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MN-02

Should Hillary spend money on Minnesota? Just to cut to the chase, yes, but that’s admittedly a hard case to make given how Minnesota has voted for the Democratic nominee in every presidential election since 1956 except for 1972, when we made our what-the-hell-were-we-thinking mistake and voted for the one president who resigned in disgrace. I personally think of Minnesota not as a blue state, but as a purple state where the Democrats are good at GOTV (Get Out The Vote). But yeah, hard to argue with that presidential record. Or with how much better financed the DFL is than the MNGOP, or with the DFL record in statewide races. We’ve won every statewide race starting in 2006 except for governor in 2006, when Tim Pawlenty won by about 1% while a third party liberal took 5%. It was that close.
 
So OK, my purple state claim is resting pretty much on the way the legislature keeps changing hands, and the way we split US House seats 4-4 or 5-3. But that also gets to why we deserve some presidential campaign attention. We want to win the House, right? That seems incredibly optimistic to me, but the Republicans are fearfully talking about it as a plausible outcome, and I suppose they have to be right one day. Besides, if we want to win the House, we have to nibble away where we can, giving more Democrats the advantage of incumbency the next election — and Minnesota has more competitive districts than anyone would expect from a medium sized state.
 
As it happens, Minnesota isn’t gerrymandered. Really. Yes, we’re self-packed like every other state with a major metropolitan area. Liberals are comfortable with a big city’s density and proximity to public spaces, while conservatives like their big lawns and long drives. Like in almost every other state, this works to the advantage of conservatives since there’s no way to draw district lines to break up liberals unless we ignore the principle that municipalities should be kept together, and when those municipalities are big, self-packing it is. Fortunately, not being gerrymandered means our districts aren’t drawn in strange ways to get the most advantageous distribution of conservatives. Our process is each house of the legislature passes a redistricting plan, then a conference committee works out the differences, and the governor signs it, with one of the latter two steps never happening. Our state government has been split between parties something like the last five redistrictings, so a panel of judges eventually gives up on the other two branches and just makes its own plan.
 
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MN-02: What’s up with this GOP field?

by Dan Burns on April 13, 2016 · 5 comments

capitol2There were as many as seven candidates. A couple have dropped out. I suppose that right now, four of them look like “serious” players. Yeah, quite a crew. The Democratic candidate is Angie Craig.
 

– David Gerson, who in the past ran quixotic campaigns against the retiring/fleeing incumbent, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), keeps winning straw polls. Whether that will carry to more comprehensive success…we’ll see. Dude’s one of those pseudo-libertarian types, whose levels of self-admiration tend to vastly outstrip their real-world political success. Like with Rand Paul’s presidential “effort.”

 
– Speaking of which, I read somewhere that Jason Lewis wiped his past blogging when he announced, presumably with the intention of trying to get away with acting more reality-based in the here and now. Whether or not that’s true, he seems to have found that like the shades of Borley Rectory the past does not go down so readily, and so he’s determined to embrace the crazy and let it roll.

 

– John Howe was pretty much a nonentity in the Minnesota legislature, and maybe the idea was that a record like that would make him a “safe” pick. There hasn’t exactly been a groundswell.
 
– Darlene Miller has been endorsed by Kline, will presumably have plenty of money, and is clearly aiming for the primary.

 
Gerson might well win at the endorsing convention on May 7. But as for the August 9 primary election, right now, your informed guess is as good as mine. Probably better.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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MN-02: A big, and sorry, GOP field – Update

by Dan Burns on February 23, 2016 · 1 comment

republicansWell, with such thoroughly unimpressive Republican competition for the endorsement/primary (though damn imposing, from Angie Craig, in the general), why shouldn’t anyone with any political ambition at all just pile on in? mnpACT! has a brief but very effective rundown of the contestants. It doesn’t lend itself to a teaser blockquote, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that you must click and read. Only takes a minute or two.
 

