All That DFL Happy Talk About The Economy…

is baked wind.

 Minnesota lost 4,200 jobs in July, and is adding them at an anemic pace year-to-date:

State officials said Thursday that Minnesota employers shed a seasonally adjusted 4,200 jobs in July. Meanwhile, they also revised June’s numbers downward by 3,600 jobs.

That means that, year-to-date, Minnesota has added a meager 2,900 jobs, or about 400 per month, on an adjusted basis.

During July, the education and health services sector lost 5,300 jobs. Information shed 1,000; construction, 700; financial activities, 200; and government, 100.

The sectors that added jobs: trade, transportation, and utilities (up 1,600); manufacturing (700); leisure and hospitality (600); and other services (200). Logging and mining, and professional and business services held steady.

Look for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s lie machine to fabricate a lot of phony economic happytalk in the next ten weeks; as we discussed earlier, they’re off to a running start.

No – a lot.

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.

Slump

Amid all the DFL’s bragging about the economy – which Bill Glahn dispensed with earlier this week – let’s note that for the fifth straight month, tax receipts are off.

And not by just a little bit (emphasis added):

Minnesota’s tax collections for July have come in $69 million below expectations.

The Department of Minnesota Management and Budget released its monthly revenue Monday. It shows the state took in 6.6 percent less than was forecast.

And in the wake of the DFL’s bragging about the state’s ostensible unemployment rate?

The shortage was most acute in the area of individual income taxes, which were off by $36 million. Officials say some could be attributed to timing of tax payments or refunds.

Sure.  Some of it could.

But most of it is attributed to the fact that under DFL rule, the state’s economy is slumping.  Slowly – it’s a gradual thing, as economic trends always are – but definite.

And all the DFL’s happy talk is fermented BS.

Breaking Some Eggs

I had a great pleasure of meeting seven or eight of my closest friends at the River Oasis Café in Stillwater Saturday morning.

We talked about the cafe last week; they aroused the ire of the entire Minnesota Left – few of whom would ever seem to have been at the River Oasis – by putting their “minimum wage fee” on their receipts:

20140811-065434-24874747.jpg

First things first: It’s a classic American diner – like Mickey’s on West Seventh, or Keys, and not a whole lot of others out there anymore. The food was excellent.

I had the pleasure of talking with Craig Beemer, the owner, on my show on Saturday afternoon (and his wife on Saturday morning). And we learned a couple of things about the place, and the “controversy”.

Money:  One of the left’s main whining points about the public “minimum wage fee” is that it’s “disrespectful to the employees”.  

Of course, it’s a stupid point.  Unlike most restaurants, the Beemers already pay the back of the house staff – the line cooks, dishwashers and the like – better than minimum wage, and (according to Beemer) very competitively with the similar places in Stillwater.  That’s the kind of “respect” I actually cared about when I was a low-wage employee.

The only people making minimum wage are the waitstaff – and when you add on tips, they’re making closer to $25 an hour, often more, and the minimum wage is not an issue. 

Except for the Beemers, for whom the wage hike was a $10,000/year hit on the bottom line.   Remember – restaurants across the river in Wisconsin have a minimum wage of $3-and-change per hour.

Because they have a tip credit.

Power:  Which is what Governor Dayton’s sons asked for earlier this summer.  Andrew and Eric Dayton, owners of “The Bachelor Farmer”, a chi-chi restaurant in Minneapolis, complained to Dadders because the new, higher minimum wage hike was harshing their fiscal mellow.  They asked for…

…a tip credit.

Bonus Explanation For Leftybloggers, none of whom apparently have ever worked for tips:  you don’t work for minimum wage.  Even when there’s a “tip credit” in effect and your “wage” is $3-and-change/hour, like in most surrounding states, you’re still making more.  How much more?  If you work at a crummy place with lousy food, maybe not enough more.  If you work at Manny’s Steakhouse and tend to tables  that rack up $400-$1000 for a meal, you can make well into six digits.  In between?  It’s a complex set of dependencies; waiting skill, clientele, season, even the weather. 

