Lowballed

SCENE:  At the Mississippi Market co-op in Saint Paul.  Mitch BERG is shopping for steel-cut oatmeal.  He notices Avery LIBRELLE turning into his aisle, looking for free-range humane tofu.  He tries to turn and leave, but it’s already too late. 

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!  The Free Market is collapsing!

BERG:  Er, OK – how do you figure?

LIBRELLE:  Preferred One left the MNSure network!

BERG: Um, that’s not a failure of the free market.

LIBRELLE: Sure it is!  They came into the plan with a low-ball proposal.  It didn’t work, so it’s a failure of the free market! 

BERG: Well, no.  It’s not.  The plans they’re pulling from MNSure are basically the same thing they’ve been selling to employers for decades, although more expensive, to cover all the extra Obamacare requirements, and a little extra to cover the fact that they’d only get paid after the money filtered through the MNSure system, which just isn’t working.  It’s the kind of plan they can sell by themselves just fine, and keep themselves in business. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, businesses shouldn’t profit from healthcare!

BERG:  Preferred One is a non-profit under Minnesota law.   And even so, they couldn’t financially justify the overhead that the MNSure system brought into the equation. 

LIBRELLE:  They should have come to the market with a plan that asked for more money!  Government subsidies would cover it anyway!

BERG:  And you have just explained why government subsidies promote inflation. 

LIBRELLE:  No I didn’t.

BERG:  Yes you did.  Businesses should raise their prices to smooth out dealing with the government’s incompetent bureaucracy, because another part of government is going to subsidize the transaction – which prices the business’s service out of reach of the unsubsidized.  It’s done for health insurance exactly what it’s done for higher education. 

LIBRELLE:  That just means we need single payer healthcare.

BERG:  Right.  So the same government that can’t produce a health care exchange on time and on budget, and get payments to providers efficiently enough to make the service worth providing, will now be directly in charge of every facet of your healthcare. 

LIBRELLE:  Well, at least it’ll promote transparency. 

BERG:  How so? 

LIBRELLE:  See the social justice that the IRS brought to political campaigning by denying teabagger groups their tax-exempt status?  Imagine the transparency we’ll get when The People can start denying them healthcare!

(LIBRELLE turns, starts walking away, but walks into shelf full of jars of organic peanut butter.  LIBRELLE falls as shelves of jars fall to the floor)

(And SCENE)

ABM: Wrong About Minnesota

I haven’t had the time to do as much in the way of digging into the DFL ad machine this cycle as in some past cycles.  It’s been a crazy summer.

Fortunately, Bill Glahn is on patrol

Glahn takes apart one of the latest flight of anti-Johnson ads from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota – the attack PR firm funded by liberal plutocrats that has run toxic sleaze campaigns against every Republican to run for office in Minnesota in the past eight years or so. 

ABM’s ads have been punctilious about punching up the phrase “Tea Party” in their ads, especially about Johnson, this cycle – even though Johnson is not especially identified with the Tea Party.  Glahn reaches one of the same observations I do:

Apparently the pejorative “Tea Party Republican” must test particularly well with low information voters. Or, perhaps its use in the ad is a sign the Democrats are concerned about turning out their base in an off-year election.

The Democrats have spent millions this past five years, trying to turn “Tea Party” into a pejorative.  If you go by what you hear in the media, it’s worked. If you go by election and polling results in red and reddish-purple states, it hasn’t.   Minnesota?  Well, the 2010 gubernatorial election showed Minnesota has 8,000 more low-information voters (along with Duplicate-Americans, Fictional-Americans and Deceased-Americans) than smart ones.  It might be a winning strategy. 

It might also show that that’s the best they can do; sputtering “Tea Partier” may be the “lowest blow” they think they can come up with. 

Anyway – the ad.  Like everything ABM puts out, it’s got an assortment of outright lies, and factoids stretched so far out of context as to be devoid of truth: 

Ms. Livermore [a "classroom teacher"] makes the dubious claim that Johnson “cut education by over $500 million” back in 2003, and then gave that money to corporations in 2005. Keep in mind that a similar ABM ad was judged “Misleading” by Minnesota Public Radio (of all places) for making those exact same claims. [The bill Johnson voted for in 2003 actually increased (rather than cut) public school spending.]

As always with ABM, though, there’s a level of stuff they don’t tell the voter (emphasis added):

No, the real lie in the ad comes from the “appeal to authority” of having an ordinary “classroom teacher” attack Johnson’s education policy. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Livermore served on the governing board of the teachers’ union Education Minnesota from 2004 to 2007. [By the way, she spells the word “education” incorrectly on her profile.]

Although her service to the state teachers’ union may have given her some familiarity with decade-ago state legislation, it doesn’t exactly qualify her as a garden-variety “classroom teacher.” “Former union official attacks Republican,” just doesn’t have the same ring. Funny thing, the viewer is never informed of Livermore’s connection to the union, who happens to be the largest donor to Democrat campaigns in the state.  

And to be fair to ABM, why should the viewer be informed of this?  The campaign isn’t about informing voters.  It’s about framing the opposition, just like Saul Alinksky taught them to.

MPR: Everything Is Juuuuust Fine

Mark Twain once observed that there are three types of media “fact-check” efforts:  Democrat PR puff-pieces, Bald-Faced Democrat PR puff-pieces, and legit ones.

A good fact-checker will note that Twain said no such thing.  My first paragraph was really a bit of hyperbole.

As such, it wasn’t intended to be a “factual” statement, per se, as one intended to express a subjective opinion and win people over to my side of an argument (or at least mock those who oppose me).  It’s a form of rhetoric; using language to try to persuade and convince. 

