots of comments and my traffic goes through the roof, but when I actually ask for comments and conversation and interaction, I get crickets? Do I have to accuse Ron Carey of killing a puppy with his bare hands to get some response here?

To make a long story short, I'm in a foul mood today. GoDaddy's hosting service is being all weird and not finding PHP files. If anyone (PatMN, I'm calling you) has experience setting this stuff up, please please please email me.

[UPDATE]: Nice of GoDaddy to tell me that they do not have PHP functionality in a Windows hosting environment. I don't think this is the whole story, but I'm switching to Linux. Sigh.....the march goes on.

I was pleased, however, to see that the MN Supreme Court ruled in favor of keeping Governor Pawlenty's Health Impact Feetax in place. It means that no emergency legislation needs to be enacted to move money around, and the wording of the opinion, in which the authoring Justice as much as calls out Pawlenty on his semantic games, lends itself easily to simply calling the HIF a tax. Taxpayers' League types were probably not going to vote for the eventual DFL nominee anyway, but imagine their ire when they find out Tim Pawlenty really did push a new tax through. And a regressive one at that! The horror!

Bright days in the corner office are few and far between lately. What with trailing three (3) DFLers in the polls six months out, bad news with his anti-everything voting base...no good. For him. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but this is what happens when one makes deals with the devil.

And no, MDE frequenters, it's just a euphemism. I did not just equate David Strom or the Taxpayers' League with Satan.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 

A Thought I Had

Now that so many of us have been through three stages of political involvement - precinct caucuses, SD/CU conventions, and CD conventions - there's a common thread to them all that I don't think has gotten a lot of play around here - platform resolutions. Never one to be patient with my desire for information, perhaps we could gather some comments here indicating the resolutions which seemed to make progress at SD/CU conventions, and see if there are any commonalities we can expect to see on the platform ballot in Rochester.

So...gather away.

 

Almost There

Work continues on the new MNCR - so for a while, don't use that direct URL. If you were, which neither of you was, so it doesn't matter. WordPress is installed and ready to go, now I just have to get the domain names pointed in the right direction. The end of the week is a good target. Exciting times.

Raise your hands if you watched the season finale of Grey's Anatomy last night......How about 24? How about Bush's big address? *crickets*...... Bravo, Tony Snow. Bravo.

I got my first look at the floor plan of the convention center where the State Convention will be in June, and my reaction was a cross between "wow" and "yikes". 1300 delegates, perhaps a thousand alternates, party officials, campaign staffers...it's going to be a very crowded weekend. Hopefully the AC will work.

Monday, May 15, 2006

 

New GOP Personal Attack Site

*Begin Nasty-Gram (tm)*

For fear of giving it more press than it deserves....well, I won't link to it. The MN-GOP has unveiled a new attack site that tests the boundaries of decency, even for Ron Carey's standards. It's titled amysrecord.com, and it purports, as the GOP's MDE-lookalikes always do, to provide an unbiased account of a superior Democratic candidate's views, policies, and actions.

Cry me a river, guys. This is a candidate against whom all your memes have failed, who has outraised Mark Kennedy when you discount President Bush, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Frist, and (lest we forget the Bugman) Tom DeLay's stumping for him among the GOP's donor base. This is a candidate who has led Mark Kennedy from day ONE by a Republican-leaning, yet independent and generally accurate pollster's numbers.

Do some DFLers have issues with some of Amy Klobuchar's issue stands? Yeah, of course. No candidate is perfect. But other than changing up the site template you use for your personal attack sites, what do you hope to gain by this? My only thought is this (and it may be giving Messrs. Carey and Drake far too much credit) is that by drooling over this "hostile workplace" and "rising crime" frame, they're trying to goad the DFL and the Klobuchar campaign into saying that her work as Hennepin County Attorney doesn't have a bearing on her potential to serve as a US Senator.