But for all the crap that Tom Emmer took for his “waitstaff making over $100,000″ “gaffe” four years ago, you might be amazed at the number of waitstaff that take home solid middle-class “living wages”; $50,000, $75,000 and more. 

Which isn’t bad for a trade that requires no education, licensing or anything but talent and hard work.

Which may be what bothers liberals about all of this.

“If Ifs, Ands And Buts Were Candy And Nuts, We’d All Have A Wonderful Unbedankfest”:  Here’s another note for ignorant leftybloggers; a “tip credit” acknowledges the fact that for a good waiter at a good establishment with a good clientele, the minimum wage is the fringe of their income; the owner can apply some of the waitstaff’s tips to the wage, in effect. 

“I think tipping is just wrong”, whined a massive clot of liberals last week, “and I think we should do away with it; it’s unfair.  They should all just be paid”, they say, reflecting the “progressive” desire to oversimplify the free market (and working for tips is the ultimate meritocracy). 

Of course, it’s been tried.  Not a few restaurants have tried to abolish tipping – paying their waitstaff more, and jacking up the prices accordingly, to a brief flurry of adoring media attention. 

Then they quietly vanish.  And a few years later, the cycle repeats. 

“It’s So Tacky!”:  Tackier than jamming down a minimum wage increase with the barest possible minimum of debate, and then reconsidering when the governor’s kids get into a jam? 

“Why don’t they publicize all the costs that hit their bottom line?”:   Because if they use too much electricity, they can unscrew the lightbulbs in the bathrooms.  If the price of tomatoes goes up, they can use fewer of them in their recipes.  If Ecolab cleaning products are too expensive, they can switch to Servicemaster.   In other words – as with everything in the free market (including restaurant choices), they, the consumer, can say “no” and pick a better option. 

But they can’t switch states.  Tempting as it is for many businesspeople.  Government is the one thing you can’t say “no” to, without having men in uniforms with guns busting down your door eventually. 

And the hypocrisy of a “progressive” movement that twisted itself into knots to try to legitimize the “Occupy” movement turning around and attacking an actual working business for using its right to free speech is enough to put me off my breakfast, were it less delicious.  

“What are you going to do, Berg?  Hang out there all the time?”:  It’s not really about me.  But when in Stillwater – a place I may get to annually – sure why not? 

The “point” they’re shooting for is that conservatives won’t be going there forever, and the liberals among the Oasis’ clientele will stay gone. 

I’m going to guess that most of the people doing the “protesting” have never been there, and would never have gone - and if they did, they were, like most liberals, lousy tippers anyway. 

Anyway - kudos to the Beemers.  And thanks for a fantastic breakfast, a great discussion, and for fighting a battle that a lot more people need to fight.

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.

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.

Solution!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The legislature raised the minimum wage law.  Now the Governor says it may need to be fine-tuned.  Why the change of heart?

His sons own restaurants.  The minimum wage increase will hurt their business.  He should take a page from President Obama and issue an Executive Order exempting favored businesses from the law. 

Joe Doakes

It would at least be honest…

It’s The Minnesota Way!

So you want to effect some change in Minnesota politics?  Perhaps right a wrong that you see?

What’s the best way to do it?

Spend years mustering supporters and changing public opinion?  Like the Tea Party?

Or sit in tents out on the sidewalk, warmed only by relentless NPR coverage, like “Occupy?”

Nonsense.  Just have a plutocrat father who had his office bought for him by your stepmom!

During an interview with the Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Board last week, Dayton said his sons Andrew and Eric Dayton have been making the case that tipped employees should be treated differently. His sons own the Minneapolis restaurant “The Bachelor Farmer.”

“It may be that we have to fine tune it. I understand my sons’ frustration with the tip credit issue. They make a very articulate case,” he said.

During the legislative session, the Minnesota Restaurant Association had pushed hard for a tiered tipped employee system. Under that proposal, an employee whose wages and tips equaled at least $12 per hour would be paid at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Dayton said his sons have said that the minimum wage increase means their wait staff will be making significantly more per hour than the dishwashers and other staff.