With the endorsement caucuses on March 1, a week from tomorrow, I can’t find anyone trying to make a case for who the favorite for endorsement might be. I certainly don’t know. If I had to guess, Jason Lewis or John Howe. (Though David Gerson’s doggedness, and his particular brand of extremism, may impress more than a few of this crowd.) It won’t surprise me if there is no endorsement.
 

Perhaps it helps to ask who here has the most in common with the GOP presidential nomination frontrunner, Donald Trump. I suppose that would be Lewis, though I gotta admit that I haven’t troubled to carefully familiarize myself with each and every one of these candidates. To say the least.
 
Update: This doesn’t prove Mr. Lewis to be the most Trump-esque, but I could be on the right track. Certainly appears to have a similar psychological grounding in narcissistic and delusional disorders. Then again, so do a lot of conservative candidates, these days.
 

Lewis complained in 2009 that “real Americans” think Hurricane Katrina victims were “a bunch of whiners,” and he said last year that “the median income for blacks in America would make them rich in most African nations, not most – all.”
 
The Republican candidate also warned in 2012 that the “white population” would be “committing political suicide” and “committing cultural suicide” if U.S. whites did not raise their birth rate in comparison to other racial groups.
 
Those ideas echo “white genocide” fears promoted by white supremacist groups.
 
Lewis, who has argued that legal same-sex marriage violates his own constitutional rights, said the federal government lacked the authority to outlaw slavery.
(Raw Story)

Image: Addicting Info
 

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kline2Believe it or not, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) actually could leave some elements of a positive legacy, in what remains of his final term in Congress. Starting with some veterans issues.
 

The obvious question then is : What part does John Kline play as his time in the House runs out ?
 
As a veteran, there are some issues that need to be on his To-Do list:
 
H.R. 3988: Military and Veterans Education Protection Act which has been assigned to Chairman Kline’s committee. This bipartisan legislation would close a loophole that allows For-Profit schools to avoid having to secure at least 10 percent of their revenue from non-federal sources…
 
H.R. 1603: Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment (SAVE) Act is a bipartisan bill designed to address military sexual trauma survivors who face bureaucratic red-tape that often gets in the way of their seeking treatment from qualified, experienced providers outside the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system and TRICARE. The Military SAVE Act would give these survivors the option to seek reimbursable care from non-VA/TRICARE medical providers who can best provide the care these victims need…
 
A bipartisan group of 46 members, led by Tim Walz, have offered H.R.3423: Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015 to reinstate it for two more years. Further, John Katko (R-NY-24) and Collin Peterson have teamed up to offer H.R.3547 – Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act…
 
ToDo List: Congressman Wenstrup has offered H.R.475 – GI Bill Processing Improvement Act of 2015 … Chairman John Kline needs to save the taxpayers some money and co-sponsor this legislation that will limit private schools to a $20,235 cap.
(MN Political Roundtable)

Also, Kline and everyone else in Congress should note: “New bi-partisan poll of veterans shows they oppose privatization or voucherization of VA care.” The polling was commissioned by the Vet Voice Foundation.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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MN-02: Jason Lewis enters race

by Dan Burns on October 13, 2015 · 0 comments

lewisLewis’s entry adds the clownish, yet disturbing and frankly repugnant, overtones to the MN-02 contest that have overwhelmed the race for the GOP presidential nomination. I have no idea, whether or not the state GOP hierarchy, or the NRCC, are pleased with that.
 

Longtime radio talk show host Jason Lewis announced Monday that he’s running for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd District.
 
Lewis, who has never held elected office, becomes the fourth Republican trying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn…
 
The other announced Republican candidates in the 2nd District are David Gerson, John Howe and Pam Myhra.
(MPR)

This article about Lewis, from Bluestem Prairie, doesn’t really lend itself to blockquoting, and in any case is a must-read in its entirety.
 
I got the image from his Facebook page.
 

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MN-02: The John Kline replacement sweepstakes

by Dan Burns on September 24, 2015 · 2 comments

gopWhen Rep. John Kline (R-MN) announced his retirement, and many names were being thrown around by observers as potential replacements, I figured that I’d hold off for a while on blogging about it, and hopefully save myself considerable time and effort. Was I ever right, for a change.
 