So while it’s not strictly “factual”, it is two things:

  1. It makes what I believe to be a legitimate point; from the smugly left-centric “Politifact” all the way down to most local efforts, the “Fact-Check” industry is for the most part intended to aid Democrats.  My statement isn’t intended to be a “fact” so much as a rhetorical device to open my case to the reader. 
  2. It sets off my personal opinion (based on years of reading and studying media fact-check organizations) that they are in the bag for Big Left. 

Hyperbole is but one tool the rhetorician uses to state his case.

OK.  I have a question:  Of the three choices I gave in the first graf, what is the latest edition of MPR’s “Poligraph” – a DFL PR Effort, a Bald-Faced PR effort, or legit? 

Read reporter Catherine Richert’s latest effort, and you be the judge.

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Their Master’s Voice

The latest poll numbers must be scaring the DFL; the Strib has officially switched into full-time shill mode.

In a paper full of “reporters” whose prime directive seems to be “fawn on the DFL”, Ricardo Lopez seems to be aiming for Columnist’s Row with yesterday’s paeon to the wonders of the Minnesota economy:

With business on the upswing and a state unemployment rate that’s among the lowest in the nation, Republicans lack a key issue voters often gravitate to during election season.

Four years ago, when the unemployment rate topped 7 percent and the state faced a projected $6.2 billion deficit, then-gubernatorial candidates Republican Tom Emmer and DFLer Mark Dayton presented voters with starkly different plans to stem the hemorrhaging of jobs and balance the state budget.

Since Dayton took office, the economic picture has brightened considerably. Minnesota employers have added more than 150,000 jobs, helping the state recover all the jobs lost during the recession. The real estate market has rebounded, and state finances are also strong. The most recent report available showed a projected state budget surplus of more than $1.2 billion, generated in part by the higher tax rates Dayton pushed through in 2013.

“There’s no question it would be easier for me as a challenger if everything appeared to be in shambles, that’s clear. But it’s not.” said Jeff Johnson, the Republican nominee hoping to unseat Dayton this fall. “I actually rise to that challenge of sharing a message that aspires to something much better than we have right now.”

Except that as we’ve pointed out, the economy is only “good” when you cherrypick the numbers pretty carefully

  • State Revenues are falling shorter and shorter of forecasts every month.  The deficit – which the GOP Legislature, not Governor Dayton, erased – is going to be back by the end of the current budget cycle. 
  • Underworked:  While the state unemployment rate looks good at 4.5%, the share of working Minnesotans that are underemployed is shockingly high - well behind not only both Dakotas, but Iowa as well – and wage growth has stalled (while government spending has not). 

But it’s the cherrypicking, not checking and balancing, that the people of Minnesota are going to get from the media. 

Expect a “Minnesota Poll” showing Dayton 80 points ahead sometime soon, here. 

 

Shot In The Dark: Today’s News, Three Weeks Ago!

The Good News:  Aaron Rupar yesterday became the first Twin Cities reporter to cover Ron Erhardt’s bizarre alleged [*] outburst to Andrew Rothman, of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.  Rothman was contacting the 84-year-old Edina representative to remind him to return  his biennial gun rights survey.  According to an affadavit from Rothman, Erhardt told him to stop contacting him or he’d “blow your head off”. 

The Better News:  If you get your news from Shot In The Dark, you knew this almost a month ago

The Bad News:  While the various gun-rights commenters in the City Pages’ comment section present themselves well, it’s depressing to note that each of the deranged-sounding anti-gun commentators’ votes count as much as that of a smart person’s (and that’s assuming that Mark Ritchie doesn’t allow them to vote more than once).

And By The Way:  Merry early Christmas, Dario Anselmo.

There’s Gambling Going On In This Establishment…

I’m not “Minnesota Nice”.

Partly it’s because I’m not from Minnesota.  I’m “North Dakota Dour and Taciturn”.   Minnesota is a South Beach conga line dance compared to North Dakota. 

And when I hear “Minnesota Nice”, what I think is “Minnesota Passive-Aggressive”. 

Bill Salisbury – one of the deans of Minnesota political reporting – and Don Davis, who fills the same bill with the Forum News Service, noted over the weekend that the ”Governor race could be ‘Minnesota nice’”. 

And my impression is proven correct.

That, and my belief that too many journos either think Minnesotans are stupid, or are actively trying to make them that way, as in this featurette on our two major gubernatorial candidates.

You can read the whole thing – but here’s the part that got my attention:

The Hennepin County commissioner and former legislator from Plymouth [endorsed GOP candidate Jeff Johnson] is an affable guy who shuns angry attacks on political opponents. That description also fits Dayton.

Sounds hunky-dory! 

Except that Governor Dayton doesn’t have to attack anyone.  He’s got his boss’s ex-wife’s group, “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota”, to do that for him. 

You know – the group that ran the epic, toxic sleaze campaign against Tom Emmer in 2010; the one that called Jeff Johnson “evil” over Christmas last year. 

The Democrats could run Shirley Temple against a Republican Beaver Cleaver; we’d soon hear see a commercial with Eddie Haskell complaining that Beaver bullied him as a child.

Minnesota’s Potemkin Party

Minnesota’s Independence Party has been, since its founding in 1998 from the remains of the Minnesota Reform Party, the traditional refuge of people who like their government big, but “good”. Moderate Democrats like Tim Penny, “moderate” Democrats like Peter Hutchinson, liberal Republicans like Tom Horner, and lots of well-meaning moderates who like thinking big thoughts and playing responsibly with the gears and levers of government have flocked to the IP, if only briefly.

Of course, there’ve been surprises – and according to MPR, there are more still

And the point of the story is not that the Independence Party got surprised.  The real point is…

…well, we’ll come back to that.