Wait…

…I seem to remember a governor’s race four years ago.  Where a candidate suggested exactly that.  And was pelted with pennies, to the gleeful tittering of the local media and left (ptr).

So the next time you’re a liberal dilettante and you find your hobby restaurant is being financially stressed by the DFL legislature’s innumerate noodling in the labor markets, just make sure an assembly of oligarchic plutocrats gets Dadders elected!

Problem solved!

SUPPLEMENTAL QUESTION:  By my count, this is the third or fourth law that Governor Messinger Dayton had to sign to know what it’d do.

“Unexpected”

For the fourth straight month, Minnesota’s revenues came in below forecast – and the rate of the shortfalls is accelerating.  That is according to Minnesota Management and Budget, which is nominally non-partisan (but whose leadership depends on Mark Dayton for their employment, and whose rank and file work for AFSCME). 

Exactly as fiscal conservatives said they would.

Over the past four months, the shortfalls add up to over $200 million dollars – enough for a couple of Senate Office Buildings (hat tip: Ben Kruse). 

So what does this mean? 

Forward To The Past!:  Remember 2010?  When the DFL/Media harped on the “six billion dollar deficit” that two years of DFL control of the legislature had left us? 

The deficit that two years of GOP control in the Legislature erased and converted – in the year after the DFL took control, when GOP policies were finally taking effect – to over a billion in surpluses? 

The “D” word is back.  Oh, not that the Strib is going to make anything of it, not yet – not until there are Republicans to blame – but this adds new impetus to the predictions that the state budget – which the GOP dragged out of six billion dollars worth of deficit in 2011-2012 – is heading back to deficit in the budget’s off-year. 

So what does this mean?

Remember that $1.1 billion surplus that the DFL inherited from two years of GOP control?

Well, memories are all we have. If revenues keep falling at this rate, and the shorftall keeps growing at the rate it’s been accelerating this past few months, we’re going to be at over a billion dollars in deficits by the end of this year. 

And the worse news? 

Underperforming:  The budget forecasts were based on the projections of economic activity using the activity of the years of GOP control as a baseline, with growth predictions factored in.

The growth isn’t happening as predicted. 

So for all the DFL/Media’s happy talk about Minnesota’s economy, the MInnesota economy is like a Summit Avenue mansion; the main floor, where the Fortune 500 folks like Target, Best Buy, Ecolab, 3M and the like hang out looks just great – but the foundation is rotting away.

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.

Rangers: They Hate You. They Really Really Hate You.

Why were the DFL’s array of sock-puppets out in such force writing about the GOP convention?

To draw attention away from their own, up in Duluth.

First came reports that the DFL were denying media credentials to reporters from newspapers that had criticized Dayton.

Which is one way of silencing dissent.

Another way to silence dissent?  Agree not to talk about the inconvenient truth – that the DFL is intensely split on  mining.

That’s what the DFL did at their convention in Duluth over the weekend; looked at the upcoming bloodletting between their ultra-liberal, metro-area base – which is as dogmatic a pack of environmentalists as you will find in Democrat politics – and the Iron Range.

The Range, of course, is Minnesota’s red-headed economic stepchild; an area of the state whose economy has been draggy since the demise of the US steel industry forty years ago.

Of course, there is an immense wealth of minerals under the ground in Northern Minnesota, putting thousands of underemployed miners back to work, and creating jobs for many, many thousands more in the many areas that support mining – everything from mine equipment maintenance to truck driving to convenience stores catering to people going to and from work.

But currently – thanks to DFL-authored environmental rules and business regulations – it is literally better business to load ore-rich rock into trains and ship it to North Dakota than to build a processing plant in Minnesota.

So while the DFL had only one significant endorsement battle – to pick a Secretary of State candidate – the battle lines were in fact forming to duke out the battle between blue-collar Rangers and the businesses what want to hire them on the one side, and plutocrat Metro-area environmentalists (including Alita Messinger, who bankrolls Minnesota’s environmentalist messaging as completely as she controls the DFL’s).

