Tag Archives: Kurt Zellers

2012 Senate strategy Amy Klobuchar vs. ??? and early 2014 Minnesota Senate odds Al Franken vs. ???

So where do we stand when it comes to future elections?  For statewide elections in 2012, we only have Senator Klobuchar, President Obama and the Anti-Marriage Amendment.  In congress we are not sure about Michelle Bachmann yet.  Chip Cravaack has already moved his family to New Hampshire, and everybody else is safe with the remote exception of Rep. Collin Peterson who might be challenged by Lee Byberg.  But I’m not even sure about that being close.  At the height of the 2010 Republican wave Byberg still lost by 18% to Congressman Peterson. 

In one sense, the future is predictable.  Just like I can look at the Twins minor league teams and shudder at the future possibilities of Minnesota Twins success in coming years, political parties can look at their “minor leagues” and begin planning for the future.  Obviously you cannot account for a Tim Walz or a Chip Cravaack accomplishing the unexpected, but statistically, and realistically, we can look at the current crop and make some decent predictions.
2012 Election Amy Klobuchar vs. ???

Amy Klobuchar may be the safest bet in 2012.  Dan “Doc” Severson has stepped up to challenge her.  “What’s up Doc” is best known for losing to Mark Ritchie in the 2010 Secretary of State race and making the unfounded accusation that there was widespread fraud during the Franken-Coleman race and recount the main theme of his campaign.  I guess he should also be credited for an undistinguished career in the state legislature during the 2000s where he authored five bills, two of which were constitutional “redefinition of marriage” bills.  It also sounds like some guy named Joe Arwood is going to throw his hat in the ring and Phil Krinkie, always willing to get his name in the news is dangling ideas out there that he might get in. 

Few current or future statewide political heavyweights are willing to risk what will likely be a horrible loss on this race. Actually, those three no-names may be a blessing in disguise for Republicans in 2012.  I would contend that the worst thing the Republicans can do, at least in terms of maintaining their shaky hold in the state legislature in 2012, is to have a contested race for senate.  A contested race might draw out Klobuchar supporters who might otherwise be a little apathetic about the president or other races in their district, and maybe be willing to consider staying home if Amy is safe, especially if there is a little snow or cold weather.

It is a well known that Republicans do better when turnout is low, and a low turnout strategy has been a piece of Republican election planning for over 30 years now.  (Voter ID is one step.) If Tim Pawlenty for instance were to enter the race to lose to Senator Klobuchar, you can bet that DFL faithful would turn out in droves to make sure he has no shot at doing what he did to Minnesota to the rest of the nation, and other local races would be affected by that.
2014 Senate Odds

2014 is another story.  In 2014 Senator Franken’s seat, the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Auditor are all up for election.  My hope is that everything stays status quo there.  I think Senator Franken is doing a great job, Governor Mark Dayton has done the right things and Attorney General Swanson and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are phenomenal.

But things may not remain status quo.  Governor Dayton will be 67 in 2014 and looking at the possibility of 4 more years like we just had.  Secretary of State Ritchie and Attorney General Swanson need to consider if a third term is something they want to do.

Senator Al Franken is a lock to run again, and is raising money right now.  Franken is more vulnerable than Klobuchar from a political standpoint, but many DFLers are much more passionate about Senator Franken than Senator Klobuchar.  Al Franken is somebody who will really fight for the little guy, sure he isn’t as moderate as Amy Klobuchar, but he is more passionate when it comes to issues he believes in.  I really believe Senator Franken is a Minnesota senator in the mold of Hubert Humphrey (pre-presidential aspirations) and Paul Wellstone, a passionate liberal fighter who people like because he cares, is honest and he is straightforward.

In my mind, the biggest question mark is Governor Dayton.  This year had to be really tough and stressful, and he still has another year with this current crop of legislators.  I do believe he will get a reprieve in 2013, because I think it is very possible that the House and Senate might revert back to control on the liberal side of the aisle after the 2012 elections.

On the DFL side, should Governor Dayton choose not to run, 2010 gubernatorial candidates Mayor R.T. Rybak and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen would jump to the top of the list, but so do Congressman Tim Walz and Attorney General Lori Swanson.  Either of those two could bump Rybak and Thissen, who finished second and third at the 2010 endorsement convention, out of the running.