First, according to Tom Scheck, news that some of the Indy Party’s traditional base – wonky center-lefties – are shocked, shocked that the party’s Senate candidate Steve Carlson believes some things that most conservatives either reject or present with a lot more nuance than Carlson does:

Carlson, who could not be reached for comment, has posted several rambling video monologues on his website. One tells voters that he is “a serious politician who writes, performs and raps.” Others cover everything from the federal health care law to his opposition to light rail transit and a call for stronger prohibitions against usury. But Carlson’s victory on Tuesday means that on the November ballot he will appear on the top of the ticket for the Independence Party.

Of course, the Indy Party “activists” could have figured this out had they dug into the fact that Carlson ran on the same precise platform in the Fourth CD.  Twice – in 2010 against Teresa Collett, and in 2012 against Tony Hernandez.  In both cases, he ran well to the right of the Republican in the race.

Which goes to tell us one of two things:  Eithier:

  • The IndyParty actually has no activists, or
  • The ones they have aren’t that bright

But Carlson is well-placed to siphon some conservatives’ votes away Mike McFadden. 

Now, I’m not saying the DFL is going to get “behind” Carlson.  But why precisely would they not? 

In a similar vein, I’ve noted the IP’s candidate for Governor, Hannah Nicollet, is a former (oh, heck, current) Ron Paul activist.  And as I noted three months ago, any actual IndyParty activist would gag up their skull over the Paul clicque’s beliefs, and vice versa. 

If either the party or the campaign were about either of their actual principles. 

Oh, yeah – and Nicollet’s campaign is floundering, so far, even by the IndyParty’s modest standards:

Hannah Nicollet, the endorsed candidate for governor, failed to qualify for a public subsidy that would have helped fund her campaign. She needed to raise $35,000 from other sources to qualify for the subsidy, which would have totaled about $178,000.

See also “The Gerson Effect”.

So let’s get this straight:  four years after endorsing Tom Horner, a moderate Republican who seemed designed to wedge the GOP’s dwindling moderate faction away from Tom Emmer, the “Indy Party” endorses two candidates who violate most of the “principles” in the IndyParty’s putative platform, with whom tradidional Indies agree on virtually nothing, but who seem to the casual glance to be ideally selected to siphon off a conservative vote here and a libertarian vote there (Carlson from conservatives; Nicollet from the GOP’s “Ron Paul” faction) in an election cycle that is gonna be a tough one for the DFL.  

So the point of the story isn’t that the Indy Party got surprised.

The point is that the Indy Party is a sham.  And while I have no evidence – yet - I’ll bet dimes to dollars at some point that the IP gets whatever money it has from Democrats with deep pockets, to try to wedge whatever GOP constituency might be vulnerable to being wedged  Not necessarily in the form of direct contributions to the IP, Carlson or Nicollet; but as we saw in 2010, the DFL’s soft-money machine did spend plenty of time and effort setting Horner up as “a Republican” in fora where moderate Republicans could get the message.

The Alliance for a Better Minnesota or some other astroturf DFL propaganda mouthpiece is going to spend some time and effort telling Minnesotans what an awful, icky conservative Carlson is (compared to McFadden), and how crazy libertarian Nicollet is (compared to Johnson) at some point here.

Six Of One…

Turnout was low at Tuesday’s primaries.  Was a bad omen for the GOP, or just another data point with some interesting context?

Bad Omen:  Michael Brodkorb at Politics.mn throws up a warning sign:

Back in February, in my pre-precinct caucus primer, I encouraged people to compare the number of total attendees at precinct caucuses for the DFL and GOP. If the numbers were close, I wrote this could be a sign of malaise amongst Republican activists. Even with multiple candidates not abiding by the Republican Party of Minnesota’s endorsement for statewide offices, Republicans should have more attendees at their precinct caucuses. But they didn’t.

At the time of precinct caucuses, the Minnesota DFL has only one contested statewide race, as Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is not seeking re-election. Governor Mark Dayton and U.S. Senator Al Franken faced no opposition within the DFL Party. There were also 12 Republican statewide campaigns – six for governor and six for the U.S. Senate. Republicans also had contested endorsement races in the 6th, 2nd, and 1st Congressional Districts of Minnesota. The battles between the Republicans candidates for congress and statewide office should have encouraged more participation by Republicans on the night of precinct caucuses than Democrats. But the Minnesota DFL won the night. This should be a warning sign for Republicans.

Michael’s knows his politics.  I’d be hard-pressed to argue, much.  But to play devil’s advocate – what percentage of the state’s total population is “the GOP base” that turns out for primaries? 

And among those who are the “soft-core” base – the ones that’ll do primaries, but not usually caucuses?  Does a fractious, contentious primary make them more or less likely to come to the polls for a primary?

Finally – there were some crowded races (and at the legislative level, some interesting ones).  But one might be forgiven for thinking…:

  • the Senate race was a foregone conclusion, and didn’t need any given person’s vote
  • in August as in January (at the AM1280/Northeast Metro GOP debate), we had a four-way race among governor candidates who just weren’t all that different.  Wonks like Michael and (to some extent) me could tell the difference between Scott Honour and Kurt Zellers.   Outside the GOP wonk class?

Again, I’m just devils’ advocatin’.

Interesting Context:  On the other hand, Andy Aplikowski at ResFor – a person from whom I’ve learned more about political number-crunching than any single person in the MNGOP – writes:

All the focus on failure is on Republican turnout.