And the DFL responded the same way Brave Sir Robin did:

In the end, activists on both sides came to the microphones to urge hundreds of feisty dele­gates to delay the vote indefinitely, a remarkable showing for a party that has seen conventions erupt into damaging fights with political scars that can last decades.

“I think people on both sides understand that we can have respectful differences, but we need to make sure we don’t do anything that is going to take away from our candidates’ ability to win this fall,” said Ken Martin, DFL Party chairman. “So there was a lot of discipline here. People understand the ramifications of the issue.”

Well, we certainly hope they do.

Because those ramifications were:

  • To shut everyone up so that…
  • …the same pack of Metro-DFL hamsters that have been working to keep Rangers unemployed and on the dole can get re-elected in what should be a tough year for them.

In other words, “Just two more years, Rangers, and we’ll think about it.  Or four.  Or eight.  We’ll get back to you…”

And hopefully it’ll get tougher for the DFL.  Stewart Mills has a genuine shot at sending Rick Nolan packing over this very issue.  More than that?

Think about it, Iron Range.  This isn’t your grandfather’s DFL.  The DFL is controlled by Metro-area poshes who haven’t dug for anything but grad-school grants in their lives.  They hate your guns and hunting and outdoor life.  They hate your largely pro-life beliefs.  And above all, they hate what you and the generations before you try to do for a living.  You, Ranger, are to the Metro DFL what the black or Latino family, or women, are; reliable votes in exchange for cheap lip service.

Money – jobs, in this case – talks.

Iron Rangers should know what walks.

Democrat Fatcat Largesse

Think you’re done paying for football?

Hah.  Dream on, peasant ripe-sucks.

Helga Braid Nation is doing cartwheels that “we” will be hosting a Super Bowl in 2018 at “our” stadium. 

And Mark Dayton is going to soak up whatever sunlight the event gives him among the “Happy To Have Someone Else Pay For My Bread And Circuses” set:

Dayton and members of the city’s bid committee held a news conference Wednesday to celebrate landing the Super Bowl. The NFL chose Minneapolis largely because of its new stadium.

Oh, yeah – even though none of us will be able to afford to attend this particular circus, we’ll all be subsidizing it:

The governor says the state has made no commitments for tax breaks to the NFL apart from a sales tax exemption for Super Bowl tickets that remains on the books from when Minnesota hosted it in 1992.

But Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, says organizers may ask for sales tax exemptions for some of the other festivities.

Here’s a note to Minnesota’s Republicans; here would be a great time to draw the line on the whole “limited government” thing.  Also the “subsidizing billionaires” thing. 

So the next time you find yourselves surrounded by The Walking Meat all dressed up in purple and pounding the Idiot Drums, think to yourselves; in 2012, Mitt Romney and a whole bunch of Minnesota Republicans lost, not because independents didn’t vote GOP – they did – but because conservatives, angry about serial betrayals on the whole “limited government” thing (Vikings stadia, caving in on budget hikes in 2011 before the negotiations even began, etc), stayed home in droves.

(If the Bears aren’t playing, I don’t care.  And if the Vikings are playing, I’ll bring Scarlett Johannson as my date).

Be Thankful, Peasants

Two billion in new taxes.

A 1.2 billion dollar surplus (thanks, GOP majority from 2011-2012!), which means “unexpected” money collected in taxes, and is money that is lost from the economy.

That’s a total of $3.2 billion extra dollars sucked out of the Minnesota economy – about $600 for every man, woman and child in the state, or close to $1,000 for every taxpayer.

And we’re supposed to be thankful that the DFL majority deigns to “give” us $550 million “back”.

That’s about 17 cents on the dollar.

If you gave your cashier a $20 bill for a $15 meal, and you got 85 cents in change, I’m going to guess you wouldn’t be “thankful”…

Compare And Contrast

Governor Messinger Dayton signed an increase in the state’s minimum wage today. 

What Governor Messinger Dayton Said:  “People who work hard should be paid enough to achieve the American Dream”. 

What Governor Messinger Dayton Actually Meant:  “I have now found a way to force the private sector to buy votes for the DFL”. 

