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2018 election cycle

lewis“What never should have happened” is of course Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN), formerly just another dime-a-million right-wing media clown, getting into the United States Congress.
 
Lewis hasn’t made waves during his time in the House so far. By the standards of the populace as a whole both his agenda and his way of presenting it are ridiculous and extreme, but in the current GOP caucus he fits right in. For example:

 

Yep, we hear Congressman Lewis preach that everyone can “tighten its belt” … and that should obviously include Congressman Lewis, right ?
 
Let’s look at the most recent report of his Members Representational Allowance … and see some of his spending.
 
$1,500.00 TVEYES Inc. service contract for the period of October 1 through December 31, 2018. FYI : TVEyes Media Monitoring Suite is a subscription-based product used by anyone who needs to know what is being broadcast on TV and radio in real-time — no waiting for it to appear on YouTube ! Heaven forbid missing the opportunity to see cable talking heads discussing Jason Lewis’s most recent appearance on FOX, CNN, etc. … surely, you are a subscriber ???? (FunFact … TVEYES just lost in court when FOX News sued over copyright use … if Congressman Lewis cannot see himself on FOX clips, he may want to see about a refund.)
 
$297.91 to FineArtAmerica.Com in August
(Gosh, wouldn’t ya think a Congressional millionaire with a $174,000 salary would be able to purchase his own office art work instead of putting it on the taxpayer’s bill.)
 
And there are some meals the taxpayers paid … like September payments
$1,256.30 at CAVA MEZZE
$1,139.72 at CARMINE’S
$ 612.92 at CAPITOL HOST (RIDGEWELL)
(Gosh, since the taxpayers are paying the tab, shouldn’t they get to know who “Representative” Lewis invited to these meals and what was discussed?)
(MN Political Roundtable)

A group of about 20 protesters showed up at U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis’ (R) house in Woodbury (last August). They coursed up his driveway bearing signs, crowded around his front step, and chanted about healthcare loudly enough for his neighbors to hear. Lewis had supported the Republican health care bill, which included deep cuts to Medicaid.
 
Lewis wasn’t at home, but when he heard about the “invasion” later, he was incensed, calling the protest a “wanton disregard of civility,” and a “dangerous ramping up of rhetoric that already has one of my House colleagues in rehab from a vicious attack.”
 
…A video of the protest accompanied Lewis’ post as evidence, though instead of threatening mobsters, protesters are elderly ladies, a senior gentleman in a wheelchair, homecare workers, and a handful of young activists with TakeAction Minnesota.
(City Pages)

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vote1According to a recent study. There have been a number of big studies of voter thinking and behavior, in the past few years. The big question, for me, is how do we use the knowledge they provide to help win elections. I can’t answer that, yet, with anything better than what amounts to just vague speculation.
 

For instance, “moving from the least identified to the most identified with an ideological label increases preference for marrying inside the ideological group by 30 percentage points.” In other words, if you are a committed liberal, you’re much more likely to want to live next to other committed liberals. But if you just disagree strongly with them about a specific issue like abortion, not so much.
 
She writes, “The effect of issue-based ideology is less than half the size of identity-based ideology in each element of social distance. … These are sizable and significant effects, robust to controls for issue-based ideology, and they demonstrate that Americans are dividing themselves socially on the basis of whether they call themselves liberal or conservative, independent of their actual policy differences.”
 
“There’s been a debate within political science for a long time about whether or not the American public is polarized,” Mason said in an interview with The Intercept. “I’m sort of making this argument that as you have multiple social identities that line up together, people hate their out groups more regardless of their policy positions.”
(The Intercept)

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Manure_spreader_Record_2When Republicans do well in elections in Minnesota, it’s generally because outstate DFLers didn’t vote. It seems like many only do vote when they’re angry, anxious, really disgusted, etc.
 

The president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) issued a scathing statement Wednesday in response to Donald Trump’s escalating trade war with China that suggests just how “devastating” Trump’s offensive could be at the polls in November.
 
“It should surprise no one that China immediately retaliated against our most important exports, including soybeans. We have been warning the administration and members of Congress that this would happen since the prospect for tariffs was raised,” ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer said, adding that China’s plan to impose 25 percent levies on soybeans would be “devastating” to American soybean farmers.
(Daily Kos)

It’s probably more likely than not that something will get worked out before the next harvest. But in any case uncertainty makes it harder to get loans and so forth. And the last thing a lot of farmers need is more stress.
 
Comment below fold.
 
…READ MORE

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abanschoolThis one is full of good – indeed, essential – advice.
 

