I attended the second mnpACT! meeting featuring the candidates for governor Friday night. The meeting featured Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner and former State Senator Steve Kelley. About 20 people attended the meeting. Susan Gaertner spoke first, followed by Steve Kelley
Two things really struck my about Susan Gaertner. First, she has an extremely hard row to hoe in order to get the DFL endorsement. Second, despite drawing comparisons to herself and Amy Klobuchar, I don’t think she has the same presence.
I was not surprised when the first question to her related to the RNC and erosion of rights. I wasn’t surprised when it came back to freedoms/the RNC after a couple questions. And I still wasn’t surprised when it ended with RNC questions/comments. If this meeting is any indication, the RNC issue is going to dog her even more than I thought. Gaertner even seemed a little annoyed by the issue. She was asked a question, began speaking, and the questioner obviously wanted to say something else, but Gaertner stopped him and asked him to let her finish. Then with barely a pause at the end of her statement she quickly said “you have a question” pointed to somebody else. She took the other question without taking the comment or counter argument she stopped a minute before.
I felt like she was a little annoyed with questions. As the questions continued, I felt like the tone of her voice changed from being confident to sounding defensive. She didn’t smile a lot. I just get the feeling that the process is going to wear her out. And I think that was emphasized in the stark contrast to Steve Kelley who spoke after her, who smiled and joked throughout the presentation.
A couple other concerns I have about Gaertner. She mentioned she would consider taxing clothing above $75. And she would consider taxing consumer services. I’m going to have to ask the other candidates going forward about that, but that seems like a huge wedge that could be the difference in a campaign against a republican candidate.
In a previous post, I ranked Susan Gaertner in the middle of the pack to become the DFL gubernatorial candidate. If I did the ranks again, I would move her to the bottom.
In those same ranking, I put Steve Kelley at the bottom of the list. I’m still not sure he can win, but I understand why so many DFLers like him. It seems like he knows practically everything. The knock that seems to stick to him is that he has Mondale-itis. Great mind, great ideas, but a serious lack of excitement.
And that might be an issue. But this was the first time I have seen Steve Kelley in person, and I liked him. I didn’t think he was boring, well other than a couple times when he was talking about things I didn’t get. The depth of his knowledge might be dull, but he was excited about it. I thought he spoke well, with a good tone, and he made a couple jokes, or quick remarks that were entertaining.
I really liked some things he said about intergenerational justice. We need to ensure we are not doing things today that will make life harder for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The only way we can do that is to decide today how we are going to treat them.
Overall, I was impressed by Steve Kelley. There is much better review of his speech than I can provide at mnpACT!. Check that out. mnpACT! will continue the series on September 11th, at 7:00 p.m. when Paul Thissen and John Marty will speak.