Behold The DFL Jobs Plan

After decades of control by the ultraliberal DFL and a GOP that was merely center-left until probably fifteen years ago, Minnesota has had business and corporate tax rates that rivalled some of the nation’s worst tax hellholes – New York, California, New Jersey.

Liberals inevitably respond “well, look at all the companies that have their headquarters here!”.  And it’s true – Minnesota has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state in the union.   And if you were the CEO of, say, Best Buy or Ecolab or 3M, I’d bet you’d rather live in Minneapolis than, say, Mississippi.

But a company is more than just CEOs.

The good news; 3M, based in Saint Paul, is creating new jobs!

3M today announced the expansion of its manufacturing facility for its 3M Ultra Barrier Solar Film. As a key component supplier to the solar industry, this expansion will support the growing demand for high efficiency flexible PV modules.

And where are those jobs?

The majority of the facility expansion, located in Columbia, Missouri, is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Minnesota’s corporations are not creating manufacturing or distribution jobs in Minnesota.  Even their research and engineering work is being farmed out to out-of-state or offshore companies at an accelerating rate.

You can thank the DFL (and the old, pre-Pawlenty-era GOP that the DFL’s sock puppets are always babbling about) for this.

It’s time to lower business tax rates in Minnesota, and for the government programs that depend on them to suck it up and count on the revenues rising when Minnesotans actually start going back to work.

And that pretty much inevitably means voting for Emmer, and your local GOP candidate for the Legislature, next Tuesday.

Chanting Points Memo: They Hate You. They Really Really Hate You

It’s about jobs and the economy, stupid.

Let me repeat that: Jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy.  That sorta sums it up.

Well, not to the DFL and their various paid, unpaid and indirectly-paid hangers-on on the left.   Over there, it’s about “dirt”.  Because it’s all Mark Dayton – bumbling underachieving trust-fund baby and former Worst Senator in America – has.  He was a failure as an Economic Development director. He was non-entitity as Auditor.  He was a spectacular failure as a Senator.

“Dirt” is all these hamsters have.

Now, Sally Jo Sorenson isn’t one of the dumber, more venal leftybloggers in Minnesota.  Indeed, in and among the various bits of moral and intellectual cat-box effluvia one meets at “Drinking Liberally”, she may well be one of the better ones.

But the DFL machine needs dirt:

Last month, Sally Jo Sorensen posted on her Bluestem Prairie site that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer had taken out seven mortgages on his Delano home since 2002.

[Yesterday], the Minnesota DFL gave that tidbit a much bigger megaphone, blasting Emmer in a press conference for unconventional borrowing that most Minnesotans wouldn’t recognize.

So what exactly is the problem, here?

It appears that Emmer bought his Delano home in 2002 for $425,000 with the help of a $300,000 mortgage. He then took out a series of (very) short-term mortgages,each to pay off the previous one.

Ah.  So in other words, he used the financing the market made available to handle financing his house.  Just like a huge preponderance of other American home owners did, via one means or another.

At one point, he was threatened with foreclosure.

So he’s unique, then?

And this is…what?  Illegal?

Nothing illegal is alleged. But the DFL, and Sorenson, have pointed out that the creative financing runs counter to Emmer’s sloganeering about state government having to live within its means.

And the DFL and Sorenson are wrong.

Emmer’s finances are between him and his family.  We the people are not paying Tom Emmer’s mortgage.  If Tom Emmer comes up short on his payments, it’s up to him; give the house back, or solicit more business at his law firm, or get the kids out there working.  It’s his business.

The state budget is not a personal matter.  It’s all of our money.  And if Emmer has had to do some juggling to make the mortgage work…

…well, he can join the damn club.  Many of us are doing the same these days; working harder, scrimping, doing what we have to to keep the roof over our kids’ heads.  Wealthy Minnesotans, poor ones, and whole lot of us in the middle…

…who are not a bunch of trust-fund babies who inherited real estate from grampa, anyway.

Emmer spokesman Cullen Sheehan in a teleconference insisted that his boss’s refinancing deals were nothing unusual for a Minnesotan and that he’s paid his bills.

Unmentioned in any of Sorenson’s or the City Pages’ intrepid reporting:  is Emmer paid up now?  Has he shafted anyone?

And how is that different that what tens of thousands of Minnesotans are doing to make things work out?

And how is Brian Melendez’ little scorched-earth attack anything but a finger in the eye of all of us who weren’t born to the manor, like the hamster his party is stuck trying to prop up?

Has Emmer, indeed, done anything in his personal finances quite as dim and incompetent as release two consecutive budgets that on their face fail to resolve the budget issue, and have absolutely zero chance of ever passing the Legislature?

Because as near as I can tell, while his family may have had to do some mad fiscal juggling over the past eight years, just like the rest of us, Emmer’s got his family’s budget balanced today.

Has Dayton managed the same, even on paper?

If you think so, you may be qualified to be a City Pages reporter.

Chanting Points Memo: “Anti-Gay”

One of Big Left’s attacks against Tom Emmer in this election is that he’s “anti-gay”.  It drove the most egregious tempest in this election’s teapot – the mass PR mau-mauing of the relentlessly-”Diversity”-hugging Target Corporation on behalf of Big Gay for donating money to “MN Forward”, a PAC that promotes pelting gays with rocks and garbage.

No, no, no.  I’m a kidder.  I kid.  MN Forward was a purely pro-business PAC, supported by businesses alarmed at Mark Dayton and Tom Horner’s anti-business policies.  But you’d never have known that from the hype surrounding the incident.  (And comparing stock prices with other major retailers, you’d never know there was an incident.  I did call it a tempest in a teapot for a reason).

