MPR’s Daily Current – whose Keri Miller is as reliable a PR flak as the DFL has – talked about the upcoming Governor’s race – with a panel of media libs:
After the Friday Roundtable taping wrapped up, Kerri threw one more question to our guests off the air: “Who is emerging as a GOP candidate to challenge Dayton?”
Patricia Lopez: “I don’t even know if that name is out there yet.”
Steve Perry: “The name I keep hearing in sort of an ‘if only’ vein from Republicans is Julie Rosen.”
Lopez: “She has not said ‘no’ and [I heard her give] what sure sounded like a stump speech. She just dropped by the office and I thought, ‘That sure sounded like a stump speech.’”
Brian Bakst: “She would be headed for a primary no matter what, though, because that stadium legislation that she co-sponsored would be a non-sale within the convention.”
Rosen’s generally good, with a few unfortunate traits, most notably her penchant for being among the first to work “across the aisle” – an inevitable last resort when you’re in the minority…
…which she was not, back in 2012, she led a small group of Republicans to ingratiate themselves with Helga Braid Nation without bothering to get any spending concessions from the Governor.
Of course, working with the DFL sans quid pro quo is one of the key criteria on getting the media to accept you…
I direct you to Berg’s Eleventh Law (“The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.”) and its various corollaries, especially the McCain Corollary (“If that respected conservative ever develops a chance of getting elected, that “respect” will turn to blind unreasoning hatred overnight”). You may be certain that if Keri Miller and Patricia Lopez are talking up Julie Rosen, that the Alliance for a Better Minnesota has a campaign in the pocket against her, all ready to go.
Perhaps “Julie Rosen: Stadiums for the 1%”.
Lopez – the editor of that notable bellwether for conservatives, the Strib - notes:
Lopez: “Think about how hard it would be for Dayton to run against a moderate, Republican woman. Yikes.”
I’m not saying Rosen might not be an excellent candidate. I’m willing to be persuaded. Seriously.
But the fact that a round table of de facto DFL apparatchiks – Steve Perry, for Stu’s sake – are mutedly humming her praises can’t be a good thing, right off the bat.
Rumors from some reliable-enough sources indicate 400-term DFL 7th District Representive Collin Peterson may retire by the end of this term.
This would give the GOP an opportunity for a big flip in a part of the state that, like the Dakotas, has sent farm-pork-mongering DFLers to Washington for decades, but otherwise is solidly red. The 7th – which is, politically, a suburb of North Dakota anyway – would very likely elect a Republican, if a good one shows up and has a functional party behind ‘em.
So, 7th CD readers (and, let’s be honest, everyone else); who do you see running for the House in CD7 in 2014?
Bill Glahn notes with appropriate incredulity that Governor
Messinger Dayton, who has presided over a government that has jacked up taxes, increased the state’s bureaucracy, and eliminated the sunset commission that was intended to prune the glut of superannuated state commissions that put help put the “big” in “Big Minnesota Government”, is now trying to wrap himself in libertarianism:
Republicans have tried to frame Dayton as a big-government, big-taxing Democrat. But his government streamlining pitch could appeal to independents, who could become a make-or-break factor in his re-election chances. Dayton’s approval among independents has slipped in recent polls.
Glahn, with emphasis added:
I suppose the Star Tribune could be correct. If independents have not been paying attention at all to state government in the last three years, then yes, a reform message may hold some appeal. Unlike the Star Tribune, I suspect that Dayton’s falling approval rating among independents is evidence that they have been paying attention to state government, and are not liking what they are seeing under one-party rule.
As the head of the executive branch of state government, Dayton could start streamlining any day. If permitting is cumbersome, he can change that. He needn’t wait for another election, or even another session of the legislature.
I agree with Bill – but I think he’s being too pollyannaish.
I think the Strib suspects the same thing – that
Messinger Dayton needs his polling among indies buffed up.
And, being as they are part of
Messinger Dayton’s Praetorian Guard, they are putting the story out there precisely to do exactly that; to give the DFL a chanting point for the 2014 campaign; “Dayton – the real liberty candidate!”
(SCENE: MITCH Berg is bowling at the Minnehaha Lanes. Avery LIBRELLE steps up to the next lane, laces up shoes as MITCH rolls a “6″).