Personal note:  One of my kids is working for more than the current minimum wage, but less than the new one.  I hope it’s the children of the sitting DFL legislators who lose their jobs when the wage rises, and not my kid. 

But I’m going to guess there’s not much chance of that.

Blowing In The Wind

Winston Churchill once said “I’d rather be right than consistent”.  I’ve always agreed with this; I don’t personally care if I – or someone else – changes their mind on an issue, as long as the mind gets changed in the right direction. 

Turns out Governor Messinger Mark Dayton knows that quote too.

Of course, as MPR’s Tom Scheck notes, if you simultaneously take every position on an issue – say, medical marijuana - you can be right no matter what. 

Right?

Here’s a sampling of what he’s said since January.

Sponsor

• “I told law enforcement groups when I ran for office four years ago that I would not support medical marijuana over their strident opposition, and they are still stridently opposed.” — TPT Almanac, Jan. 31

• “I’m told by law enforcement that you can buy marijuana in any city in Minnesota. We have the distribution system already set up. It’s extra legal. It’s basically not a crime, excuse me a very minor crime, for people who possess an amount for personal use.” — conference call with reporters, March 13.

• “The real goal is to help as many of these kids as possible. The experiment is part of the framework of it but our real goal is to help people and to relieve suffering and pain.” — news conference, March 21.

• “Absent the interests of the authors in accepting something that can be supported more broadly, I don’t think there’s anywhere to go this session.” — MPR News interview, March 25.

• “I’ve said all I’m going to say about medical marijuana. You had statements. You asked questions. I’ll give you another statement. I’m just not going to discuss it further.” — news conference, March 28.

And as Scheck notes, it’s far from the first time Dayton has tired to play all sides of a fractious issue; Taxes, Zygi WIlf’s real-estate improvement handout…the list goes on. 

My thesis – Dayton is going to bounce around like a blind overcaffeinated ferret in a daycare playroom on any issue where Alita Messinger and Carrie Lucking haven’t affirmatively told him what to think.

Governor Choom Nasty

First, Governor Messinger Dayton says he won’t back a medical marijuana bill that doesn’t have the support of law enforcement – which is a little like saying you won’t back a seat belt bill unless it has the support of realtors. 

Then, Governor Messinger Dayton tells the mother of an epileptic kid to go buy illegal weed while the Legislature muddles through debate on various medical chiba bills.   The penalties, even if she’s caught, would be pretty minimal, after all (unless some cop or prosecutor gets it in her head that mom is dealing, which could result in a SWAT team beating down her door, shooting her dogs, and leaving the family handcuffed on their lawn while their house is ransacked and then forfeited to the police department long before any trial would occur - but let’s not get bogged down in details).

And now, Governor Messinger Dayton is using the DFL’s pals in the media to undercut the parents who went to the media in the first place. 

Or to try to, anyway:

Dayton’s account of the meeting is simply not true, say two activists who were there. One of them, Patrick McClellan, 47, who has muscular dystrophy, told PIM early Friday afternoon, “I was sitting right next to him when he said it. He said that driving back from Colorado is not like going out of the country, there are no checkpoints with drug dogs at state lines.

“I said that bringing the drug back from Colorado would be a federal offense, and he said, ‘I live in the real world, and no one would prosecute someone who was just trying to help their child.’

McClellan continued: “He told me, also, to get it on the street. His logic was, it’s just a petty misdemeanor. I told him that if I had more than an ounce and a half, it would be illegal for me to try to use a medical defense for that possession. He snapped at me that I was just making up hypotheticals.

“I have an uncle who is a retired judge in Fremont, Nebraska, and I told him what the governor said [about transporting marijuana or marijuana derivatives from Colorado]. He said he couldn’t believe that the governor of Minnesota was encouraging me to break the drug laws in his [the uncle's] state.”

Never mind what you think about marijuana laws (I think pot should be legalized, but so should maceing hackey-sack-playing, Dave-Matthews-listening, hemp-wearing stoners) – this is not the behavior of someone who belongs in, er, high office.

Chanting Points Memo: The Head Fake

Joe Soucheray got fooled.

