Tag Archives: Paul Wellstone

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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“The Will of the People”

The will of the people.”  Sen. John McCain said it yesterday talking about responding to the will of the people and their concerns about jobs, the economy and spending, based on the outcome of the 2010 election.  Of course immediately following that remark he was willing to ignore “the will of the people” and our concerns about two costly wars that were never paid for because “a continued presence in Afghanistan is necessary.”

It is perfectly clear to me that the oft used phrase “the will of the people” is simply Republican code for the will of my supporters and funders.  They are talking about their own people, their own like minded followers.  They have no more concern for the true will of the American people than I have concern for what happens to the contestants on, well, really any reality show on TV.

If the will of the American people was such a concern, why were Republicans so combative with President Barack Obama from 2008 to 2010?  Wasn’t it by the “will of the people” that he was elected?  A majority of Americans think we should stop spending 100-200 billion dollars a year to fight two unwise wars.  Where is the importance of “the will of the people” there?  A majority of the people think the tax should pay a little more in taxes.  Hello, “will of the people?”

This current crop of Republicans leaders doesn’t care about the will of the people.  I’m not even sure they care about the people.  They care about donors, pledges and interest groups.  On the other hand, when Democrats talk about working for the American people they are talking about everybody, including the unemployed factory worker who usually votes Republicans, that homeless guy on the corner who doesn’t vote, the small business owner struggling to get by and the older woman in the Senior high rise who is reminded weekly right now about why she became a Democrat in the 1930s.  It doesn’t matter who “the people” are, because generally Democrats have empathy, compassion and a desire to make life better and easier for all of us, not just some of us. 

Paul Wellstone often said “we all do better when we all do better.”  I want a Republican who thinks that “we all do better when the rich pay less in taxes” to look me in the eye, and honestly tell me that I will do better if the Walton family or the Koch family has another million dollars in their investment portfolio, and can explain to me how that helps me or any one of my neighbors.

Tough to beat a solid senator like Amy Klobuchar in 2012

Right about now is when all “the buzz” is supposed to start for the 2012 Senate race.  This is prime Senate candidate announcement time, and the rumors should be flying. 

  • On February 9, 1999, Mark Dayton announced his candidacy to run for Senate against Sen. Rod Grams. 
  • On February 11, 2002, Norm Coleman announced his challenge to Sen. Paul Wellstone. 
  • On February 11, 2005, Mark Kennedy was the first candidate to officially announce his intention to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Dayton.  Amy Klobuchar was a little later, announcing her intention to run on April 17, 2005. 
  • In 2007, Al Franken announced his run on February 14, 2007.

Generally, it seems a candidate announces their candidacy about February 11.  This year is a little different.  Instead of candidates throwing their hats in the ring, they are keeping them firmly on their head.  So far, Norm Coleman, Laura Brod, Marty Seifert, and state Sen. Julie Rosen have all said no, while other potential candidates are talking about 2014.

So who will it be?  A second tier candidate?  A young upstart?  GOP Chair Tony Sutton isn’t worried.  In a Tom Scheck report “Sutton said he thinks a candidate will still have time to campaign and raise money if he or she announces by the summer.”

Sutton is right, the candidate will still have time to campaign and raise money.  The question is will there be enough time to defeat Amy Klobuchar.  Tony Sutton called Sen. Klobuchar’s support “a mile wide and an inch deep.”

He is right about the mile wide, but his depth estimation seems a little off.  Sen. Klobuchar has been a very solid Senator.  She might not be well liked by the far left or the far right, but she is willing to listen to both sides and she has proven a willingness to make logical compromises to get things done.  That appeals to the massive group of voters in the center.

There are popular politicians that appeal to one group on the left or the right, for example Michelle Bachmann creates splash and attention, just look at her fan base on Facebook and across the country, but Amy Klobuchar is steady and full of substance which appeals to the moderates.  By the way Bachmann has 10 times as many fans as Klobuchar on Facebook, so head over there and click “like.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar should win in 2012, and she should win decisively.  That is why as we enter the normal announcement period, there are no major candidates rumored or ready to step forward.  2012 could be a tough year for Republicans in Minnesota.  I think they will spend 2012 trying to defend their wins in the state legislature and begin the process of running against Dayton and Franken in 2014, rather than try to seriously challenge Sen. Klobuchar. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if a serious candidate did step forward late though.  I’m thinking somebody like a Cong. John Kline.  He could use 2012 as a stepping stone to try and defeat Sen. Al Franken in 2014.

Political Pin Collecting and Don Fraser

I began collecting pins when I was a little kid.  At some point during my teen years I decided to dispose of most of the collection, but I kept all the political buttons.  Many of the political buttons where my mother’s pins that she gave me from her teens and early 20s, Kennedy, Humphrey, McCarthy, McGovern, Nixon and Carter.  From my teens through  today, I continue collecting political pins, amassing a collection that includes every president and most major candidates from Hoover to Obama. 