LIBRELLE: Hah hah, Merg. You have nobody to run against Al Franken. He’ll coast to another term.
MITCH: Well, we’ll see. The campaign is still very young.
LIBRELLE: And the Governor’s race! What, Jeff Johnson? He ran for attorney General, and lost! He’s over!
MITCH: Er, Governor Messinger ran a couple of races and lost before he latched on as Senator and then Governor. He ran what was at one point the most expensive failed race in state history again, back in the eighties.
LIBRELLE: (Angrily) It’s Governor Dayton.
MITCH: Oops. Not sure how that happened.
LIBRELLE: Pft. Anyway, he’s different!
MITCH: You’re right. He had an adoring media painting his toenails and covering up his issues.
LIBRELLE: (Puts scoresheet on desk, steps up to the lane). Waaah.
MITCH: Well, you’ve got a point. It’s a whole new race.
LIBRELLE: (Elaborately prepares to roll ball; all sorts of shimmying and twitching) And what else? You’v got Scott Honour. He’s Minnesota’s Mitt Romney.
MITCH: (Rolls the second ball – misses the spare by one) You say that like it’s a bad thing. Two guys who actually earned their fortunes.
LIBRELLE: Did you hear me? He’s Minnesota’s Mitt Romney!
MITCH: Right. I guess that makes Mark Messinger…er, Dayton – our George Soros.
LIBRELLE: Hah hah hah! There is no such thing as George Soros.
MITCH: Hm. (Mitch steps back to mark last ball)
LIBRELLE: (Steps down the lane. Backswings. Forgets to release. Hits self in face with ball. Falls over)
MITCH: (Runs over to render assistance) Avery? You OK? Can you hear me?
LIBRELLE: (Dazed, incoherent) I’m happy to pay for a better Minnesota.
MITCH: I knew it.
Businessman Scott Honour threw his hat into the ring for governor yesterday.
“I love Minnesota. But I fear that our state is headed in the wrong direction, and under the wrong leadership. I know that the same people with the same political resumes are not going to solve our problems,” Honour said in a mass email. Honour has not run for any major political office before in Minnesota and several Republicans have said they may be interesting in challenging Dayton as well.
As soon as Honour made the announcement, Carrie Lucking tweeted:
I think Honour might have more yachts than Romney, judging by the pics. Potential slogan: Yachts for MN! ow.ly/i/1XQ6P
— Carrie Lucking (@CarrieLucking) April 24, 2013
I’m surprised Honour doesn’t have a Scrooge McDuck money pool in the back yard.
— Carrie Lucking (@CarrieLucking) April 24, 2013
I imagine Honour is against asking the rich…er, I mean him…to pay their/his fair share.
— Carrie Lucking (@CarrieLucking) April 24, 2013
Lucking, of course, is Executive
Assistant Director of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, an organization largely bankrolled by a Rockefeller heiress, largely launched to aid the career of a feckless trust-fund baby; the organization is attacking a guy who actually earned his money, unlike any of Lucking’s benefactors.
And so it’s on to another campaign battling for the low-information voter.
Upon further review – the Minnesota Vikings spent a fortune to acquire their new stadium.
The Vaseline Dome has re-entered the media picture in the last few weeks, as new concerns have been raised about the viability of the electronic pull-tab funding mechanism which has fallen $13.2 million short of yearly estimates. Or more accurately, completely fallen apart since the State had expected the pull-tabs to generate $15 million a year, putting the threat of needing general funds to finance a luxury item back on the table.
Flawed or not, the stadium financing figures aren’t the only numbers that have come to light in recent weeks. We now know how much Zygi Wilf and company spent in their multi-year lobbying effort to build a stadium in the exact same location as their current home – $4,270,000.
The Vikings were the 6th largest lobbyist group (by dollars spent) in the last six years. And while the $610,000 spent last year as the stadium was finally approved was a drop in the bucket of the estimated $54 million spent by all lobbyist groups in 2012, the $1.5 million used by the Vikings during 2011-12 would have made them the 3rd largest lobbyist of the cycle. Even lobbying powerhouse Education Minnesota spent slightly less at the Capitol in that period. Purple pride indeed.
$4.2 million for $975 million is a tremendous value (although the Vikings spent millions more in stadium-related advertising). But the end product may not look like such a deal if the financing structure collapses in on itself. Which begs the question – what happens when the State finally admits the pull-tab solution isn’t working?
