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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Minnesota: A Look At 2018 Elections

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 04/28/17 11:35, Edited: 04/28/17 12:31

by Dave Mindeman

I know its early for speculating, but 2018 is going to be a very important election year for Democrats. We have to be in the right place for the right time. So here goes:

1. MN Governor - Democrat.

Here are the declared candidates. Rep. Tina Liebling (Rochester area), Rep. Erin Murphy, St. Paul, Chris Coleman, St. Paul Mayor, Rebecca Otto, current state auditor, and Rep. Tim Walz, 1st Congressional district.

Early speculation has Tim Walz as the front runner. After all it is quite a feat to have the support of Collin Peterson and R.T. Rybak at the same time. Walz has never run state wide but he has good name recognition. He has rural credentials, and for Democrats in 2018, that will be a topic of conversation. Rebecca Otto has run successfully state wide as a 3 term State Auditor. That has to be a plus. She has excellent environmental cred. Her background there will be a metro plus, but maybe a negative in the 8th District. I am not criticizing, it's just a fact. Frankly, she has been consistent in her views and that has not been the case with others. Rep. Erin Murphy is a long time St. Paul legislator. Good health care background, but low name recognition outstate. She declared the earliest and seems to have developed a good network to work with. Hard working campaigner. Mayor Chris Coleman has been a very successful St. Paul mayor. He has accomplished a lot of big things for his city and that gives him a solid executive background. But he is an urban mayor and you have to wonder if that will translate outside the metro area. Rep. Tina Leibling will have tougher name recognition. She has a reputation as a principled fighter for Democratic causes, but right now she seems like a regional candidate - and even that is split by Walz popularity.

2. MN Governor - Republican

There are only 3 declared candidates for now. Christopher Chamberlin is one of those fringe candidates with no elective office experience. Doesn't seem like a factor yet. Blake Huffman is a Ramsay County Commissioner with little name recognition outside of St. Paul. Again, not a factor yet. The first higher profile candidate is Rep. Matt Dean. He was a past GOP Majority leader in the House and has chaired several committees. He is known in GOP circles but not much state wide.

The big announcements are still coming. Jeff Johnson will probably make another run and Kurt Daudt has indicated a solid interest. But the GOP action will probably speed up after the legislative session.

3. Constitutional Offices

I expect that Steve Simon will run again for Secretary of State. He has done a great job and should be favored to win re-election. We will have to see which Republican decides to challenge him. State Auditor will probably be an open seat...and with the legislative attack on the position's power, it will be open speculation as to who will want to take on that challenge.

The biggest question, however, is Attorney General. It is widely believed that Lori Swanson will announce as a candidate for Governor in the near future. I think she is waiting to see more of the field, but it hasn't been much of a secret that she is looking at this seriously. Several legislators have already set up campaigns for replacing her if she decides to run. John Lesch and former Rep. Ryan Winkler are the two biggest names in that regard. Democrats should be strong here either way.

4. Congressional Races

If Tim Walz is the candidate for Governor, that leaves the 1st as an open seat. This will be a Democratic problem because Walz had a narrow victory last time and his opponent Jim Hagedorn is already running again. Hagedorn is not a great candidate, so it will be important to get a solid Democrat to try and hold this seat. This will be a priority race.

In the 2nd District, we are expected a Craig-Lewis rematch. Nothing official on that yet, but Angie will probably get full support to make that second run.

In the 3rd District, Erik Paulsen has been a target for the Indivisible groups and the search is on for a high profile challenger. Frankly, it is too bad that Rebecca Otto does not live in the 3rd, because she would be perfect. Maybe she could pull a Jason Lewis????? Anyway, the hope is that someone will emerge at some point.

In the 4th and 5th, McCollum and Ellison are looking to return.

In the 6th, Tom Emmer is pretty good shape right now, but he is heavily tied to Trump fortunes. And if the President continues his current path, Emmer could get dragged down with him. Hopefully, we will be able to field a solid challenger. I think this is Otto's district, so maybe she will keep that in mind???

In the 7th, Collin Peterson is running again. He will be challenged but it is less likely to be a problem in 2018.

In the 8th we have a situation. Rick Nolan is also toying with a run for Governor and that would put the 8th District in serious jeopardy. Not only would Stewart Mills come back for another try if Nolan isn't there, but there is now speculation that Kurt Daudt may throw his hat in the 8th District instead of a Governor run. A Nolan decision to opt for a governor run would set a number of wheels in motion - and maybe bring out Tom Bakk in a run for Congress as well. A lot of eyes are on the 8th.

I think that sums up where we are at this moment. Like I said, the 2018 cycle is very, very important for Democrats. It is imperative that we take back the legislative House and that we maintain a Democrat in the Governor's seat.