That doesn't change the fact that Republican budget cuts at the national level hit the Minneapolis Police Department hard, and that the programs hardest hit by Republican budget cuts are proven to prevent crime. Instead of blaming the County Attorney for doing her job, perhaps you should try telling your Mr. Kennedy to go back to Washington and actually try advocating for the interests of Minnesota's communities. For a change.


*End Nasty-Gram (tm)*

 

More Endorsements

Congratulations to Patty Wetterling and her team on their victory in the CD6 endorsing convention - Power Liberal has blow-by-blow coverage of the entire event. Representative Democracy in action, right there. No word yet on whether El Tinklenberg plans to mount a primary challenge. As I noted before the weekend, either of them can and will beat Michele Bachmann in November if they bring CD6 Dems together now and concentrate on bringing rightfully-scared-of-Bachmann moderates into the ballot boxes on our side.

Would you look at that calendar? Twenty-four days till the state convention. For reasons of volunteer work and setup, it's a distinct possibility that I'm going to be there Thursday night and taking Friday the 9th off from work. I have some ideas about blogger-specific activities we could organize - if anyone's interested, hit up the comments or email me. They'll take some setup. And quite possibly a good deal of beer. Again, if you're going to be there and you're interested, let me know ASAP.

Next quiz question for you cats - for anyone who has remote hosting for their site, which hosting companies provide the best small-cap service/price/capacity options?

More stuff coming this afternoon if some calls get returned, keep that dial right where it is.

Friday, May 12, 2006

 

I Love Rain

Especially when I have to catch a flight out of MSP at 4:30 this afternoon. Awesome. I'll be out of town until Sunday evening, so unfortunately, I won't be able to cover the CD6 Convention this weekend. One final piece of commentary on the Wetterling vs. Tinklenberg debate, however:

I think either of them can win. El Tinklenberg has called Michele Bachmann a savvy campaigner, not to be underestimated, but her campaign skills don't outweigh her absolute wingnuttery, completely out of touch with even the conservative 6th CD and most definitely with the reality of our constitutional democracy. I think she can be boxed in easily by either Patty Wetterling or Mr. Tinklenberg, albeit from different stances, making CD6 a prime pickup candidate for Democrats.

If there's no primary. If the victor tomorrow is forced to spend money on a bruising primary battle, there won't be enough energy or money left in October to get the job done and send Bachmann back from whence she came. Unity will be an invaluable tool in this congressional race, and I hope whoever does not get the endorsement tomorrow will do the right thing and help rally the entire party around the winner.

This assumes the convention isn't completely deadlocked, of course. In that case, may God have mercy on the rear ends of CD6 delegates - hopefully the Convention site has comfortable seats in which to spend hour after hour, ballot after ballot. Hopefully it won't come to that.

One last thing - whatever happens, don't let yourself listen to a word Ron Carey says about the eventual nominee. It doesn't matter what the GOP thinks of DFLers, and he's going to excrete some press release hate either way. That goes for CD6ers as well as bloggers from the rest of the state. As I said, they're both DFLers, and either one will beat the pants off the loony who managed to get endorsed by the GOP.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

Convention? Or Committee...

Via the U-DFL blog, apparently Minneapolis is pushing hard for the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Nice site, but here's another idea. 'Scuse me while I whip this out.

Minneapolis would certainly be a better site for the DNC than the RNC. The city is overwhelmingly Democratic, and does not hold the same symbolic significance that New York held for Republicans in 2004. I would certainly approve of having the 2008 DNC here - it's a wild time for all involved, and would signify continuing Democratic commitment to the Midwest as a voting and value base. But I would also approve of it being held in Denver, pushing the oft-mentioned Western strategy of focusing Democratic campaign energies on quickly growing states like Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada. I would also approve of it being held in New Orleans, but in the aftermath of Katrina, it is clear that civic services are still not in good shape there. It would simply be difficult to put together, symbolic significance aside.