But the GOP side for Franken’s seat and Dayton’s seat is more interesting.  On the Senate side, the big names are Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann.  While they have the name power, there a couple of Republicans with real political skills and followings: Senators Dave Thompson and Geoff Michel, and former Representative Laura Brod.  They might be the future big names.  Some others based on a speaking ability and overall presentation ability, however knowing very little about them personally, or about the skeletons in the closet, might include Representatives Keith Downey and Andrea Kieffer and Senators John Howe and Julie Rosen.  Those are prospects at least.  I know there are people like Zellers, Dean and Koch that might have aspirations, but to be a major candidate today people have to see you as a politician, looks, height, hair style, speaking ability, camera presentation and confidence all factor into the equation as much as political stance and political actions.  I don’t think everybody who has aspirations has thosedown.

This is how I see it playing out:

Early 2014 Republican Senate Candidate Endorsement Rankings vs. Senator Al Franken:

  1. Michelle Bachmann – She will be the odds on favorite in my book.  Her presidential aspirations, although serious, are not really serious.  She hasn’t stopped campaigning for Congress yet, but  should she, leaving the House opens up the door for her to campaign full time for Senate.  That said, I don’t think she can beat very many people in a statewide race.
  2. Tim Pawlenty – Tim Pawlenty has to decide if he wants to risk another losing battle with Michelle Bachman.  Then he has to decide if he wants to risk what would be another embarrassing loss, but this time to Senator Al Franken.
  3. John Kline – Not mentioned before this, John Kline is in my opinion the top Republican candidate in the state.  I think he could win anything he runs for.  He won’t run for governor, because he doesn’t really live in Minnesota, and he is very, Very, VERY safe in Congress, so he may never risk taking the chance on Senate.  Additionally, in 2014 he will be 67 and he would likely keep his House seat with very little work.  And who knows, maybe he is interested in House leadership.  Odds are not likely he runs, but he could win.

Early 2014 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Endorsement Rankings:

Without ranking them, I think the favorites are Geoff Michel, Laura Brod and Dave Thompson.  I’ve never met Geoff Michel.  Laura Brod seemed a little rude to me when I had the chance to meet her once.  I was wearing a DFLer’s t-shirt, so she knew I was a Democrat, and she along with so many Republicans seem to have an automatic dislike for Democrats without knowing them.  I was going to say hi and introduce myself, but she never made eye contact and kind of walked by with her nose in the air.  Dave Thompson is the one person here that I have had a personal conversation with, and although I really disagree with his political policies, I kind of like him.  The couple problems for him that I see are that he is a little short, and sometimes I’m not sure if he is talking to me because he is interested in a conversation, or if he feels like he needs to be polite.  He did it on the radio for years, so he may be genuinely bored by conversations with people.  I feel like he may not care, he’s just waiting to be done,
which could be a negative in campaigning. I’m not sure though, maybe it is just me or maybe he doesn’t like me and is counting the minutes until he can be done. 

If all three happened to run, I think Laura Brod would be the prohibitive favorite, I think women have an advantage with independents and moderates these days.  But since she is younger and probably has a younger family than the other two, she may decide to wait a little longer.  Plus, there is that mysterious health problem that caused her to drop out in 2010.

Between Dave Thompson and Geoff Michel, I personally think Dave Thompson has a better chance, but what do I know.  I guess it depends on who the higher ups in the Republican Party want.  Either way, there are other important seats, Attorney General and Secretary of State are both very important, and stepping stones to higher office that any of them may be interested in.

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Shifting to the Left

Anybody who has known me for a while knows that I have become more committed to the DFL Party in Minnesota, and Democrats in general over the last several years. Despite that shift, I don’t feel like my personal political views have changed. What I feel has changed is the political opposition and the attacks on my values, sense of fairness, and beliefs by Republicans. I recently told a friend that I feel like I am being pushed by the right more and more to the left. I believe that, and unfortunately, I believe it is pushed, rather than being lead by any significant changes on the left.

The dueling press conferences yesterday with Donald Trump and President Obama really highlighted that shift. I feel like the true colors that have been developed over the last 20-30 years in the hard core Republican base are really being exposed right now. I’m not talking about the goal to shrink the government, reduce the involvement of the government in business or personal life, or lower taxes. I can support all those. I am talking about a slowly simmering philosophical attack on the ideals that generations of Americans before us have worked to develop that made us the freest, strongest and greatest country on earth.

