Tag Archives: Mark Ritchie

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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Progressive Picnic in the Park SD36

There are 96,000 people in what is right now Senate District 36.  And despite its recent record of being solidly Republican, more than 40% of the voters are generally reliable Democrats.  With that base, and the real political fight moving to the outer metro suburbs, it is no wonder that first Senate District 36 fundraiser in years is garnering a lot of attention. 

Senate District 36 is having a fundraising picnic on Friday, August 19, 2011 from 5:30 to 8:00 with a very low suggested donation of $5.  We will be grilling hot dogs and having a good time at Antlers Park Picnic Shelter A on the east bank of Lake Marion in Lakeville.  Besides food, the district is hosting a silent auction with items ranging from signed books by Thom Hartmann and Al Franken, to sports memorabilia and golf balls.

Today I received word that Franni Franken will be at the picnic.  Add to that Attorney General Lori Swanson who is tentatively planning on coming, and we have a couple great DFL leaders joining us.  And with hits on our website (just updated with the latest on the picnic) way up since a few great volunteers started delivering invitations, this is looking live a really positive event for the district.

We can always use more volunteers for food or to help grill, even though we have had a great response for volunteers, if you would like to volunteer.  We are planning for between 50 and 100 people attending at some point during the evening, and with the silent auction items really coming in, most recently golf balls from Tom Bakk, a Sec. of State Joan Growe mug from former Sec. of State Joan Growe, and a Mark Ritchie donation in the mail, we are looking at some really great items. 

I’m both excited about hosting this picnic, and a little nervous because I really want to have a good showing in terms of attendance.  We are planning to make this an annual event, and an event like this that campaigns can plan for with big crowds during an election summer can really bring in a lot of people.  With increased attendance comes the annual financial boost that is much needed for DFLers in the South Metro. 

If you are free on August 19th, please stop by and have a hot dog, bid on a silent auction item and say hi to me and our other guests.  If you can help monitor the auction, bring some food or grill hot dogs that would be a bonus.

We’ve got one week to go, and the weather outlook for picnic day is Sunny and 80.  It will be great!  If you are coming, shoot me an email or text in case the numbers are higher than I expect.  Thanks.

Steve Quist
Chair, Senate District 36 DFL

Amy Klobuchar vs. Slick Chris Barden 2012

The StarTribune had a short story last night that Slick Chris Barden, Lori Swanson’s opponent in the 2010 Minnesota Attorney General race is considering taking on Senator Amy Klobuchar in the 2012 Minnesota Senate race.  I say go for it.  Admittedly, Chris Barden was really nice to me at an event we both spoke at during the 2010 race, so I am biased towards him compared to other potential candidates.  The problem was the niceness was completely dishonest.  I forgot my speech, was flustered and stammered through the couple minutes I spoke.  Afterwards, he stopped schmoozing for a moment, came up to me and told me I did a good job.  I’m sure it was pity, even my wife didn’t think I did a good job.  But it was nice of him to say that, dishonest, but nice.  The problem I see in him is that he is such a stereotypical politician.  More than one person said he “oozes slime” as you watch and listen to him.  There is no doubt in my mind that he thinks very highly of himself.  Confidence is not an issue.

So I say go for it Slick Chris!  Take on Amy and give it your best shot.  Sure, Senator Klobuchar already has $2.5 million in the bank, and sure you had a tough time raising money to compete against Lori Swanson, but look at it this way, you have the experience now.  You can do the same thing.  You raised a fraction of what Lori Swanson raised, ran a statewide campaign with just over $100,000, and you only lost by 11 points.  Mark Kennedy lost by 20 points to Amy Klobuchar and he spent more than Amy, $9.5 million, not counting the special interest commercials for him that others paid for.  Experience and logic are on your side.

In fairness, according to the story Dan Severson, Mark Ritchie’s opponent in the Minnesota Secretary of State race is also mulling a run, but let’s face it, Chris Barden is a better politician.  Chris Barden ran a statewide race on a budget that wasn’t that much larger than some local state Senate races spend, and it was against one of the biggest political budgets in the state.  And he barely lost by double digits.  Severson raised tens of thousands more dollars than Barden, and Ritchie raised and spent half of what Swanson did.  I think it is clear.  Barden is the maximize here, and the future star.

Not only do I hope Slick Chris runs, I hope the GOP spends a lot of money on the race.  I want it to be competitive.  I think we all do.  If Amy is going to spend $10 million dollars, I hope Slick Chris can too, and I’m not just saying that so the GOP wastes money, honest…

It is the beginning of a new quarter.  Why wait until the urgent requests at the end of the quarter.  Click here and send Amy $5 now to ensure we have another six years of a leader with Minnesota values.

Recap of the 2010 DFL SD36 Convention

The 2010 DFL Senate District 36 Convention ran very smoothly yesterday.