Here's another idea, however - what about the other DNC - the Democratic National Committee? Anyone who was at DL with Kos a short while ago heard him say the DNC needs to get the hell out of Washington DC and out into the rest of the country - where better than Minneapolis? In the seat of one of the safest Democratic congressional strongholds in the country, in a state whose Democratic Party's name and values include farmers' and laborers' interests - where better to cement the Party's connection to the grassroots? What better place to push back against Republican forays into traditional Democratic territory?

Shorter plane flights to most of the country, including those western states that will be so important in upcoming elections. Short drive to the Iowa caucuses in presidential years. A strong union tradition in the party community. Strong local womens' and GLBT groups. A great mix of urban, suburban, and rural interests in the local party. Tactically, it makes sense. Logistically, it makes sense. Symbolically, it makes sense. I'm not saying Minneapolis should be the permanent headquarters of the DNC; there's no reason it shouldn't rotate every few years among other cities. But if there's any place the DNC can and should move its HQ into if it does hear the netroots' siren song - Minneapolis should be right at the top of the list.

Any local DNC staffers...if you're reading...lemme know what you think.

 

MPR issues research

As Polinaut mentioned in his roundup on it, it's not completely scientific, but it's an interesting snapshot nonetheless. Courtesy of Power Liberal, yes, it appears that gay marriage and abortion really are what the far right cares about. In a presidential year I would say this chart indicates a coming tidal wave for the DFL - the issues DFL candidates are pushing up and down the ballot, at the federal level and the local, reach too far into the center for the GOP to put up a credible defense. But in a non-presidential, base-turnout election, the DFL had better be working to pick off a few moderate Republicans who vote consistently and care more about their children's education than their more-conservative brethren's vision of puritanical theocracy in America. I'm confident, but just having the right issues won't be enough. It's going to take a lot of work to turn winning issues into winning candidates.

On a more self/blog/entrepreneurial-centered note, I'm pleased to announce that you can now reach MNCR via http://www.mncampaignreport.com and http://www.mncampaignreport.net. For the time being, those urls simply point you back here, but over the next month I've decided to move away from Blogger and toward my very own remote-hosted blog site. Paid for by my very first check from Google for those awesome ads over there on the right, the new site will allow me to incorporate actual ad banner management software, selling ad space directly to political organizations and campaigns all over the state.

Don't worry though, the awesome content all three of you readers have come to expect won't be going anywhere. Any suggestions for blog software? WordPress? Typo? Bueller?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

Local Race Open Thread

Since the departure of PatMN and Mr. Populist from our company, we haven't had any true open threads for whatever commenters want. What local races (US House or below) are on your mind on this lovely hump day?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Finally!

Rasmussen polls from April have finally been published. As reported by Polinaut:

Hatch over Pawlenty 49% to 39%
Lourey over Pawlenty 43% to 40%
Kelley over Pawlenty 43% to 38%

"Some other candidate" registers between 6 and 8%.

On the Senate side, apparently Rasmussen has Klobuchar over Kennedy, 45/43, and Kennedy over Bell 44/33. In this race, I don't know that I'd trust those numbers - they're wildly different from two months ago and not much has changed since then. Given that Rasmussen's numbers in the Gubernatorial race have trended steadily upward for the DFLers, that 33% for Bell might be little more than noise.

But for Pawlenty to be trailing not one, not two, but THREE DFLers six months out...hoo boy :)


 

Only Semi-Political Today

So the fiancee and I bought a new car last night. Solid little car, 32+ mpg, and an American car to boot. 0% financing for 60 months is a very good thing - anyone able to divine the model yet?

But that's not what I really wanted to discuss, though it is certainly a very exciting event to buy our first really-new (50 miles on the odometer) car. The salesmen we dealt with were solid people, knowledgeable and not overly pushy. But they told us, while haggling with us over the final price, that the profit margin on these small cars is already so slim that it was difficult for them to give us a couple hundred dollars off. The market and her forces make for a fickle mistress indeed. It's the big gas-guzzlers that make the car companies larger profit margins, therefore they make them because that's what people buy.

