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arne carlson

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

I’m writing this prior to the August 14th primary, and you might wonder why I’m writing this now, in the heat of the primary campaign when DFLer-on-DFLer campaigning is at it’s thickest (though just how negative depends a great deal on which specific race is the subject). There are two answers: one, passions about whether the endorsements made this cycle and regarding the process actually spikes right after the primary; two, this is in my mind because of recent conversations with DFLers in the last week or two with a couple connected points: the DFL has not had an endorsed non-incumbent win the gubernatorial election since Wendell Anderson, and a consensus is forming that Erin Murphy is toast. That latter opinion is based on a couple polls that are at least two weeks old by now and have other issues — not to go into a tangent, but I refer for example to the huge number of undecideds and the polling of registered voters instead of likely voters — so that opinion is premature. Not wrong, but premature, and many Murphy supporters seem in denial about the big trouble the Murphy campaign is in. By no means all, but plenty haven’t come to terms with Murphy’s situation yet.

Erin Murphy is the DFL endorsee, and if she doesn’t pull it out, we’re going to have our usual, and usually heated, discussions/arguments about how we endorse and who we endorse and whether to endorse. So I suppose I’m getting a jump on that.


When our non-incumbent gubernatorial endorsees keep losing, that begs several questions:


“You are being asked to go to the car lot and buy a car, and when you inquire as to how it works, ‘Trust me it works.’ How about the mileage? ‘Trust me, it’s great.’ How about the price? ‘Trust me, after you buy it, I’ll send you the bill.'”
Gov. Arne Carlson

Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson said the above quote at a forum in Rochester about the vote restriction amendment last night. Carlson debated Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake) and former Republican MN-01 Congressman Gil Gutknecht. Kiffmeyer is the former MN Secretary of State and founder of the vote suppression organization Minnesota Majority, the group pushing the vote restriction amendment.

Carlson’s turn of phrase is apt.

Implementation of the amendment, if it passes, will be expensive. Most likely, it will be an unfunded mandate. Already strapped local government units will bear the burden of paying for it. They will be forced to jack up your property taxes to pay for it. Ramsey County estimated it might cost the county $1.75 million. Minneapolis refused to guess on a cost as they found too many variables.

We know that the amendment will eliminate same-day registration and absentee ballots. Eliminating same-day registration is this amendment’s primary target. Same-day registration is the primary reason Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout.

What will replace it? A voucher system that the next legislature will have to hammer out the details. A new government ID verification system for every polling location that the next legislature will need to figure out.

If this amendment were to be implemented, Minnesota would no longer lead the nation in turnout. And Republicans would be mighty happy about that.

Here’s a worst case scenario: what if we need a special election before the legislature passes the implementation bill? There are no provisions for that.


Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson let loose on Republicans generally and Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, former Secretary of State, specifically. Kiffmeyer is an ALEC member and founded the vote suppression organization Minnesota Majority. As Sec of State she became infamous for trying to hang posters of terrorists in polling places in 2006 to scare voters. Her time as Sec of State was noted for attempts to limit Native American’s participation in elections.

“We’re the party of Lincoln, we’re the party of Eisenhower. We welcome people in,” said Carlson during an interview after the show. He wonders, “When did we hand over the keys to voting to (Voter Photo ID amendment author Representative Mary) Kiffmeyer?”

Those weren’t the only reprimands for his Republican colleagues heading up the Minnesota Legislature, ” This is essentially a poll tax. It’s a direct assault on Democracy,” he added.
(The Uptake)

The Voter ID Amendment is not about ending vote fraud — Republicans can’t even find any. Its about eliminating same day registration and vote suppression.


By “some respect”, I mean he bothered to spell their names right. That was as far as the respect went. I included a screen capture just to prove this tweet came from a grown man. He’s a state senator no less:

Mark Dayton should resign because he won’t be bullied by Parry and Co. How mean of him! What did Arne Carlson and Walter Mondale do to merit his scorn? They helped organize a commission of former public officials to come up with a budget that would hopefully be acceptable to both sides. Sen. Parry seems unable to figure out they didn’t need to leave their rockers, or whatever they sit in at home. They could each say they did their time in public office and it’s someone else’s problem. They didn’t. They tried to help people who, as Parry’s tweet clearly shows, can’t handle the basics of their jobs.

Notice the date on the tweet. This was the day Carlson and Mondale announced the commission. Parry didn’t even wait for yet another group of pragmatists to tell him and his caucus that there’s no getting around a tax increase of some sort before he started hurling insults.

At least we don’t have to worry his inner jerk getting loose, since it apparently slipped its leash some time ago.


The Sarahmander

by TonyAngelo on May 5, 2011 · 1 comment

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe GOP House redistricting plan authored by Rep. Sarah Anderson passed out of committee Tuesday on a party line vote. Despite this, the plan is fair, or so say’s it’s author:

[Rep.] Anderson characterized her propsal as a “fair plan” that is based on the population growth derived from the 2010 census.