The state’s $498 million share of the $975 million project is to be paid for through sales of electronic pull-tabs. But the final two pages of the stadium bill provide for two “blink-on” funding provisions as backups. The first is an NFL-themed lottery and the second, if necessary, is a 10 percent tax on luxury suites.
And what of the doomsday scenario, where all three provisions fall short of the money required for the state’s annual payments? At that point, from what I can tell, the state would have to produce money from its general fund — something Gov. Mark Dayton promised not to do when campaigning for the facility.
Would either of these other solutions generate the revenue necessary? A Vikings-themed lotto doesn’t sound fundamentally different than the pull-tab concept. The Minnesota Lottery brought in $123 million in profit last year, but that’s among 9 different games. A 10th lotto isn’t likely to expand the number of people playing, only shrink the total amount left that would otherwise go into the State’s coffers. Besides, over 70% of the funds generated by the lottery go either to paying winners or towards lottery administration.
The most likely end game for the Vikings stadium financing shell game lies within the 10% luxury suite tax. Current suite rental prices aren’t terrible by NFL standards, running around $15,000 to $26,000 a game. Slapping another $1,500 or $2,000 is unlikely to cause any corporation to abandon their suite, but certainly won’t make the Vikings happy as they compute what to charge going forward.
The only real problem with the luxury tax idea is that it was envisioned as a last-gasp measure, meant to fill in a minor funding short-fall – not the State’s entire share. If the Vikings lotto goes the way of the pull-tab, that’s precisely what the tax will become. And if that occurs, the political football of using general funds will be kicked right at Mark Dayton’s 2014 prospects.
Rep. Ben Lien (DFL Moorhead) was interviewed about two weeks ago on one of the Fargo TV stations by Fargo talk host Chris Berg (no relation that I know of).
This first question was in re whether Lien would support a business services tax increase (which was at that time on the table, but is putatively off it now):
The answer to the question “would you support these taxes?” from this very red-county Representative would seem to be “I’ll wait until I get my talking points from Alida”.
And asked if he believes Governor Dayton’s attacks on corporations – the idea that they are tax-avoiding sponges that don’t carry their fair share of the state’s tax burden – this one is hilarious:
Citizens of Moorhead – a fairly red place, indeed: what were you thinking?
Because it’s never too early to start the campaign season.
Former Sen. Norm Coleman’s announcement last week that he would forgo a challenge to incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton may be remembered in hindsight as the starting gun for the 2014 election cycle in Minnesota. With Democrats holding all the offices of note, the only real interest among political junkies is which Republicans will make bids for statewide office. Having only won two cycles in the past decade (2002 & 2010), the GOP cupboard is sparse, with many of the party’s once rising stars now out of office.
So who’s left to run for governor in 2014? In the spirit of the upcoming NCAA Tournament, we’ve made our brackets (sort of) and started the ball rolling towards months of endless chatter on who should or could lead the MN GOP out of the statewide office wilderness: Continue reading
The AP notes that red-state Democrats are looking at the Obama Administration’s gun-grabbing orgy, and nervously casting an eye to the ’14 election.
They start with Montana Democrat Max Baucus:
Back during the Clinton era, [Baucus] faced a choice: support an assault weapons ban urged by a president from his own party and risk angering constituents who cherish their gun rights, or buck his party. He chose the ban, and nearly lost his Senate seat.
This was in ’94. The media downplays this, giving all credit for the GOP’s electoral turnaround to Gingrich and the “Contract With America”. And as much credit as Gingrich deserves, the gun issue, in the wake of the noxious gun grabbing provisions in the ’94 “Crime Bill” contributed a big chunk to the GOP’s electoral victory.
That was then. This is Montana:
Now, as he begins his campaign for a seventh term, Baucus faces the question again. For weeks, gun foes have sought assurances he would oppose the assault weapons ban. But it was only this past week he said he would oppose it.
That decision alone doesn’t settle the issue for his re-election campaign. His opponents are watching closely, eager to pounce as he navigates a series of other gun control proposals, including an expected call for universal background checks.
Baucus’ predicament is one that a group of Democrats like him in the West and South are facing. They hail from predominantly rural regions of the country where the Second Amendment is cherished and where Republicans routinely win in presidential elections.