Until now, when an Explorer is standing in the showroom marked at $12,000 under sticker price. Perhaps gas prices have finally begun to get to us. In any case, this isn't really a partisan issue, though it has been and will again be used as one. At the national level, Democrats have advocated gas price relief, which doesn't solve anything in the long term, and Republicans have advocated continuing to dump money into the pockets of oil companies and the Middle East cartels. At the local level, we must advocate policies that A) provide market incentives for individuals to seek fuel-efficient cars, which will in turn force car companies to innovate and lower their production costs in building these smaller cars, and B) keep more of the end-user costs in the community instead of ExxonMobil coffers.

This is not an anti-corporate screed - businesses, even large ones, have the right to do business and make a profit. But the profits being realized by Big Oil, as a partial result of enormous federal tax breaks, do nothing for the common good. Nothing. Raising the state gas tax would increase market forces pushing for more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles and keep a higher percentage of a community's gas costs in that community. It makes sense to me.

Maybe that came out more overtly political than it started. Thoughts? Hit up those comments.

Monday, May 08, 2006

 

Another Week

As candidates and campaigns lick their wounds, staffers and volunteers nurse variously-reasoned hangovers, and newly-elected party officials stare down the mountain of work facing them between now and November, we merry primates of the blogosphere are left to comment on the whole ordeal.

Dan Weinand has more on CD3. If there's anyone else from CD3 covering local races, please let me know - the West Metro is going to be an absolute dogfight this year, from the local level all the way to the top. But considering how diverse the community is - Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Brooklyn Park are quite different from Minnetonka, Plymouth, Edina are quite different from Medina, Independence, etc.... - we need as much blog coverage as humanly possible.

Some thoughts on CD5 shenanigans...I'm not sure what to think. I congratulate Keith Ellison and his team - they knew what they were doing, they got the right message out to the right people, and they emerged victorious from the endorsement fight. But as Mr. Sponge has noted over at Minvolved, it sounds like the delegates could have shown a bit more class in accepting Mike Erlandson's position in that convention. The guy did lead the party for many years, which is to say nothing of the strenuous nature of his day job during that time. He was the State Chair during the 2004 elections, during which the DFL made huge gains across the state. We all know that leaders don't necessarily get all the credit for wins and blame for losses, but they should always be accorded a share in either case. Judging by the DFL's position today, it sounds like the CD5 delegates should have accorded him at least a modicum of respect for his accomplishments, whether or not they would support him for the endorsement. Some of the things overheard there were just...wow. Not cool.

Sadly, that's politics sometimes. On both sides.

Speaking of which, it sounds as though the Patty Wetterling/El Tinklenberg debate in CD6 should be...how shall I say...heated? With the GOP's endorsement of loco-wingnut Michele Bachmann for Congress, the DFL candidate has a huge opportunity to bring in moderates who are rightfully scared of Bachmann's gay-hating and nuke-tossing policies. If the upcoming endorsement leads to unity, expect a BIG pickup opportunity in CD6.

Totally off-topic question, if you've read this far - if you can drive on either a standard or an automatic transmission, and you're looking at new cars, what do you think the long-term resale value difference will be between the two?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

 

Final Thoughts on Today

Compared to the various roundups available on the DFL CD5 and GOP CD6 Conventions......It sounds like CD3 DFL was downright tame. That being said, I found over the course of the day that I have met many excellent Minnesotans over the past six months, and some of them are even kind enough to frequent my blog. Especially the all-stars in SDs 42 and 43 - Hi Reade, Laurie, Betsy, Scott, all you folks. You rock.