The entire Twin Cities media has either been fooled, or is playing along.   I vote “playing along”.

Governor Messinger Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Bakk aren’t “fighting”, or “at odds”, or “in a conflict” over the DFL’s so-called “tax cuts” (which, let’s not forget, “cut” less than 10% of the four billion dollars worth of tax hikes the DFL jammed down back in 2013).

This is all theater.   And it’s about as spontaneous as a porn shoot.

Signs the DFL planned this from the ground up?   Ask yourself this; why is Governor Messinger Dayton, who is up for re-election this year, “in conflict” with Tom Bakk – who is not up for re-election this year – and not Paul Thissen, who is?

The entire “story” is a carefully-manicured charade designed to make Mark Dayton – who signed four billion dollars worth of tax hikes last year with little more thought (and perhaps little more knowledge) than he’d use signing a credit card receipt at the Oceanaire – look like a “tax cutting moderate” compared with the Senate (who are utterly safe for the next two years, and for whom the media will help engineer something in two years anyway), but heaven forbid not the House, who are, mirabile dictu, not involved in this particular fracas.

I’m Jumpin’ NARN Flash, It’s A Gas, Gas, Gas…

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism, as the Twin Cities media’s sole source of honesty!

  • I’m in the studio today from 1-3.  I’ll have Senator Roger Chamberlain on, regarding the dueling Bullying Bills.  Then, we’ll talk with Kim Crockett about the ”Minnesota Exodus”, all of companies leaving Minnesota over taxes. (oops – that’s next week…)
  • Don’t forget the King Banaian Radio Show, on AM1570 “The Businessman” from 9-11AM this morning!
  • Tomorrow,  Brad Carlson is on “The Closer”!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of honest news. You have so many options:

Join us!

NARN Tomorrow

It’s gonna be a huge show tomorrow on the Northern Alliance Radio Network. 

First, I’ll be interviewing Senator Roger Chamberlain about the dueling bullying bills, and why it’s an important battle even if you don’t have kids in the public school system.

Then, I’ll be talking with Kim Crockett about the number of companies leaving Minnesota over taxes.

Tune in 1-3 tomorrow on AM1280 The Patriot!

DFL: “Peasants! Continue Rendering Tribute!”

This is the photo that “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” posted on Twitter just now, in the wake of the announcement that Minnesota has a billion dollar budget surplus:

That’s right, Governor Dayton. Thanks for putting $1.2 Billion in the state coffers. Those must have been some righteous Renoirs you sold.

Oh, wait. What’s that? The surplus is revenue above and beyond the $2 Billion in tax hikes that is forecast to be taken in by the state in the coming year.

From us. The taxpayer.

And yep, the DFL is already trying to think of ways to spend it – to give a little of it back to you, the people who  paid it in in the first place, and spend the rest on, largely, graft for the DFL’s owners supporters. 

Oh, yeah – notwithstanding the fact that the surplus exists solely because of the GOP’s restraint in spending and holding back the budget (imperfect as they were at that) over the past four years, the DFL is claiming credit…

…along with every dime they can from this surplus.

So yes.  Thanks, Governor Dayton, for taking more of my money – about $250 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota – out of the economy than even the DFL’s spendthrift budget could. 

Thank you so very much.

What Minnesota Deserves

Knowing that the media will never allow it to amount to anything serious, Governor Dayton “takes responsibility” for the MNSure fiasco:

Dayton reacted Thursday to a report from Optum, a unit of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group. The report found MNsure’s problems are widespread and cannot be solved by the March 31 federal deadline for most people to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Optum said the state could try to fix the current system, which could take up to two years, or try to get it minimally functional for 2015 enrollment while building a new system from scratch.

Both options are exquisitely expensive.  There’s an old software engineering saying; “Fast, Cheap, High Quality – you can have two”.

And that’s at best.

And we’re not going to get “at best”.  Why?

Emphasis added:

“Those are the decisions that the new management is going to be making, and obviously the Legislature will be involved and the board and I’ll have my say in it too,” Dayton told reporters.