This, of course, was part of the story of 1994, nationally.
It was also part of the story in Minnesota in 2002; DFLers in greater Minnesota who followed the gun-grabbing line of the Metrocrat orcs got swept out of office en masse.
Which is one reason so many House DFLers signed on to the Hilstrom bill last week – to deny the GOP a cudgel…
…that too many Republicans take for granted.
Last night on Twitter, I twote ”Binders” is so Big Bird.”
This morning on Hot Air, Ed points out that Mark Halperin – no conservative tool, he – points out the same thing at greater length; we’re under three weeks to the election, and Obama is still trying to pin his hopes on sophomoric “gotchas”:
As Ed notes, it’s a sign of political exhaustion from a campaign that
…won’t run on his agenda, because he either doesn’t have one (and he certainly hasn’t published one or pushed it at either debate, choosing to attack Romney instead), or because, as Mickey Kaus writes, any honesty about his second-term agenda would cost him the election
Bonus question: If Obama loses – and if Alita Messinger’s similar campaign ends up falling short of flipping the legislature and bogging down both Constitutional Amendments here in Minnesota – do you suppose the Dems will re-evaluate their strategy of the past few years of going all-in for the low-information voter?
With much fanfare from the media and the DFL’s press-release bloggers (most of them), the Dayton Administration released its “jobs plan”.
Call it “porkulus with a side of lefse“. It’s a dumb plan – and there’s language in here that shows the DFL knows it (emphasis added):
Saint Paul – Governor Mark Dayton and DFL Legislators together today announced a plan that if passed by the legislature, will put thousands of Minnesotans back to work this year.
And there’s the tell. This “plan” – more below – will come to the legislature bundled with some of the other nonsense Governor Dayton couldn’t get through the GOP-controlled legislature last session. The legislature will toss it. The DFL/media (ptr),the Strib editorial board and the chanting point bots will say “The GOP took your jerbs!” in November.
This plan is intended for no more.
To encourage businesses to hire new employees, Governor Dayton and the DFL Legislators propose offering a New Jobs Tax Credit. This would be a one-time $3,000 tax credit to any Minnesota business for each veteran, unemployed worker or recent graduate they hire during calendar year 2012, and a $1,500 credit for each new hire through June 2013. This $35 million program would create over 10,000 new, private-sector jobs this year.
Which is a great way to create a bunch of low-wage temporary jobs.
Business owners, I’d love to hear from you. $3,000 is better than a kick in the teeth. But given the other uncertainties in the economy.- Obamacare and the coming tax hikes and all the other regulatory nonsense that’s been pecking you to death and all the rest that’s looming in the next two years, not to mention Minnesota’s already-miserable business taxes - isn’t it more like whizzing in the wind?
Like- a chanting point?
It’s a sign that the DFL has learned one lesson – sort of. They’ve learned that “eat the rich”, in and of itself, isn’t a strategy for a session. They have to put a meaningless veneer of “job creation” on top of it.
Other proposals in the plan include a new bonding bill with details to be announced next week, a proposal that will help Minnesota compete for business expansion through the Minnesota Investment Fund, an expansion of the FastTRAC program to provide career-specific training to prepare adults for the jobs of the future and the creation of the Minnesota Opportunity Grants Pilot Program which will help Minnesotans get the training required for high-demand careers.
Read: a) Construction jobs for Dayton’s union backers, b) spending to try to convince businesses that the tax climate isn’t so bad, and c/d) more spending that benefits Dayton’s supporters in the education industry, coupled with platitudes, as if government has ever successfully predicted about what anything will be tomorrow.
“From day one, my top priority has been to get Minnesota working again.
No, Governor Dayton. With all due respect, from day one, your priority has been to do what the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Win Minnesota,and the unions have told you to do. Last year, they told you to Eat The Rich. Class warfare bombed.
With that out of the way…
Our jobs plan will help businesses create good jobs for thousands of Minnesotans who are looking for work.
No, it won’t. It’s of little value alive – at $3K credit is bupkes – but of value as a wedge issue dead. Which is why you have your chanting-point bots yapping so hard about it now.
We need to focus on what we know will work: investing in infrastructure, providing incentives to private sector businesses to create more jobs, and training workers for high-demand careers.
Again with the code words.