Also, with the update on Shawn Towle's recent problems with Checks and Balances available over at LloydLetta, I find myself wondering if my traffic reports warrant selling ad space to the various campaigns around the state. Anyone know of a really easy-to-use and Blogger-connectable blog ad software package?

 

CD3 Convention Roundup

Sorry sorry sorry - no wireless in Hopkins High School. However, here are my notes on the day - all in all it was a successful day, well-run, interesting, and business-filled. Have a read!

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

10:00 – Crazy crazy crazy. Andrew Borene, John Benson, Wendy Wilde, several other candidates here. I’m finding that apparently, some folks here actually read my blog. Talked to some people, Kelley supporters and otherwise, who were put off by the Lourey campaign email that said their numbers were better because the Kelley campaign’s staff was inexperienced. Whatever. Long time ago, politically.

10:15 – Delegates sitting – odd space, very steep seating arrangement in this auditorium. No wireless however – you’ll just have to wait till I get home to read this. Many many candidates here already, both for general election and party officers. CD3 Chair looks like it’s going to be quite a horse race – Marge Hoffa has very strong support, lots of stickers in the crowd. Right now I’m in an alternate seat, but all things being equal, I think I’m going to get seated as a delegate. Electing delegation chairs now – more to come later

10:30 – Opening remarks and credentials report. ACK people moving. Gotta move.

10:50 – Amy Klobuchar is here and speaking. No delegate seat for me. Oh well, means I get to pay more attention to blogging. The credentials committee was an absolute mess. People are excited, I understand that, but come on – get someone who has a loud voice who can tell people LOUDLY what the deal is.

11:10 – Steve Kelley has arrived to speak. Heavy, heavy support in the Convention. Story of his grandmother coming to Minnesota – not the best story around the state, but here (read: Hopkins, Minnetonka) works well. Becky Lourey up next, then Mike Hatch apparently. Candidate caravan? Warm response for all three, waiting to see how many delegates Hatch gets on their feet. Focusing on health care experience. Speech done, about the same standing-O support as Lourey, but neither as much as Kelley. It’s his base, not surprised.

11:25 – Mark Ritchie up. Yet another statewide candidate whose stump speech has improved dramatically.

10:30 – Rebecca Otto’s turn. I’m beginning to like the idea of Otto running closely with either Ritchie or Sande, whoever the SoS candidate is – not only do they all have similar frames in their stump speeches, it simply makes sense – the Secretary of State and the State Auditor are both watchdog officers, one for public spending, the other for public elections. Unite the message, unite the state. Otto has improved dramatically over time, most especially since the St. Paul Straw Poll event. No idea what was going on there.

11:35 – Back to Convention business, although I fully expect there to be more candidate-speech interruptions. Terri Bonoff just showed up. Part of me wishes I had a digital camera with me…then again, too much electronic equipment. Dan Weinand is up at the mic proposing to amend the rules to keep questions in Q+A to pre-screened questions, no verbal questions from the audience. Amendment failed – sorry Dan. Reasonable idea, but I think people like to be able to ask off-the-cuff questions.

I’m hungry. Might be time for a snack.

11:53 – Snack obtained. Endorsement committee recommends Wendy Wilde for Congress. Jackie Stevenson now running the show from the podium. Kevin Smith’s name also nominated for endorsements. Nominations closed. Q+A. Jackie Stevenson on a t-shirt collection drive for New Orleans relief: “I’ve probably slept with more DFL candidates…” (interruption) “…because I get so many campaign t-shirts, and I use them as nightshirts.” A good chuckle from the crowd at Jackie’s expense. Gavin Sullivan’s name also placed in nomination.

12:00 – Wendy Wilde is up. I must say that her campaign has hit the ground running – in a very short period of time, they have printed lit, materials, t-shirts. Short, steep ramp, but she has people on the ground and willing to work.