While progressives lament their recent failure in an Illinois primary to knock out Dan Lipinski – a conservative, anti-abortion, Congressional Democrat who voted against the Affordable Care Act – they mostly fail to note where and how they won elsewhere in the state…
 
These victors had a number of things in common, including endorsements from labor unions and progressive advocacy organizations. But another startling commonality among at least three of the four candidates was a strong support for public schools – Ortiz, Ramirez, and Johnson all made increased funding for public schools key stances in their races. Ortiz and Johnson are public school teachers, and Ramirez pledged to “protect our public-school system from corporate interests which attack teachers and students to destabilize public neighborhood schools and profit from privatizing education.”
 
Contrast the victors’ strong stances for public schools to Lipinski’s failed challenger, Marie Newman, whose education platform was about “education that leads to real jobs” – a position suitable for a Republican candidate to run on.
(Jeff Bryant/OurFuture.org)

And plenty of GOPers seem to be going out of their way to make themselves vulnerable on this. That will likely also be the case here in Minnesota.
 

A little more than a year ago, Betsy DeVos assumed her post as secretary of education, eager to roll out the first-ever national school voucher program. But that was before reality came crashing in (March 23).
 
Congress, in its omnibus spending bill, rebuked the proposal by DeVos and President Trump to redirect scarce public dollars from public schools to private schools with a voucher scheme. Trump and DeVos pursued their voucher plan despite volumes of research that shows vouchers do not work, that they undermine accountability to parents and taxpayers, and that they have failed to provide opportunity to all of our students. Lawmakers did not include in the spending bill the $250 million private school voucher initiative the president and DeVos sought, as well as their $1 billion program designed to promote charters, on-line schools and home schooling.
 
That Trump and DeVos were unable to get their priority funded in a Republican-controlled Congress speaks to the distrust of the American public, 90 percent of whose children attend public schools…
 
The rejection of DeVos by Congress notwithstanding, there are several gubernatorial candidates who want to pursue her voucher agenda.
(Education Votes)

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In SD54, DFLer Karla Bigham won.
 
In HD23B, DFLer Melissa Wagner did not win.
 
The results were about what you’d expect for special elections in these districts in typical years. There was no evidence of the Trump backlash that has led to big upset wins for Democrats elsewhere in the country. I don’t purport to know why we didn’t see that here.
 
But I’ll speculate a little. For a long time things have been going a lot better in Minnesota than in places like Alabama, Oklahoma, and Missouri. So maybe there’s not the same motivation for people who wouldn’t ordinarily turn out for special elections in those places, but did, to do so here – in part to make a statement about the crass, demented, misogynistic, racist, treasonous buffoon in the White House. Maybe.
 
Update: The paragraph above about the election results was dashed off in haste and needs qualification. The standard that is being used for special elections is how much they changed from the amount by which they went for Trump on that awful day in 2016. DFL performance improved from that by about 5 points in SD54, and by about 7 in HD23B. So, not like quite a bit of what’s been happening elsewhere in the country, but not insignificant, especially for special elections in the dead of winter in Minnesota.
 

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mncapitol2The election is next Monday, February 12. The DFL candidate is Melissa Wagner. From her website:
 

As you might guess for someone who has worked as a school social worker for 24 years, I am a big advocate for kids and education. Children in rural Minnesota deserve to get a world-class education: to have a great school experience, to be educated in safe, well-functioning schools, and to have every opportunity along their educational path that students do in larger cities…
 
The single best way we, as a community, can make sure that all our kids have that chance is though strong public schools that are well-integrated and supported in the community and, most importantly, focused on student success, not just test scores.

Jeremy Munson beat Scott Sanders in a GOP primary. If you look at his website, Munson is about what you’d expect, politically, for someone looking to be the right-wing legislative heir to Tony Cornish. Note the complete lack of supporting references for some of the claims that he makes.

 

There is also apparently a write-in candidate. You can read about that at Bluestem Prairie, here.
 

A couple of notes, neither of them meant to be taken as suggesting that any kind of complacency is in order. Democrats flipped another deep red state legislative seat yesterday, this time in Missouri. And GOP participation numbers in yesterday’s Minnesota caucuses were disappointing. For the GOP, that is.
 

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Minnesota-State-CapitolThe special elections (I’ll post about the other one tomorrow) are being held next MONDAY, February 12. I haven’t troubled to find out why they’re not on a Tuesday as usual. Busy.
 

