100 Reasons I’m Voting For Tom Emmer

As I do before every important election, I’m listing the top 100 reasons I’m voting for the top of the ticket.

Of course, I became an Emmer supporter long ago.  The GOP started the campaign early – right around State Fair time in 2009 – with a crop of great candidates and rumored candidates.  Paul Kohls was a sharp guy; I could have easily supported Pat Anderson; Dave Hann is right about everything that matters; most of all, Marty Seifert would have been an excellent standard-bearer.  I would happily have written these 100 reasons about any of them.

But Emmer became my personal front-runner as Ed and I interviewed him at the Fair on September 4, 2009.  Someone asked him a question about some kind of wedge-y social issue or another.  And without skipping a beat, Tom responded “I dont’ care; this election is about jobs and the economy”.  Emmer is the single best stump speaker in Minnesota politics today.  And for all the left and media’s efforts to paint him as some sort of extremist, Tom has not only stuck to that message, but has shown himself superb at explaining that message to people who don’t start out as believers.  Which is the main reason the DFL has had to run such a superlatively slimy, negative campaign against him.

And to be honest, those were the only reasons I really need to support Tom Emmer.  But I came up with 99 more.  Because that’s what I do.

To wit – the 100 main reasons I’m voting for Tom Emmer today.

  1. Because the DFL’s plan is a return to the past, in ways that just don’t make sense anymore.
  2. Because the DFL’s big-money, big-union, big-service model was based on economy that exploded at a time when America was the only serious economy on earth.
  3. And times have changed.
  4. And Tom Emmer knows that we have to change our government with those times.
  5. And Mark Dayton thinks that if you throw enough obstinacy and rhetoric and taxpayers money at life, the clock will turn itself back to the DFL’s glory days.
  6. Not to mention his own glory days.
  7. And as that great political commentator said, Glory Days will pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye.
  8. Because Emmer’s about providing three things; Jobs
  9. Jobs, and
  10. Jobs.
  11. And Dayton is not.
  12. Unless you’re an AFSCME, SEIU, MAPE other state employee.
  13. Indeed, we know of many companies that are going to leave Minnesota, sooner or later, if taxes don’t moderate.
  14. And we know many, many more that are waiting on the fence to see where their investments are going to go.
  15. Because it’s not just about creating jobs.  It’s about creating a climate where companies will create jobs, and new companies will form, and hire people to work for them, and more new companies will form to provide goods and services and wholesaling and distribution and support and markets and suppliers for the companies above.
  16. And Mark Dayton’s policies will curb that as effectively as any policy designed to curb business growth on purpose ever could.
  17. Because our state government needs to be re-engineered…
  18. …and Emmer has the plan to do it…
  19. …while Mark Dayton’s entire plan is to just pour more of our money down the rathole.
  20. Because of Emmer’s enemies; the SEIU, AFSCME, the Teamsters, and the bureaucracy are the only people who benefit from the current government.
  21. Because Tom Emmer is one of us.
  22. And I just know that some idiot leftyblogger will go “yeah, he’s a middle class white guy”, which shows you yet another reason Emmer needs to win; the phony “diversity” pimps must not be rewarded.
  23. No, Tom Emmer is a Minnesota guy who grew up the child of business people, worked for the business, worked his way through college and law school, worked his way up the hierarchy of his business – just the way most Minnesotans have to, whether they’re white middle class guys…
  24. …or Latino working-class gals…
  25. …or black single mothers who are fighting to keep their kids’ charter schools afloat…
  26. …or Asian immigrants who are working in their uncle’s restaurant while they earn their engineering degree.  It’s all part of a story…
  27. …that Mark Dayton never participated in, can not understand…
  28. …and has to have interpreted for him  by his advisers from the AFSCME, MFT, MAPE, SEIU, ACORN, CommonCause and MoveOn.
  29. Tom Emmer doesn’t have to have anyone explain “the Minnesota Dream” to him.  He’s lived it, and his whole plan is about opening up that dream to everyone.
  30. Because Mark Dayton is the wrong guy for the job.
  31. He was an unmitigated disaster as a Senator…
  32. …and an undistinguished State Auditor….
  33. …and a failure as Economic Development commissioner – so bad that his boss’ son wrote an Op-Ed claiming that he bailed on the job before a recession, to salvage his political future.
  34. And his only “plan” is to start jacking up taxes.
  35. And as much as he caterwauls about “taxing the rich”, the fact is that his proposed “taxes on the rich” won’t even begin to cover the deficit, will slow the state’s economy and sent it into a vicious, revenue-killing spiral…
  36. …that will result in the definition of “the rich” being pushed ever downward until pretty much everyone in Minnesota is “rich”…
  37. …while, paradoxically, poor.
  38. Because his plan will gut charter schools – a racist plan that will destroy the only meaninful “school choice” most inner-city parents of color, and from poor families, and immigrants and Native Americans, have to try to get their children a decent education.
  39. (But Dayton needn’t care, because he went to Yale).
  40. Dayton’s plan, indeed, is voodoo economics of the most trite, vapid order.
  41. And Minnesotans are smarter than that.
  42. (Or, after Ventura, McCollum, Ellison and Franken, I guess I should say they can be smarter than that.  Here’s your chance, Minnesota!)
  43. Because “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” is, paradoxically, an alliance for a much, much worse Minnesota.
  44. Because while I don’t really want big corporations buying my elections, I don’t want Alita Messenger buying them, either.
  45. Or Big Unions.  What’s the SEIU done for us lately, besides demand more money and more subsidies?
  46. Ditto the Minnesota Federation of Teachers?
  47. Or, more tellingly, the entire Dayton family?
  48. Because anyone the Twin Cities Media has been working so hard to gundeck this last six months has to be good.