12:51 – Went out to the lobby to shmooze – still doing Q+A with the Congressional candidates. Spoke with Mark Ritchie, Joe Barisonzi, some other activists – going to say hi to Christian Sande and try to sit down with Andrew Borene for a few minutes. Mr. Ritchie has come out strongly in favor of an ice cream social for candidates and bloggers based upon my off-beat question on the subject. Several activists and candidates appear to be shuttling from here to CD5 – I’ll be very interested to find an access point and see how that’s going.

1:00 – Still doing Q+A. Props to Messrs. Smith and Sullivan, but Wendy Wilde is going to run away with this endorsement. The CD Chair race should be interesting – my SD chair appears to have jumped off the proverbial fence. Just spied Dustin Trice, our DNC staffer, might try to get some comments from him too.

1:30 – Wendy Wilde endorsed. Been sitting out in the lobby with Joe Barisonzi talking shop. Apologizing for delegate number dust-ups, but also just yakking. Hi Eric, Hi Andy J

1:40 – WOAH. Just came back into the auditorium – Q+A for CD Chair, Marge Hoffa vs. Georgiana Ruzich. Questions on campaign coordination, fundraising efforts. Georgiana appears to be focusing on past experience, Marge on new ideas, new people. Next question is on bringing new people into the party. Hoffa sounds nervous, but has done work preparing potential answers. Question on north/south balance in electing party officers – a little off-beat, but it makes sense. Not quite as much as, say, CD7, but Brooklyn Park and Bloomington aren’t what I would call “close”. Ruzich for geographic balance, Hoffa for meritocratic approach. On candidate recruitment – Ruzich for formation of a farm team, making sure Dems are in place to succeed retiring legislators and officials – city councils and commissions. Hoffa: information sharing among campaigns is necessity for long-term success. Will you support unendorsed candidates? Hoffa: No. This process is important, we represent our communities, our districts. Ruzich: I’ve always been there for endorsed candidates, never worked against one. Unity is extremely important for us to win any election. We must always get behind our endorsed candidates to make sure they do well.

Judging by support on the floor, I think Marge Hoffa takes it. We’ll see what the results say.

1:52 – end of Q+A, balloting commencing for CD chair. Found a power outlet in the back, saved my butt at 7% battery power. Charging…..Charging…..Charging…..

2:00 – Report on endorsement: Wendy Wilde endorsed for CD3 with, apparently, a lot more than 60%. For such a short campaign so far, the Wilde effort is putting together quite a show. Election of non-chair officers and State Committee delegates and alternates. Lots of names. Snore. Get to the CD Chair results!

2:25 – Marge Hoffa elected CD3 DFL Chair. No word on the exact results, but it sounded pretty heavy in Hoffa’s favor. Gracious victory, thanked Ms. Ruzich for her years of service, followed by a standing ovation and quick thanks from Ruzich. Rules suspended, 19th Director position added for Ms. Ruzich. Classy all around.

Wait, are we almost done here? Wow! Out before 3 PM! I’ll get home ASAP to post this, and check out Power Liberal for CD5 updates!

Friday, May 05, 2006

 

Catch Up Tomorrow

I'll catch up with you tomorrow from the CD3 Convention :-). Good times to be had - if at all possible, Dan and I will meet up and tag team. For a bit of non-political levity, I might post an amateur review of Hamlet, which I'll be seeing tonight at the Guthrie. Can't wait to see the new one.

I've updated the site template a bit, but the updates have to do with the Comments - leave one (or more) and see how they look!

 

Continuations and Polls

I was going to put this at the bottom - but if anyone - and I mean ANYONE who reads this - has a membership to Rasmussen Reports and would be willing to share the results of their latest Senate/Governor polls for Minnesota, I would be greatly appreciative and would of course give full attribution and credit. Rasmussen's Premium Membership is expensive, but sharing is so nice. Anyway, on with the real post.

