Tag Archives: Marriage Amendment

Minnesota needs to eliminate gerrymandering now to prevent what happened in Wisconsin

A majority of state governments right now are totally controlled by one party.  I think I heard 24 states are controlled by Republican Legislatures and Governors and 16 states are controlled by Democratic Governors and Legislatures, Minnesota is now one of those states.  Our country is so politically divided, that it seems the only way government works is if one party controls everything.

While Minnesota is controlled by DFLers, across the border in Wisconsin, Republicans recaptured total control.  With two states that are so similar, what is the difference? One word, gerrymandering.

In 2010, Republicans controlled everything, and drew new lines to help them win seats.  Minnesota’s lines were drawn by nonpartisan judges.  A couple weeks ago, Wisconsin voted for Barack Obama, even though a native son was on the ballot for the Republicans.  Wisconsin also elected a Democrat to the senate in Tammy Baldwin, over a former popular Republican governor.  Yet, the State House is controlled by Republicans with a 20 vote margin, and the State Senate is controlled, narrowly, but controlled by Republicans.

Gerrymandering has always been a tool to maintain power, and Wisconsin in 2012 is a prime example.  That’s why Minnesota needs to eliminate one party’s ability to gerrymander, and instead establish a fair and nonpartisan board to redraw district lines after the census every ten years.

Establishing a nonpartisan board would eliminate a lot of useless chatter, eliminate a lot of wasted time legislators should be working to make Minnesota better, and ultimately save taxpayers money.  So many Republicans used the phrase” it is just common-sense” to pass voter ID amendment.  That wasn’t common-sense, it was completely political and partisan.  If we change this procedure, neither side benefits from this, and neither side loses from this.  That is exactly what common-sense is.

Let your Minnesota legislators know that you want to take redistricting duties away from a political body and make it a nonpartisan practice.

Hello Jason Lewis?? Dirty Tactics?? Your blaming the wrong side.

How absurd is Jason Lewis?  He wrote an opinion piece for the StarTribune this weekend titled “Voter ID foes fought dirty to get a win.”  A more apropos title might be Voter ID defeated despite dirty political tactics of conservatives to get it on the ballot.

Jason Lewis is a whiner, and I am already sick of conservatives who two years ago told Democrats to stop crying about elections — that the voters will was done.  But this year, are blaming the amendments (placed on the ballot by Republicans,) blaming independents, blaming the Independence Party, blaming Kurt Bills and Mitt Romney. In the words of Ann Romney, stop it!

And this argument of dirty tactics? RUBBISH! You know what dirty tactics are? Placing an amendment on the ballot to drive voters to the polls because you know you can’t win without it.  Another dirty tactic, changing laws to make it harder to vote, not easier.  That is dirty.  How about what one Farmington Republican told me: at least if the marriage amendment is on the ballot, liberals will spend all their money to defend gays and a Voter ID bill will pass easily, which only helps Republicans in the future. Has Brodkorb enlightened us on that tactic yet?  Was that rationalization his own, or did he get that idea from his state Senator, Dave Thomspon, who helped craft the ballot language on one and authored the other?  How slimy.

Two years ago all we heard was that elections have consequences.  Well elections have consequences still.  Do you know what else has consequences?  How you govern, how fairly you treat people, how you solve problems (can you say Republican government shutdown,) and how little you get done in the legislature.  2010 was a lucky break for Republicans because of Obamacare and the economy. 2012 was a realization that dirty politics, divisiveness, and gridlock come from one party far more than the other.

I am a DFLer to build a stronger state and stronger families

At the DFL convention in Rochester on Sunday, the DFL officially voted to reject the Republicans’ Marriage Amendment that would formally place a form of discrimination against law abiding citizens into our State Constitution.

It is now an official stance for sample ballots and for DFL elected officials. For many of us, it was our official stance anyway, and this was simply an organization formality.  What makes me a DFLer doesn’t have anything to do with big government and raising taxes, as my Republican friends and family think.  Being a DFLer is about caring about people and our community, and the success of both.  I am a DFLer to build a stronger state and stronger families.