  49. Because Pat Doyle smeared Emmer in the Strib
  50. …and I busted Doyle.
  51. Because if Tom Emmer wins, maybe the Twin Cities media will examine some of their prejudices, and focus less on electing DFLers and more on…reporting the news?
  52. Because if Emmer wins, perhaps people will, once and for all, start treating the Minnesota Poll like “news”, and more like an “in-kind campaign contribution”, which is all it is.
  53. Ditto the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute Poll
  54. And “Mid-Morning with Keri Miller”.
  55. Because while I have no doubt that the Twin Cities media will eventually ask questions about Mark Dayton’s alcoholic relapses and mental health record, it’d be good to settle that before he takes on the most powerful job in Minnesota.
  56. Or preferably rather than taking it on.
  57. Because it will pound a stake through the heart of the old, RINO Republican party
  58. Because Lori Sturdevant seems to have staked out a market at tut-tutting Republicans for not being like the Republicans of the 1970’s – and far be it from me to want to constrict somebody’s market.
  59. Because Tom Emmer survived the most epic smear campaign in Minnesota history.
  60. And that sort of behavior must not be rewarded.
  61. Think about it; if Mark Dayton wins, all of ABM’s lies will be considered justified.
  62. Because to the left, the end justifies the means – and since power is their end, this campaign will codify the means; lying, smearing, slandering.
  63. And “power”, in this case, means not only the power to tax you back to the stone age, but to scupper the economy of this state for a generation.
  64. Which, let us not forget, is yet another end that’d justify their means, if it succeeds. Because a state with lots of DFL dependants is a state with a happy DFL.
  65. Because if Tom Emmer beats out this epic smear campaign, perhaps the Minnesota DFL and its lefty allies will learn some f****ng manners.
  66. Because I don’t want the definition of “Marriage” decided by a bunch of moron legislators or bobbleheaded, agenda-driven judges.
  67. Because if Emmer wins, free speech wins.
  68. It was the “Citizens United” Supreme Court case that allowed corporations to contribute to political campaigns.
  69. And so a raft of Minnesota companies contributed to “MNForward”, a pro-business PAC.
  70. And a legion of howling lefty nutcases lined up to crucify these businesses…
  71. …well, no.  They didn’t line up to slander and badger Polaris or Davisco or Securian.  They lined up to attack Target Corporation as “anti-gay”…
  72. …even though Target is one of the most pro-equal-rights-for-gays companies in a state full of companies that bend over backwards to prove their “diversity”.   The attack wasnt’ because of anything Target did, but to try to bully and browbeat all Minnesota companies who dared to dissent from the DFL and their various hangers-on.
  73. BTW, Tom Emmer is no more “anti-gay” than Barack Obama or, for that matter, Mark Dayton.
  74. Because while the “Minnesota Miracle” of Minnesota Media Myth is indeed largely mythical, and would have happened anyway
  75. But today, Minnesota needs a real miracle, and we need it now.
  76. And real miracles come from the private sector…
  77. …and the best thing government can do is stand out of the way – lending the odd helping hand (by, say, providing an educated and competent work force – ooops, sorry about that, Minnesota Federation of Teachers) and letting private enterprise and the market do the hard stuff.
  78. Because while Governor Pawlenty has done a helluvva job keeping the wheels on this state, it’s only going to get more difficult as the Obama Depression grinds on.
  79. And we have two more years of The One to survive; and electing a responsible, grownup, conservative government is a great first step in telling the rapacious federal regime “not so fast, bitches”.
  80. Because it’s a big wave.
  81. And if Emmer wins, then so will Michele Bachmann.
  82. And Erik Paulsen.
  83. And John Kline.
  84. And since the Constitutional Officer races usually follow the governor’s race, an Emmer win will bring back Pat Anderson to State Auditor, replacing the fairly useless but boundlessly venal Rebecca Otto.
  85. And Dan Severson could win, replacing Mark Ritchie, who was basically put into office to further George Soros’ grand scheme of having fifty in-the-bag secretaries of state.
  86. And Chris Barden could become the Attorney General, giving us an AG that will work for Minnesota, rather than for Mike Hatch.
  87. And if Emmer wins big, there’s a decent shot that Chip Cravaack will win as well – and Congress desperately needs Jim Oberstar to leave and go into the lobbyling business, where his heart really belongs.
  88. And if Emmer wins, the coattails will help Randy Demmer, too; every little bit helps.
  89. And of Tom and Chip take it downtown, then Lee Byberg will stand a decent chance of toppling Colin Peterson.
  90. And if Tom, Chip, Randy and Lee pull it off, then the heretofore unthinkable – Teresa Collett knocking off Betty “Mission Accomplished” McCollum – is suddenly thinkable.
  91. And Joel Demos might just be able to pack his wife and kids up and head off to DC as well.  Because we’re Minnesotans, and we do believe in Miracles.
  92. And if that happens, somewhere on the campus of the Blake School, some mirthless harpy’s head is going to explode.
  93. And some hard-scrabble Latina will make a few bucks cleaning up the mess, giving her the money to feed her kids and drive them to a good charter school,  where they become good educated citizens, who vote Republican…
  94. …and help repeat the cycle…
  95. …so that before too terribly long the DFL – the great destroyer of jobs, the albatross on the back of the Minnesota economy, the racist ravager of school choice, the thuggish apparatchik that wants to make sure you do no better than they do, will become a third party.  Like it so richly deserves.
  96. Because I want Minnesota to be a good place for my children.
  97. I don’t want Minnesota to become a Cold California, a windy Greece, a passive-aggressive Michigan, a “nice” Massachusetts.
  98. And DFL rule merely ensures that that is exactly what will happen.
  99. And conservative government is not just sane, stable government, it’s the key to a prosperous, sustainable state.  Even the parts that aren’t government.
  100. Because it’s something you can do for A Better Minnesota.  All of us. Together.