2010 GOP

Candidate Totals

OLE’ SAVIOR AND TODD “ELVIS” ANDERSON 4396

LESLIE DAVIS AND GREGORY K. SODERBERG 8598

BOB CARNEY JR AND WILLIAM MCGAUGHEY 9856

TOM EMMER AND ANNETTE T. MEEKS 107558

Total 130408

2014 GOP

Candidate Totals

MARTY SEIFERT AND PAM MYHRA 38798

KURT ZELLERS AND DEAN SIMPSON 43991

MERRILL ANDERSON AND MARK ANDERSON 7008

JEFF JOHNSON AND BILL KUISLE 55813

SCOTT HONOUR AND KARIN HOUSLEY 38331

Total 183941

Wait, the GOP turned out 53,000 more voters than in 2010.

I think why you see some people trying to paint the narrative of GOP voter apathy is because DFL apathy has reached toxic levels.

 

2010 DFL

Candidate Totals

MARGARET ANDERSON KELLIHER AND JOHN GUNYOU 175767

PETER IDUSOGIE AND LADY JAYNE FONTAINE 3123

MATT ENTENZA AND ROBYNE ROBINSON 80509

MARK DAYTON AND YVONNE PRETTNER SOLON 182738

Total 442137

2014 DFL Totals

BILL DAHN AND JAMES VIGLIOTTI 4896

LESLIE DAVIS AND GREGORY K. SODERBERG 8529

MARK DAYTON AND TINA SMITH 177737

Total 191162

The DFL saw a 251,000 drop off in voter turnout and barely drew more voters than the GOP in 2014.

To go back to devil’s advocate mode:  you can expect a drop-off; in 2010 there was a highly contentious governor’s race on the DFL side.  The only real competitive races on the DFL side this time were the State Auditor and the Secretary of State (which we discussed yesterday, and don’t look like good news to the DFL candidate to me). 

A drop-off of over half?   

My Admittedly Wishful Take:  I’m going to hope – and I am admittedly basing this on hope – that the numbers are sign of diminished enthusiasm on the Democrats’ part, and hope that the GOP candidates can appeal to the non-primary-going public this fall. 

Which is the big challenge.

For Second Amendment Freedom

Hot on the heels of yesterdays’ legislative report card from the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance comes today’s list of endorsements from the Minnesota Gun Owners’ Political Action Committee

The 78 additional endorsements join four endorsements for state representative previously announced by the MN Gun Owners PAC. A full list of endorsed candidates is below.

“This year, there are many races where there is a clearly defined choice between a candidate that does not respect the civil rights of gun owners, and those who do, ” said Bryan Strawser, Executive Director. “We will be mobilizing our grassroots supporters to get gun owners to the plls in August and November on behalf of our endorsed candidates.”

The full list of MNGOPAC House endorsements is below the jump:

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The Really Good Guys

Since we’re talking endorsements, the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee has issued its endorsements for this round of elections:

• Tony Cornish – House District 23B, Republican Party of Minnesota
• David Dill – House District 3A, Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party
• Steve Drazkowski – House District 21B, Republican Party of Minnesota
“Each of these three representatives has a long track record of strong and vocal leadership in support of the constitutional rights of Minnesota’s gun owners,“ said Mark Okern, Chairman, Minnesota Gun Owners PAC. “Tony, David, and Steve are power brokers, “ Okern said. “When they talk gun rights, their caucuses listen.”
“We are confident that Representatives Cornish, Dill, and Drazkowski will easily win re- election and continue to be steadfast supporters of the civil rights of gun owners in Saint Paul during the next legislative session, “ said Bryan Strawser, Executive Director.

More, I’m told, to come.

The Good Guys And The Bad Guys

The Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance has released its biennial Candidate Ratings list.

I don’t vote entirely based on this list – there are other issues – but suffice to say nobody with an “F” is going to get my vote, or any meaningful support, ever, no matter what.

The biggest surprise – Ron Erhard’s petulant outburst to a GOCRA volunteer.

Other than that?  It’s amazing what pro-Second-Amendment the outstate DFL is making.  The list is, by the way, rigorously non-partisan; there are not a few DFLers that out-score Republicans. 

Read the whole list, and vote accordingly.

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The Strib And Berg’s 11th Law

Over the weekend, theStribissued its endorsements for the GOP primaries.

And they were mostly utterly predictable – if you keep Berg’s Law in mind.  In this case, “Berg’s 11th Law of Inverse Viability” (“The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected”), and especially the Huckabee Corollary to Berg’s 11th Law (“The Republican that the media covers most intensively before the nomination for any office will be the one that the liberals know they have the best chance of beating after the nomination, and/or will most cripple the GOP if nominated”). 

It’s largely the Strib’s history of endorsements – endorsing the most moderate Republican for “reaching across the aisle”, but supporting the most extreme liberals for their “rock solid principles” – that ledShot in the Darkto the law in the first place. 

Race To The Middle:  The Strib endorsed Jim Abeler for Senate

Now, I’ve got nothing against Abeler, a longtime House rep from Anoka.  I’ve interviewed him more than any of the other Senate candidates.  He’s a sharp guy.  Too moderate for my tastes, of course – he was a member of the Override Six, among other things – but he states a good case for much of what he does.  I disagree with him, but I respect him.

But he came in around the bottom in the endorsement race at the convention.  The GOP left the moderate wing of the party (not that anyone’s told the moderates, like Dave Durenberger).  The Strib is doing its best to buff of the “moderate” wing of the party.  But only the GOP, naturally.

Coming from the Strib – which will surely endorse extreme liberal Al Franken for the race in November – how can this be seen as anything but trying to split their opposition?

Sivarajah:  I like Rhonda Sivarajah.  She’d make a spectacular Congresswoman.  Had Tom Emmer, and his name recognition and money, not entered the race, I think she’d have been a walkover to replace Michele Bachmann, and I’d have been happy to throw whatever I could offer behind her campaign (although that’s minimal, as is my impact on the race, as I live in the Fourth CD).

