Tag Archives: Tom Bakk

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

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The Farmington Caucus

I convened the Farmington, Castle Rock, Empire and Eureka caucuses last night. Between the nine precincts, only 29 people attended. The voting results were:

Rybak – 7 – 24.1%
Kelliher – 6 – 20.7%
Marty – 5 – 17.2%
Thissen – 5 – 17.2%
Uncommitted – 3 – 10.3%
Bakk – 1 – 3.4%
Entenza – 1 – 3.4%
Gaertner – 1 – 3.4%
Kelley – 0
Montez – 0
Rukavina – 0
Savior – 0

I was surprised how low the turnout was, but I am not surprised by the results for the most part. Statewide, I expected the race to be between Rybak and Kelliher, and that proved true.

Statewide numbers with almost 80% reporting:

Rybak – 21.9%
Kelliher – 20.1%
Uncommitted – 14.6%
Marty – 9.6%
Rukavina – 7.2%
Thissen – 7.2%
Entenza – 6.7%
Bakk – 6.2%
Kelley – 4..2%
Gaertner – 2.1%

A couple of negative observations:

Entenza’s number seemed surprisingly low. I expected him to finish third or forth. That looks bad. Now I see why Dayton didn’t include his name in the straw poll.

Rukavina put out a statement saying he was humbled by the support. I assume he felt humbled in a positive way. Finishing in the middle of the pack with 7% does not seem like it should be humbling to me.

Gaertner has decided to run in the primary. Why?

Thissen’s results were disappointing. I expected Paul to compete with Entenza for third or forth.

As much as I like Steve Kelley, the endorsement will not fall into his lap with this group of candidates like it almost did a few years ago. Kelley should consider dropping out too.

CD2 Executive Committee Meeting – December 8, 2009

I’m a little late with posting this, but the DFL 2nd Congressional District Executive Committee met Tuesday December 8, at Burnhaven Library.  It was the night of the “blizzard” last week.  At 6:30, there were only nine members in attendance (That did not count me, I am not a committee member) but within a few minutes of the scheduled start time there was a quorum.  And by 6:45, there were probably about 20 people there.

Weather probably played more of a factor than just causing lateness.  Tom Bakk was scheduled to speak, but car troubles led to his absence.  Shelley Madore, the new candidate for congress was expected to make an appearance, but she didn’t make it.  To make things even worse, the person who brings the sweet treats didn’t make it.  But the meeting went fast, and it sounds like Tom Bakk will speak in February.

The business meeting started with a discussion of the budget approval process at the State DFL meeting.  It sounds like that was very smooth.  There was also a discussion about a motion to amend the DFL bylaws to allow districts to elect state meeting representatives before conventions.  Unfortunately, I was listening to the explanation, not taking notes, so I can’t elaborate adequately.  If you want to know more, talk to a person in attendance at the meeting.  I can suggest some names if you are really interested.

The most interesting exchange came about during a discussion that involved a request for CD2 to aid Senate Districts with a purchase of software.  There are districts within CD2 that are well organized and well funded, and there are districts that are not.  My own SD36, among others, is one that is not.  On the other hand, SD38 is well organized and decently funded.  There might be a little disconnect among well organized and well funded district members as to exactly how big the differences are.  I’m not sure if it is organization leadership, or if it is a history of losing that keeps people from donating or being involved.  I suspect it is a combination.  It can be hard to justify a $50 donation to a local candidate who might struggle to get 30% of the votes, instead of a competitive state candidate.  And it is hard to stay motivated when you continue to lose despite hard working, well qualified candidates.  But it also takes a leader with a vision to change things, and a plan to raise cash, before you can be competitive.  It is something we need to work on across CD2, and the “well-off” districts need to be supportive.  It was interesting, and hopefully it will change.

I think most people would find these meetings dull.  I think it is an interesting snapshot of the workings of the DFL.  If you think it might be interesting, and you ever want to see it first hand, join me as an observer.  It is sad, but I am there more often than some of the members.  Another person willing to listen and get involved would be great.  The next meeting will be Tuesday January 5, at Burnhaven Library from 6:30 to 8:15.  Note that this is not the normal second Tuesday of the month.  If you want to meet me there and talk, email me.