So let’s make this happen.

Previous “100 Reasons” posts:

In Case There Is Any Doubt

I was, to the best of my knowledge, the first blogger in Minnesota to publish predictions to which he has stuck through the campaign (other than the traditional “I’m gonna vote for the party with which I’m identified!” that, let’s be honest, is pretty much de rigeur among partisan bloggers).

So while I reserve the right to do another round of ’em before the election (because, yo, it’s my blog, at least until the Democrats sic the FEC on us all), there’s how the race looks to me, so far:

CD 1:  Demmer is going to trip Walz in the home stretch.  It’ll be close – maybe within a point – but Demmer’s going to win.

CD 2: Kline by a conservative 25.

CD 3: Paulsen by 12.  Meffert has run a fairly inept campaign.

CD 4: See below.

CD 5: See below.

CD 6: Bachmann by ten over Clark, who has run an utterly inept campaign.  Indeed, it could be said that when it comes to running a district-wide race, Clark doesn’t know $#!+.

CD 7:  See below.

CD 8:  I believe Chip Cravaack is going to win this thing.  Oberstar’s performance in the Duluth debate was so arrogant, so self-absorbed and scolding and condescending and tone-deaf, that I believe this is the year.  Cravaack has run a flawless campaign, and if there is a story where the backstory is shaping up to spell “Cinderella”, it’s Cravaack’s.

Which is not to say Cravaack don’t need help.   Volunteer. Knock doors.  Drive people to the polls.  Every legal, legitimate vote counts.

Attorney General: I think incumbency gives Lori Swanson a huge advantage over Chris Barden.  I also believe that if even half of the allegations Barden and the WCCO I-Team have surfaced are true, Swanson (and her puppetmaster, Mike Hatch) will be so damaged that the office is assailable in four years.  Will Barden pull it off this year?  I think it depends on tsunami-like GOP turnout and diminished DFL response.  If there was a year that this could happen, this would be it.

But I think a late surge of people who feel betrayed by the Obama/Reid/Pelosi axis of failure could help put Barden over the top.

Secretary of State: Dan Severson has run a campaign almost as intense and energetic as Cravaack’s.  Overcoming incumbency in these constitutional office races – which are usually painfully low-profile – is usually very difficult.  If anyone can do it, it’s Severson.   I’m calling it a tossup, dependent on turnout.  Huge GOP turnout?  Severson wins.  Your mission is clear, people.