We have a lot riding on all of this, so pay attention and work hard.
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S.E. Cupp: "I Don't Have Amnesia As A Republican"

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 04/25/17 12:58

by Dave Mindeman

On Bill Maher's show last week, there was an insightful discussion about how Republicans are more "tribal" than Democrats.

Tribal, in this context, means that their viewpoint is determined by the source. If a Republican says it, they agree. If a Democrat says it, they disagree.

A Pew research poll comparison between similar questions during the Obama administration and the Trump administration was enlightening.

On his show, Maher pointed this out:

Bill Maher pointed out that even though the economy has not changed in any meaningful way under Trump, Republicans magically believe it is doing much better. When Obama wanted to bomb Syria, only 22% of Republicans approved. Now 88% approve of Trump bombing Syria. The income tax has not changed under Trump. Yet, Republicans went from it being 39% fair to 56% fair. Democrats answers remained statistically the same. "They are more tribal," Bill Maher said of Republicans. "I am sorry. And they are less concerned with observable reality. That seems like, there are facts in there that say that."

On the Maher panels, there is usually at least one conservative present. On this show, CNN analyst S.E. Cupp was involved, and she had to agree with the data Maher was talking about.

You can listen to the exchange at this site...excuse the sound quality because I think they took a recording off of the TV.

Cupp summed it up this way...

"But the hypocrisy on the Right has been incredibly disturbing and obvious. I don't have amnesia as a Republican."

I wish more Republicans would self-examine that way.
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CAE Joins In On The Fear Of Trains

Category: Transportation
Posted: 04/24/17 19:29, Edited: 04/24/17 19:36

by Dave Mindeman

This Republican war on trains is drastically misplaced. Our future does not lie in more asphalt, more cars, and longer commutes. Modern mass transit is our future and Minnesota Republicans, as well as Congressional Republicans are not causing a credit card problem, but a credibility problem.

An Op-Ed from Kim Crockett, (Center for the American Experiment) in MinnPost is just another biased treatise in my opinion. Her essay is a little short on the facts and on what is needed.

First she does what all good Republicans do - she asserts that the national debt will only be increased by funding these train projects. Which, frankly, is true for just about any spending project. Defense, roads and bridges, human services...all of it will increase the debt because we do not generate any revenue - even for the things we have committed to fund.

We have been using the kids' credit card, not just for trains, but for everything. This obsession with tax cuts is the real culprit, not the things we have needed for years. And a good mass transit system will eventually pay dividends because there will be less pollution, less traffic jams, less single occupant cars, more development around rail which increases the tax base, less maintenance costs (as compared to roads), and more construction jobs. Yes, the initial investment is high...but it is not going to cost less if we delay and obstruct.

Ms. Crockett says that "most local and state officials" say no to trains. Well, that is partially true, but only from one party. The Republicans have cast their majority lot with rural Minnesota, where it is easy to demonize mass transit. And as retired Republican legislators begin to overrun county boards, it will only get worse in that regard.

Democrats overwhelmingly support modernizing our transit. Governor Dayton supports it. City councils are generally on board. And most of our Congressional delegation support it as well.

It shouldn't be a partisan issue. And this is especially true when Metro areas are already committing their monetary resources to make this happen. General funds are part of the mix, but not nearly as much as the Republican legislators try to have us believe. Metro sales taxes cover the bulk of metro transit. It is a fair funding mechanism.

Crockett also includes an opinion from the CATO institute (another GOP think tank):

"Light rail is an obsolete form of transportation that will be made even more obsolete in a few years by self-driving cars," said Randal O'Toole, a CATO Institute senior fellow and public transit expert. "Congress should stop funding light rail, including the Southwest line, as well as other obsolete transit programs, such as an extension of the Northstar to St. Cloud."

Yes, self driving cars may be in the works, but you will still have to maintain roads for them. You will probably still have single occupants. And the pollution effects have the same probabilities as human driver cars. It depends on what type of fuel you opt to buy into. So how cars that drive themselves will change any of the things that we look to mass transit to solve is a mystery...and Ms. Crockett does not offer analysis for that.

She tells us that "costs will only rise with time". Well, duh...yes, they will, which is why we must follow through on this now. We have the SWLRT project underway. We have the route laid out. Some of the rail cars have already been bought. So, kill it now?

You know there will come a time that we will want to revisit this. We don't want to come back and start over do we? Like the Dan Patch line study which was legislatively ended and which local officials want to resurrect.

These are not projects without supporters. The problem seems to be that those supporters just don't offer that same support to obstructive Republicans.

Minnesota's future should NOT be a partisan war. Other major population centers are ahead of us on transit solutions. If we want to compete with them for visitor dollars and major development projects, then we need to find better ways to move people and reduce our carbon footprint.

Ms. Crockett doesn't address that - because Republicans never do.
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