The case for Emmer being “anti-gay” is based around two pieces of “evidence”:

  • He supported, along with a wide swath of legislative Republicans, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a dude and a chick.
  • He voted against a bill that would have banned bullying.  Really.  It purported to enjoin all “forms of harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical characteristics, and association with anyone with one or more of these characteristics”

As to the former?  Most Minnesotans oppose same-sex marriage.  Most Minnesotans oppose allowing courts to mandate its legalization.  The way to jump ahead of the courts is to enact valid, sound law which, in theory, the court has no legislative authority to overturn.  That’s how separation of powers works, even when it’s inconvenient to your beliefs.

The latter?  It’s a stupid law that, as written, would have made bullying against Black or Zoroastrian or Buddhist or female or blind or poor or gay or transgendered or elderly or amputee-Minnesotans really really double-dog bad , as opposed to the merely single-dog bad act of bullying, say, a white, straight able-bodied straight 19-year-old Methodist boy.

It’s just plain bad law.  Of course, it was never intended as law.  It was introduced so that conservatives could vote against it, thereby to give lefties a cite when they bellow “TOM EMMER WANTS GAY KIDS TO GET KILLED” on their cowardly, illiterate, lobotomized little blogs.

But let’s cut the crap.  Who do you think is more anti-gay?  Is it:

  • Tom Emmer – regular guy, who reflects the point of view of the vast majority of Minnesotans, but freely admits that the focus of his governorship is jobs, the economy, jobs, the economy, and more jobs and the economy some more?  Or is it…
  • Barack Obama, who, like Paul Wellstone before him, actively courted the gay vote in the most cynical terms, and then supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which is no further to the left of the MN House GOP Caucus in point of fact?  Or is it…
  • The vast majority of black and latino voters, who vote Democrat but oppose gay marriage much, much more vocally than even conservative Republicans?

I love asking this question of liberals in face to face discussion.

You can practically see the gears stripping in their heads as they try to process a conundrum that can not be processed via any means short of stuffing logic down the garbage disposal.

The Dayton Dustbowl: Dayton Speaks On Charter Schools; Pants Burst Into Flames

As we noted during our first look at the Dayton Dust Bowl – the budget “plan” that, if implemented, will turn Minnesota into a cold California or a blonder Greece – Dayton proposes cutting 25% from the state’s “lease aid” provided to charter schools.

The cut was one of the elements that carried over, verbatim, to Dust Bowl 2.0.

As I’ve reported in the past, this cut is going to gut charter schools – whose primary customers are inner-city families of color, immigrants and poor families who, nonetheless, want a decent education for their kids, along with not feeling patronized and talked down to by the city school districts that, by any objective measure, do a terrible job with their kids.

The Dayton campaign has been quietly spreading the word among charter school advocates that Dayton’s cuts really aren’t going to affect charter school operations all that bad, really, honest.

It’s a lie.

And over the next week, I’m going to be reporting on some of my conversations with charter school administrators and advocates to show you exactly how badly Dayton is lying, and what the consequences will be for the children and their families who quite rightly view their charters as their educational lifeboat.

Stay tuned.

Emmer Rally With Mitt Romney

I’m live at the Ramada in Bloomington to cover Tom Emmer’s appearance with Mitt Romney. I’ll be doing a joint live-blog with Luke Hellier at Minnesota Democrats Exposed;click on the player below to watch and participate.

How The Hell Does Emmer Win This Thing, Part II

In this past week, Minnesota has been presented with four different polls on the Minnesota governor’s race; the risible Minnesota poll, the oddly-disconnected Humphrey Institute Poll, the Rasmussen Poll (which may or may not have overpolled Republicans, as opposed to the MN and HHH polls, which certainly overpolled Democrats) and, late last week, the SurveyUSA (SUSA) poll.  These polls showed a smorgasbord of results.  You can pick the one you prefer, really – as, indeed, most Minnesota political junkies have done.

I prefer Rasmussen.  Not because it showed Emmer in the lead – that fact made me happy, but then so would a “Berg Institute” poll that showed Emmer leading 100-0; the BI poll has no real track record, so I’d put no real stock in it – but because Rasmussen has been the closest pollster on the past couple of elections.

Still, the SUSA poll sort of splits the difference between the two.  It shows Dayton with a lead just outside the margin of error.

But it shows two other things that should be hugely encouraging to the Emmer campaign.

Peoples’ Hearts In Right Place – With Their Wallets: While the poll shows Emmer slightly behind, it asks the question “how should we resolve Minnesota’s budget deficit?”

And here are the answers:

Minnesota likely voters – however measured -prefer raising taxes over “not sure” by less than the margin of error.  38% favor some combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.  And 53% favor cuts in spending.

Given that there is only one candidate who favors getting government spending under control, the target of Emmer’s next two weeks should be fairly clear; reaching the 53% of Minnesotans who support Emmer, but just don’t know it yet.

Is The Big Break Here?:  The week before last, I reported on the landslide taking shape in District 32A, Kurt Zellers’ district in Maple Grove.  The DFL’s been targeting that district all year, but it’s just not working – Zellers is clobbering Katie Rodriguez by 24 points, even though Margaret Anderson-Kelliher proclaimed the district to be prime upset territory bare weeks earlier.

But the real development in that story, as I noted, was that independents – people who are non-GOP-affiliated in that GOP-leaning district – are breaking toward Emmer by a 4-1 margin.

And in this SUSA poll, we see for the first time in this cycle that Independents are trending toward Emmer, 37-35 (with 19 for Horner).  Independents tend to make up their mind at the last possible moment; this next two weeks is Go time.

It’s inside the margin of error, to be sure – but it’s trended up in since the last SUSA poll, while Dayton’s support has trended down.

So how does Emmer win this thing?