State Auditor: I think Pat Anderson has stated her case pretty impeccably.  I think she wins by 2-3.

Governor: :I’ve been predicting Emmer by three points all along.  I am going to stay right there.  I think it’ll be dead-on for a number of reasons; over the past two weeks, there’ve been indications that independents are breaking powerfully to the right, just as Emmer needs.  The Dayton campaign, its putative lead in the last few polls notwithstanding, is campaigning  like it’s behind, leading me to think that the DFL has internal polls that show a different story than the public numbers.   I suspect that the polling will be driven by the “leaner” questions – the economy, gay marriage – that the polls downplay at this state in the election (Rasmussen doesn’t release ’em at all).  I suspect DFL turnout – especially for the off-putting stiff Dayton, who’d be a loser of a candidate even in a good DFL year – is going to be disappointing, and there is evidence that GOP turnout, especially in the Third, Sixth, Eighth and perhaps First and Seventh districts, is going to be really, really intense, in a sense that none of the current polls have the mechanism to model properly.

So I say Emmer by three.

Below: The 4th, 5th and 7th CDs are tricky.  Which, in and of itself, is a very good thing; they used to be the simplest districts to predict; they’d always be DFL blowouts by 30-50 points.  And they still could be.  In a normal year, I’d shake my head and predict that Teresa Collett, Joel Demos and Lee Byberg would be doing well to get over forty points.

And yet.

If Chip Cravaack is genuinely threatening in the 8th CD, then truly anything can happen.  And Collett, Demos and Byberg have all run tough, hard-working campaigns, and all of them have raised vastly more money than their predecessors.   If there is an avalanche of independents ready to vote conservative (not necessarily Republican), then Cravaack’s tide could help carry them all, plus Emmer, over the top.

Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson are having to actually campaign in their districts for the first time in years, and while neither of them have humiliated themselves as badly as Oberstar did in last Tuesday’s debate, they’ve both committed gaffes (Peterson’s “my voters are crazy” quip, McCollum’s “Mission Accomplished, now let’s get the Marines working on global warming!” remark) that show they are now residents of Planet Beltway.

In this case, truly, hedging is the honest answer.  Collett, Demos and Byberg are all in admittedly extremely tough races against well-entrenched incumbents; under normal circumstances, getting within twenty points would be a moral victory for any them.  And I believe they will all score that moral victory.

And I’m not going to rule out bigger and better things.  Not yet.


Of course, all of these depend on turnout.  Which means if you’re a conservative and/or Republican, this is go time.  Volunteer for a campaign.  Get out there and knock doors, man the phone banks, update databases, replace vandalized signs, go to rallies – help out.

The good guys can win this one.  Let’s make it happen.

The Unthinkable: Duluth Paper Endorses Cravaack

The Duluth News-Tribune – a traditionally left-leaning paper in a traditionally left-leaning district – Ou endorses Republican challenger Chip Cravaack over 18-term incumbent DFLer Jim Oberstar.

While giving a nod to Oberstar’s “achievements”, and acknowledging his vote for Clinton’s  “debt reduction” bill in 1993 (that relied on tax hikes more than spending cuts), the DNT notes that these are different times:

But there’s also no escaping the chilling reality of our nation’s economic state. Unemployment hovers around 10 percent, despite stimulus and other efforts to turn the tide. Health-care reform has companies warning employees of the likelihood of increased health-insurance costs. A pair of wars rages. And the national debt stands at a staggering $13.6 trillion and is increasing at an alarming rate of $3.8 billion a day.

The brake pedal of fiscal responsibility is needed in Washington now as much as ever. Although Oberstar voted in 1993 for the biggest debt reduction in post-World War II history, the 17-term incumbent is hardly the embodiment of financial restraint and new direction.

And they figure – as I do – that Chip’s the guy for the times, and the job:

His opponent, on the other hand, Republican Chip Cravaack, represents what Congress, including Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, needs at this critical crossroads in American history. A pro-business, fiscally conservative, former Navy captain, with a master’s degree in education, Cravaack has smarts. He is articulate, reasoned and composed. More critically, he has specific and promising strategies to pull the nation out of its financial funk.

“This is clearly unsustainable,” Cravaack said last week of our nation’s mounting debt and free-spending ways. “The best thing to correct the situation is to create a business-friendly environment where the private sector creates jobs.”

This is huge – justifying a rare Sunday posting from me.

I’m going to be releasing my election predictions tomorrow.  And while I’ve believed for a week that Cravaack was could pull off the upset of the year – nationally! – this is another log on the fire.