Other events coming up:

 SD36 Executive Committee and Central Committee Meeting is January 14, 2010, at 6:30 p.m.  Location is to be determined.  Check the SD36 website for updates

 DFL Precinct Caucus night is February 2, 2010.

mnpACT! Governor Speaker Series Observations Part 2 – Tom Bakk

Tom Bakk spoke at the mnpACT! meeting a couple Friday nights ago in Burnsville.  It was the second to the last meeting in the ongoing series featuring candidates for governor.  R.T. Rybak and Margaret Anderson Kelliher closeout the series on December 11th. 

Tom Bakk spoke at a meeting that also featured Matt Entenza.  You can read my observation on Entenza in a previous post.  As I said in that previous post, I am not going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to talking about the meeting.  There is an excellent synopsis of what Entenza and Bakk talked about posted by Dave Mindeman at mnpACT!.

My opinion of Bakk’s presentation was initially very positive.  I continue to like him more every time I see him.  He isn’t the most exciting guy, but he seems real and honest.  He seems like the type of guy you could have a beer with and watch the game.  We learned how important that is in 2004.   

Tom started out by talking about being a first-time grandpa.  It was nice to see the proud smile.  Mentioning little things like that are important connecting tools.  I don’t want to make assumptions about the people in attendance, but in the small group that was there, a majority of people seemed to be of grandparent age.  I’m sure a couple of them could relate to the proud smile of the first grandchild.

Soon the smile of being a grandpa disappeared as he talked bluntly about Minnesota’s future.  There was no sugar coating and no hopeful outlook.  Bakk plainly spoke about a financial crisis on the horizon that we won’t solve using the ideas other candidates are proposing.

While it is refreshing to hear an honest response to the impending crisis, it was also a significant downer for the people listening.  I heard a woman behind me say “makes me want to commit suicide.” 

While it was a little depressing hearing about the state’s finances, he does have a plan.  I’m not sure it is that different from other candidate’s plans.  I think what is different is how blunt he is.  It is a plan that involves significant cuts that will be “uncomfortable” with additional revenues raised through taxation.  Bakk made it perfectly clear that a responsible candidate cannot take a “no new tax pledge” during a crisis like Minnesota is facing.  All options need to be on the table to ensure future financial viability.  And Bakk seems very well suited to taking in a GOP candidate who does take that “pledge.” 

There was one issue that has been bothering me a little bit about that evening.  I hesitate to mention it because I don’t recall the details, and I didn’t make a note about it.  At one point Bakk was talking about his ideas versus the House’s ideas and specifically him versus Margaret Anderson Kelliher.  If the race was between him and Kelliher, it wouldn’t bother me, but there are ten candidates.  Unless he is going to illustrate differences between himself and all of the candidates, I think it is way too early to single one other candidate out, even if she may seem like a frontrunner.

In Bakk’s Thanksgiving email, he stated:

     “One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life is that nobody wins when you tear others down.”

Going forward we can’t tear other DFL candidates down.  If I had to bet, I would bet at least four other candidates have a better shot at winning a primary than Tom Bakk.  I like him a lot, but we do need to consider that he only has a one in ten shot of making it to the general election.  Bakk needs to be the person we want to have a beer with, not the person disregarded by a group of people because he attacked their candidate.

Tom Bakk will be a force at the convention.  I think he is going to have a lot more support than people here in the cities might think.  He is tough and ready to take the lead.  There are some very charismatic candidates out there.  Tom Bakk may not be one of them, but he will compete based on his honest and blunt approach to what’s happening.

mnpACT! Governor Speaker Series Observations Part 1 – Matt Entenza

I attended the mnpACT! meeting Friday night in Burnsville.  The meeting was part of the ongoing candidate for governor forums mnpACT! is sponsoring.  Matt Entenza and Tom Bakk both spoke.  Since they are two different candidates, I am going to give them a little respect, and do two different posts about the meeting.  This first one will be about Matt Entenza, and later in the week I will post my observations about Tom Bakk.

I am not going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to talking about the meeting.  There is an excellent synopsis of what Entenza and Bakk talked about at the meeting posted by Dave Mindeman at mnpACT!.  I am going to give you a couple observations I made about the candidates during the presentations.

So is Matt Entenza the power player in this race so many people make him out to be?  Maybe he is.  Maybe he isn’t.  If you asked me during the presentation, I would have said no.  If you asked me after the meeting, I would say yes, BUT, he needs to add something.

