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2018 election cycle

2018 DFL State Convention Day 2

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2018 · 7 comments

Yesterday’s live blog got really long, so I decided to start a fresh post for today. See yesterday for an intro to what a live blog is, disclosure of biases, yesterday’s events, and I’m unlikely to explain procedural stuff or regurgitate opinions explained in yesterday’s live blog.
 
If you want to watch the live stream, go to The Uptake web site. If you want to glance over at the MNGOP convention also going this weekend, go here.
 
Today is governor and attorney general. My wife snapped a photo of the Matt Pelikan pelican in the concourse outside the convention hall. That’s fun.
 
Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state convention
 
The convention has reconvened. Lots of delegates missed yesterday, unsurprisingly since governor is the big attraction, so rules and procedures are being explained again. The noise level on the floor is more obvious here than watching on the live stream. So if you’re streaming, feel smug that you can hear better than people here. Though those of us here can hear the videos since we’re not under Youtube’s thumb. So there.
 
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DFL State Convention Live Blog

by Eric Ferguson on May 31, 2018 · 3 comments

The DFL state convention starts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on June 1). A “live blog” means that I’ll be blogging about it as it happens rather than writing up something later. I’ll be explaining what’s going on, and maybe opining on some things. We’ll see what provokes me to opinionating. The current plan is to watch the livestream on The Uptake Friday, which obviously you can watch yourself and I’ll post a link so you can do that. Saturday, I’m hoping to be there watching in person, so hopefully I’ll pick up some stuff that’s not apparent on the livestream. Sunday will likely be another livestream day. Yes, I maybe could have gotten a hotel if I hadn’t been so cheap and tried to reserve a room early enough and blah de blah. Fortunately I live in daytripping distance.
 

Convening time Friday is 4. The rest of the schedule I assume will be adjusted according to circumstances. The proposed agenda is posted here. Emphasis on proposed, since delegates can move to change the agenda when the rules and agenda are debated, and you never know for sure what will be proposed and what will pass. I’ve run some conventions as a local party chair, and worked on some as a committee member or with a campaign, and can attest that unexpected changes get made. I’ll spare you the “expect the unexpected” cliche — except I guess I just didn’t. You should have expected that. What you can expect is I will explain some of the “what on earth are they talking about” parts that conventions have.
 
Probably, you care more about the state office endorsements and not committee reports or party office elections or rules debates. So, according to the proposed agenda, Friday will see the endorsements for the US Senate seats and Secretary of State. Attorney General and Governor are scheduled for Saturday, and Auditor is scheduled for Sunday.
 
Actual updates and reportage start below. Keep refreshing during the convention for updates. If you’re curious about the 2014 or 2016 convention, check out those live blogs. See if you can catch me griping the same gripes (yes, you can).
 

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Democracy in Action: Walz and the NRA

by Invenium Viam on May 29, 2018 · 3 comments

democracy 2It’s interesting how Congressman Tim Walz has transformed in a matter of a few short months from a darling of progressives and proof that Democrats can stand by their principles and still win in Deep Red districts into a miserable DINO and shameless political opportunist.

 

Not that that’s actually the case, of course. Rather, I think what we see is an object lesson in the dangers of getting trapped in your own perspectives. We all do it … and we should all be wary of it.

 

Take Walz and the NRA for example. His former view of the NRA was as a gun rights advocacy group, which it certainly is. Millions of other Americans still see it that way. It is also a lobbying group for gun manufacturers and a fundraising arm of the GOP, which is how progressives see it. Myself, I see it as an Establishment front for radical political action, potentially including armed insurrection.

 

While serving as the elected representative of MN-01, accepting money from the NRA wasn’t much of a problem for Congressman Walz. He represented a Deep Red district. But then he started getting strong criticism and pushback from fellow Democrats, other progressives and gun laws advocacy groups. He reacted to that pressure — which he refers to as “a kick in the butt” — by rethinking his position on the NRA and the need for more restrictive gun laws and by changing his position accordingly. After the Las Vegas massacre, with 59 dead and more than 500 wounded, he broke with the NRA and donated all of the money they had contributed to him to a support group for the families of fallen veterans.

 

For some progressives, his conversion was too slow in coming and too convenient.

 

But isn’t that the foundation of representative Democracy, that the will of the people made known will cause political candidates and elected leaders to react accordingly and to conform their positions and policies to better accord with that will?