There’s A Hot Sun Beating On The Blacktop

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism from 9AM-3PM.

  • Volume I “The First Team” –  Brian and John or some combination thereof kick off from 11-1.  They’ll be talking with gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, among other guests.
  • Volume II “The Headliner”Ed and I follow from 1-3PM Central.  We’ll be talking with Attorney General candidate Chris Barden about his accusations against Lori Swanson/Mike Hatch (pardon the redundancy).  Plus we’ll talk with Chip Cravaack’s campaign about his get out the vote effort and how Twin Citians can help, and with Sanu Patel-Zellinger about her race for the MN House in east Bloomington against Ann “The Moneyholic” Lenczewski.
  • The King Banaian Show! – King is on hiatus from 9-11 on AM1570, Business Radio for the Twin Cities!  We’re broadening the franchise; two stations, now – so when King hopefully wins his House race, he’ll be Representative Banaian!
  • And for those of you who like your constitutionalism straight up with no chaser, don’t forget the Sons of Liberty, from 3-5!

(All times Central)

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

  • AM1280 in the Metro
  • streaming at AM1280’s Website,
  • On Twitter (the Volume 2 show will use hashtag #narn2)
  • UStream video and chat (at HotAir.com or at UStream).
  • Podcast at Townhall, usually by Monday
  • Good ol’ telephone – 651-289-4488!
  • And make sure you fan us on Facebook!

Join us!

News Flash?

From Blois Olson’s “Morning Take“: word has it that the Duluth News Tribune is doing to do the unthinkable:

Sources close to the CD8 campaign of Republican Chip Cravaack are telling people that on Sunday the Duluth News Tribune will endorse his candidacy to replace Democrat Rep. Jim Oberstar.

I’m not going to write “Developing…” at the end of this post – good lord, what kind of hapless dork do you think I am? – but I’ll be following this very, very closely.

I’m starting to feel really optimistic about Cravaack’s shot, here.

Oberstar Breaking The Law?

The other day Politico did a piece about Jim Oberstar’s fundraising, and how little of it comes from within the Eighth District.

And one of his staffers apparently knows something the rest of is don’t.  Or didn’t.   Emphasis added:

“They are taking lawn signs, putting up lawn signs, making voter-contact calls, door-knocking, distributing campaign [literature],” [Oberstar staffer Jim] Schadl told POLITICO in an e-mail. Moreover, Schadl, says, there are another 527 waiting in the wings to help out in the final run-up to the election.

Er…campaigns aren’t supposed to act in collusion with 527s.

Because that’s how they get money out of politics.  Y’know.  By preventing politics from being polluted by money.  From businesses or unions.

If we had a functional mainstream media in this state, full of bright, curious people whose job it was, say, to dig into stories like this – people like, I dunno, Pat Kessler or Erik Eskola or Tim Pugmire (not to keep picking on Pugmire; I just don’t want to have to wing it trying to spell Mark Zdechlek) – perhaps the people of Minnesota might find out if there was there, there, story-wise.

A Not So Modest, Utterly Pragmatic Proposal

It’s go time for Republicans in Minnesota. And by “Republicans”, I mean conservatives, and people who can be convinced that Minnesota’s liberal traditions and Barack Obama/Mark Dayton’s takeover of society will leave us all the worse for wear.

If you live in the Third Congressional District, you are in a semi-competitive race – but Jim Meffert clearly doesn’t pack the gear.  Still, if you live and work in the Three and support the GOP and conservative ideals, you will need to hunker down, help out Paulsen and your local state House/Senate candidates, and maybe dig deep and see if you can free up a buck or two to help those races out.

If you live in the Fourth or the Fifth – you know you’re the underdogs. I’m one of you.  And yet you have great candidates with great messages, facing weak candidates (especially the Fourth CD’s Betty McCollum, one of the most inconsequential people ever to serve in Congress).  And you’ve been working; somehow, the GOP found a reserve of people whose spirits had not been trounced by decades of living in one-party cities, and have been campaigning in precincts that haven’t seen a GOP voter in a generation. We’ll come back to you.

If you live in the First District, you are seeing signs of hope; Walz is weak, Demmer is raising good money, Walz backed a lot of deeply stupid legislation – Demmer could pull this off.  Hang in there, and above all, keep working.

Of course, if you live in the Seventh and Eighth, you might be feeling like you just climbed into a car with the accelerator stuck to the floor.  Lee Byberg has raised more money than  Colin Peterson’s last generation’s worth of challengers combined, most of it local.  And Chip Cravaack has not only blown the lid off of the usual polling in the Eighth District, but uncovered what looks like a wave of populist conservative enthusiasm in that long-benighted part of the state.