A lot of Republicans are like that. 

And what other reason could there be for the Strib to endorse her?  I mean, reading the part of the endorsement where they note Sivarajah helped build a conservative majority on the Anoka County Board, you can practically imagine the writer throwing up in their mouth.  But there is division to be sown, and the Strib will sow it, trying divide the GOP, and give the DFL candidate (whose name eludes me as, I suspect, it does all the voters in the 6th CD) a fighting shot. 

As always – Berg’s Law explains everything.  At least when it comes to politics.

Slouching Towards St. Paul

The Invisible Primary heads for it’s exciting dramatic interesting necessary conclusion.

There have been no polling updates.  No shocking endorsements.  No conflicts.  A candidate ended up in the hospital…due to an ulcer.

The slouch towards the Minnesota GOP choosing a candidate to go up against Gov. Mark Dayton will end in the next two weeks, and perhaps finally usher in some interest in what has proven to be a deadly dull campaign cycle thus far.  So how can the four major contenders to be the GOP nominee win on August 12th?

Businessman Scott Honour

Why He’ll Win: In the words of Jimmy Buffett, Honour has spending money – money to burn.  Having raised more money than any other candidate running for governor, including Mark Dayton, Honour has the highest cash on hand of the GOP field in the primary’s closing weeks.  While those figures are highly inflated by his self-contributions totaling over $900,000, Honour has demonstrated the ability and willingness to spend freely – a desirable quality when third party interest groups have raised $11 million (most of it for Democrats) for the cycle…

Why He’ll Lose: …but have you seen how he’s spending it?

 

Zzz…huh?  Oh, it’s over?

Honour may be playing on his “outsider” credentials, but he’s running the most “insider” looking campaign of the four major Republicans in the race.  His advertising hasn’t been unique, either in terms of style or substance, nor particularly plentiful for a man whose raised $1.7 million.  Even a sympathetic profile of his candidacy suggest he “hasn’t run a highly visible campaign.”  That’s not surprising given Honour’s massive payments to consultants.  Long-time GOP consultants Pat Shortridge and Shanna Woodbury have combined to cost Honour’s campaign almost $270,000.  Considering the last polls on the race showed him in 4th place, Honour may wonder what exactly he paid them for.

Former Speaker Kurt Zellers

Why He’ll Win: Give the former Minnesota House Speaker credit – he’s taken what should be a huge vulnerability (his uneven performance as Speaker) and leveraged it about as well as he could into a narrative of his opposition to Mark Dayton.  Granted, Zellers’ narrative ends in 2011, when the legislature forced Dayton to end the government shutdown on their terms, and leaves out the messy details such as the controversial constitutional amendments or the Vikings’ stadium debate debacle.

 

Much like his TV ad, Zellers is doing nothing wrong, even if he’s not excelling at doing anything right.  His branding isn’t unique, but it’s on message.  His no new tax pledge may be an albatross in the general election, but he’s running to win the primary.  He doesn’t have the greatest amount of cash on hand or legislative endorsements, but he’s second in both those categories.  Plus, he’s been either in the lead or tied for it in most polling (what little has been done).

Why He’ll Lose: A low turnout election, which this race is shaping up to be, isn’t great news for a man whose reasonably high name ID comes from a poor performance as Speaker.  Zellers has never been adored by the GOP rank and file, and his advertising isn’t abundant enough to necessarily undo memories of 2012 and a lost House majority.  The real question may be if Zellers has invested his limited resources into a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) organization or not – a likely better use of money than TV or radio advertising.  Zellers may win in a divided field where just enough Republicans vaguely remember his name without his political baggage, but that’s not a great winning strategy.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson

Why He’ll Win: The nearly 20 Minnesota GOP Victory Centers.  Neither Johnson nor the State GOP may have bountiful resources to contribute to the primary, but the endorsement process still has some value in the form of thousands of dutiful volunteers making GOTV phone calls.  And while that sort of internal support hasn’t been as consistent as it once would have been for an endorsed candidate (see the 8th Congressional District’s pushback, for example), it’s been more the exception than the rule thus far.

 

Despite being the endorsed candidate, Johnson’s advertising (what little there is of it) has leaned more on quirk than his endorsement (Scott Honour could have learned something here).  Given the state’s penchant for electing candidates with memorable advertising (Paul Wellstone/Jesse Ventura), the tactic is likely a wise one.  And with an independent expenditure group also running TV ads on his behalf, Johnson looks less likely to get buried in a last minute blizzard of ad revenue.

Why He’ll Lose: Johnson’s week off the campaign trail to deal with surgery for an ulcer is the least of his concerns; especially as his campaign took kudos for their handling of the situation.  The problem is that Johnson’s health was the most campaign coverage he’s received since the endorsement battle.

Nor has Johnson exactly leveraged his endorsement well.  Only 44 current and former legislators have endorsed his candidacy.  Rep. Erik Paulsen throw his support behind Johnson, but there’s little sense that the GOP powers-that-be are overly willing to spend political capital to ensure Johnson wins in August.  Even Johnson himself acknowledged a “wait and see” approach from at least the donor class.  If that attitude exists with the average activist, Johnson could certainly lose.

Former Rep. Marty Seifert

Why He’ll Win: He’s a “maverick.”  He’s courting voters in the rural regions of the State.  He’s completely unapologetic about his parliamentary maneuver at the State GOP Convention…wait, I’m writing about why he’ll win.