As a continuation of my previous post on party officers and how we get the best people where they need to be, here are some more thoughts. It seems apparent that we do need people who are organized, professional, and creative in positions to get the most out of our party organizations. It also seems apparent that the people most likely to volunteer for these positions do not necessarily fill those criteria, but rather are those who have the most time to give to the cause. There should be ways for us to respect the old guard's leadership and experience while still involving younger Dems with new ideas and, as it is said, verve.

Several successful corporations have used the "fast-track" approach with employees - successful young professionals are identified early in their careers, and targetted for increased responsibilities with the goal of grooming them for leadership positions down the road. I believe a similar approach can be taken in political circles - identify young, vigorously involved, creative people early on, and always keep them in mind for increased responsibilities. Give them the SD newsletter, or house party coordination, with the goal of quickly moving them into a more important position soon. If they stay put, by the time they're 30, they know the ins and outs of party organization and can really kick some tail.

Additionally, in some cases it seems obvious that the party must take on the trappings of a campaign in and of itself, but at other times is more of a social networking apparatus. Is it possible for us to codify the times at which these moda operandi should occur? My thought is this - odd years contain more social networking, volunteer opportunities not directly related to campaigns, and even (read: election) years take on a more professional, regimented effort, putting together all the connections made in the last year in an organized fashion.

This is obviously a very high-level idea, incorporating exactly zero specifics. Each BPOU will be different. But coming up with these or other ideas now will pay dividends down the road. I also owe someone a phone call about this; I'll be making that call later - you know who you are :-)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

Thoughts on Party Officers

Where da Wege finds time to type out this much eloquent right-on-the-money-ness, I don't know. I can type about 90 words per minute, if I don't have to think about what I'm typing, which certainly isn't the case when blogging.

And now to an aspect of political campaigns that doesn't get a whole lot of attention - party officers! I know what you're saying - probably something along the lines of "...huh?" But hear me out. A political party lives and dies by the strength of its grassroots organization - it could be said that the party's job is to get out the base vote on Election Day, and it's the candidate's job to reach beyond that base to the moderates and independents. Naturally this is a gross over-simplification, but without the base, it's close to impossible to win an election.

Which brings us to the skills and smarts of those in charge of the party, from the state level all the way down to precinct chairs and Senate District directors. The campaign-related idea here is that, well, these officers, at least at the SD Chair level and above, run for their positions just like any other elected official. Some even send out campaign literature - yesterday I received a campaign letter from the Treasurer and Secretary of the CD3 DFL, who are both running for reelection.

My question is this (and it's most certainly open for discussion) - how important is consistent leadership within the party organization? In the case of CD3, there's going to be a contest this weekend for CD Chair - is an infusion of new blood at the top a good thing? Why? Obviously these are the questions that delegates to the convention need to ask themselves before that ballot. But it strikes me as a systemic bias toward existing officers - the whole reason they're there is that people in the party know and trust them. In addition, those same officers tend (I would think) to control the keys to their own offices - it would be difficult to contest a race for CD Secretary, for example, if the sitting Secretary controls the delegate lists you would need to contact potential supporters.

Or perhaps this is all a mental exercise, and competitive elections are best left for DFL v. GOP battles. But I have to think that somewhere along the line, the best organizers and political minds should rise to the top of their party organization - how do we do that fairly?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

Drinking Liberally Roundup

I didn't know what to expect when I approached the 331 Club this evening. It's an unassuming building in Northeast Minneapolis, yellow on the outside, dark on the inside. I walked in, and was greeted by Markos waiting inside the door.

This should be interesting.

Markos was kind enough to sign my copy of Crashing the Gates, and asked me a few questions about the local blogosphere - namely, are we organized in any way? To be honest, I didn't know the answer - we all read each other pretty regularly, right? Does that count? But do we (left-of-center bloggers) know exactly how many unique visitors we get every week in aggregate? Do we have a mechanism for measuring our readerships' contributions to progressive campaigns? Ideas swirled. More to come.