Look- if you slash business taxes and cut regulations, the economy improves. Revenue booms based on economic activity. Then you build the infrastructure. Then you needn’t worry about training, because companies will train their own workers,on their own dime (although they’re happy to let the state pay for it, too). That is the only “incentive” you need.
And it’s the one the GOP’s been talking all along.
And it’d hardly do to campaign on that, if you’re the DFL,now – would it?
The important part, of course, is preventing Minnesotans from getting fooled by this Potemkin plan.
Remember Governor Dayton’s first big initiative?
That probably makes Governor Dayton plenty happy.
Oh, it’s likely you remember the broad outlines; Governor Daytons’ first – and, until this week, only – real platform was to “reduce” the “deficit” by taxing the “rich”.
Of course, the “deficit” was precisely the same as the one you get when your kids say “I got my last pair of jeans at Abercrombie and Fitch for $60, and they just raised their prices, so please give me $80 [*] right now”.
Your family doesn’t budget like that. The State of Minnesota does, though – and will until we institute zero-based budgeting (which fell off the table this past session, and cannot be allowed to in the next one).
The battle between the two solutions to the phony problem eventually led to a mexican standoff that eventually brought about a government shutdown – until Governor Dayton went outstate to St. Cloud and Albert Lea, and saw exactly how little traction his plan actually had, causing him to come back to Saint Paul to negotiate a
graceful less graceless exit.
He seems to have gotten a new consultant. His latest campaign meme, stolen from his BFF Rudy Perpich? He wants to be “the jobs governor“:
[Dayton] — who vowed as a candidate to “go anywhere in the state, nation or even world to bring a job to Minnesota” — said in an interview this week that he wants to make job creation his main goal for the rest of his term, which runs through 2014.
“This will be my No. 1 priority for the rest of my term — trying to help businesses create additional jobs in Minnesota and trying to get new jobs in Minnesota,” Dayton said. “I will go anywhere, call anybody, do what I can.”
And what can he do?
Business leaders said Dayton probably won’t make an immediate dent in the unemployment rate, but can initiate policy changes to improve the job climate over the longer term. High on their list: Lower business taxes, a stronger K-12 public school system and fewer energy regulations.
“We’re not going to wave a magic wand and suddenly have 3 percent unemployment in Minnesota,” said Bill Blazar, senior vice president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Why, that sounds great, doesn’t it? Cutting business taxes, including taxes on the entrepreneur class that, in the last session, he worked so hard to impose taxes on?
Perhaps Dayton will take the chains off of Minnesota’s entrepreneurial class? Maybe by spawning the type of prosperity that Minnesota could actually use?
Labor leader Harry Melander said he hoped Dayton’s jobs tour would lead to new construction jobs, including another round of public works projects next year.
In other words, the state will throw more money into “infrastructure” jobs – paid for by taxpayers or via bonding. Which are, by the nature of the work, almost all temporary – but all of them will run through the various construction trade unions that are part owner of the DFL. So they can get more dues. To pay into the DFL’s war chest.
It coudln’t be any more obvious if he started smoking cheap cigars and sending goons out to bust sanitation workers’ knees.
Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:
At least the administration is even-handed and non-political in its internal communication with employees facing layoff when the government shuts down in a few weeks. No preaching here, just the facts. That’s a comfort.
Joe supplied an email to DOT employees:
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 1:15 PM
Subject: End of Legislative Session Update
To all MnDOT employees:
After five months of hard work and progress in some areas, the 2011 legislative session has concluded without a budget deal. While it is deeply disappointing to not have a resolution, there is some space for optimism. Over the last week, the Governor and Legislative leaders had substantive, constructive meetings. They identified common ground in many areas, and the Governor and legislative leaders will continue to meet and seek a solution to the budget in the days ahead.
I’ll add emphasis:
In the absence of a state budget, we are deeply aware of the limbo and uncertainty all of us working for state government face. In the days and weeks ahead, the Governor will do everything in his power to find a solution to the budget. In the meantime, MnDOT and other state agencies will move forward with contingency planning for a potential shutdown of state government. This is a complicated, challenging process, and everyone will have many questions and concerns. In a few days we will give you more information about how this contingency planning process will work. Thank you for your patience.
Budgets are about dollars and cents. The Governor has made it clear that he cannot support the all-cuts budget that has come to his desk. He believes the negative impacts are just too great with a cuts-only approach and he is prepared to meet the other side halfway. The Governor has identified a solution that combines increasing revenue and making strategic cuts.