Show them that he’s got an actual plan: As this campaign has progressed, it’s become painfully clear that Dayton’s budget “plan” is nothing but wishful thinking; its entire focus is on taxes (barring a few ludicrous putative spending cuts that flunk every stink test from here to MPR), as opposed to the spending cuts a majority of Minnesotans favor.  Emmer’s plan is real, it’s rational, the numbers check out (unlike either Horner’s or Dayton’s).  Emmer must hammer this.  53% of Minnesotans, say SUSA, are ready and waiting.

Point out that Dayton and Horner’s “plans” are vaporware. There is no there there.  The plans don’t pass any fact-checks.  And Dayton’s is utterly dead on arrival with the legislature.  (“But so is Emmer’s”, the leftybloggers bleat, ignoring the fact that Emmer’s plan can virtually pass on pure inertia, as opposed to Dayton’s, which will require a legislative miracle – and to paraphrase Monsieur Ferrari, the Tea Party has outlawed legislative miracles that involve hiking taxes or spending).  In a legislative cycle where voters want things to get done, Dayton and Horner’s plans are both complete wastes of time, doomed from inception.

He Rides The Tide: It’s not just a, er, shot in the dark on my part.  Rasmussen notes a bit of recent history:

“And by two-to-one, voters say they prefer a congressman who will reduce overall spending to one who promises to bring a ‘fair share’ of government spending to their congressional district,” the veteran pollster said, adding that a plurality of Texas voters backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent decision to turn down federal dollars a program because federal strings were attached to it.

The Republicans’ strong position three weeks before midterm elections began, Rasmussen recalled, “when every Republican [in the House] said they would oppose the stimulus package…And support for it never recovered.”

“And by two-to-one, voters say they prefer a congressman who will reduce overall spending to one who promises to bring a ‘fair share’ of government spending to their congressional district,” the veteran pollster said, adding that a plurality of Texas voters backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent decision to turn down federal dollars a program because federal strings were attached to it.

So that’s how Emmer wins this thing; show that 53% of Minnesotans that he’s got the answer.

We can all, help, of course. Pass the word.  I don’t remotely believe that the major polls’ likely voter models accurately predict likely voter turnout – but there’s no reason not to make sure everyone gets the facts.

Emmer’s going to win this thing.  Suck it up and let’s make this happen.

A Matter Of Choice

As I’ve written in the past, single-sex marriage is not my marquee issue, personally.

Oh, I know what I believe; that marriage is about having kids, and kids grow up best with functional parents of both genders.  It’s a belief that should inform a lot of family-law issues (which is why I support gay adoption; two functional same-sex “parents” are not preferable to different-gender parents, but they are much better than a single parent, if that’s the choice.

But I think that as a rule government should stay out of most personal choices; that people should be able to sign a civil contract that ties them into a legal construct that gives them all the legal rights that a “Married” couple has – and that people like me should be able to opt out of the government contract and follow the purely religious contract that we believe in.  And if you belong to a religious demomination that can come up with a theological justification for it, then that’s your first amendment right – just as it’ll be mine to debunk it.

I’m not going to argue about it, either.

But the fact is that while Tom Emmer is not focused on gay marriage – this election is, quite rightly, about jobs to him – he also stands in sharp contrast to Dayton and Horner in that he does not want the issue decided by a DFL-dominated legislature or an “elite” court that jams the issue down the state’s throat.

Which is the subject of this ad:

Let the legislature do its damn job. For that matter, let the courts do their job, and interpret laws, not create them from whole cloth.

Emmer is right on this issue.  I think most Minnesotans agree.

Dayton wants our self-appointed “elites” to decide this issue.  Horner too, although he’s irrelevant.

Pass the word.

It’s All About Numbers

The latest SurveyUSA/KSTP poll has Dayton up by five – with a margin of almost four points.

After a steady stream of TV ads and roughly two dozen debates, Minnesota’s race for governor remains without a clear front-runner.

DFLer Mark Dayton is the leader in the latest KSTP/SurveyUSA poll with 42 percent. He’s five points ahead of Republican Tom Emmer, who came in with 37 percent. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner is at 14 percent.

I haven’t seen any crosstabs or anything about the methodology – and I’ll follow up when I do.

My theory – none of the likely voter models properly accounts for the enthusiasm and turnout anomalies in a “wave” election.

(CYNICAL MITCH chimes in: “or how many Democrat “likely voters” are dead, or voting in more than three precincts”)

Long story short – don’t let the media get you down.  Emmer’s gonna win by three.

Mark Knows

Mark Dayton’s latest ad claims that, while Minnesota schools have “failed”, that ”Mark Dayton was a teacher”, and that he “knows what needs to be done” to fix education.

Does he, then?

By that, do they mean teachers should only show up 1/3 of time when they’re teaching, and quit in the middle of the year?

Or do they mean the state should push the same kind of alternative licensure that put Dayton in the classroom in the first place.

Or do they just mean that we taxpayers should just shut up and give them all the money the union demands via the DFL?

Since I just went to school in North Dakota – a state that spends much less per student, and gets better results – I need this explained to me.

Underdogs

John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson responded to my story last week about the internal polling in District 32B.

Scott adds a note of cautious sobriety:

Over the weekend John noted Mitch Berg’s assertion regarding a possible Republican surge in a part of Minnesota’s Third Congressional District (House District 32B). The poll in 32B that Mitch cited should actually raise a cautionary warning for the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

Let’s be absolutely clear, here; caution is definitely in order.

We’ll come back to that.

Comparing the poll numbers to the 2008 electoral results in the same state House district, Emmer is running 7 points behind Rep. Erik Paulsen, 9 points behind John McCain and 12 points behind Republican State Rep. and House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers.

Right.

The point of the story isn’t that all is rosy for Emmer, even in this district.

The point was that things are better than some of the media’s been portraying them.