Of course those responsible for drawing the map consider it to be “fair,” but is it?

Let’s take a quick look at one aspect of the plan, the incumbents who would get drawn together. If this was truly a “fair” plan we would expect the instances of incumbents getting drawn together to breakdown roughly evenly between the types of match-ups. Is this what happens?

Incumbent match-ups in house GOP plan
GOP vs GOP: 1
DFL vs DFL: 7
DFL vs GOP: 5

All but one of the incumbent pairings includes a DFLer and the majority are DFL on DFL. Essentially what was done with the map was to draw first ring suburban DFLers into seats with outer ring suburban DFLers and GOPers while at the same time creating a bunch of suburban open seats ripe for GOP pickups.
The fact that the GOP map is so favorable to the GOP is hardly surprising but it’s encouraging that unlike Virginia, where the state Dems basically got rolled, Minnesota Democrats rejected this blatant gerrymander in committee, where it passed on a party line vote.

So what does the maps author, Rep. Anderson have to say about this DFL heavy incumbent packing?

Pairing incumbents wasn’t our focus in putting together this plan. We tried to protect communities by avoiding carving up cities and counties.

To which I respond; (cough)Bullshit(cough).

I mean, even Larry Jacobs doesn’t like it:

But the map is pretty clearly drawn to protect Republicans, said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. It pairs far more Democratic than Republican incumbents, and many lines seem to be drawn to provide safe districts for members of the large GOP freshman class. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton would likely veto it.

“My concern is this map is going to be dead on arrival because it appears to favor Republicans, and I’m not sure what’s gained by that,” Jacobs said.

The GOP basically had two options for drawing their maps; the mutual option or the go it alone option. The mutual option, which appears to be completely off the table at this point in time, would have been something worked out between the two parties that they could both agree on.

Once the GOP knows that they aren’t going to be able to work out a deal, or they decide they don’t want to work out a deal, there isn’t much point in drawing a subtle gerrymander, they’re probably better off drawing the “traditional” map that favors them the most (traditional meaning they follow all the standard rules; compactness, not splitting towns and counties, etc).

This is because if the courts end up drawing the final maps, the maps created by the two parties will be considered as part of that effort and the GOP will want to make sure the judges see some of their “ideas.”

I’m not going to spend too much time breaking this map down because the chances of it actually becoming law are exceedingly unlikely, but it does provide an example of what a good partisan gerrymander looks like; make incumbents of the other party fight it out and create open seats in territory favorable to your side.

Nice gerrymander Sarah Anderson!


I want to take this opportunity to get back onto a favorite hobby horse of mine, the much talked about, Minnesota Redistricting Commission. If you’re unaware of what I’m talking about it’s the brainchild of Walter Mondale, Arne Carlson, Al Quie and Roger Moe, so it must be super good and extra bipartisan.

A quick explanation:

The Mondale-Carlson plan establishes a five-person commission of retired appellate judges – four appointed by legislative leaders of the two parties and one selected by the four appointees. Their commission’s redistricting plan would go back to the Legislature and governor for an up-or-down vote. Mondale and Carlson believe there would be strong political pressure to support the commission plan.

Larry Jacobs, whom I mentioned earlier, also favors the “retired judges” method of redistricting.

[Jacobs] prefers an alternative previously supported by the state’s three major parties that would have “unelected, nonpartisan retired judges” draw the maps and submit them to the Legislature and governor for up or down votes.

Basically the entire Minnesota political class supports this commission idea and they all keep going back to it as a sure cure for all of our redistricting woes. The Mondale-Carlson redistricting plan is a virulent idea and likes to plant itself into the brains of supposedly reasonable people. It’s a solution that doesn’t really solve the problem it seeks to solve, it simply paints that problem with a nice bi-partisan brush and calls it a day, while not actually addressing any of the root issues.

Why is it better to have a panel of “unelected, nonpartisan retired judges” draw maps that the legislature and governor still have to approve? Why are unelected judges the right people to draw the lines? Is there such a thing as a non-partisan judge? How do you know a judge is non-partisan? Shouldn’t there be a few citizen’s on such a panel, like in Minneapolis?

If the idea is to take politics out of redistricting, than why do politicians select the “non-partisan” judges? And if we’re just going to let judges draw the lines, why not keep the system we have, since that’s who almost always ends up drawing the lines anyway. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I’m not against the idea of a non-partisan redistricting commission, I’m against this particular non-partisan redistricting commission.

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Redistricting: A Minnesota History

by TonyAngelo on December 7, 2010 · 0 comments

For some context on the coming battle over redistricting, let’s take a look at the checkered past of redistricting in Minnesota, a process that has a consistent history of dysfunction.