To get the DFL side out of the way, first, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence obviously have big head starts. Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-St. Paul) expressed interest, but subsequently declined.
 

As far as Republicans go, this article is from yesterday:
 

Two Republicans are now competing to replace John Kline in Congress.
 
Former state Sen. John Howe on Tuesday joined David Gerson in seeking the Republican endorsement to run for Congress in the 2nd District next year…
 
At a recent tea party event in Red Wing, Gerson gave about two dozen people an update on his campaign. Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, jeans and a handgun on his hip, Gerson told the tea partyers that he wants Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and that he hopes to reduce the size and scope of the federal government…
 
Former state Sen. Ted Daley, former state Rep. Pam Myrha, state Rep. Tony Albright and Savage-based businessman Chris Andryski are other Republicans thinking about jumping into the race.
(MPR)

Those who I saw had their names thrown out there, and in at least most cases expressed interest at some point, but who have all now explicitly said no, include former Minnesota district judge and First Lady Mary Pawlenty, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty press secretary Brian McClung, State Reps. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), and Roz Peterson (R-Lakeville), State Sens. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) and Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s utterly hapless 2012 opponent Kurt Bills, and Sen. Al Franken’s 2014 opponent Mike McFadden. Nearly all of the preceding have lengthy records of utterances and actions that would have provided ample attack material for opponents. I thought that Pawlenty would have been a pretty strong candidate, though there could have been suspicion that she was just running on her last name working against her. I’ve also seen talk about state Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), but no indication as to whether she is really considering it or not.
 

We’ll see what more shakes out in the next couple of weeks.
 
Image: Randy Molton.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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MN-02: So, what got into John Kline?

by Dan Burns on September 9, 2015 · 3 comments

kline2(Update: Dig “John Kline’s Top 10 Greatest Hits Of Evil.”)
 
That is, why did he suddenly announce that he’s leaving Congress at the end of this term? I think the biggest reason is that he is starting to burn out on Washington, D.C., and while he still has energy and drive of some sort left, it’s time to make his pile. His likeliest destinations for lobbyist gigs are with the warmongering-industrial complex and/or shameless, despicable education deform profiteers. But, really, every corporate greedhead has reason to be grateful to John Kline. He hasn’t been a leader on every issue, but his vote for plutocracy has always been there.

 
The number two reason, which he’s acknowledged, is that Kline is about to be term-limited out of his chairmanship of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. (As an aside, his dismal record in that job is very unlikely to improve, in the time remaining). For an authoritarian social dominant like Kline, the congressional equivalent of being knocked down from brigadier general to captain or something is presumably far, far from pleasing.

 
I don’t think that fear of a humiliating electoral defeat was a big factor. Like most right-wingers in politics his belief as to where he really stands in the eyes of the populace is so unrealistically inflated as to be legitimately called “delusional.”
 
For the bigger picture, the key thing is whether or not this becomes part of a wave of GOP retirements. That’s usually a good sign that word within a party (it happens with both) is that the upcoming election isn’t looking good. Even if a player is confident of holding onto his own seat, a pending lessening of party power can be demoralizing.
 
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MN-02: John Kline will not seek reelection

by Dan Burns on September 3, 2015 · 3 comments

271_19344293946_1831_nMakes my day, and I know I’m not alone.
 

Republican Rep. John Kline announced Thursday he won’t seek re-election in 2016, after serving in Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district since 2002…
 
Kline’s announcement Thursday didn’t say why he had decided to step down, but he is 67. He scheduled a call with reporters later in the day.
(CBS Minnesota)

We’ll have plenty more about this. Just getting the great news out there, far and wide, for now.
 
Addendum: I’m passing along this, from Daily Kos, with useful numbers on recent district outcomes for big races. And this, from mnpACT!, speculating on who all might be running to replace him (in addition to the current candidates, Democrats Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence). State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who is mentioned in the latter, is my pick for Minnesota’s most obnoxious legislator, and him on the general election ballot should make it easy pickings for our side. So, Run Pat Run!
 
Addendum 2: More from Kline himself.
 