Emmer, however, is in a serious three-way race. Perhaps the best comparison is to the 2006 gubernatorial election, in which Tim Pawlenty also faced a strong Democratic challenger (Mike Hatch) and an Independence Party candidate (Peter Hutchinson). Pawlenty drew 55 percent of the vote in 32B; Zellers drew 48.5 percent. Pawlenty did nearly 8 points better in 32B than he did statewide…This is an area in which a Republican gubernatorial candidate has to rack up the vote if he is going to win the election.

Comparisons with 2006 are useful, but not airtight.  Tom Horner is a much stronger candidate than Hutchinson was – although in the end he’ll sap  more from Dayton than Emmer.

It is time for a gut check in the Emmer campaign. The campaign is not going well, and the campaign leadership needs to wake up. The situation is not dissimilar to the situation in the 2008 Senate recount. The Coleman campaign buried its head in the sand about the need to play hardball. I am told Emmer’s campaign thinks it is on track, but the numbers in 32B don’t support their belief. The Emmer campaign needs to run as if it is 10 points behind Mark Dayton.

And there, Scott is right.  And my point wasn’t to make the Emmer campaign feel complacent.  Indeed, my point isnt’ aimed at the campaign at all.  I’m not Power Line or Hot Air; nobody in any position of power reads me.   I’m just Shot In The Dark. My audience is a whole lot of workadaddy, hugamommy Minnesota conservative voters.

Voters who have been the target of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s” fraudulent attacks on Emmer’s ethics and character in their “DUI” ads.

Voters who are the targets of the Twin Cities’ in-the-bag-for-the-DFL media when they bend over backwards to give the voters all the news that fits (the media and DFL’s narrative) about Emmer.

Voters who are the targets of the perennially ludicrous Minnesota Poll.

They are targeted because the DFL knows Dayton is a pair of threes – a terrible Senator, a man with an exceptionally dodgy personal history – and they know that their only hope is to keep Republicans home, or inveigle them to vote for Tom Horner.

They need to convince Minnesota conservatives that there is no hope.

To the extent that the current polling is accurate, it reflects that this effort has been successful.

So far.

And yet there is hope.  And yes, while Emmer’s had an exceptionally rough campaign, this is winnable.

I’m saying Emmer by three.  I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure every conservative – of every party – and everyone who might not be a conservative, but can read the numbers and can see the disaster Dayton would be, comes out on November 2.

And I’m not going to let the media and Mark Dayton’s hacks – paid and otherwise – have any of those voters jumping off the ledge.

I’m Not A Reporter

But if I were, I’d have a bunch of questions of Mark Dayton, his campaign, and the maze of PACs and organizations that are bankrolling his campaign.

Let’s start at the top:

  1. Settle Me This: So how much did you pay in your settlement to Brad Hanson? Since you were employed by the Senate, is it correct to assume that it was originally paid by the taxpayer – is that a fair assumption?  When did you agree to pay the settlement off yourself – specifically, before or after you won the primary?  Why did you litigate this case for a solid half-decade, all the way to the US Supreme Court?
  2. Why So Angry?: While Tom Emmer has been almost over-the-top in his civility and positivity – refusing to even call you “The Opposition” in a radio interview last September, on the ideal that we all need to be on the same side eventually – your campaign is distinguished by having been almost entirely negative.  Your campaign has been heavy on witch-hunting (“tax the rich!”, references to Bush and Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty), scapegoating (“the rich”) and the occasional assurance that you are, indeed, part of some sort of Minnesota tradition.   And your campaign’s main mouthpiece, Alliance for a Better Minnesota, has run an absolute slime-fest – lying and/or mangling the context of Emmer’s criminal record, proposed education budget, and voting record.  Do you have a positive vision for your proposed administration?  Please state it.  Take your time, we can wait.
  3. What’s A Billion Or So Among Friends?: Your first attempt at a budget came up three billion dollars shy of solving the deficit.  Your second attempt is at least $890 million short, and given that even MPR figured out that you can’t cut $425 million in contractors without changing a lot of laws and regulations, it’s pretty likely to be well over a billion again.  Since you’re already soaking the rich, and you really are committed to not cutting a whole lot (since government is mostly sacred cows that are an integral part of your political base), what alternative do you have to soaking the middle class?
  4. Let Them Eat Food Stamps!: Your program looks, at best, to be a minor boon to state workers, and at the very, very best a hit to private employment.  Where and how does your plan facilitate private-sector job creation in Minnesota?  In fact, can you respond to the idea that further hikes on taxes will hamper private job creation?
  5. Between The Ears: The hit campaign run by your various PAC supporters has tried to paint Tom Emmer as temperamental.  OK – let’s talk temperament. Six years ago today you closed your Senate office.  You were branded “the Bumbler” by Time Magazine, which normally effuses for liberals.  In the aftermath of the 9/11 commission hearings, you launched a thousand conspiracy theories against the Bush administration, the Pentagon and the FAA for political purposes.  You’ve been treated for depression, and are a recovering alcoholic that’s had two relapses in the past decade.  Given your surrogates’ assaults on Tom Emmer, how can you say you are temperamentally suited to serve as governor?  And by the way, what is the nature of your current treatment for depression?  And while you don’t have to answer, I need to ask; what is your current DSM-IV classification?
  6. Paperwork!: You have opposed alternative teacher licensure – and yet your career as a teacher in New York , which you’ve chosen to make a key part of your public-service image, was made possible by alternative licensing.  Please resolve this bit of cognitive dissonance.
  7. Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork: Speaking of your teaching career, what coursework did you complete at U of Massachusetts Amherst?  Could you release a transcript?
  8. Attendance: Since your surrogates at ABM chose to highlight Tom Emmer’s “absences” from the House of Representatives, please tell us why your “teaching career” in New York only involved 84 days in the classroom during a period when there were at least 240 days when school was in session?
  9. More Paperwork!: What were the “personal reasons” for which you left the New York schools?   If someone were to say “because your likelihood of being drafted had dropped”, would you consider that accurate or inaccurate, and why?
  10. Staff: Can you announce any prospective staff appointments?  Specifically, is there any truth to the rumor that Mike Hatch is going to be your Chief of Staff?