The former House Minority Leader certainly has some name ID with GOP activists, having won both the 2010 and 2014 caucus straw polls.  And despite all the attention being paid to the endorsement tiff, relatively few primary voters will have really heard about it, and even fewer will understand what the angst is about.  What voters in outstate Minnesota will hear is a consistent message targeted to rural issues, as Seifert has furiously toured the non-metro sections of the state.  The result should likely be Seifert dominating in districts like the 1st, 7th and 8th Congressional…

Why He’ll Lose: …but those districts don’t comprise nearly enough voters to win, especially if Seifert under-performs in the Metro.  Despite being the first GOP candidate to air a TV ad, the buy was small and not really focused on the Metro.

 

Nor does he have the resources to likely compete.  Seifert has raised the least amount of money of the four major candidates and has the smallest amount of cash still on hand – $71,000.  His totals aren’t massively different than Jeff Johnson’s, but Johnson has the party apparatus and an independent expenditure group to provide support.  Seifert’s ground game is totally up to him to fund.

While the resentment from Seifert’s endorsement exit may be hard for non-politicos to fully understand (or care about), it doesn’t help that in a race that’s been defined by the lack of conflict, Seifert’s candidacy is the only one having any significant anger directed towards it.  Under the old, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” rule, some primary voters – even those who may not understand the anger – may simply steer clear of Seifert based on the reaction his candidacy causes among others.  If Seifert had a well-funded ad campaign, it’s highly doubtful such anger among a small, but vocal, minority would impact the race.  In the absence of a strong counter-message (in particular in the media-heavy metro), Seifert’s candidacy looks like an outlier with segments of the base.

Why I’m Never Running For Office

About ten years ago, a sitting (at the time) GOP representative and long-time friend of this blog told me “you do realize, Mitch, that between the blog and your show, you can never, ever run for political office, don’t you?”

The fact that my written body of work is, no doubt, some oppo researcher’s dream has certainly served to keep me from getting too enthusiastic about pursuing a life in politics. 

And that’s largely a good thing.

Of course, opposition research on both sides – but especially the Democrats – is dedicated to making running for office as personally gruelling as possible for anyone who’d want to try.

Which is why the leftymedia’s on-cue jumping up and down like a bunch of poo-flinging monkey’s over Sheila Kihne’s old, excellent but long-dormant blog is so unsurprising. 

Of course, since it’s a primary battle, some Republicans are pitching in to defend incumbent Jennifer Loon against Kihne’s challenge. 

I suppose that’s one good thing about the blog; it’s cut down on any temptation.

The Invisible Primary

The electorate hits the snooze button on the Minnesota Republican gubernatorial primary.

It’s been 20 years since the Minnesota GOP had a competitive primary for, well, anything.  And with just over a month to go before voters chose Gov. Mark Dayton’s general election opponent, that rust is showing.

Whether it’s the airwaves, newspapers, or even political blogs, interest/coverage in the GOP primary has been as invigorating as an Ambien with a warm milk chaser.  What little polling on the race has been done bares out that fact, with 22% having no opinion of the four main candidates running, and 33% either undecided or choosing none of the above.

The result isn’t surprising.  Of the four major candidates, only businessman Scott Honour is running any sort of campaign advertising – a modest radio ad buy hitting Dayton on his handling of MnSure.  But having blown through the better part of $1 million on infrastructure and staff, Honour has been reduced to recycling his material.  The nearly exact same ad ran in May.

The rest of the field isn’t exactly making news, either.  Kurt Zellers’ campaign seems to exist solely by press release, with few direct campaign actions.  Marty Seifert’s endorsement by former Governor Al Quie is the campaign’s biggest story to date, as Seifert seems intent on winning the primary by eschewing the state’s major media markets to focus on outstate voters.  Jeff Johnson’s endorsement by Rep. Erik Paulsen carries some weight, but largely seems to reinforce that most of the state’s Republican endorsers are staying out of the fight.

If you can call this primary a ‘fight.’  Despite the ill-will following the Republican Convention in May, the interactions between the campaigns have been downright Marquess of Queensbury:

Last Friday, TPT’s Almanac hosted the first debate between the Republican candidates for governor since the Republican Party of Minnesota’s state convention in Rochester…I watched it three times this week, looking for some spark of energy, some sign of life in the Republican race for governor. I found none, as it was a non-event.

I reviewed Twitter, expecting to see a flury of public jockeying by the campaigns or their supporters. Nothing.

No press releases were sent out by the campaigns after the debate, boasting about the performance of their candidate. Nobody claimed victory, nobody really said anything. There were no debate parties, where supporters of a candidate gather to watch the event.It is almost like the debate didn’t happen.

Avoiding the traditional circular firing squad may be the prudent choice, but against the backdrop of such a vanilla campaign, one has to wonder how any of the four candidates expect to even reach November.

Most assuredly, August 2014 will not resemble the August of 2010 as Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza spent wildly, with Margaret Anderson Kelliher doing her best to keep up via her organization.  Indeed, the question of 2014 may be what candidate (if any) can create the organization necessary to match the GOP’s GOTV efforts on behalf of Jeff Johnson.  The endorsement may no longer carry the same monetary value, but the organizational value of numerous BPOUs making phone calls definitely has a price-tag for those seeking to replicate the effort.  In a low-intensity, likely low-turnout field, the GOP’s GOTV efforts will likely prevail.

The GOP’s greater challenge may be to have a nominee that’s prepared to contend after August.  A GOP candidate having won by a minimal amount, and armed with a poor campaign account – as would likely be the case for three out of the four candidates – isn’t in the best position to challenge Mark Dayton.

ADDENDUM:  Marty Seifert may slightly regret getting former Gov. Al Quie’s backing, given Quie’s decision to now also support US Senate long-shot Jim Abeler.  Nor does it likely help that the Star Tribune is reminding readers that Quie also backed Tom Horner four years ago.