But just like my interest in politics, my favorite pins are pins for local state and city candidates. Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale senate pins, various governor pins, Joan Growe, Paul Wellstone, George Latimer, Mark Dayton, Tony Bouza, I could go on.

And it is not just because they are local that I like them, it is because I have a personal story that goes along with a lot of those pins.  I have more Barry Goldwater and George McGovern pins than any other candidate except for Hubert Humphrey, but none of them are mine.  It is a pin like the Mark Dayton pin handed to me by Mark Dayton at the 1982 Sherburne County Fair Parade that is special.  As he was walking by I told him my mom was going to vote for him, and he stopped and shook my hand.  The pins of candidates that I have a connection with are what I like.

My earliest political memory is a vague recollection of the attempted assassination of President Ford, but more detailed early memories are of Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Don Fraser, and Ted Kennedy.  Don Fraser is in the middle of a pretty important group.  I began thinking about the former politician again when he endorsed Paul Thissen for Governor a couple weeks ago.  I thought for a moment and realized I didn’t think I had any political buttons of Don Fraser’s.  I brought the large box full of buttons upstairs and verified that there was nothing.

Not only do I have nothing when it comes to pins, I had a hard time finding very much information about Don Fraser on the web.  There are a few recent news stories, and a recent youtube video interview with him, but he retired just before the internet boom.  The Minnesota Historical Society has a few things, as does the Hennepin County Historical Society, but there does not seem to be a ton of documents out there. 

Yesterday I did two things.  First I contacted a political memorabilia collector who specializes in local Minnesota pieces asking if he had anything affordable regarding Fraser’s runs for Congress, his run for Senate or his runs for mayor.  Second, I began reading Arvonne Fraser’s book She’s No Lady, the memoir of her life.  Don Fraser is Arvonne Fraser’s husband.

Maybe I can glean a few things from her book and maybe do a little research on my own to publish a little something here on MNDem that reflects the memories that place him among the early important political figures in my life. If nothing else, when another person is looking for a little interesting information about Don Fraser on the web, maybe there will be something there.  Check back.

The DFL Graylist

Sandy Pappas – In June 1999, Sandy Pappas was on Almanac defending Sara Jane Olson (Kathleen Soliah). Olson had been a fugitive on the run from the FBI accused of attempting to kill police officers with pipe bombs a couple decades earlier. Pappas felt that Olson had rehabilitated herself, after all, she was a wonderful actress, mother, and Pappas even mentioned a gourmet cook. Absurd! Olson is a criminal! Blacklist!

Skip Humphrey – I just didn’t trust him. I mentioned I can hold a grudge right? Did I tell you it can be a baseless grudge?

Then there is Mark Dayton. In 1998, Mark Dayton ran for governor. He did not do very well in the DFL primary, against fellow blacklister Skip Humphrey. At the time, Dayton was not on the blacklist. Then in 2000, there seemed to be a lack of recognizable candidates to run against Rod Grams for Senate, so at the last minute, Dayton threw his hat in the ring. Outspending his opponents, he went on to win the primary and the senate election. I felt like he just wanted to be elected, and was a bit of an opportunist. I didn’t like it. He supported great things, but didn’t seem to lead on anything, although he was overshadowed by Paul Wellstone. Then in 2004, he became “crazy.” Fearing a terrorist attack, he closed his capitol office. It wasn’t that he closed his office, but he had such a hard time communicating his reasons in a reasonable way. I think his reasons were legitimate, but his inability to communicate, allowing the whole “crazy” episode to get out of hand convinced me he was not suited to office.

So why am I taking him off the list? There are a couple reasons. The first being a pragmatic reason. Although I like Paul Thissen, the odds on favorites based on name and money are Dayton and Entenza. If it came down to Dayton and Entenza, I would lean toward Dayton fairly heavily. I think John Marty and Steve Kelley have proven they cannot win, so I can’t imagine DFLers giving them another chance. I think Bakk, Thissen and Gaertner just don’t have the statewide recognition to compete with Dayton and Entenza, or Marty and Kelley for that matter. Secondly, I think Mark Dayton really does care. There are plenty of candidates who are candidates for personal reasons, maybe I should say egotistical reasons. I don’t think that is the case with Dayton. I’m sure he does have a certain personality that is required to want this sort of job, but I don’t think he makes decisions or acts on issues for prestige or to get re-elected. He is casual, fishes, wears wrinkly pants sometimes, no tie, he is really down to earth. The more I read from and about the candidates, the more I like him. It does bother me a little that he isn’t a great communicator, but I think I can live with that. I am not saying he can beat Pawlenty, or even Laura Brod, but I didn’t think he could beat Rod Grams either. Of the candidates in so far, he is near the top of my list.

Maybe I should call it a graylist…