As the Governor and the Legislature work towards a budget solution, I want you to know that I and my staff will do all we can to keep you informed. We will provide more information in a web cast on Thursday, May 26. More details on that web cast will be provided tomorrow.
I greatly appreciate your patience and your professionalism. This agency has weathered many storms because of the strength of you, its employees.
Thank you for all you do. Tom
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a political campaign communication. But I do know that if it were a Republican administration, it would be…
Minnesota Department of Transportation
“Your Destination…Our Priority”
John McCormack on exactly how dark the Pawlenty horse is at The Weekly Standard…:
Because Pawlenty has been less coy than other likely presidential contenders about whether he’ll run, he’s generated less interest while the press is concentrating on who’s in and who’s out. And because he sparked little enthusiasm when John McCain considered him as a vice presidential nominee in 2008, he’s perceived by some as unlikely to be a finalist this time. But as he steps out into the national spotlight, Pawlenty hopes his record will attract notice. He may, in fact, be the most underestimated Republican presidential candidate—one who could appeal to the Tea Party and the Republican establishment.
As I wrote about Pawlenty just before he left office (it seems like it was just last week), Tim Pawlenty gets short shrift from many orthodox conservatives – at least, those who don’t believe that perfect is the enemy of just plain good enough. Pawlenty wasn’t the perfect conservative. But let me put this to you; would you prefer a President who might be mushy on C-list issues like ethanol subsidies, or non-issues for governors like AGW, but who is as genuine and realistic a tax and spending hawk as there is on the national stage who can still get elected – or four more years of Obama?
Of course there are other choices – at the moment. More on that later.
Just saying – the GOP could do, and has done, much worse.
OK. You’ve been sworn in.
Now, let’s get down to business.
You and your supporters – the unions and your family – ran a shameful, slimy campaign. And had you not outspent Tom Emmer and the GOP by about 3:1 – using family money, and money expropriated from union dues-payers – and had the media not (I firmly believe) exploited the “Bandwagon Effect” using polling that was either fatally but conveniently flawed or (part of me believes) rigged, you would have come up well more than 10,000 votes shy of where you ended up.
But OK, politics ain’t beanbag, and that’s truly life in politics. And now you’re governor.
Let me tell you where I, a mere non-plutocrat schlemiel citizen, stand today.
I believe you are a perfectly fine human being – but I don’t like your platform (to the extent you had one; I pretty well eviscerated it during the campaign). I don’t like what your party stands for. I don’t like what your supporters want to expropriate from me, and I don’t like how your willing sycophants in the media are going to try to snow-job Minnesotans into demanding the Legislature allow it.
And while I’m just a single guy, a schlemiel with a blog, I’m going to fight that snow job, and I’m going to fight your platform, and I’m going to fight everything you stand for – your tax policies, your healthcare policies, your regulatory policies, all of it. I will do whatever I can to stymie you. If any member of the GOP majority in both houses flags in his or her drive to beat your agenda back, they will hear from me, and from anyone I can get into joining me – and as we saw last November, I’m hardly alone.
I will do whatever I can to make them stiffen their backbones. We sent them to St. Paul. We can send them home.
Because even though 42% of my neighbors fell for your odious campaign, we – The People – must not flag or fail. I – we – will fight you throughout your entire term, we’ll fight you on Capitol Hill, we’ll fight you in the shop floor and by the water cooler, we’ll fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the alternative media, we shall defend our lives and lifelihoods, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight you on all 10,000 lakes, we shall fight you in the colleges, we shall fight you and your agenda in the City Council meetings and at the caucuses and in the streets and in the op-ed pages; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, you make it to the end of this term without turning power over to Lt. Governor Prettner Solon, then our silent, browbeaten majority, motivated and guided by the groundswell that will drive Obama from office in two years and nauseated by the arrogance of the DFL and its union and bureaucrat and media minions, will carry on the battle until, in God’s good time, the Tea Party and all the other courses of conservative discontent, with all their silent but implacable power and might, step forth and get you voted out of office in 2014. 
My goal is not to negotiate or compromise with you, Governor Dayton. My goal is to stop you.
The dust is finally settling. The campaign is over. We have a “governor”-elect.