 

Or is intransigence on important issues now some kind of Gold Standard of Integrity of which I am unaware? If intransigence in the face of polarizing issues is the Gold Standard, then both King George III and Louis the XVI had more integrity than the Founding Fathers. Look how things turned out for them. In my view, intransigence on the part of any person when confronted by new, compelling information and cogent argument — political candidate or not — is the Gold Standard of Stupidity.

 

Walz is not the only Democrat to evolve his position on guns, gun rights, and the NRA. Senator Bernie Sanders took a lot of heat in the 2016 presidential campaign for his 2005 vote on a bill that gave gun manufacturers immunity from prosecution. At the time, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta saw Sanders’ conversion as a calculated reversal:

 

Podesta on Sanders

Regardless of his motivations, Sanders knew he had to modify his position to better accord with the voters and he did.

 

With regard to another polarizing issue, Hillary Clinton herself was never an advocate for same-sex marriage. In her New York senate race in 2000, she said: “Marriage has historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is … between a man and a woman.” By 2013 the American people had changed their minds about marriage equality. Clinton knew she had to modify her position to better accord with the voters and she did. I believe to this day that our dramatic cultural change in attitude towards gay people resulted directly from the millions of individual acts of courage in “coming out” and in claiming their right to live in dignity, as every extended family learned it had one or more gay folks in it who deserved to be loved and protected just like anyone else.

 

President Obama was no advocate for same-sex marriage either, even after he took office. As late as 2010, in a Q&A session with progressive bloggers, he stated that, while he was “… unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage,” times were changing and “…  attitudes evolve, including mine.” It took Vice President Biden getting out ahead of the president that forced Obama to rethink the issue. He decided he needed to change his position, so he did.

 

Were Sanders, Obama and Clinton all DINO’s and shameless political opportunists who only changed their views and their positions to gain political  advantage? That’s one way to look at it, I suppose. You could also see it simply as the machinery of democracy in action, of our democracy working in exactly the way it was designed to do.

 

More Below the Fold

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mnsenateOn behalf of all Minnesotans, even if too many don’t realize it. It’s now Lieutenant Governor Michelle Fischbach.
 

Her decision splits the Senate evenly at 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats. Fischbach said she waited until the end of the legislative session to resign from her seat because she felt her Senate District 13 constituents needed a representative at the Capitol.
 
Dayton’s office said the governor will call a special election to fill Fischbach’s Senate seat to coincide with the November general election. Fischbach said she will not run in the special election.
(MPR)

There will be nothing easy about winning this district. In the wake of the 2016 horror show, Minnesota’s peerless electoral stats guru has it at R+13. But overcoming big challenges is one of the things that makes life rewarding.
 

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Sandy_Hook_Gun_Tragedy_Tim_Walz_NRA_CandidateWhat is the difference between a dozen dead second graders and a dozen dead high school students?
 
The high school students’ best friends will be able to vote next year.
 
And no, I will not apologize for the strong words and horrifying imagery. It is time for strong words and horrifying imagery.
 
I am facing a number of different poltical choices this year. Some of them come in two weeks at the Minnesota DFL (Democratic Party) Convention in Rochester. I’m a delegate, and I will be casting my vote to endorse two US Senate candidates, the State Auditor, the State Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Governor. Recently, I was engaged in the endorsement decision for my US House District, and my local state House Representative is up for election.
 
Filtering out races that are fait accompli, there are three people running that I am firmly committed to NOT vote for, and to work against in any way possible, because of their contribution to America’s gun-hungry, gun-happy, gun-crazy culture.
 
They are, in order of geographical zone covered by their potential purview as an elected official:
 
Tim Walz, currently in the US House representing Minnesota’s first district, now running for the endorsement for Governor of Minnesota; Erik Paulsen, running for re-election to the US House, and Sarah Anderson, running for re-election to the Minnesota House.
 
I can not vote in early June for Tim Walz’s endorsement because for the last 12 years he maintained an A rating form the NRA, took their money, voted mostly as they told him to vote, and made numerous public statements in support of this gun culture.
 
