The race is on in the Second Congressional District. With new boundaries that are rumored to give DFLers in the new district a little more hope, three viable candidates have emerged to challenge John Kline in 2012.
At one point a few months ago, it seemed all the Democrat’s hopes in the Second Congressional District (CD2) were pinned on the redistricting map being redrawn to include at least one of a couple of state Legislators who were ready to challenge John Kline if the lines were drawn to include them. That didn’t happen. And when that didn’t happen, anxiety quickly grew in my mind about another inexperienced political novice challenging John Kline and his million dollar campaign cash balance.
But what ended up happening instead, was that a few people noticed the positive change in the District borders regarding favorability, and real known politician’s names were being mentioned. Initially, Joe Atkins was in the news as a potential candidate. I’m not sure how that rumor started, but about the time he announced he was not running I was contacted by a former legislator who asked if I would talk to a Northfield City Councilor about a potential run against Kline.
With Atkins decision, and with that conversation with a former legislator, it seemed my fears were being realized, John Kline’s political money-machine versus a first-term Northfield City Councilman, hopeless. Then, I talked to Patrick Ganey on the phone and quickly realized he was leaps and bounds ahead of where 2010 DFL endorsed candidate Dan Powers was in his early days, and he wasn’t even sure he was running. His communications skills were exceptional, and the fact that he raised money for a living didn’t hurt in my mind. I invited him down to speak at our local DFL58 meeting a couple days later.
Patrick came to the meeting, had a message already, was able to respond to questions, and impressed the meeting attendees. There was hope. We invited him to our DFL58 convention, a couple days later, and did well there too. He may be a political novice, but that certainly didn’t mean he didn’t have talent. Since Patrick became a candidate, two others have announced. But, Patrick was the first to call me as a delegate to the CD2 convention and ask for my support. He was the first to have a detailed website, and the first to have a Twitter feed @Ganey4Congress. Being the first is a huge advantage.
So I am paying attention to Patrick. The next Saturday after the DFL58 convention, I was sitting at Concordia University waiting for my son at a lacrosse goalie clinic. While I waited I started scanning Twitter for a few updates on the Eagan endorsement races when I saw a tweet from The UpTake of a video of Patrick Ganey at that Eagan DFL convention. I watched the video, and when the video was done, a video popped up from The UpTake titled “Obermueller considering a run for congress.” I was shocked, and at the same time I made kind of a single chuckle as I smiled about the video.
See, I am a Mike Obermueller fan. I have been impressed by Mike over the last few years, and was very disappointed when he lost his 2010 legislative race. When I watched that UpTake video, I was really excited. Just to be clear, I liked Dan Powers, and I thought Shelley Madore could have challenged John Kline with some money. I volunteered for Theresa Daly, figured Colleen Rowley was a good choice, and thought maybe Steve Sarvi could pry away John Kline’s iron grip on military issues, but I was never excited about any of them. That Saturday afternoon, I sat outside the Sea Foam Dome at Concordia College excited about a congressional candidate.
One of my favorite parade signs is Mike’s sign with the word puzzle images for his name. Obviously it isn’t a great sign for getting his name out there, but it is fun and different. There is little doubt that John Kline will have more money, so being fun and different is important. Rudy Boschwitz had more money, but a hard working politician who had fun and had clever marketing beat him.
I’m not saying that sign is on par with Paul Wellstone’s green bus or his great ads, but at least it is outside the normal political box. Mike is young and can win a tough race. If he works hard and things go his way, he can do the same thing Paul Wellstone did and surprise a seemingly safe incumbent.
As we approached our April meeting for DFL58, I realized I should invite the new candidates to address our group too. On very short notice, I invited Mike, and he quickly accepted. Mike came to the meeting, showed up early, ate some pizza with us, talked with members and then spoke, answered some really great questions, and I think won over some delegates.
Mike talked about his family and about growing up. He cracked a few jokes. Mike talked about the stark contrast between his pro-labor and pro-education stances, and John Kline’s anti-labor and anti-education stances. Mike presented himself as a very friendly candidate. He smiled a lot, was quick with responses and funny. He will be a very formidable candidate. He still does not have a Twitter feed, and his old 2010 website is still up.
I like Mike a lot — I might have to steal some of Mike Huckabee’s “I like Mike” buttons for Mike Obermueller’s campaign if he becomes the endorsed candidate and doesn’t do his own “I Like Mike” buttons. As I was saying, I like Mike a lot, but I am maintaining an open mind until the convention. Patrick has really impressed me, and even though he doesn’t have the political record Mike has, I think he would be a great candidate.
There is a third candidate too, Kathleen Gaylord. I don’t know Kathleen. I’ve never met her or talked to her. In fact the first interaction I had with her was my email invite to our DFL meeting last Thursday. I invited her three hours before the meeting, but I never received a response.
I knew it was short notice, so I didn’t expect her to come, but I thought it was a little odd that I didn’t receive a response at all to my invitation, even after the fact, saying something to the effect that she wished she could have come, and maybe we could set up another meeting to get to know some of the delegates. For the record, 8 of DFL58’s 13 convention delegates and 9 of the 13 alternates were at that meeting.
Of course, if it were me, I wouldn’t waste my time with a hit and miss meeting as much as I would be contacting the delegates one-by-one personally, so I’m not offended she didn’t come at all, I just thought it was weird not to respond.
Today I sent her another email. Partially out of curiosity if she would respond, partially because I have no idea who she is. I sent her an email with four questions about her campaign. She responded in about an hour, so things are looking up.
Kathleen was the first candidate with a website. It has very little content on it, but she has an extensive and impressive resume, and most importantly a donation page. She does not have a Twitter account that I could find. Mike and Kathleen need to get Twitter accounts going!
I am a huge proponent of women running, and will count the fact that a candidate is a woman as an advantage over a male candidate. I think it is a clear advantage. I think it is doubly advantageous in the anti-women political climate the Right-wing has been forging this past year. I think a female candidate might draw women who might usually consider themselves independent Republicans.
I’m sure I will get the chance to meet Kathleen in the next couple weeks. With her impressive political resume, and the other two candidates, how can it not be a good year to be a Democrat in the 2nd Congressional District?
I have asked each of the candidates if they plan to abide by the CD2 convention endorsement providing there is an endorsement. All three plan to abide by the endorsement.
I also asked each candidate if they plan to run in 2014, should they lose in 2012. Obviously a candidate thinks they are going to win, they have to, but the only candidate to run against John Kline more than once is Representative Bill Luther, whom Kline beat on his 3rd attempt in 2002. John Kline proved that you might need to run a few times to win, I just want somebody to try twice. Patrick Ganey and Mike Obermueller both said they will run a second time, Mike said he would, but plans that it will be as an incumbent. Kathleen Gaylord did not answer other than to respond that she “is in the race to win this year.”
I’m hoping for a win this year, and to support an incumbent in 2014 whoever he or she may be.