While waiting for Markos to speak, I met, in no particular order, Flash of Centrisity, PZ Myers of Pharyngula, Rew of PowerLiberal and DFLSenate, MNObserver, Da Wege of Norwegianity, David Kirchner of The Analyst, The Cucking Stool...Eva Young of LloydLetta and Shawn Towle of Checks and Balances were also there, but I didn't get a chance to say hi. Quite the crowd. I'll have to go back at some point when turnout's not quite as heavy and there's no national blogstar in our midst.

 

Events of Note

So. I'll be at the 331 Club tonight to meet Markos from DailyKos, on tour to promote Crashing the Gate - where will you be? Say what you want about who he's supported, the things he's said and policies and activities he's espoused...but he's a bona fide superstar in the blogosphere. I know I certainly don't agree with everything he says - technocracy vs. ideological purity can be a thorny issue - but I figure since my site gets *hundreds* of hits a day, and his gets *millions* (1,000,000 times x) he gets the benefit of the doubt.

In other news, Backbone Minnesota will be quieting down, as will Trillin. This is a shame on both fronts, but I understand their reasons for doing so. Polinaut hits it on the head - one can burn out pretty quickly doing this day in and day out, obsessing over comments and Google Analytics stats, compulsively reading down one's sidebar for new posts. Smearing peanut butter.....uhm...It takes up time, to be sure. Thanks for the recent link, MDE, I'll need it since I'm sure my inbound visits coming from BBMN will be dropping off.

On that topic (MDE's link), some thoughts: yes, the gubernatorial race is contentious. It's the top of the ticket, it should be contentious. But not personal. We're Democrats; we have to rise above the bickering and infighting stereotype the GOP lays out for us to fall into. So no more making it personal - this is an offer, not a mandate. If we all work hard and fair, it can only end well for the DFL up and down the ticket.

I'm checking in with a few sources and trying to confirm some things about the status of the CD5 race, there should be another post up later today on it. Till then, adieu. See some of you tonight :-)

Monday, May 01, 2006

 

Enough Self-Reflection

Back to business. CD1 DFL endorsed Tim Walz this past weekend - congratulations to Tim and his entire campaign team. It's going to be a wild ride in southern Minnesota, and a bold, straight-talking DFLer who can rally party regulars and maybe turn a few moderate Republicans our way will have a positive effect on the statewide DFL ticket as well. This is to say nothing of providing new leadership and representation for CD1 in Washington DC. Go get'em, Tim.

Coming up this coming weekend, Congressional District conventions in CDs 3, 5, and 6. Each will be interesting for its own reasons. CD3, for its part, represents some activists with some really great ideas on improving DFL turnout, senior and young voter outreach, and other aspects of the effort in the West Metro. We'll also see if the party feels like making an endorsement of Wendy Wilde in her nascent race against Jim Ramstad.

CDs 5 and 6 should, for reasons that should be familiar to your gray matter, should be somewhat more interesting in the context of their endorsement battles. All indications from CD6 are that Patty Wetterling and El Tinklenberg are somewhat evenly matched in the delegate chase. CD5, with so many qualified candidates, is a mess - sentiments elsewhere in the blogosphere indicate that (in no particular order) Mike Erlandson, Keith Ellison, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, and Gail Dorfman are leading the way. If any candidate outside these four gets 10-15 delegates, that candidate could play an extremely important role in the endorsement battle coming.

This week should be very interesting as candidates finalize their pushes into these conventions. On a national note, have you read the transcript or seen the video of Steven Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner this weekend? Which now-unemployed White House lackey was responsible for allowing Steven Colbert anywhere NEAR a podium with a captive audience including the Press Corps, military leaders, and President Bush?

[UPDATE]: As MaryAnne has noted in the comments, I have missed the CD2 convention, which is also this weekend. However, I'm also not as familiar with recent goings-on in CD2 - Anyone (MaryAnne included) want to provide an update that I'll subsequently post?

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