The information in this post is largely based on a presentation by Peter Wattson from the Minnesota Senate Council at the Minnesota Redistricting Forum. A copy of his presentation can be found here.
The Olden Days

At first seats in the Senate were assigned to counties in rural areas and to cities in the urban areas, even going down to the ward level in the Twin Cities. Under the Minnesota constitution, representative seats don’t have to be single member districts, the requirement is only that there be between one and four representatives for each Senate district. So legislative districts were not always evenly distributed as they are now.

As the population grew, more seats were simply added to account for this growth. At one point the number of legislators was cut in half, but eventually these seats were all added back due to population growth.

1913 would be the last time the Minnesota Legislature added seats for awhile, that year they passed a redistricting bill calling for 67 Senators and 130 Representatives and that’s the way it stayed until the 1960’s.

Post World War I

In 1930 Minnesota lost a congressional seat, going from 10 to 9. The legislature passed a new congressional map that was vetoed by newly elected Governor Floyd Olson. The legislature took the case to court, arguing that the Governor didn’t have the right to veto the plan.

The 1932 elections came with the matter unresolved so the nine seats were at-large. At that time there were three major parties in Minnesota, Republicans, Democrats and Farmer-Labor’s, so there were close to thirty people running for those nine at-large seats.

The outcome was that three candidates from the cities and seemingly everyone with a Scandinavian last name won. The legislature promptly drew a new map in 1933 that was more amenable to the Governor, but they didn’t bother to draw a new state legislature map.

This was eventually forced by post war population trends. People were moving out of rural areas and into the cities. The legislature, which was dominated by rural members, was reluctant to redraw the maps and cede power to the cities

That is until a lawsuit in 1958, Magraw v. Donovan, forced their hand. In the decision the court noted that the difference between the Senate district with the largest population and the district with the smallest population was 9 to 1. In the house it was close to 15 to 1. Not surprisingly those districts with the highest population were in the cities.

In a 1959 special session the Legislature passed a new apportionment law, but it didn’t take effect until after the 1960 elections.


After the 1960 census, Minnesota lost yet another congressional seat and the legislature drew a new eight district map that was signed by the Governor.

In 1964, Honsey v. Donovan, called into question the fairness of the legislative plan that was adopted in the 1959 special session, the spread in the Senate districts had declined from 9 to 1, but was still 4 to 1, the house going from almost 15 to 1 to 7 to 1.

The courts ordered the legislature to draw a new plan and one was passed in the following legislative session. It was than vetoed by Governor Karl Rolvaag.

The legislature tried yet again in a 1966 special session and finally came up with something that earned the Governor’s signature.

This would be the last time that the Minnesota map was not in some way drawn by judges.


The 1971 legislative session is best remembered for the Minnesota Miracle, but it also became a battleground over redistricting. During the long session the legislature eventually passed a plan that was vetoed by Governor Wendall Anderson and the session concluded without a new redistricting bill.

A subsequent lawsuit, because it can’t be Minnesota redistricting without a lawsuit, caused the court to take it upon themselves to draw up a plan.

This being one of those activist courts we hear so much about, they decided to just ignore the law and reduce the number of Senators and Representatives. The courts plan went from 67 Senators to 35 and 135 Representatives to 105.

Senate District 67, one of those eliminated by the Minnesota courts plan, appealed to the US Supreme Court who threw out the plan and told the lower court to follow the damn law and not be activist judges. I’m summarizing of course.

The courts drew up a new plan, this one consisting of 67 Senators and 134 Representatives, our current make-up.


In 1982 the Senate passed a new plan but the house never did, so yet again the issue was resolved by the courts.


All of the previous years of redistricting drama could almost be seen as a prelude to what happened in 1991.

The legislature passed a redistricting bill that Governor Arne Carlson vetoed, or at least thought he did. Turns out the Governor’s staff didn’t get the veto order back to the legislature on time and the bill had become law without his signature.

Governor Carlson declined to appeal the ruling, but that didn’t stop others from contesting the plan. There were multiple lawsuits involved and the interactions between them can get somewhat confusing, but the long story short is the state court held the congressional and legislative plans to be valid although they contained some population inequalities that the court rectified.

Not to be upstaged however, a federal court, ruling on a different lawsuit, decided that their wisdom and expertise was required and issued an injunction against the state courts congressional plan. They drew up a new congressional map and told the Secretary of State to use that map if she knew what was good for her.

This was appealed to the US Supreme court who basically told the federal court to mind it’s own damn business and let the states do redistricting how they see fit.

So in the 1992 congressional elections the map drawn by the federal court was used, and in the 1994 election and afterwards the map drawn by the state court was used.


2001 was certainly less dramatic than 1991, but as usually happens in a divided government situation, in this case DFL Senate and GOP House, the legislature couldn’t agree on a plan and so the courts once again drew the map.