So what went wrong with the Emmer campaign?
We’ll come back to that. First, let’s talk about what went right. Emmer ran a campaign he can be proud of, to the extent that he, personally, never stooped to the Dayton campaign’s level of untruth and sleaze. He took the high road, and stayed there, without excepttion – even chiding Ed and I when we interviewed him at the State Fair for calling Dayton “the opposition”.
And the statewide GOP landslide in legislative elections showed that he was the right candidate for the times; the new conservative majority will, near as I can tell, be pushing an agenda not much unlike Emmer’s. I’m by no means ready to write off widespread fraud, personally – but that’s a battle for investigators and lawyers to gnosh out or, ideally, for the Legislature to interdict with sweeping electoral reform.
So what happened?
Drip Drip Drip: “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” was on the ground the afternoon Emmer won the nomination, first with a website and then a TV ad campaign that I spent the better part of six months debunking, one point after the next. It was the most toxic, sleazy third “third party” campaign in Minnesota history (paid for by the Dayton family and ex-family, it wasn’t “third party” at all) – and it hit paydirt with an ad campaign featuring a teary-eyed mother recounting her son’s death in an accident with a drunk driver. The woman then mentioned Emmer’s two 30-year-old alcohol-related driving convictions, and mouthed outrage that Emmer proposed legislation to “reduce punishments for drunk drivers”.
Mark Twain once said that a lie will go around the world while the truth is waiting in line for its morning latté. The corollary to that is that it takes seven seconds to tell an effective lie, and a couple of minutes to refute the lie – but the average political consumer’s attention span is about seven seconds. ABM lied – I busted them over and over , as did Channel 5 – but they were never held accountable for it.
Anecdotally? I heard from GOP activists all over the state that they heard from people whose only real impression of Emmer was that he was “a drunk driver”, throughout the summer.
Erin Haust at the Minnesota Examiner addressed the ad in her own post-mortem of the campaign in the MN Examiner:
The ad, and subsequent silence from the Emmer campaign to refute the claims, clearly negatively effected the election results. Keeping in mind local races resulted in the Minnesota House and Senate changing to Republican control for the first time in decades, the blame for losing at the top of the ticket must be placed squarely on the state party and the Emmer campaign for reasons other than just one ad.
True. But the response to the ad was a symptom of the next reason.
Can You Spare Me A Dime: One of the reasons Emmer didn’t respond to the ad, other than taking the high road, was that the campaign spent virtually nothing on advertising until after the primaries, and really nothing much until Labor Day. During the primaries, oddly enough, all three DFL candidates spent most of their ad money attacking Emmer – indeed, it’s kind of curious how in sync all three of them were before Dayton’s primary win. Very, very curious.
But I digress. Emmer didn’t respond. It was a matter of fiscal prudence; it also allowed ABM to frame the entire discussion. By the time Greater, Non-Republican Minnesota heard anything about Emmer, he was “the angry guy”, “the drunk driver” or, if the good guys were lucky, “Tom Who?” to a big chunk of Minnesota.
It made fiscal sense, but it meant the Emmer campaign was framed from the very beginning.
Emmer gambled, to a great extent, by not spending the rest of the campaign un-framing himself, but rather pushing his own, positive message and agenda. Had the election been held a month later, I bet it’d have worked.
But on November 2, there were 8,000 more Minnesotans (or maybe 2,000, with 6,000 stuffed ballots; we just don’t know) who were still drooling “G’huck, isn’t he the angry drunk guy” before walloping their kids while standing in line at the liquor store.
So close. So very, very close.
Antisocial: I’ve copped to it many times; I’m not primarily a social conservative. Oh, I’m anti-infanticide, and think that while there’s a case to be made for civil unions as a legal contract I believe marriage is religious and ergo none of the state’s business. I’ve said it not a few times; Emmer got my attention at the 2009 State Fair, when he said the election was about jobs and the economy, not gay marriage. And Emmer strenuously avoided social-conservative talk throughout the campaign – to the point where during the final debate at the Fitzgerald Theatre, when Gary Eichten pressed him to discuss whether he’d use the bully pulpit to curtail the “right” to infanticide.
In short, Emmer left social conservative issues on the table. Perhaps he’d assume that socialcons would read the fact that’s a Catholic guy with seven kids and draw all the conclusions they’d need to come to the polls and vote for him. When was the last time a pol overestimated the intelligence of the voting public?