I don’t want to get too excited, but Byberg, Demmer and Cravaack could all catch fire here.

I’ve never felt that about the Seventh or Eighth in all the years I’ve lived here.

Now – if you live in the Sixth District, Michele Bachmann is going to win by 10 points.  Maybe 12.   So while the leadership of the Sixth District will scream at me for suggesting it, I’m going to say “howzabout you take a moment to peel  off a few bucks to help out one of the swing districts?  Maybe help conquer one of the districts that hasn’t seen sane representation (or in the case of the Eighth, seen their representative at all) in a generation or two?

And if you live in the Second District, you know in your gut that if Shelly Madore gets within twenty points of John Kline, it’ll be with the aid of a lot of corpses in cemeteries in Apple Valley.  Kline is going to demolish Madore.  Now, in 2008 I suggested peeling off some money and some volunteer time to help out in some of the swingier districts, and Janet Beihoffer – the 2nd CD chair at the time – nearly took out a hit on me.  But I’m going to do it again.  John Kline is going to win, and win huge.  So will Bachmann.

So if you live in those districts and see fit, and want to help back up some of the confidence that’s buzzing around the state, please consider peeling off some volunteer time to drive from the Second to the First, or from the Sixth up to the 7th or 8th, to help Randy, Lee or Chip.  Or send a few bucks to Randy, Lee and especially Chip and, if you really want to pray for an upset that’ll shock the world, for Joel Demos and Teresa Collett.

Here’s where to start:

  1. Randy Demmer
  2. John Kline
  3. Erik Paulsen
  4. Teresa Collett
  5. Joel Demos
  6. Michele Bachmann
  7. Lee Byberg
  8. Chip Cravaack

More – much more – later.

Everything You Believe About Minnesota Is Wrong

This post was largely written for the national audience at Hot Air’s Greenroom, where it is posted.

My radio colleagues Ed Morrissey (with the A-squad Hot Air) and King Banaian (of SCSU Scholars, also found in the Green Room) will post on occasion about politics in Minnesota, where the three of us live, work, blog and do a bit of talk radio.

And when we do write about Minnesota – especially its freaks of electoral fate, like Al Franken and Jesse Ventura – we get a long string of similar comments; “What do you expect from Minnesota?”,  “That’s those crazy Minnesotans” and, when the Emmer/Dayton gubernatorial race comes up, “I don’t have a whole lot of hope for Minnesota”.  We were the only state that never voted for Reagan – although to be fair, the state voted for Walter Mondale, a native son, in 1984 (a year before I moved here).

If that’s what you feel, you’re wrong, and you need to re-think things.  And I’m going to try to start that rethinking right now.

Don’t get me wrong.  Minnesota is a strange place, in a lot of ways.  It’s an adopted home for all three of us; Ed’s from LA, King was born in New Hampshire and arrived in Minnesota via California among a few other places, and I grew up in North Dakota (and moved here 25 years ago as of this coming Wednesday).  And I think we’ve all scratched our heads, agog, at some of the political weirdness this state has spawned.

Everyone recalls the bizarre 2008 election, where former comedian and failed talk show host Al Franken beat incumbent Norm Coleman in a race that Coleman led by 200 votes on election night – and Franken won by 300 after eight months of recounts and legal maneuvering, exposing many flaws in Minnesota’s electoral system (like the law allowing people to vote without showing ID, but being vouched for by another registered voter).

More infamously, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, running for Minnesota’s “Independence” party, which was essentially a vanity offshoot of Ross Perot’s “Reform” Party, won the 1998 gubernatorial election, beating Hubert Humphrey’s son Skip and…Norm Coleman.

Minnesota has had plenty of electoral weirdness in the past; the Democratic/Farmer/Labor Party (the “DFL”, as we call Democrats here) had long ties to the far, far left; Stalinists were a powerful force in the party until Hubert H. Humphrey managed to purge them in the mid-forties; former Eighth District congressman John Bernard, of the antecedent, radical-left “Farmer/Labor” Party, cast the sole vote in 1938 against embargoing arms to the Stalinist side in the Spanish Civil War. Gus Hall, long-time head of the Communist Party USA and one-time perennial presidential candidate, was a Minnesota native, who cut his teeth as a radical organizing the mines of Northern Minnesota.

There are reasons Minnesota is an odd place:

Culture: Minnesota’s dominant culture in its formative years was immigrants from rural Scandinavia, especially Norway and Sweden.  Both nations have long histories of being poor, and developed communitarian traditions to cope with the grinding poverty of life in the Norwegian mountains, the endless woods of Sweden, and the motti of Finland. These communitarian traditions were easy to co-opt for political ends.