Even in the private sector, “designed by committee” is a synonym for “Bulgarian goat rodeo”.

Healthcare is impossibly complex; politicians operate entirely in the realm of oversimplification, and that’s even if they have a general sense of “what is right”, which our DFL-dominated legislature does not.

Politics is the worst possible way to allocate scarce resources and solve complex problems.

“But we’re going to fix it. We’re going to improve it. I’m determined we’re going to give Minnesota what it deserves.”

Minnesota already got what it deserved when it swept the DFL into power.

Will it deserve better this fall?

Debate

Last Saturday, Brad Carlson and I had the great pleasure of hosting the first ever North Ramsey County Republicans Gubernatorial debate.  The event was put on by the three BPOUs in northern Ramsey county – House districts 42A, 42B and 66A.

We had five of the GOP governor candidates on stage with us; Marty Seifert, Jeff Johnson, Rob Farnsworth, Dave Thompson and Scott Honour.

We had about 100 people in the house at Concordia Academy – which, for a first-time GOP event deep in Blue Ramsey County on a day with greasy roads was excellent turnout.  A lot of people also tuned in via the live stream and, of course, on AM1280 (the debate was during my show’s regular time slot).

Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press was there, and wrote about the event in a piece titled “Debate reveals similar messages from GOP’s five candidates for governor” – which was a perfectly valid first impression of the event.  Candidates are being cautious now, playing largely to the party base (for caucus purposes) while trying to woo uncommitted and non-activist Republicans (for the primaries, which look pretty inevitable at this point).

Salisbury:

But the audience of about 100 partisans and students at Concordia Academy wanted to know: Who is the most electable?

That’s the biggest difference between this year’s Republican contest and the party’s 2010 nomination battle.

“No one asked that question four years ago,” former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert said after the 90-minute debate. In 2010, Seifert lost the GOP gubernatorial endorsement to conservative firebrand Tom Emmer, who then was defeated by Democrat Mark Dayton despite a wave that swept Republicans into control of both houses of the Legislature for the first time in four decades.

This year, Seifert said, grassroots Republicans are hungry for a win and less concerned about ideological purity.

It’s a different race than it was four years ago; bidding to replace Mark Dayton is different than trying to follow-up Tim Pawlenty.

The audience questions were sharp and incisive, and I think they accurately reflected the concerns of real Minnesotans pretty clearly; the economy, the disintegration of health insurance under Obamacare and MNSure, and – most poignantly – a lot of high school kids wondering what kind of economy they were going to be graduating into.

From my perspective as a co-moderator?  The candidates were pretty similar; all various shades of “conservative enough”.  Farnsworth was pragmatic, and a bit of a homespun technocrat, with fairly detailed ideas for solutions to problems raised.  Seifert was sharp – like someone who’s spent four years working through the questions, having a brisk, calibrated answer to everything.

m.twincities.com/twincities/db_295955/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=604T07tB

Debate Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, AM1280 will be joining with the North Ramsey County Republicans in putting on the first really good gubernatorial candidates’ debate of the season!

Brad Carlson and I will host the event, at the Concordia Academy in Roseville (just north of Highway 36 on Dale Street).  The debate will start promptly at 1PM, and will be heavily audience-participation focused. 

As this is written candidates (in alpabetical order) Rob Farnsworth, Scott Honour, Jeff Johnson, Marty Seifert and  Dave Thompson are all on the line-up.  This may be the best debate you’ll hear before the caucuses. 

It’s a fund-raiser for the North Ramsey County Republicans (House districts 42A, 42B and 66A).  Admission is $10 if you register in advance.  Refreshments will be provided, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume some of us are going to adjourn to a local watering hole afteward for a post-debate wrapup. 

So sign up and come on out!  It’s going to be a fun event!

Two Days ‘Til The Debate!

This Saturday, AM1280 will be joining with the North Ramsey County Republicans in putting on the first really good gubernatorial candidates’ debate of the season!

Brad Carlson and I will host the event, at the Concordia Academy in Roseville (just north of Highway 36 on Dale Street).  The debate will start promptly at 1PM, and will be heavily audience-participation focused. 