I have to start out by saying I love Matt Entenza’s story.  I can relate to it, and I admire what he has done during his life, both personally and professionally.  However, I found myself at this meeting hung up on how he was presenting the story.  There is a lot to admire, but the presentation style did not make me connect with him.  I know “connect” is a vague word I have used before when talking about Matt Entenza.  In this instance, it felt like the story lacked passion, and it deserves passion.  It was presented in a low tone, and in a less expressive manner.  It was actually a little dull.

I found out afterwards, that the presentation style was a conscious response to a GOP videographer tracking his appearances. There was a gentleman in the back of the room who set up a camera to film the event.   DFLers have learned the hard way over the years that the GOP shamelessly uses video footage taken out of context to use in commercials that make DFL candidates look bad.  Entenza tactically modulates his voice and purposely avoids making exaggerated gestures when GOP trackers are observing, or in the case of this GOP tracker who seemed to be napping in the back, video recording.

It may seem a bit silly, but it was pointed out by Bridget Cusick, how we can all recall the “Angry Al” commercial footage used in the last senatorial campaign.  That footage was actually footage of a story Al was telling about Paul Wellstone cheering on his son at a cross country meet.  Do they have any shame? 

Hearing that explanation, made me have one of those “Ohhh! That explains it!” moments about previous presentations I’ve seen. 

There have been a few times I have seen him where I questioned whether his candidacy was just a life plan he’s following rather than a passion.  You know, his presentations were just “matter-of-fact,” not necessarily inspiring or even appealing.  While I understand his intentions with the tracker, is he possible missing out on gaining supporters he might attract with a little more expression?  I don’t know.  Maybe there are others who have seen him at events who think I am nuts.  Maybe I have just been at the wrong presentations.  Or maybe I have preconceived notions I have not been able to overcome.

What I think I know is I am probably not the only one with that perception.  My suggestion is to stick a little humor about the GOP tracker into his presentation.  Joke about how as a Norwegian, it isn’t hard to be monotone and expressionless.  In fact it is expected. (pause for chuckling)  But with that video tracker in the back, he might have to act more like a Swede.  (pause for a big laugh)  No big arm gestures or smiles, we know what happened to funny Al Franken at the hands of the GOP.  He became “Angry Al” because he raised his voice a little during a passionate presentation.  Thank goodness for Matt’s Norwegian ancestors setting the example.  It won’t be hard for him.  (pause for chuckle) Then he should talk in a monotone manner for a couple seconds, with his hands firmly at his side slowly reverting to a little sarcastic tone asking for somebody to point out if he gets too excited about how much Tim Pawlenty has hurt the state and starts using his hands when he speaks.  (pause for laugh) Or God forbid raises his voice above a whisper. (continued chuckles)  Then he should honestly say, unfortunately, we have learned we need to be careful during presentations because some people in the GOP are very open to using unethical campaign tactics.

Who would question that?  Even FOX News does it. It isn’t just Tony Sutton and Michael Brodkorb.

In all honesty, I can’t imagine Matt Entenza being anything other than a great governor.  I think the biggest challenge he has is making sure DFLers believe he can win Independents.  And that means making sure he doesn’t get labeled as a rich, bleeding-heart, elitist liberal by the GOP.  His life background needs to be prominent in the public eye way before he gets an endorsement or wins a primary.  That way when the GOP tries to label him, it won’t stick.  People need to know success was not handed to him.  He worked hard.  And thanks to support from his family, community, and this state he became a success. 

Candidates need to run like they expect the endorsement, or the primary win.  They need to anticipate what shameful tactics the GOP will sink to make a preemptive strike, rather than try and defend a label or buzzword applied to them.  I think Mike Hatch did it, and he barely lost despite high negatives even within the DFL.  Matt Entenza seems to have the resources to do that according to people who say they know that stuff.  If that happens and he starts acting like THE candidate, rather than a candidate, I think a lot of undecided DFLers who are hoping for that assertive – can’t lose candidate, will line up behind him.

Later in the week, I will post a my observations of Tom Bakk’s presentation.  And reserve the date so you don’t miss the final meeting in the mnpACT! Governor Candidate Series on the evening of Friday December 11, when Margaret Anderson Kelliher and R.T. Rybak make appearances in Burnsville.  Check mnpACT! for event information.