Polling

A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that 33 percent of Americans pick Obama as the worst President since World War 2.  Dubya comes in second at 28 percent. 

So let’s try it this way:  Let’s rank the presidents since WW2.

In the comments, respond with your rankings of the presidents since WW2, in order from worst to best

Here’s the complete list:  Re-order them and leave them in the comments.

  • Truman
  • Eisenhower
  • Kennedy
  • Lyndon Johnson
  • Nixon
  • Ford
  • Carter
  • Reagan
  • George HW Bush
  • Clinton
  • George W Bush
  • Obama.

My vote is below the fold.

Continue reading

Two Patties Of Sizzling Ugh

A friend of mine from South Minneapolis emails.  The bad news?  :

Oh great, my favorite local bar and burger place where I have taken many of you is now world famous. The POTUS just had a “Jucy Lucy” at Matt’s. Crap. We’ve been going to this place for decades and now…the place will be known in every corner of the earth. Best kept secret burger joint now will be even more busy. Dang.

The good news?  At least he didn’t go to The Nook.  You thought it was hard to get into Matt’s even before the POTUS’ visit?

Contempt Of Populace

They say that dissatisfaction with the status-quo – everything from trite “anti-incumbency” to a genuine disgust with the power-mad “House Of Cards”-like ways of Washington (which Obama certainly didn’t invent, but which he’s moved front and center as the defining feature of his reign) will be the driving force in this fall’s election, and possibly 2016 as well.

To ensure that it is, I submit to you a few exhibits that show with crystalline clarity the contempt Obama’s Washington establishement feels for the electorate, whom they seem to believe couldn’t wipe and wash without their help:

The Master Of The Universe:   bit here, about yet another vapid, vacuous Obama staffer “slipping up and telling the truth” about his, and the Administration’s, view of the unwashed masses; it’s Tommy Vietor, one of the Administration’s spokes-drones:

“Iraq is just a ploy to distract you from Bergdahl which distracted you from the VA scandal which distracted you from BENGHAZI. Idiots,”

Seething contempt for the bitter, gun-clinging Jeebus freaks who’d dare question their betters?  The little prick is soaking in it!

Look at his picture at the link above; you can tell the little fop went to Georgetown, hasn’t had a job outside politics in his life, and doesn’t even look out the window when he’s flying to the west coast.

He’s not the poster-child for tearing down the establishment – but only because there are so many other options.

The Brahmins:  Juan Williams indulged in another of the left’s parlour games, “Let’s Compare Degrees!”, on “America’s Newsroom” last week; I’ll add emphasis:

WILLIAMS: It comes in a week in which she said they were dead broke when they left the White House, and that set off conservative blogs, and now this one coming from Rush Limbaugh. I don’t know if he wants to test his Mensa score versus Hillary. I mean, you know, she’s a big-time college grad. But I think what he’s trying to do is he’s trying to deflate a balloon here in that what he said later in that monologue was that Hillary Clinton is supposed to be the brightest woman ever, the most competent woman, and therefore she can be president, and he wants to take down that whole structure right now.

Did you see what Hillary! accomplished during her term at State?

No?

Neither did anyone else.

Williams indulges the liberal conceit that believes the name on ones diploma confers, by itself, excellence.  But most Americans know that the best thing, indeed the only good thing, that an “elite” education says about a person is that between the ages of 14 and 18 they lived a life that was perfectly calculated to win the attention of an admissions committee, knowing that four years of playing the paper chase would give them the one thing of value that attending an “elite” institution really confers; access to the alumni directory.  And that’s the best thing it says about a person; in most cases – Hillary!’s among them – it means they were born into “Legacy” status (and if you read that and think “informal aristocracy”, you’re only wrong about the “informal” part).

For this good of this country, anyone with with an “elite” degree – or for that matter, anyone who’s been out of school more than three years who still talks about where they went to school – should be disqualified from public service.   As should anyone who refers to “Mensa” score unironically.

Pay no attention to the utter lack of accomplishment, peasants.

Fortune Favors The Bold

Rand Paul, speaking in Iowa, nailed a few key points the GOP needs to remember, nationally and here in Minnesota:

“There are people who say we need to be more moderate,” he said. “I couldn’t disagree more.”

“I think the core of our message: we can be even more bold,” he added. “When Ronald Reagan won a landslide, he ran unabashedly … that’s what we need … It isn’t about being tepid.”

It’s “moderation” – and its idiot cousin, compromise with Big Left – that have left the nation in the mess it’s in.

The American people – the ones that can be reached, anyway – know this, whether they can state it in as many words or not.

Go conservative/libertarian, or go home.

I Went To Rochester, And All I Got Was A Hotel Bill

People have asked me what I thought about last week’s GOP convention.

First things first:  I’m happy that Jeff Johnson won the endorsement.  I never, ever “endorse” candidates myself – it’s really arrogant, it’s hell on bookings, and who cares what I think? – but I was honestly torn between Jeff and Dave Thompson, and will be happy to support either of them, or Seifert, Honour, Farnsworth or Zellers for that matter, if they wind up on the ballot after the primary.   Dayton

“But what about the Seifert flap?”   My friend Ben Kruse, broadcasting at the lesser talk station, made waves by lighting up Seifert earlier this week.  I’m less certain; I think it was a tactical play that didn’t work, but may not necessarily have backfired.  It’s a long way to the primary. 