Karla Bigham is the DFL candidate in Senate District 54. From her website:
 

Whether it was fighting to complete the Wakota Bridge, supporting funding for the Hastings Bridge, working to expand education programs in our schools, or ensuring our communities were safe — improving the quality of life of our residents was always my top priority. I will bring that same level of dedication and advocacy to the Minnesota State Senate. When making policy decisions, doing what best for the residents of Senate District 54 will always come first. By working hard to actively listen to all residents, and partnering closely with local governmental units, I will ensure that our communities are the best possible place for us all to live, raise our families, and start a business. Thank you!

Denny McNamara was a GOPer in the Minnesota House for quite a while. He left rather unexpectedly, under a cloud. Bluestem Prairie has comprehensive material on the realities of his campaign fundraising, this time around, here and here.
 
There’s also a Libertarian candidate, Emily Mellingen. And for some reason there’s another Republican, James E. Brunsgaard III, still listed on the SoS website. I haven’t looked into that, either. What’s important, as always, is DFL voter turnout.
 

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ECCjan18A rhetorical pronouncement: You all know what was the greatest legislative achievement ever in Congress (at least according to the state’s corporate media, led by the Minneapolis Star Tribune) by a Minnesota legislator there, right? It was of course when Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) shepherded a suspension of the medical device tax through the House and eventually into law. Worthy of a Roman triumph, if you take the aforementioned news sources seriously. But maintaining that cut turned out to be a very low priority for the current Congress, though it was finally managed via a last-ditch insertion into the stopgap spending bill.
 

The tax suspension never did much in the way of job creation in the industry, at least in the U.S. (That linked article is definitive, and should be perused carefully if you want to be reality-based, here.) No matter: Paulsen had moved onto another magnificence: tax cuts for craft beer. But again:
 

The frequent assertion that the tax cut is for craft brewers and distillers is misleading.
 
– For every $20 of alcohol tax cuts in the legislation, only about $1 actually goes to the true craft brewers or small distillers.
 
– Most of the revenue—the other $19—goes to larger producers and to importers. This is largely because of new or expanded opportunities to evade or avoid the limits on what qualifies for the lowest tax rates. For instance, it’s plausible that a third to one half of all distilled spirits sold in the U.S. will qualify for the reduced rate.
 
– By allowing alcohol from foreign and large domestic producers to be passed off as “craft,” certain parts of the legislation may put America’s real small brewers and distillers at a competitive disadvantage.
(Brookings)

Paulsen’s “work” in Congress has degenerated to open farce. Long past time for a change.
 

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Big red-to-blue flip in Wisconsin

by Dan Burns on January 17, 2018 · 0 comments

Minnesota has two elections for state legislative seats set for Feb. 12. I’ll be blogging more about those.
 

Democrats have just pulled off the first election upset of 2018. In northwestern Wisconsin’s Senate District 10, Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated Republican Adam Jarchow 55-45 percent to flip a seat the GOP has held since 2000. Tuesday’s shocking upset arguably puts the Wisconsin Senate majority in play this fall (which is now 18 Republicans to 14 Democrats, with one vacancy).
 
This supposedly safe Republican seat became open when GOP Sen. Sheila Harsdorf accepted an appointment to Scott Walker’s cabinet late last year. Despite the fact that SD-10 went 55-38 for Trump in 2016 and 52-46 for Romney in 2012, Democrats were cautiously optimistic about their chances here.
(Daily Kos)

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trump10I’m not letting myself actually get optimistic, yet. From my own perspective (which should never be regarded as a source of anything like claims to complete, final, and absolute truth), my #1 lesson from 2016 is that the overall socio-political intelligence in this country is less than I had fondly believed it to be. But certainly the signs going forward could be a lot worse.
 

The SurveyMonkey results put Trump’s total approval rating for 2017 at 42 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. That’s slightly higher than, but within range of, other major public surveys.
 
In the 2016 election, exit polls found that Trump’s best group was whites without a four-year college degree; he carried 66 percent of them. But his approval among them in the 2017 SurveyMonkey average slipped to 56 percent. In 2016, whites with at least a four-year college degree gave Trump 48 percent of their votes. But in the 2017 average, just 40 percent approved of Trump’s performance, while a resounding 60 percent disapproved.
 
Layering in gender and age underscores voters’ retreat. Trump in 2016 narrowly won younger whites. But he now faces crushing disapproval ratings ranging from 62 percent to 76 percent among three big groups of white Millennials: women with and without a college degree, and men with a degree. Even among white Millennial men without a degree, his most natural supporters, Trump only scores a 49-49 split.
(The Atlantic)

OK, if you want to get with an additional, kind of upbeat perspective (from Mother Jones), here you are. But I can’t help but go back to how confident I was of an historic blue wave when it became clear that Trump really would be the GOP presidential candidate.
 

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