Every couple of years, we get together for the convention of people who chose to be delegates from the caucus.  This year, about two-thirds of the delegates showed up to Farmington High School to participate in the convention.  I think the number was 84 at the start of the convention.

That number floated around 80 all day.  That was a smaller group than recent conventions, but it was also very manageable.  The convention went very smoothly.  Of course it helped that CD2 Chair Jeanne Thomas was the Convention Chair. 

I arrived at 8:00 to help set up, and registration officially began at 9:00.  The convention planned start time was 9:45, but people we still registering so it was not officially called to order until 10:00 am.

The meeting started with a flag ceremony, a welcome announcement, the adoption of the rules and the agenda, and reports by the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.  After that we began setting up the district leadership for the next two years.

Toby Nichols was unanimously re-elected to be Senate District 36 Chair.  Our rules dictate that gender equity be considered, so the Associate Chair should be a woman.  However, no woman was interested in the position at election time, so the associate chair remains open to be filled by the Senate District 36 Central Committee at a later date. 

Clinton Kennedy was unanimously re-elected to be Secretary and Dorothy Benson was also unanimously re-elected to continue as Treasurer.  The Affirmative Action Officer position was filled by a young man named Kevin Roberson.

After those individual positions were filled, we elected six male and six female Directors to join the executives to take the lead in helping to turn SD36 blue.  I was happy to be elected to join that group.

Finally, the last, or the expected last elections were held to appoint two men and two women to be DFL State Central Committee Delegates.  Great DFLer Charlie Thomas was re-elected to be a State Central Committee Delegate, and I was excited to be elected to join him as the other delegate.  I’ve never been to a state meeting, but I am really looking forward to it.

Throughout the day, representatives of the candidates for governor and other state officers spoke, but the only candidate for state office to show up on his or her own was Mark Ritchie.  Secretary Ritchie gave a great two or three minute speech and received a nice hand, with many of the delegates giving him a standing ovation. 

I talked to one delegate who was disappointed that none of the gubernatorial candidates came, and disappointed that a couple didn’t even have a representative give a stump speech. 

Shelley Madore and Dan Powers both spoke.   One delegate was swayed by Dan Powers’ literature, then swayed again by Shelley Madore’s speech.  Shelley gave a very good speech, with the punch line of sending John Kline back to Texas.  Dan made a good speech about what issues really resonate with CD2 residents.

The fight for the CD2 endorsement is going to be a tough fight.  People genuinely like Dan Powers.  He is a nice guy who has been getting his name out there and has been participating in almost every DFL event over the last year.  He organized parade groups and has been interacting with other campaigns to make sure all the candidates move forward together.  Shelley Madore on the other hand joined the race later, but has plenty of support in the district already.  She is such confident speaker that people listening to her think she can legitimately challenge John Kline.

The delegate I was sitting next to said that he thinks Shelley has a better chance to win than Dan does, so he is going to probably support Shelley.  I talked to somebody else who thinks Shelley seems a little arrogant, and thinks that will rub people the wrong way.  It is really hard to know.  I thought I  knew who I was going to support, but now I consider myself undecided.

After a break for lunch, we began the tedious process of discussing resolutions to forward to the State DFL.  I saw the tweet “OMG, we’re going thru all resolutions 1 by 1. Naptime. SD36”.  That wasn’t exactly true, we didn’t  go through each of them, but it was still probably pretty dull to some on the floor.  Senate District 36 caucuses passed 60 resolutions, but the District is only allowed to forward 32 resolutions.  People were allowed to pull resolutions for discussion, amendment or clarification.  Delegates pulled 11 resolutions for discussion, one for amendment and two for clarification.  Up to six people were allowed to speak on each pulled amendment for one minute, however, the process was completed within the allotted 30 minute time frame.

After resolutions, we listened to the state house candidates that the nominations committee forwarded to the body for each house district.  Colin Lee in House District 36A was endorsed and teacher and excited new candidate Sigrid Iversen was endorsed to run against Rep. Pat Garofalo in House District 36B. 

Colin is very smart and an experienced candidate.  He will do a great job.  I am excited to work with Sigrid.  She is brand new to the process, but once she gets her campaign set-up and can start raising money and getting her name out, she will be a great candidate.

Finally, we began the process of electing delegates to the Congressional District and State conventions.  The body decided to directly elect delegates rather than do walking sub-caucuses.  We elected eight men and eight women to be delegates and eight men, and I think seven women to be alternates.  That group will go to the State DFL convention in Duluth and the CD2 Convention in Chanhassen.  I was elected to be a delegate, and look forward to my first convention as a delegate.

That was it.  It was a great day in SD36, and I have a feeling that the Convention in 2012 will be even better.