“How about McFadden?” I get the impression that the Norm Colemans and Vin Webers and other K Street eminimentoes who are behind the McFadden campaign are presuming that keeping a candidate enigmatic until the last final push to the election is a good tactic, starving the media beast of opposition research opportunities.  Part of me wonders if the tactic isn’t to keep him quiet now (when 1% of the electorate cares) until Labor Day (when maybe 10% cares), but sometime before the week or two before the election (when the vast majority start to pay attention).  It’s an interesting experiment, if that’s the case. 

I would urge McFadden to get straight with Minnesota’s gun owners.  They’re a big, organized, conservative bloc – and you do not want them staying home, or squandering their votes on some bobbleheaded Libertarian, come election day. 

More on the show tomorrow.

One Day In The Governor’s Office

SCENE:  The office of the Governor of Minnesota.   Gathered around a table are:

  • Carrie LUCKING, the Executive Director of Alida Messinger’s “Alliance for a Better Minnesota.  She is at the head of table.
  • Bob HUME, the Governor’s chief of staff, sits at LUCKING’s right.
  • Tina FLINT-SMITH, the governor’s other chief of staff, is at LUCKING’s left.
  • Yvette PRETTNER-SOLON, the Lieutenant Governor, dozes at  far end of the table
  • Hannah UNDERLING is standing by.

LUCKING:  In the name of Alita the Mother Almighty, I call this meeting to order!

HUME, FLINT-SMITH and UNDERLING:  All hail!

LUCKING:  So what have you discovered?

HUME:  Well, honey… (LUCKING fixes HUME with a withering glare) …er, sir, the Republicans are facing an unruly split in the Libertarian wing of the party. 

FLINT-SMITH:  We believe they can be wedged. 

LUCKING:  In the name of Mighty Alita (a speaker blares a thunder sound effect in the background, and UNDERLING flickers the light switch of and on a few times) make it so.

HUME:  We’ll pass the governor off as a Libertarian!

FLINT-SMITH:  I’ll put Baird Helgeson on it, over at the Strib.  Hannah?

UNDERLING:  Yes, ma’am?

FLINT-SMITH:  Issue an order to the Strib.  The Governor is now a libertarian. 

UNDERLING: By your leave. 

LUCKING:  What else?

HUME:  We have reason to believe that the GOP is going to make a move for Somali immigrants.  They even have a candidate, running against Phyllis Kahn. 

LUCKING:  We shall make the Governor Muslim.  His middle name is Faruq.   (Thunder effect, as UNDERLING flickers the lights).

FLINT-SMITH (gets up and walks to and opens the closet door).  Mark?

GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON (muffled, from inside closet):  Huh?

FLINT-SMITH: You’re Muslim now.

DAYTON: (thinly) OK. 

(FLINT-SMITH closes the door)

LUCKING:  Next?

HUME:  The GOP had their convention.  They endorsed several candidates, but several are going to the primary.

FLINT-SMITH:  AKA “The DFL Way” .

LUCKING:  Who are these people?

HUME (pulling out clipboard):  The first is the governor candidate, Jeff Johnson.

LUCKING (thinking deeply):  We shall issue a press release saying he is Wrong For Minnesota. 

FLINT-SMITH:  Hannah?  Get on it.  (UNDERLING takes a note)

HUME:  The next one is the Senate candidate, Mike McFadden.

LUCKING (thinking even deeper):  We shall issue a press release saying McFadden is…Wrong For Minnesota. 

(UNDERLING takes a note)

HUME:  Dan Severson is running for Secretary of State.

LUCKING (deep in thought):  I think that we need to tell Minnesotans that Severson is…

(silence.  HUME and FLINT-SMITH wait with bated breath, as UNDERLING scribbles on her notepad and PRETTNER-SOLON snores lightly)

LUCKING:  Severson is Wrong For Minnesota.  (nods her head as the others jot notes).

UNDERLING:  How about Arne Carlson?

LUCKING:  Arne Carlson is…Wrong for Minnesota as well.

UNDERLING:  He’s not actually on the ballot. 

LUCKING (looks confused for a moment.  Then focuses on UNDERLING):  You are Wrong for Minnesota. 

HUME:  I brought brownies. 

FLINT-SMITH (taking a brownie, takes a bite.  Grimaces):  Um…did you use salt, or sugar? 

HUME:  Dammit.  Not again…

LUCKING:  The brownies are Wrong For Minnesota. 

HUME:  Oh, by the way, Carrie?  I couldn’t get reservations at Crave tonight. 

LUCKING:  That’s Wrong for Minnesota!

(And SCENE)

You Can Laugh If You Want To

You would not be the first.

A few weeks back, the Ventura Independence Party, which has throughout its history been a center-left party of people who just loooooove to tinker with the buttons and levers of government – which is the opposite of “libertarian” – endorsed a political newcomer who’s never held elective office, never run for election (that we’re aware of), but who came (along with her husband) from the Ron Paul clique.

Then, the Libertarian party candidate for governor – a party whose existence the regional media barely acknowledges – gets “arrested” while on his petition drive in a DFL-controlled city.

OK, that last might be a bit of a stretch.

But this?  Governor Messinger Dayton battling his “libertarian” streak?  Not so much:

Now as he sets off on his battle for re-election, Dayton says he finds himself increasingly frustrated at the layers of bureaucratic machinery that too can often smother good intentions.

“I vacillate every day from being a liberal to a libertarian,” the governor said in an interview before his overwhelming DFL endorsement for a second term. “Depending on what is happening, I sometimes go back and forth more than once a day.”

Read the whole thing (and to his credit, reporter Baird Helgeson does carry some of the dumbfounded reactions to the preposterous premise).

The DFL is trying to wedge “libertarians” away from the GOP.

Fearless predictions:  the campaign finance reports will show donations from liberals with deep pockets to Hannah Nicollet and to the Libertarian Party candidate.