Now, that’s what I’d ask if I were a reporter.

But I’m not.  I’m just a guy in Saint Paul with a job and a mortgage and a couple of kids.  We have a class of High Priests of Information in this town, people sworn to the arcane code of the “Professional Journalist” whose job it is to ask these sorts of questions.

So will they?

Will Bill Salisbury use his position as “dean of Minnesota capitol correspondents” and his access to the campaign to ask any of these questions?

Will Tim Pugmire and Tom Scheck live up to MPR’s current “No Rant, No Slant” tagline, and get answers from Mark Dayton on these sorts of questions? (Let’s return to discuss Keri Miller, whose contempt for Tom Emmer oozes from every audible pore, some other time).

Will Rachel Stassen-Berger, scienne of a Minnesota family nearly as household-y as Dayton himself, decide that the public as a right to know any of these things – before the election, anyway, while people are paying attention?

Will David Brauer and Erik Black use the stated independence of their platform, the MinnPost, from the DFL and its media-political complex to enquire further?

Will the Minnesota “Independent” , the “Uptake” and “Common Cause” er, ever have to register as 501(c)4 lobbying groups?

Anniversary!

Today is the sixth anniversary of Mark Dayton’s closing of his US Senate office.

Dayton, advised that there was a threat of a terror attack against DC, opted to send his staff home, and fled to Minnesota, leaving the business of government to the 543 other Congresspeople.

The episode sealed his place as America’s Worst Senator.

And it made him a hero to America’s 9/11 truthers:

It seems like yesterday.

Never moreso than today.

Chanting Points Memo: Dayton’s Dash

With my years of blogging experience and keen blogging instincts, I’ve learned a thing or two.

Maybe three.

One of them is “when you see a bunch of DFL-linked leftybloggers start ridiculing something in the kind of unison that’d impress a synchonized swimming team, you know there’s something they’re trying to get people to ignore.

This is the piece of the video they’re hooting and hollering about:

It’s after a gubernatorial debate yesterday during which Dayton had taken questions about his settlement with Brad Hanson.

Now, he didn’t necessarily answer the questions; even Pat Kessler notes the paucity of detail:


Dayton – the candidate of the party of “champions of the working fella” – had to settle with a former staffer after appealing his wrongful termination case all the way to the Supreme Court.

So what is he running from?

What about the case is so nasty that Dayton can’t even talk about it with reporters?

And – Kessler’s observations aside – when is the media going to seriously question him?

After all, the “malpractice” suit against Emmer – likely as not just a money grab that uses the election for leverage – got slavering coverage from the regional media.  It was the most important story there was.

And yet we have a gubernatorial candidate who uses his boundless wealth to drag a suit through the courts and…almost nothing?

Kudos to Kessler and WCCO for running it.

Who’ll follow up?

The Real Liberal

Tom Horner may have been a Republican – 20-30 years ago – but he’s a candidate only a tax-and-spend liberal could love.

His “plan” – like Mark Dayton’s – is chock full of holes, and will need to jack up taxes a lot more than he thought, says the State Department of Revenue:

Since announcing his plan in August, Horner has offered few specifics as to how he’d get another $1.3 billion out of the state sales tax. In addition to extending the tax to other goods and services, he also would lower the rate — now at 6.875 percent — by one percentage point. Counties, however, would be allowed to increase their local sales tax by one-half percentage point to offset Horner’s proposed reductions in state aid.

On the one hand, that’s not a totally bad thing; driving accountability down and de-emphasizing the LGA money-laundering machine is not a bad idea.

Problem is, Horner is still trying to balance the budget largely with tax hikes:

State Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess said his department has never analyzed the Horner plan in depth because it was not given the details needed for such an analysis. But, he said, Horner would have to be “very aggressive” in ending exemptions to reach his goal.

The process “gets real ugly, real fast,” Einess said.

For Horner to accomplish his goal, state revenue officials said the sales tax base would have to be expanded by 34 percent.

Wow.  That’s a lot of new taxes for someone the DFL has been trying to christen a “Republican” for the past couple of weeks…

I Guess We’re Gonna Test That Approval Rating!

Supposedly President Obama’s approval rating is far higher in Minnesota than nationwide, according to the Rasmussen poll.

Well see; he’s coming to town to stump for Dayton:

Obama’s confirmed that he’s coming to town on Oct. 23. (Obama’s visit has been general knowledge for awhile, but details have been scant (and still pretty much are).

According to the campaign:

The rally will be the kick-off of the DFL’s Get Out the Vote campaign on behalf of Mark Dayton and his Lieutenant Governor running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

From one job-killing, tax-hiking career politician with no real-world accomplishment who was promoted far beyond his what his own natural abilities would normally warrant to another!

Turning The Third Purple: The Emmer Surge?

Earlier, we talked about the internal poll that shows Kurt Zellers leading Kate Rodriguez by 24 points in a district where the DFL has staked a lot of mojo – with Margaret Anderson-Kelliher going so far as to say that the district was in the bag for Rodriguez.

But there’s more good news.

The Tarrance Group, which polled 250 people and whose poll has a 6.2 point margin of error, also polled the Governor’s race in 32B.

Now, 32B is a part of the Third CD, which is an area that the “conventional wisdom” has been calling “purple” ever since it was represented by moderate Republican and fellow Jamestown ND native Jim Ramstad.  The DFL continues to push the idea that the Third is “purple”, and incipient DFL turf.

More germane? It’s the second poll in six weeks that Tarrance, and the GOP, have conducted in 32B.