  • I see it in the ridiculous Republican support of obvious racist comments coming from a man whose main goal in life is to garner attention for himself, his regularly failing businesses and his reality show.
  • I see it in what has now become the regular Republican elected official model of meeting with constituents publically, with odd unknown rules, vetted questions, stacked crowds, prepared mob shout downs, intimidation and physical removal.
  • I see it in the belief from national and local legislators who no longer believe voting is a right and instead believe it is a privilege, returning us to an era when white, landowning men could easily vote while everybody else was forced to jump through hoops to make their voice heard politically.
  • I see it in the attacks on education, defunding inner-city public education, and dismissing the usefulness of a liberal college education, seemingly working to establish a class of people who will generationally become the uneducated, low wage, subservient workers in a service based society desired by the wealthy.
  • I see it in the elimination of worker’s rights and the busting of unions in the name of fiscal or political reasoning, absent of truth or logic.
  • I see it in the blind support that taxing business is bad, while eliminating public spending that make our community safer, healthier and more prosperous is right to provide that tax reduction.
  • And I see it in the assumption that a small business owner in Northfield with ten employees, or a small business owner in Duluth with 150 employees, is equivalent to a “small business” run by the billionaire Koch brothers. Or that a large corporation pays less tax than that Duluth business because the corporation has more lawyers, better tax accountants, subsidiaries and an ability to hide revenue in fringe benefits, transfer pricing and even bonuses.

I have no illusion that Republicans will magically become Democrats, nor would I want that. I do think it is time for moderate Republicans who believe in fiscal responsibility and individual freedom to step away from a party being publically dominated by veiled racist attitudes, socially inconsistent policy, defensive instead of forward thinking plans, and oddly self-centered religious beliefs. Either step away and join the Independence Party, or take back the Party from the deceitful leaders who are more concerned about personal gain and political power than a better state, economy and country.

Headlines:
“President Obama Is “Affirmative Action All The Way”‎
“Trump questions President’s admittance into Harvard despite graduating Magna cum Laude and heading Harvard Law Review”
“Florida woman arrested and maced for demanding Congressman answer town hall question”
“Republican Minnesota state senator refuses to meet with groups that supported his election opponent”
“House Speaker Zellers: Voting is ‘a privilege, it’s not a right’”
“Photo ID seeks to rollback voting rights”
“Minnesota House GOP K-12 funding bill unfairly targeting inner-city schools”
“MN Republicans Plan $300M Cut to Higher Education”
“GOP Bill Would Freeze Teacher Pay, Restrict Strikes”
“Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill Is NOT About the Budget”
“The USA’s disappearing middle class‎”
“Study says most corporations pay no U.S. income taxes | Reuters”
“’Small Business’ – Use Quotes, Please”
“Police Fear Budget Cuts Could Roll Back Gains in Traffic Safety”
“Families struggle after cuts for disabled”

Dayton: A responsible governor with a sensible budget. (Not sure the GOP has a plan.)

President Reagan famously said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  Boy that sure seems true today.  When Republicans are in charge, it is really scary for the average citizen.  In Wisconsin there are protests and shutdowns happening because Governor one-term, I mean Walker and his Republicans cronies think it is OK to take away worker’s rights.  (Political insight: Not sure that was the smartest or most sensible thing to do in a state with a history of being pro-labor.)

Thankfully, we have a smart and sensible governor here in Minnesota.  After 8 years (12 if you count Ventura’s term) of irresponsible leadership from the governor’s office under T-Paw, who was hell bent on proving government can’t work, only to be proven wrong by DFLers in the legislature, we finally have a leader more concerned about the future of our state than a personal political agenda.

His budget proposal proves that.  Dayton’s budget is responsible and balanced.  He is addressing the problems that have caused our reoccurring deficits, and doing it responsibly with difficult cuts that, yes, will affect vulnerable Minnesotans, but there are also tax increases for the very richest Minnesotans.  He even put responsible rules in place to end the highest taxes on the richest Minnesotans after a couple years when we are hopefully fully recovered from the mess previous governors let us get into. 

Governor Dayton is doing exactly what he said he would do by investing in education and protecting the middle class.  95% of Minnesotans will not pay an extra penny of tax, and he is not asking teachers to take a pay cut, unlike the Republicans who are not only proposing cuts to teacher’s income, but proposing to increase the profits of giant corporations by letting them pay less in taxes when we have a deficit.  You really can’t make that up…

Dayton realizes the importance of investment.  Investing in education will make our state stronger in the future.  Despite what Republican leaders are saying, investment is not a bad word, and if they plan to turn the word investment into a negative, our future is going to be even worse.  I invest in a retirement fund, a college fund for my boys, I invested in a car I thought would save me money in the long run, we invested in a home that is worth a lot more than we paid for it, I invest my time and energy into making my community a better place to grow up in.  Investments are a good thing.  Investments make the future better.   And I expect my tax dollars to go towards making the future better.  That means investing in infrastructure that will keep our state growing, investing in public education and public colleges so that Minnesota is a hotbed of innovation, invention and ideas, and I expect my tax dollars to be invested in ensuring the safety of our citizens.