There’s evidence that it was a mistake. A Laurence survey showed that gay marriage – or, rather, the idea that Dayton and Horner would use the courts or a DFL legislature to jam down gay marriage, like in Iowa – was a huge swing issue for voters. A bit of stupid anti-Catholic bigotry from the State DFL may have swung the SD40 race for Dan Hall. And I wouldn’t doubt that there are 10 Swarthy-Americans in Saint Cloud that were offended by this toxic DFL gaffe, just enough to put King Banaian into office.
And don’t forget Chip Cravaack, who ran a good jobs ‘n economics campaign, but did not allow the voters to forget that “pro-life” Jim Oberstar had betrayed his pro-life constituents by caving in to The One on providing infanticide via Obamacare.
Didn’t seem to harm him much.
From Out Of The Bag: The above might have been unforced “errors” – or maybe not errors at all. It’s hard to say, but it’s easy to be a Monday-Morning Quarterback. The fact is, other than the spending deficit and the early flub in handling the “Waiter Tips” teapot-tempest, Emmer ran a decent campaign. Indeed, watching the candidate debates – all 3,174 of them – it was hard to miss the fact that Dayton was a bumbling chanting-point-bot, and Horner was a slick, highly-polished talking-point-bot. Emmer cleaned the floor with both of them in every debate I saw (although I only saw like 400 of them).
But the media was in the bag for Dayton. Oh, the Strib endorsed Horner, but out in the streets, the media’s real agenda – anyone but Emmer, and please, please, we want a DFL governor after all these years, was loud and clear.
Haust catches part of it:
Dayton’s history of ties to socialist, progressive groups is far from secret. Dayton spokeswoman and Executive Director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Denise Cardinal, was a featured speaker alongside self-avowed communist and community organizer Van Jones at the America’s Future Now! conference last summer. They and other speakers demanded redistribution of wealth in the United States and discussed radical, revolutionary tactics to accomplish that end. Neither the state party nor the Emmer campaign made the connection between radicals like Cardinal and Van Jones and the Dayton campaign…Dayton’s campaign received millions of dollars from groups and individuals linked to socialists, progressives and communists. George Soros funded organizations like Democracy Alliance contributed heavily to his campaign. Soros himself is scheduled to co-host a fundraiser for Dayton in the coming week.
The Republican Party of Minnesota and the Emmer campaign failed to take advantage of the national media attention Dayton’s friends and allies were receiving during the campaign and throughout the recount.
True, perhaps – but it’s for sure that the state’s media didn’t go near any of it, either. Indeed, the media failed to report – or report meaningfully at any time between the endorsing process and the election – about Dayton’s…:
- mental health state.
- relapses – when, how recently, how severe, and why?
- quitting his job as economic development commissioner under Rudy Perpich
- closure of his DC Senate offices in 2005
- record as a New York “Teacher” – it was up to Sheila Kihne to find out that “the toughest job of his life” lasted sixteen months of working about 1/3 of the time until his draft status let up.
- Educational record – the University of Massachussetts at Amherst won’t say if he got his teaching certificate (or, indeed, whether he completed any course work at all) – which’d be an odd bit of history for someone who opposes alternative teacher licensing.
Oh, the bloggers investigated it all. And the mainstream political media – Rachel Stassen-Berger, Tom Scheck, Tim Pugmire, Bill Salisbury, Pat Doyle, Pat Kessler – studiously avoided touching any of the topics. (or, to be fair to Rachel Stassen-Berger, they avoided addressing them after January of 2010, long before anyone outside the wonk class was paying ahny attention to the election).
And after remembering the feeding frenzy the media went into over, say, Morgan Grams (the son of Rod Grams, Senator until 2000, whose estranged son got into legal trouble that drew slavering coverage from the Twin Cities media, even though Grams had had almost nothign to do with raising him after his divorce from Morgan’s mother…
…details of which we got the kind of detail that made everyone an expert in Rod Grams’ personal life.
So why didn’t Mark Dayton, the man who would be governor, the guy who has to try to un-flock a “6.2 billion dollar deficit”, warrant the same level of scrutiny?
Why do you think?
There are some lessons to learn here – and, hopefully, institutionalize. Because I have a hunch we’ll be running for an open seat again in four years.