And in August, things looked grim for Emmer; indeed, this corner of the 3rd CD was looking pretty dark purple:

In August, Dayton led Emmer 39 to 36 percent.

Scary!

The DFL’s narrative looked to be holding up!

But what a difference six weeks makes:

The same poll shows Emmer’s numbers increasing since August while his DFL opponent’s support has decreased. The October poll shows Emmer overtaking Dayton in the district, 41 to 31.

Crosstabs?  The poll was 38% GOP, 32%DFL and 30% independents, which – given that it’s a likely voter poll in what by all accounts will be a bitchin’ conservative year, seems unlikely to be a gross oversample.   I don’t know Tarrance’s likely voter model, but if it’s valid (and for argument, let’s say that it is;  Tarrance’s memo is included below the jump), it could very well be a sign that the Humphrey Institute and Minnesota Polls’ turnout models are too pessimistic, and that the one-percent GOP ID lead in the latest Rasmussen Poll is more accurate than some may have though.

This, if true, is a huge pickup in a purple district; if it’s being replicated elsewhere in third-tier-land and, if the Cravaack poll and the contributions in the First and Seventh districts can be trusted to indicate any synchronicity beyond 32B, it’s a great sign for Emmer – and perhaps a sign that the Twin Cities Big Media and Big Polling have been too bearish on the enthusasm for voting GOP.

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Too Close To Call

The latest Rasmussen Poll confirms what many of us conservatives have suspected; the gubernatorial race is way too close to call:

Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer are still in a virtual tie in Minnesota’s gubernatorial contest.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Dayton picking up 40% of the vote, while Emmer draws support from 38%. Independence Party candidate Tom Horner remains a distant third with 15%. One percent (1%) prefer a different candidate, and five percent (5%) are still undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This race remains a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 Gubernatorial Scorecard.

The cross-tabs are starkly divided; among people who think the economy is improving, Dayton wins a huge plurality of bobbleheaded “voters”; Emmer prevails among realists.

There’s a nod in the polling toward Minnesota’s wierd tradition of giving hapless third-party candidates who don’t wear feather boas way more credence than they deserve in its methodology:

In the Minnesota governor’s race, Rasmussen Reports has made a decision not to use our traditional leaners model. Normally, that model shows support falling off for a third-party candidate. However, in Minnesota, third-party candidates often defy that trend, and a look at the initial preference data suggests that may be happening this year.

And I suspect the leaners will give Emmer another point or two.  We’ll see.

One thing’s for sure; looking at the favorable/unfavorable numbers…:

Emmer is viewed favorably by 46% of Minnesota voters and unfavorably by 48%, including 19% Very Favorable and 31% Very Unfavorable.

For Dayton, favorables are 50% and unfavorables 47%. This includes 26% with a Very Favorable opinion of him and 35% with a Very Unfavorable one.

…I guess the Dayton Family investment in “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”‘ smear campaign was money well spent, at least in the short term.

Read the whole thing.

But that may not be the last polling news we see today.  Just saying.  Stay tuned to SITD.

The Shorter Mark Dayton

The bad news:  While I got through the screener for Mark Dayton’s chat with Gary Eichten on MPR this morning, I never got on the air.

The good news:  It was probably because Eichten stole my thunder on the question I gave the screener, and even the followup I had if they’d still put me on the air.

The worse news:  Dayton’s answers weren’t any better than I expected.  Minnesota is truly, madly, deeply screwed if he gets elected.

The mild consolation prize; by the time I got to the nearest wi-fi coffee shop, ordered a coffee and unpacked my laptop, this post was completely written in my head.

I’ll run through my questions (channeled more-or-less capably by Eichten):

Your budget is $890 million short. How do you plan on closing the gap?

Dayton had an answer.  I could try to reconstruct it, but at the end of the day this classic cartoon really captures it.

Dayton’s the guy in the glasses.  The equation is his “budget plan”.

No, really.  His answer wasn’t a whole lot more detailed than this, and a whole lot less funny.

His answer mentioned revenue forecasts; he’s hoping that the economy closes the gap via increased tax revenues.  Read: “Then A Miracle Occurs”.

I silently constructed a followup question.  Eichten actually hit on this one too:

Your budget plan will have to go through a Legislature that used to be overwhelmingly DFL, but might well flip one, maybe both chambers this fall.  What then?

The answer was a long one – but it basically came down to “I have many years of experience working across the aisle”.

I almost did a spit-take.

Dayton served as Auditor and Economic Development Director during the Perpich administration, when the DFL was at its extended post-Watergate high and the then-”Indpendent Republican” party was at its collaborationist nadir.

Oh, and he was a Senator during the Bush Administration.  Seriously, he used his time there as an example of his “bipartisanship”.

His “bipartisanship” included accusing NORAD, and by extension the Bush Administration,  of lying about its responses on 9/11, among a list of other greatest hits.

The quote of the hour, though?

“I want to appoint people who believe in government“.

The MNGOP should make up T-shirts with that quote on ‘em.

Faint Damnation

I’m not sure what the purpose was behind this – Ex-North Dakota governor Allen Olson has endorsed Tom Horner:

Olson quickly made it clear that he is a Minnesota resident, moving to the Twin Cities area two years after he lost re-election to Democrat George Sinner. He is best known, in Minnesota, for his years running a community bank association.

Olson, a Republican, said he never has endorsed a Minnesota governor candidate before. He joins former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson in Horner’s camp.

That whole “Carlson” thing really tells you all you need to know about Tom Horner.

As to Olson?  Perhaps the Horner campaign is trying to lock up the ‘Ex-North Dakotan” vote. We are about 40% of Minnesotans, after all – the smart 40% who know how to drive and had better educations for less money.