Institutions: Minnesota’s prosperity over the past 100 years has been built around several key institutions:

  • Agriculture – Farmers in Minnesota and elsewhere tend to be conservatives, although like farmers in neighboring Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, they’ve had a willingness to vote for Democrats who bring home the pork.
  • Mining – Iron mining was huge business on the “Iron Range”, the taconite-rich area of northern Minnesota, throughout the 20th century.  Miners – largely immigrants from Finland, Germany and eastern Europe – were easy pickings for labor organizers, and formed the hotbed for the radical, Communist-affiliated “Farmer Labor” party that eventually joined with the Democrats.
  • The University System – Minnesota has two parallel university systems.  These systems run parallel lobbying efforts in the Legislature.  Lest you wondered, Minnesota faculties are no less far-left than academics in any other states.
  • The Media – Minnesota’s newspaper of record, the Star/Tribune, is second to none nationwide in the flagrancy of its editorial board’s pro-DFL bias.  It’s other mainstream media – the Big Three network affiliates, and the programming (albeit not necessarily the News) divisions of Minnesota Public Radio, the nation’s largest public-media network and a pseudo-national network in its own right, aren’t far behind.
  • Business – Minnesota’s key businesses – those that survive today (Target, 3M, Honeywell, Best Buy) and those that have gone by the wayside (Control Data, Cray, Daytons, Northwest Airlines) had a long tradition of communitarian philanthropy.  The DFL and their allied network of non-profits was happy to harness this to their ends.

Legend: Minnesota was a sleeping economic giant for decades before the late sixties – when the confluence of resources, an educated populace, infrastructure (the Mississippi, the Great Lakes and the rail system) and booming markets launched Minnesota into prosperity.  The media, Minnesota’s academy and the big-government interests assigned the success to a series of government programs that essentially redistributed tax wealth from the Twin Cities to the poorer outstate regions, christened it the “Minnesota Miracle”, and launched a myth that survives to this day.

Events: Minnesota was 20-odd years late to the Reagan Revolution.  The Minnesota GOP closely mirrored the national Republican Party throughout the fifties and sixties, the years of the Rockefeler/Eisenhower axis of very, very moderate, big-government Republicanism.  The aftermath of Watergate and the rise of the social conservatives in the national party in the mid-seventies caused then-ascendant “progressive” wing of the MNGOP to essentially secede from the national party, rebranding itself the “Independent Republican Party“, which lasted for twenty years and the governorships of very liberal Republicans Wendell Anderson and Arne Carlson (and Al Quie’s single term, during which his mid-stagflation budget-cutting enraged the DFL establishment enough to get him tossed from office).  The Republican grassroots didn’t actually get on board with the rebirth of conservatism until the mid-nineties.

So Minnesota’s got some dodgy history when it comes to politics.

But there are also grounds for hope – maybe immense hope.  Like most “purple” states, Minnesota is really very sharply divided between conservative and “progressive” voting.

Link courtesy Minn-Donkey, a leftyblog that doesn't completely insult ones' intelligence.

The inner cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul – the 5th and 4th Districts, respectively – and the “Arrowhead”, the northeast part of the state, DFL-dominated Duluth and the Iron Range – are traditional DFL strongholds.

And it’s there that we see the encouragement.  Here’s why:

Demographics: The deepest-red districts – the southern and western suburbs of the Twin Cities – are where most of the growth is happening.  Most business and population growth is in these districts, which include the Second CD (John Kline, a staunch conservative who will win his race by at least 30 points this November), the Third (Erik Paulsen, who is growing more conservative in office as his district, once considered “purple”, drifts rightward) and the Sixth (Michele Bachmann, of whom more in a bit).

The Wave: It’s hard to tell, but it seems big things are happening in the hinterland.  First, the First District – the traditionally-Republican, ag-dominated southern tier of counties, represented by second-term DFLer Tim Walz – is considered in play; Walz supported Obamacare, which will gut one of the region’s major employers, the world-famous Mayo Clinic, which is already diversifying its operations outside the state and US to hedge against the worst.

Better yet?  The Seventh District – the tier of counties along the western border, represented for a generation by blue-dog Colin Peterson – are restless.  Lee Byberg, a Norwegian immigrant and bio-tech entrepreneur, has raised more money in this campaign than all of Peterson’s opponents together in recent memory.  The ag-dependent district is not thrilled about Obamacare, and there is speculation that those red counties could be one major tipping point away from sending a Republican to Washington.

