Category Archives: 2014 Elections

A Tale of Two Cities: The Plight of Local Politics

A tale of two cities…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was…”          -Charles Dickens

With just days until the 2014 election, Minnesota candidates were just required to submit their campaign financial data to the state to make it public record.  In my district, 58, Lakeville/Farmington and most of the rest of Southern Dakota County, the campaigns on the A and B sides are vastly different.

On the 58A side, which is most of Lakeville, Amy Willingham and Jon Koznick are competing against each other to win the open seat vacated by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg.  The two candidates are very evenly matched in donations, with Koznick edging out Willingham $41,964.77 to $41,558.29.  Together they have collected over $83,000!  That is a huge number in our area.  To put that in perspective, in 2012, Mary Liz Holberg and Colin Lee raised $26,433 collectively, and if you add in the 58th district senate race between Dave Thompson and Andrew Brobston, the total for all four candidates was $68,291.  Willingham and Koznick, have spent more than those four candidates raised in 2012.

On the other side of the district in 58B, the numbers are nowhere similar.  Incumbent Rep. Pat Garofalo has raised $13,038 this year, of course he started the year with over $52,000 in the bank, so he didn’t have to raise much, and Marla Vagts raised $7,065.  Together they raised just over $20,000, and one quarter of that was from the state public subsidy.

In summary, A side = $83,000. B side = $20,000.

It is understandable, that the A side would be higher, it is an open and contested seat, but there is another side to look at on the A side.  Both Willingham and Koznick have received over $5,000 each in individual identified donations from outside the district, and combined, have received over $10,000 from PACs and lobbyists.  In addition, together they have over $35,000 in unidentified donations, which probably increases those outside the district contributions.

Of course that is not surprising.  There are so many groups trying to influence elections, I expect it.  But that does not make it right.  Koznick and Willingham have raised more money from outside the district, than Garofalo and Vagts have raised total.  There is a fundamental problem with our election system when other people outside the district have as big of an impact on the election as the local voters – if not a bigger impact on the election.

When I hear people say government doesn’t work, well get a clue!  Where do you think it starts?  Right here, right now, on November 4th, and the 6-10 months leading up to that day.  If we want government to work, our election system needs to change to be about local voters, and local voters only!

Why it is important for you to vote in next Tuesday’s primary

Many DFLers have not been paying much attention to the primary this year, thinking this primary is more about Republicans vs. Tea Partiers, with all the fights on the right.  And while a lot of DFLers are aware of Matt Entenza’s crazy conceited challenge of our current and great State Auditor Rebecca Otto, we need to be vigilant because every one of our big ticket candidates in CD2, except Gen. Lori Swanson, has a challenger this year.

Next Tuesday, on August 12, 2014, make sure you make it a priority to get to the polls, tell candidates like Matt Entenza and others, that the DFL is an important organization.  An organization that is responsible for helping to turn Minnesota’s economic woes around.  We are an organization that has made it a priority to invest in education, care for the young, the elderly, and those who are not able to take care of themselves.  And, the DFL is not a place to make a power grab, or a place to feed your ego looking for perceived weaknesses for personal gain.

On Tuesday August 12, I will vote for every endorsed candidate, not simply because they are endorsed, but because they are far and away the best candidates, and they deserve my vote.  I hope you will vote on Tuesday too, and I hope you will encourage somebody else to vote.

Thank you Rep. Garofalo! Maybe next time Sen. Thompson…

At my office, our HR director had all the employees do the Clifton StrenthFinder project.  My top strength is “Includer.” An include is described as:

“You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person’s feelings. Why do that if you don’t have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.”

If that is true about me, is it any wonder that I believe it is horrible for government to discriminate against gay couples who are lawfully excluded from obtaining the same benefits through committing to each other that straight couples have?

That is why I am very happy today’s vote by the state Senate was a vote for equality in marriage.  Everybody who wants to marry, can be included.

A lot of people in my district were surprised when Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) voted to support the law in the state House.  I actually wasn’t.  I’ve been following Pat Garofalo for years, and I don’t believe he was against gay marriage when he voted to put the amendment on the ballot in 2012.  I just don’t think he had the political guts to stand up the way John Kriesel did.  And I called him out on that before the vote, urging him to vote what he believed, not what was good for him politically.

This time he voted for freedom, and I thank Rep. Garofalo.   And well I commend him, I am proud that the Minnesota DFL took the initiative to tackle this subject despite the impending threat by Republicans that this will divide the state like nothing since the Civil War.  That is absurd!  Anybody who follows politics today knows that topics no longer hold for more than a few months.  Where was the TEA Party in 2012?  Divisive issues holding for decades are a piece of history in politics.  People care about right now almost exclusively, and let’s face it, very few of us are going to be affected by gay marriages, other than a lot of people are going to be buying a bunch of wedding gifts soon.