Kurt Zellers and Amy Koch called Dayton’s use of “investment”  a “fancy word” for tax and spend.  Absurd!  Dayton’s budget is very reasonable.  I guess to Republicans the “worst” part about this bill is that people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars will pay more to enjoy the benefits of living in this state where they likely made hundreds of thousands.  Pat Kessler on WCCO said a family making $200,000 will pay an extra $139 in taxes under Mark Dayton’s plan.  That is $5 each bi-weekly paycheck!!!   Poor well-off Minnesotans!  How will they be able to retire?

And the smug Republicans in the legislature cry about that extra $139 like it will break our economic back.  Then at the same time the tears are pouring down they propose that a corporation’s tax be cut in half.  That makes sense.  (Read that again with extra sarcasm.)  Let’s balance the budget by taking in half the revenue!  Seriously!  Think about it, a family making $200,000 takes home roughly $150,000 after taxes to spend, INVEST, or do whatever they want.  So that family will pay an extra $139 under Mark Dayton’s plan.  A corporation with $150,000 in taxable profits would keep over $7,000 under the Republican plan.

So which is the plan that will responsibly fix our deficit?  In reality, I guess we don’t know yet because the Republicans keep proposing incremental fixes.  Only Governor Dayton was responsible enough to layout an entire plan.  Come on Republicans!  You wanted this job and have gloated over getting it.  Step up and show us your plan to fix the entire deficit.  Then listen to the people.  Do you really think they will choose more potholes, worse school, more crime and more corporate profits over the wealthiest Minnesotans paying a little more in taxes?  I think I know the answer, and 2012 is looking better and better.

Kurt Zellers vs. Margaret Anderson Kelliher

A cynical non-voter recently engaged me and told me that there really is no major difference between a Republican and a Democrat.  And in a sense, it is hard to argue with that on the national level somtimes.  But in my mind, there are huge differences on the local and state level.

Last night’s House Minority Leader election of Kurt Zellers proves there is a huge difference.  Simply by looking at the two house party leader’s websites instantly shows you straight forward differences between the newly elected Zellers and Majority Leader Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher’s website states:

“Most Minnesotans agree on the basic elements that make Minnesota strong – a thriving economy, excellent schools, health care that is affordable, safe communities and a clean environment.

Over the past two years we have made significant progress on these bread and butter issues by securing bipartisan support and cooperation. We recommitted Minnesota to quality education, made critical health care reforms, passed a nation leading renewable energy standard and provided needed property tax relief to Minnesota homeowners.”

So MAK seems to be concerned about what the average person cares about: a strong economy, healthcare, schools, and safety.  Things a lot of people, including me, consider basic rights.  And not only that, she is willing to work in a bipartisan manner and make concessions to get what we need.  That was demonstrated very clearly in the DFLers actions on the budget this session.  

On the other side of the aisle, new Minority Leader Kurt Zellers seems to have a very different agenda.  If you look at his website, you will notice he is not in the house to improve Minnesotan’s standard of life.  He does not want to make Minnesota a great place to live and raise a family.  And he certainly doesn’t want to work with others to make it a better place.  His first mission is “battling Democrats.”  So right off the bat, forget bipartisanship.  He is not in St. Paul to get things done, he is there to fight.  Seems like a pretty stark difference between the two parties right there.zellers2

Zellers is in the house to “keep your taxes from rising” and that seems to be it.  So to those cynical voters who don’t think there is a difference, think about this.  Can you seriously tell me there is no difference between a political party willing to do what it takes to make sure we are taking care of the those who cannot take care of themselves, bridges are not going to collapse, the next generation is going to have educational opportunities to make our state better, and the air we breath and water we drink will continue to be safe for generations to come?  Compared to a political party simply concerned with how much money wealthy people get to keep in their bank accounts?

There is no question, these are major, future impacting differences.  Do we follow leaders who look to a better future, or do we follow leaders looking to keep a buck in their pocket at the cost of a better future.