But Allen Olson presided over some of the most miserable years in North Dakota history. They weren’t his fault, per se – but any North Dakotan over the age of forty remembers the Olson years for the farm foreclosures, lousy grain prices,and high unemployment.

By all means, Hornerites; dig into that Allen Olson record!

The Dayton Dustbowl: Those Pesky Contractors Redux

Remember when we first looked at the Dayton Dustbowl, back on Labor Day?

We looked at all the holes in the original Dayton Dustbowl – the 1.0 version of Mark Dayton’s budget plan.

One bit that got carried through verbatim in Dust Bowl 2.0 was this plan – to save $425 million per biennium by halving the number of contractors employed by the state.

Has it really only been a month?

At any rate, Catherine Richter of MPR’s “Poligraph” reports on what SITD readers have known for a month, now; that this just isn’t going to work:

Dayton’s correct that the state spends approximately $850 million per biennium on outsourcing. And cutting such activity in half could save the state more than $400 million.

But in practice, Dayton’s plan appears difficult to implement. Many of the state’s contracts provide essential services that the state would still have to supply one way or another.

And I had forgotten about this next bit, here (emphasis added):

Further, Minnesota law requires departments and agencies prove no state workers can take on these tasks before they contract with a firm.

Minnesota contractors already provide services that are either legally mandated, completely unavailable on the state workforce, or both; bridge engineers, business analysts, concrete workers, surveyors, usability engineers, prison doctors and the hundreds or thousands of other jobs that state doesn’t need at all, until they absolutely, positively do.

If the state gets rid of “half” of the contractors – who are already doing jobs that the state needs, but does not have in the workforce – then in most cases someone’s gotta do it.

And that “someone” is going to be union labor, in all its exquisite expense, and racking up all those hideously expensive defined-benefit pensions that are going to eat this state alive about the time our kids start paying taxes.

The way I see it, that’s a $425,000,000 hole per biennium blown in the Dayton 2.0 budget.  Tack that onto the $890,000,000 shortfall it already has – by the Dayton campaign’s own admission! – and the Son Of Dayton Dustbowl is actually $1.315 billion short of solving the deficit.

The conservative alt media has called another one.

Common Shills

Common Cause Minnesota is a “non-profit, non-partisan” organization whose every initiative is, mirabile dictu, exactly in sync with the “progressive” wing of the Minnesota DFL.

No huge shock there.

Speech rationing – “campaign finance reform” – has long been one of their main initiatives.  Read for yourself.  They want – so they claim - transparency in politics.

Of course, as Luke Hellier notes at MDE, they are a 501c4 lobbying organization which, in 2008, took in over $665,000 on donations, entirely from anonymous “individual” sources (check it out starting on Page 13 of this very large PDF file).

Sample swiped from MDE

Sample swiped from MDE

Now, the law doesn’t require them to divulge exactly who their donors are – which is kind of a weaselly out for a group that wants government to limit and regulate your First Amendment right to political speech.

At any rate, yesterday they released word that they were going to file a complaint against a series of Minnesota political action committees (PACs) that were playing a shell game with third-party donations, trying to make accountability difficult.

And given how hard Common Cause has been proclaiming their ecumenicism and non-partisan mission, I thought “Halleluiah!  They’re going to do something about the epic three-card monte game the Dayton campaign has going on!”

As we discussed last June, the Dayton campaign was being supported by a huge ad campaign from a group called “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”.  At that time, ABM’s funding came from a bunch of unions, and a group called “Win Minnesota”, which was largely funded by…the Dayton family; as of last June, the list was…:

  • Andrew Dayton $1,000
  • David Dayton $50,000
  • John cowles $25,000 [former Strib publisher]
  • MaryLee Dayton $250,000
  • Emily Tuttle (MN) $5,000
  • Ronald Sternal (MN) $5,000
  • Alida Messinger (NY) $500,000
  • James Deal (MN) $50,000
  • Roger Hale (MN) $10,000 [Remember him from above?]
  • Barbara forster (MN) $25,000
  • Democratic Governors Association $250,000 [remember them; they'll appear later in this story]

Win Minnesota also funded a group which at the time had no name, but which shared an address with Win Minnesota, which has since been named “The 2010 Fund”.   2010 of last June had about $850K in the bank, including money from:

  • Alida Messinger (Mpls) $50,000
  • Win Minnesota $50,000
  • Education MN $250,000
  • Laborers District Council $100,000
  • MAPE $50,000
  • IBEW MN State Council $50,000
  • MN Nurses Assc $50,000
  • Local 49 Engineers $25,000
  • Vance Opperman $50,000 [the "progressive" plutocrat former owner of Thomson/West publishing]
  • Afscme Council 5 $50,000
  • MN AFL-CIO $25,000
  • SEIU MN State Council $50,000
  • AFSCME (Wash DC) $50,000;

I’m looking for the updated numbers from all of these funds.

So who does Common Cause go after?

Who would you think? (emphasis added):

Common Cause Minnesota has uncovered a scheme by the Minnesota’s Future political committee and the Republican Governors Association (RGA) to avoid Minnesota’s original source disclosure law by funneling a $428,000 contribution from the RGA to Minnesota’s Future through a shell company. The company, Minnesota Future, LLC was created just days before it received the contribution from the RGA and immediately transferred the funds to the Minnesota’s Future political committee.

Today, three separate complaints were filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Disclosure Board against Minnesota’s Future, Minnesota Future, LLC, and the RGA. The complaints allege that the three groups together violated multiple state statutes ranging from circumvention of campaign finance laws, failing to register as a political committee, and failing to report receipts and expenditures. The three entities could face $5.1 million in civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

“This was a brazen attempt to circumvent Minnesota’s disclosure law,” said Mike Dean, Executive Director of Common Cause Minnesota. “The public has a right to know what special interests are behind political ads, especially during a hotly contested election.”