As this is written candidates (in alpabetical order) Rob Farnsworth, Scott Honour, Jeff Johnson, Marty Seifert and  Dave Thompson are all on the line-up.  This may be the best debate you’ll hear before the caucuses. 

It’s a fund-raiser for the North Ramsey County Republicans (House districts 42A, 42B and 66A).  Admission is $10 if you register in advance.  Refreshments will be provided, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume some of us are going to adjourn to a local watering hole afteward for a post-debate wrapup. 

So sign up and come on out!  It’s going to be a fun event!

Bad Lieutenant

Can you fog a mirror? Then you too can be a lieutenant governor!

As Yvonne Prettner Solon bids farewell to the office of Lieutenant Governor, should Minnesota do so as well?

When it comes to political shockwaves, the announcement that Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon would not seek a second-term as Mark Dayton’s running-mate barely constitutes a ripple in the political waters.  And why not?  Over the past four years, Prettner Solon joined a long and undistinguished list of Minnesota lieutenant governors who served their time largely under the radar of the media and electorate.  Even Prettner Solon’s own webpage touts her “actions” as a small collection of out-of-state/out-of-country travels, with a dash of in-state touring on behalf of federal initiatives (helpfully spelling as a typo as well).

Prettner Solon’s (in)actions say less about her tenure than about the limitations of the office of lieutenant governor itself.

John Nance Garner’s infamous quote about the Vice-Presidency as “not worth a bucket of warm piss” (often sanitized as “warm spit”) might as well apply to Minnesota’s lieutenant governors.  With perhaps the exception of Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who served as the commission of Transportation in the Pawlenty administration, Minnesota’s lieutenant governors have served almost no active role in policy direction or political leadership.

Indeed, the trend-lines for the state’s lieutenant governors have seemingly further minimized an insignificant position.  Whereas past lieutenant governors had gone on to serve in higher office, such as Rudy Perpich, Sandy Keith, Karl Rolvaag, C. Elmer Anderson and Edward Thye, the past several decades haven’t even seen lieutenant governors make a post-office political impact.  Joanne Benson, Joanell Dyrstad, and Marlene Johnson all made bids for higher office in the 1990s (Governor, U.S. Senate and St. Paul Mayor, respectfully) and lost – badly.  None of them even made to the general election.

All of this begs the question – does Minnesota require a Lieutenant Governor?

Seven states forgo the position, with two of those states, Tennessee and West Virginia, having the office of lieutenant governor be only an honorary title on the Speaker or President of the State Senate.  The line of succession, often the only value to the office, goes either to the Senate President or the Secretary of State.  In Minnesota, about the only other value to the office is as a gender counterweight to the top of the ticket.  Lou Wangberg was the last male lieutenant governor of the state – a fact useful only as trivia for political nerds.  Otherwise, every winning ticket (and most of the losing tickets) have had a female running-mate since 1982.

Closing the office of lieutenant governor won’t save Minnesota much.  The combined office budgets of the Governor and his lieutenant are only $3.3 million.  But if Minnesota could willingly end a constitutional office like State Treasurer, which had at least some active management in state affairs, then why not do the same for a office that has strayed far from any meaningful policy or political moorings?  Every candidate for governor claims they will reinvent the office of lieutenant governor with their selection.  Dayton himself promised that Prettner Solon would become a “strong partner” if elected.  If travelling to Canada and opening a Duluth office were parts of Dayton’s idea of partnership, he didn’t say in 2010.

Outside of the endorsement process for both parties, the role of lieutenant governor serves absolutely no purpose.  And in an era where it appears both parties are drifting away from placing much value on being the endorsed candidate for governor, whatever justifications remain for the office are quickly disappearing.

ADDENDUM: Even Prettner Solon seems to have expected more out of her office, if her comments at her press conference were accurate:

She has said she and the governor have a distant relationship. She said she anticipated being more involved in more policy initiatives as lieutenant governor, but she carved out a niche of her own working on initiatives for seniors and Minnesotans with disabilities.