Today, I received a link to a “vote no” video that I really liked.  It isn’t an attack video filled with rhetoric, and it isn’t filled with scary music or huge red text of propaganda being stamped on the screen.  It is a simple and thoughtful family, discussing how the amendment really affects families.

I hope you will spend the three minutes to watch it.

 

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.

Marriage – Love Home Family Equality

Love.  Home.  Family.  Equality.  Three of those four words represent what it means to be a family in Minnesota.  We fall in love.  We live in a home together.  We are a family.  But we are not all equal.

I married my high school sweetheart.  We got married when we were 22, bought a home when we were 25, started our family when were 26, and are now working, enjoying life, and planning for the future.  After 18 years of marriage, we have established our own family traditions, we have acquired a lot of stuff, we are paying our mortgage and have a fair amount of equity in our house, less and less each year recently, but equity none-the-less, we are building a retirement portfolio, and we rely on each other for practically everything we do, and my wife is my best friend.

How different is that story from any other family in Minnesota?  Some of the details may be different, but the basic story is the same.  It doesn’t matter if the couples are Doug and Nancy or Steve and Andrea, or Jeff and Jason or Michelle and Connie.   We are in love and we are building a home and growing as a family.  Why should there be legal limitations on a family based on the person they love?  Why should one couple face legal restrictions when it comes to healthcare decisions, estate planning, parenting rights, and even separation rights, when other couples don’t?

If I died tomorrow, my wife would still have our house, both of our cars that happen to be in my name, my retirement fund, our bank accounts, my tools, my baseball gloves, my Mickey Mantle and Harmon Killebrew baseball cards, my books, my warm socks she sometimes wears in the winter and my priceless comforter, that my wife made for me when I went away to college, that has kept me warm for more than 20 years.  She would still possess all those things and have rights to those things because we are married.  There is no need to spend the time and money to have a lawyer prepare documents that protect her property rights from my family.

Unlike heterosexual couples that choose not to marry and risk those outcomes, a gay couple that wants to marry has no option.  In many instances families recognize the couple and respect their relationship, but even good families can act strangely and unpredictably when confronted with death.  Anger, grief, even individual economic or personal circumstances may cause family members to be irrational, opportunistic, ambivalent and even hostile toward partners.

I really believe this a basic human rights issue.  I think every couple deserves the same rights.  I think the idea of love, family and home should have equality added on to it.  I also believe this Marriage Amendment is happening at a momentous point in history.  I believe we are less than a generation away from hitting a point in time when people value the relationship itself more than whether it is a conventional relationship.  I think we see it in some of our younger Republican leaders who see this as a matter of being happy and enjoying the freedoms our soldiers fought and died for rather than a biased belief based in religion or habit.  It is already happening, we are on the cusp.  Half of Americans believe the federal government should recognize marriages among same-sex couples.

It is simply and purely common sense.  All couples, including gay and lesbian couple should have the same right to make a lifelong commitment to love and protect each other.   All couples should be given the tools and protections to protect their families, and the homes they have built together.  And all couples who are committed enough to make a life-long personal commitment to one another, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, deserve the cultural respect, social support, and legal protections that come with marriage.

That’s why I will be voting “NO” on the 2012 Minnesota Marriage Amendment that will ask Minnesotans to vote yes or no on the question: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?”

There is no reason that a slick campaign, an influx of advertising money, buzz phrases and smart wording should be the deciding factor on this amendment.  It is up to you and me to make sure people know what the impact is.  Tell your family it is wrong to vote yes for this amendment.  It doesn’t matter whether somebody disapproves of marriage between same-sex couples.  What matters is that we don’t have a right to decide how others live or what they do privately in with their lives and in their homes, when it is legal and they are of no harm to us, to their families, or to the rest of society.

Everybody deserves equality.  Without equal rights, we are not free.  All couples who wish to be married, should be married.  Love.  Home.  Family.  Equality.