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the DFL caucus

I wrote the following guide to what happens at the caucuses after writing the previous post about people being scared away from the caucuses.  I’m one of those people that like to know what is going to happen.  It makes me more comfortable.  I think there are a lot of people who stay away from the caucuses because they don’t know what is going to happen.  Here is a little how to caucus guide.  If that is you, maybe you will show up this year…

Caucus 101 – A how to guide to participate in the DFL caucus

The 2010 DFL precinct caucuses are meetings organized by the DFL to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 2010 elections.  Elections will be held for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Senator, State House of Representative and other local officials, as well as for U.S. Congressional seats.   The caucuses are also the first step in shaping the DFL platform and policy positions.

Step 1: Find out what house district and precinct you are in.
Caucuses are usually organized by precinct within senate or county districts.  The Minnesota Secretary of State website has a polling place finder, which should provide you with information about the political districts you reside in.  Follow the steps by entering your zip code, followed by your address, to find out your district information.  Besides telling you where you vote, it also tells you your congressional district, Minnesota senate district, house district and precinct, along with a few other districts.  Your precinct is often a combination of your town with the letter “P” and a number or your for smaller towns, the name of the town.  Example: Farmington P-4 is precinct 4 in Farmington.   

Step 2: Find your caucus location.
 After you know your house district and precinct, you can find out where your precinct caucus is.  Since caucuses are organized by local DFL parties, the Secretary of State is dependent on receiving the location information from local party officials.  Secretary of State  Mark Ritchie’s office is working to launch an online caucus finder, but it will not be available until late January 2010.  In the meantime, you can find your caucus location by contacting your local DFL Senate District official.  For instance Senate District 36 (SD36) is planning the caucuses in the SD36 area.  The local leaders or the website in SD36 will provide you the information for your meeting location.  

Step 3: Show up.
Once you know where to go, it is as simple as showing up.  Arrive a little early to sign in.  Registration begins at 6:30 p.m., and the caucus is convened at 7:00.  At many caucuses, multiple precincts meet in one location.  Generally, you go directly to your precinct to sign in, but people or signs should direct you.  There is generally a fair amount of literature to review.  There is always DFL party literature, and often candidate literature.  It is not uncommon for local officials or candidates to make an appearance too.

Step 4: Engage with others in your precinct as you wait to begin.
The caucus is a great place to meet neighbors who share your political view.  But caucuses also are the first step in developing resolutions to be included in the DFL platform.  Talk about ideas and engage others.  The caucus is the first step to offer a resolution on an issue important to you.  Before the close of the caucus, attendees in your precinct will vote on the issue, and if passed , will forward the resolution on to the next level of discussion.  Click here to open the resolution form.

Step 5: The caucus begins.
The caucus begins with a few introductions and a couple required announcements.  To begin the process, the caucus attendees elect a caucus chair, a secretary to record notes and tellers to count ballots.  These positions are occasionally opened up to volunteers, then consented to by the body with a vote.  Caucuses are run using parliamentary procedures to nominate and elect officials.  Do not be embarrassed to ask questions if you are unfamiliar with how to phrase something — others, including the conveners and even the chair are often in the same boat. 

Step 6: Elect precinct officers.
Caucus attendees elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct.  Each precinct elects a precinct chair and two precinct associate chairs.  Within the DFL, at least  one male and one female must be elected.  For example, if a woman is elected chair, at least one associate chair should be a man, and vice versa.  Precinct chair responsibilities can be very different from district to district.  A key responsibility is to attend local DFL committee meetings and to help organize and increase the presence of the party through voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.  Additionally, in some districts, the precinct chair is expected to raise a certain amount of money in a district. In others, it might be as simple as calling people in the precinct to remind them of a meeting or an election.  Literature describing the duties will be at your precinct location.

Step 7: Elect senate district delegates.
Each precinct has a predetermined number of delegates to elect to the county or senate district convention.  The caucus attendees will elect representatives to be delegates.  In many districts, there are often more delegate and alternate openings than there are people willing or able to attend the convention.  You don’t need to launch a massive campaign to be elected to the next level.  It is important to make sure your precinct chair checks the “delegate” box on the attendance forms to ensure you are included in the rolls for the convention.  Keep something in mind.  After the caucuses a list of the convention attendees is often acquired by candidates.  Expect calls from candidates.

Step 8: Vote in the gubernatorial straw poll.
Attendees of the caucus will be given a straw poll ballot to indicate their preference among the candidates for governor.  Cast your vote before 8:00.

Step 9: Finish up.
If there are pending resolutions, finish considering the resolutions.  The chair will announce the results of the straw poll and finish up with any announcements.

Step 10: Adjourn.
Finally, the caucus chair will ask for a motion to adjourn the caucus.
After the caucus there are tasks that need to be completed.  Cleaning up the area is the simplest duty to help with.  Reporting results and entering attendance data into the DFL database is also an important task.

Note: While many of these steps fit caucuses statewide, I did write this specifically with experience in the south metro.  Feel free to forward this or repost it.  Please credit MNDem.com if you do.