This will pass and be a nonfactor in 2014.  Sure Republicans will try to use it as an issue, and I certainly hope they do, because it will carry very little weight?  I’m sure Rep. Garofalo will have a challenger, but really what’s the point?  He simply voted to let people make their own life choices without government limiting their abilities to do so.  Isn’t that what conservatives want?  That idea of letting people “make their own life choices” is why I find it funny that Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) who regularly uses the term “nanny state” to describe Minnesota laws, voted to let our Minnesota government continue to make the decision for citizens about who they can or cannot marry.  Do you agree that is hypocritical?

As Sen. Thompson and his nanny state hypocrisy embarks on a run to try and defeat Gov. Mark Dayton, I am thankful that Gov. Dayton also supports this legislation, and that two of the three people who represent me in State government said yes to this bill giving people more freedom.  Thank you Gov. Dayton and Rep. Garofalo!  Hopefully Sen. Thompson will make a better choice next time when he is forced to choose between what he says he believes, and what he believes will work best for him on the floor of the Republican State Convention.

John Kline’s support of Obama and the raising the debt ceiling leaves him with only Obamacare as an issue he can run on.

On Facebook, John Kline, well, let me check that, John Kline’s staff keeps posting about Obamacare. It is tiring, mainly because it is an issue that cannot be at all resolved by Republicans for at least two years, if not four probably. And yet, Republicans are hoping for another 2010 to save their sinking party, and the only issues they have are the debt ceiling and Obamacare.

Funny that Michael is more contitutionally knowledgeable than John Roberts apparently/
Funny that Michael is more contitutionally knowledgeable than John Roberts apparently/

As I mentioned before, the debt ceiling is their own problem for not getting work done to improve the economy, while still spending tons of money on war. Congressman Kline voted to support President Obama a few weeks ago when the President basically said about raising the debt ceiling “Congress created this debt mess, Congress ran up the national credit card debt, so it is Congress’s responsibility to pay for what they agreed to spend.” And now that John Kline agrees with that by supporting President Obama with his vote to raise the debt ceiling, he knows he can no longer run on debt issues without looking like a giant hypocrite. On a side note, he never should have been able to run on that anyway, he has been in congress since 2002, when he supported every Bush budget, every Bush budget voodoo reporting gimmick, and Republican establishment spending. If you recall, he didn’t become against earmarks until it was obvious that Democrats were going to take control of the House in 2006.

Without that golden election ticket, he and other Republicans can only deride a program that will quickly become entrenched in society, and will quickly become a safety blanket for people who want to start small businesses, but who have preexisting conditions. Or middle-aged Americans who have health issues that prevent them from continuing to work, that before would have bankrupt them. And when we realize how many people truly just need a little consistent mental health help to become productive members of society, then what are the Republicans going to argue with when a majority of the country likes it?

Of course there will always be people who hate it, doctors who hate it, and politicians who hate it, but this is a democratic (small “d”) country, not a consensus country. Remember for years Republicans wanted to dismantle Social Security and Medicare, now many of them are “defenders” (and I use that word sarcastically even if they do not) of those programs. Since Republicans can’t do anything about Obamacare, it is about time they buckle down and get some real work done that truly improves the country, instead of complaining about something that you have no ability to change in the near future.

Lori Swanson’s bucks partisan pressure of Democratic “heavyweight” and fights for Minnesota

Yesterday it was revealed that Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, attempted to pull a “do you know who I am?” move on Attorney General Lori Swanson hoping to end Swanson’s aggressive public attack on the wrongdoings of Accretive Health.

But Swanson didn’t budge. She finished it with Accretive, giving the company 90 days to get out of town, fining them 2.5 million dollars, and barring them from doing business in Minnesota for six years.

Swanson continues to prove she is an aggressive defender of the citizens of Minnesota, and an advocate for fairness and the common good. It must be really tough for those right-wingers who say Lori Swanson is more committed to the Democratic Party than to the citizens and the laws of Minnesota, when thyy see her not only ignore a Democratic political heavyweight, but also to step up the fight and accept nothing less than the death penalty for an immoral organization.

I’m not sure if Lori Swanson’s has higher political aspirations, if she does, I predict when Governor Dayton retires in 2014 or 2018, it is going to be a tough race between Lori Swanson and Paul Thissen for the DFL nomination for Governor. I like them both.