On a call with reporters shortly after the announcement, Kline was relaxed and candid, saying it was “just kind of time” to move on, and emphasizing the work he still has left to do in Congress over the next 16 months, including the passage of a package to reform the No Child Left Behind K-12 education law.
 
Kline also made clear that his decision was not made due to health concerns, or worries that he might not win re-election in 2016. He explained that “it’s been a lot of years of me being in Washington,” adding that his grandkids had grown up in a “blink of an eye.” Kline was elected to Congress in 2002, and turns 68 this Sunday.
 
The seven-term congressman also acknowledged that his decision was partly motivated by the imminent end of his chairmanship of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the apex of his influence in Congress. (House committee chairmanships are limited to three terms.) “It’s time to let someone else have a shot,” he said.
(MinnPost)

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Cooper-Union-We-are-Students-Not-Customers-e1373664073701I’m passing along a couple of recent items about for-profit colleges. The purpose of for-profit “educators” is to make money. The legitimate purpose of education is to create a more intelligent, knowledgeable, able populace. You’d have to be a moron to think that those two are compatible, based on “the markets” or some such imbecile nonsense.
 

For-profit colleges in Minnesota have been coming under increasing scrutiny in the past year.
 
The state Office of Higher Education has been sending out “secret shoppers” to see whether colleges are dealing honestly with prospective students. It’s starting to compare notes with the state Attorney General’s Office. Its new watchdog also is investigating an increasing number of student complaints.
(MPR)

I’m probably pushing it, here, but while in a positive, optimistic frame of mind one can get the impression that AG Lori Swanson and Gov. Mark Dayton intend to see that for-profits shape up or get run out of business, and that it’s unlikely to be the former. It’s not about a political attack on Rep. John Kline (R-MN). It’s just an understanding that Minnesota will be better off without these places.
 

Federal and state investigators have suspected the for-profit school of defrauding its students for years. But with protection from powerful members of Congress — like Burnsville Republican John Kline — ITT nonetheless flourished. The Carmel, Indiana corporation now has 57,000 students at 135 campuses, including Brooklyn Center and Eden Prairie.
 
Its specialty is using multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to carpet-bomb the vulnerable: poor folks, minorities, military veterans, and single moms, people unaware that a degree at half the price and with twice the respect can be had at the community college down the street.
 
ITT sells career fulfillment and a better life. The reality, however, is thousands of alums with lives unchanged — except for the crushing new burden of student loans.
(City Pages)

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kline2Coming off a holiday weekend things generally are not very active. But it so happens that I can, with remarkable ease, quite literally always find items to pass along, about how Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has done, and continues to do, a very bad job in Congress, and why he needs to be replaced in the next election.
 

(In May 2014) John Kline, Minnesota’s Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM), hosted a job fair at the Eagan Community Center “to assist Minnesotans with an uncertain job market.”
 
Among the Kline invitees looking to “assist” people trying to better their lot was a disproportionate number of for-profit colleges, including DeVry University, Crown College, and ITT Tech, the Carmel, Indiana-based company whose two executives were indicted on federal fraud charges earlier this week…
 
Kline hosts job fairs where for-profit schools land new students. Their tuition dollars from federal student loans and grants make the companies rich. These companies and their execs bankroll Kline’s campaign committee.
 
As the powerful chairman of the House Committee of Education and the Workforce, the congressman plays devout obstructionist to any meaningful reform that would turn off the spigot of taxpayer dollars amounting to $32 billion annually.
(City Pages)

The proposed budget does not provide any FY16 funding for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers nor for any vouchers to restore the remaining 67,000 vouchers lost due to the 2013 sequester cuts. The bill does not increase funding for voucher administrative fees, as HUD requested, but flat funds voucher administrative fees…
 
And it isn’t just ignoring the homeless veterans issue, voters need to be aware of some of the other cuts which are being pushed to satisfy John Kline’s “realistic balanced budget that reflects the needs of the American people.”
(MN Political Roundtable)

Of course spending levels on Kline’s own congressional operations are sacrosanct.
 
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