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319484_10150274658633247_1013005_nPlease, please stick to your guns on this.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an ultimatum Monday as the Legislature’s session entered its final week: Without emergency funding for schools he won’t cut a tax deal. Republicans said they wouldn’t meet his demand…
 
“My position is that I will not engage in any negotiations on a tax bill or sign any tax bill until we have an agreement to provide emergency school aid,” Dayton said, stressing that his proposal is needed to stop schools from shedding staff or ditching programs.
(MPR)

Update: As of Thursday morning, Governor Dayton is indeed sticking to his guns. Which is a great thing, for all Minnesotans, even if too many haven’t the sense to realize that.
 
A reality check on Minnesota school funding, and other remarks, below the fold.
 
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lawmakerI’m noting this here because it’s yet another example of what will happen in Minnesota if Republicans win in November, and it’s our turn to race to the bottom.
 

Michigan isn’t the only state where Republicans are pushing a Medicaid work requirement that’s blatantly racist. Ohio and Kentucky are running the same play, passing a work requirement for Medicaid but exempting mostly white, rural counties. The claim is that the exemptions are for places with high unemployment rates where people simply can’t find work—but cities with high unemployment rates often don’t get the same treatment, because they’re surrounded by (and within county lines of) wealthy suburbs that pull the county’s overall unemployment down. The end effect is that, in what a health law scholar described to TPM as “a version of racial redlining,” work requirements apply to poor black people but not poor white people.
(Daily Kos)

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10153099_10201944684358785_8210271862682794906_nThis is an absolute textbook case of how even mildly progressive governance is far, far better than putting right-wingers in charge. Unfortunately, too many people still don’t base their voting habits on fact and reason, at all. They’re called “conservatives.”
 

Since the 2010 election of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota, lawmakers in these two neighboring states have enacted vastly different policy agendas. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature have pursued a highly conservative agenda centered on cutting taxes, shrinking government, and weakening unions. In contrast, Minnesota under Governor Dayton has enacted a slate of progressive priorities: raising the minimum wage, strengthening safety net programs and labor standards, and boosting public investments in infrastructure and education, financed through higher taxes (largely on the wealthy).
 
Because of the proximity and many similarities of these two states, comparing economic performance in the Badger State (WI) versus the Gopher State (MN) provides a compelling case study for assessing which agenda leads to better outcomes for working people and their families. Now, seven years removed from when each governor took office, there is ample data to assess which state’s economy—and by extension, which set of policies—delivered more for the welfare of its residents. The results could not be more clear: by virtually every available measure, Minnesota’s recovery has outperformed Wisconsin’s.
(Economic Policy Institute)

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MN lege: GOP gun bills are a feeble ploy

by Dan Burns on May 8, 2018 · 0 comments

minnesota_state_capitolSome Republicans in Minnesota are trying to cover their electoral behinds. Indications so far are that suburban GOPers will be at particular risk, nationwide, in November.
 

Two Republican lawmakers from Minneapolis suburbs proposed bills Wednesday that encourage private gun sales to go through background checks and would tighten gun access for people convicted of domestic assault.
 
Rep. Sarah Anderson of Plymouth and Rep. Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie are co-sponsoring the bills, which they say are an effort to keep guns out of the hands of ineligible and potentially dangerous people. One bill would shield private sellers from criminal liabilities if they sell a gun later used in a crime.
 
The other involves several small tweaks to how guns can be taken from people after a court order, including requirements for sheriff’s offices to follow up with the court. Courts would also be required to hold hearings for people who have their guns taken and also are guaranteed a hearing within three days under the proposal…
 
Rep. Dave Pinto, a Democrat from St. Paul, said the recent proposals were “mildly encouraging.” But he said they fall short in addressing gun violence compared to requiring background checks and creating legal paths to temporarily remove guns from dangerous or mentally unstable people that he and other lawmakers have pushed for.
(Pioneer Press)

Also note:
 

A work requirement for many people receiving Minnesota’s version of Medicaid: To the surprise of some, Republicans left their proposal out of the budget bills that passed off the House and Senate floors.
(MPR)

 
There are plenty of assertions out there that Minnesota will somehow be the big exception to the blue wave. Many seem to be based on a poll back in January showing Trump job approval barely underwater in the state. Anyone at all familiar with the history of Mason-Dixon polling for the Star Tribune knows about how seriously to take that.
 
That being said, Trump in the White House is a vile, obscene indicator of just how degraded and corrupt our politics (and the corporate media that “cover” them) have become, and I won’t be truly confident of a blue wave until I see it. But based on the above, Minnesota Republican legislators don’t seem to share that view.
 

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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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