So the public has a “right to know” the money behind “Minnesota’s Future” from the Republican Governors Association…

…but the multiple millions of dollars from the Dayton Family, the unions, and the Democratic Governors Assocication which financed the most vile smear campaign in the history of Minnesota politics (under the cover of a phony grass-roots organization funded by the Dayton family!) isn’t something “the public” needs to know about?

I’ve invited a representative of Common Cause to come on the Northern Alliance tomorrow to discuss what would be brazen hypocrisy from a genuinely “non-partisan” organization.

Any bets?

Horner: Tag It And Bag It

When Dave Schultz at Hamline University calls it quits on a “DFL-Lite campaign like Tom Horner…

It looked all so promising only two weeks ago. Momentum and buzz suggested Tom Horner was gaining ground and he had a real chance to be governor. Polls showed strong gains, he was ahead of where Jesse Ventura was in 1998 at this time, and rumor had it he was racking in piles of money. Horner, a former public relations person, also knew how to package his statements for the media. It all looked so good.

…then you know it’s time to stick a fork in it.

Schultz, unlike me, thought that Horner may have had a shot at it - but then, he does twig to the real key fact; Horner is not Jesse Ventura:

Here is the horn(er) of the dilemma. Horner needs media attention to get his message out. He can only do that with money. He can only raise money if he lets people know he is running and what his message is, however he needs money to do that. Horner is trapped in a cycle and he may not be able to get out of it.
But not being Jesse and not having money is only part of the problem. MN’s flirtation with third party politics runs in cycles. Third party candidates do well when the state is economically doing very well or very badly and there is high disenchantment with the major parties. Think Floyd Olson (Farmer-Labor Party elected during prohibition) and Ventura during the flush times of the 90s.

It’s neither bad enough that people are that desperate, nor good enough that people are that frivolous.

Chanting Points Memo: “The Wrong Candidate”

Let’s be clear on this right up front; Tom Emmer’s gonna win this thing.  I still say three points.

Nothing I write below should be read in such a way as to imply I really think anything else.  It’s just not true.

Some of my DFL acquaintances occasionally jibe “If you’d only picked Seifert, you wouldn’t be having the problems you’re having now”.

I’m a polite guy.  I usually change the subject.

I need to.

Let’s backtrack in our minds for a bit.  Say that Marty Seifert had carried his early lead in the GOP endorsement process through to the convention, and gotten the nomination.

Think for a moment:  what parts of the DFL’s campaign against Tom Emmer aren’t perfectly transferable to Marty Seifert?  Or Dave Haan?  Or Pat Anderson, or Paul Kolls, or Sue Jeffers or Tim Palwenty or even Tom Horner, for that matter?

What has the DFL campaign been for the past five months?

  • [fill in the blank] wants to slash infrastructure: Any conservative that favors dialing back state union construction jobs would get hit with this one.
  • [fill in the blank] is for profits over people: Ihe DFL’s special little world, businesses are self-sustaining predators whose interests  - profit – are always opposed to people.
  • [fill in the blank] is anti-gay: Because conservatism itself, goes the left’s conventional wisdom, is anti-gay.
  • [fill in the blank] will freeze the poor!: The DFL paints anyone who seeks sanity – even a little – in Health and Human Service spending as Ebenezer Scrooge, pre-ghosts.
  • [fill in the blank] wants to slash education: Cutting the  projected increase is a cut, by the way; if the union wants 2 billion more, and you give them a billion more, they’ll cry “you’re cutting us by a billion!”
  • [fill in the blank] is against womyn: Because abortion is the sine qua non of being a woman.  To the DFL.
  • [fill in the blank] hasn’t given us all the details of his campaign yet: Because it’d be stupid to do when campaigning against someone with three times as much money as you’ve got, of course, but no matter.

There is nothing in the DFL campaign book that’s been used against Tom Emmer this past five months that couldn’t have just swapped in Seifert’s name and and unflattering photo.

The only differences?  Oh, the personal attacks would be different; Tom Emmer had his careless driving convictions, but if Marty Seifert ever so much as jaywalked, you can bet Alliance for a Better Minnesota would have run a million dollars worth of ads; “Marty Seifert thinks Laws are for Other People”.

Chanting Points Memo: 2+2=Fudge, Winston

MNDFL chair Brian Melendez sent this out to the faithful yesterday:

The more Minnesotans hear from Tom Horner, the clearer it becomes that he is just another Republican insider, and his only plan is to continue Governor Pawlenty’s failed policies.

Insider?  A guy who hasn’t darkened the doorstep of a GOP caucus since Arne Carlson was in office?

By that standard, Mitch Berg is “just another Libertarian Party insider”.

As far as that bit about “continu[ing] Governor Pawlenty’s failed (sic) policies”?  Let’s take a brief march back through time:

2002

CANDIDATE PAWLENTY: “No new taxes!

2004

GOVERNOR PAWLENTY:  Nope.  No new taxes!

2006

GOVERNOR PAWLENTY: Ixnay on the Axestay!

2008

GOVERNOR PAWLENTY:  You shall not pass…taxes!

2010

TOM HORNER: We need over two billion in new taxes!

I’d think even Brian Melendez could detect the pattern, here.

Tom Horner wants to raise sales taxes on almost everything we buy, which will hit middle-class families twice as hard as others. And while Minnesota’s middle-class families are struggling, Tom Horner’s priority is to cut taxes for big businesses.

As opposed to Mark Dayton – who’ll raise taxes on everyone, directly or indirectly – and Tom Emmer, who …won’t!

With less than five weeks left until the election, we wanted to make sure all Minnesota’s voters know exactly what Tom Horner stands for.

Who is Tom Horner? Just another Republican.

Read:  ”Internal polling shows he’s taking a lot more Democrat than GOP votes”