Best of all?  That tipping point may be brewing up in mining country.  Last week, news broke that Chip Cravaack, an Annapolis grad and retired Navy chopper pilot, was within three points of 18-term Representative Jim Oberstar in an internal poll in the Eighth District, the “Arrowhead”, which has sent DFLers to Washington since 1947.  Oberstar hasn’t had less than a 29 point margin of victory in a generation. If it’s even close in the Eighth, anything can happen.  The voters in the Eighth are union voters, largely, and have been voting DFL for several generations – but they are largely pro-life, as was Oberstar, until he threw his lot in with the Administration on flipping the Stupak coalition toward Obamacare last year.  Worse?  Cap and Trade will shred the mining industry, which uses immense amounts of energy whose price spike after passage will put many mines out of business.

The Loyal Opposition: Conservatives in Minnesota are a close-knit political Band of Brothers; we’ve had to fight two wars in the past fifteen years.  We had to win over our party before we could even take on the DFL. And the veterans of those struggles are tough as nails, immune to abuse, and so clear on  principle that debates against DFL opponents usually resemble turkey shoots.  The rest of the nation knows Michele Bachmann as the vice-queen of the Tea Party, at Sarah Palin’s side.

But Bachmann didn’t start in Congress. She started out fighting the Stillwater (MN) school board, a Twin Cities exurb clogged with liberals tired of the DFL’s failed cities, but unable to leave the failed policies behind.  She had to battle her own district’s IR legacy to get endorsed, first for State Senate (where she was a conservative lightning rod for six years) and then against a moderate-leaning establishment in the Sixth District in 2006, even before facing the DFL.

Many Minnesota conservatives have similar stories; years spent fighting the “Independent Republican” establishment before even being able to take on the Democrats.

This has created a grass-roots conservatism in Minnesota that has slowly insinuated conservative ideals and, eventually, policies into parts of Minnesota that would have been inconceivable a few decades ago.

How do we know?  The latest Rasmussen poll shows that while voter ID in Minnesota is very close between the GOP and DFL, that Tea Party sympathy is actually higher in Minnesota than the national average.

Conservative Unity: Minnesota’s “craziness” was as much a symptom of the Minnesota GOP’s schizophrenia over the past forty years as it was to any liberal tradition.  For several elections, Minnesota’s “moderates” duked it out with, and defeated, conservatives; in 1990, while the grass roots endorsed social conservative Alan Quist, Arne Carlson – a man more liberal on many issues than the DFL incumbent Rudy Perpich, including gun control and abortion – ran and won a primary challenge, and spent two terms as a free-spending, surplus-gobbling governor.

Even Tim Pawlenty, who had a reputation as a pragmatist if not an outright moderate during his time as House Minority leader, had to tack hard to the right to fend off a challenge to get endorsed in 2002, against fiscalcon challenger Brian Sullivan, winning the nomination after promising “No New Taxes”.

This years MNGOP convention was distinguished by the fact that the front-runners – House minority leader Marty Seifert and eventual nominee Tom Emmer – while impeccably conservative, had three challengers to their right.  There was no “moderate” in the race (after Norm Coleman declared he wasn’t running).

For the first time in recorded history, the Minnesota GOP is a unified conservative bloc (to the consternation of the regional media, which audibly slavers for a return of the old, “moderate”/liberal “IR”, basically liberals with better suits.

So this is not your father’s Minnesota.  This is not the same Minnesota that voted for Walter Mondale.  This is a hungrier, less-prosperous Minnesota than the one that voted for Jesse Ventura in the cha-cha nineties, when the state was running multi-billion-dollar surpluses.  This is not the Obama-crazy state that delivered Al Franken to Washington – and the conservative movement is not the naive bunch of trusting schlemiels that let the DFL bully its way through a recount process that was designed to manufacture votes for Franken and toss votes for Coleman.  The wave of conservative, anti-Obama sentiment is washing up in Minnesota as well; there is evidence that the regional media has no idea how much so.

But as Ed and my radio colleague King Banaian – who is running for the Minnesota House of Representatives, in the exurban northwestern part of the metro – wrote this morning, there are no guarantees, and even in the best of times conservatives in Minnesota have to work harder than most:

For whatever reason (as discussed on the NARN shows on AM 1280 Saturday) and with Michael Barone at the Center of the American Experiment talk this past Tuesday, “Minnesota is different.” Whether it’s genetics, an isolated view of ‘liberalism’ or something else, in order for our great, conservative candidates to win, we simply have to work harder, dig deeper and make those voter ID phone calls. Yes, they can be a pain but we need to do them. Why? In 48 states, voters declare party affiliation at time of voter registration. They don’t have to spend $$$$ trying to find out who votes how. Any candidate can apply for the list of R or D or all voters and get it. We don’t have outside $$ funding id for us, we have to do it ourselves.

And so we do.

Don’t write Minnesota off.  This race is just getting interesting.