The Present

All of which brings us to 2011, not quite the present, but close enough. Again, provided Mark Dayton is sworn in on schedule, we have a divided government situation. Since both houses of the legislature are controlled by the Republicans they shouldn’t have any problems getting a bill passed, the question is will they pass something that Mark Dayton can sign.

It’s made all the more interesting by the realities of the the population trends over the last ten years and what changes are going to have to be made to the map, but that’s a topic of discussion for another day.


Arne Carlson endorses Terri Bonoff

by The Big E on October 26, 2010 · 1 comment

Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson endorsed Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) for reelection to her SD43 seat.  SD43 encompasses parts of Minnetonka, Plymouth and Medicine Lake.  Arne’s endorsement particularly burns the modern Republican party.  They simply have no room for moderate’s like Carlson.  Congrats to Terri for her coup of getting his endorsement.

This ad will be targeted to hit the airwaves in Comcast zones 2 and 3.  This limits the views to pretty much the people in her district.

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Stick a fork in Randy Demmer’s hopes of taking out second-term Congressman Tim Walz — this one is over.

Former Republican Governor Arne Carlson endorsed Walz today at an event in Rochester — rumors were flying around Facebook and Walz campaign leader Richard Carlbom just tweeted the big news:

Republican Gov Arne Carlson is standing w/ Tim Walz. Carlson endorsed Erik Paulsen. This endorsement is huge in Rochester.

Carlson has made a public show of his displeasure with the current version of his Republican Party, picking his spots with endorsements of Democratic candidates like now-President Obama and now Walz.

This endorsement probably won’t change too many minds among the dead-end Republican base, but it’s not designed too — where this one will help is with the 15% or so in the middle of any race every other year — those who remember that Carlson was a moderate, thoughtful leader, and understand that he’s not a fan of Tony Sutton’s, Michael Brodkorb’s, and Tom Emmer’s modern Republican Party.

Photo courtesy of Laura Askelin.


Former Republican Governor Arne Carlson isn’t done on the endorsement circuit this week — last night he personally endorsed DFLer Audrey Britton in her House race against incumbent Republican Sara Anderson in district 43A (Plymouth and Medicine Lake).

Both agree that the state’s budget deficit will only be solved with a comprehensive approach that looks at the big picture: revenue, government efficiencies and effectiveness, prioritizing spending, and implementing long-range planning. They also echoed each other about the need for the parties to be more centrist in order to collaborate and make progress.

“In electing Audrey you’re electing a very pragmatic person with good judgment, a tremendous ability to work hard and a natural at reaching across the aisle,” said Carlson. “And we’ve got to get the Legislature back to the point where people can honestly express differences on philosophy and programs.”

I’m still waiting for some candidate to make the case that fiscal policy is tied directly to other issues like health care, reducing poverty, education, etc. And I disagree with Gov. Carlson that both parties need to be “more centrist” to get things done — quite the contrary, people with vastly different worldviews can still work together as long as trust is the first thing built in the room.

That being said, this is a great win for Britton, who has been working extremely hard in her campaign. 43A is the northern half of DFLer Terri Bonoff’s Senate district, and in the past three election cycles the Senate seat and the other House seat (now held by John Benson) have flipped from Republican-held to fairly solid DFL territory. Carlson’s name still holds a fairly large cachet among moderate Republicans in the suburbs, who aren’t all that concerned with what the Tea Party types are up to here or in Delaware, and making seats like this one competitive will have a lot to do with how well the DFL maintains its House majority come January.


I wanted to point something out that you may not have noticed.  Republicans are desperately trying to portray former Republican Tom Horner, now the Independence Party candidate for Minnesota Governor, as a Democrat.

Why would they do such a thing?

Because they’re scared of Horner.  They know that Horner is going to steal away old school and moderate Republican voters who cannot abide by the modern Republican party.  Horner is the prototypical ’94 Gingrich Revolution Republican.  The modern Republican party’s problem is that they’ve moved so far to the right that even guys like Horner don’t fit in anymore.

Did you notice they’re trying to do the same thing to Arne Carlson?

Yea … that’s because he had the temerity to point out that Tim Pawlenty has never produced a balanced budget in his 8 years.

Former Gov. Arne Carlson, Republican governor from 1991 to 1999, is launching a “Paul Revere Tour” to spotlight Minnesota’s budget problem and what he sees as a lack of courage from state leaders. While Carlson is hitting DFLers and Republicans alike on their failure to take care of Minnesota’s long term budget, he reserved special criticism for Pawlenty, who failed to deliver a balanced budget.

“Frankly, we don’t have leaders who are willing to make any courageous decisions,” Carlson told KARE 11. “One of the things we are going to discuss is how to get [Pawlenty] to comply with the law.”

Well, Emmer promises to be just like Pawlenty except more strident.  Emmer wants to go on the offensive and “redesign our government” around more libertarian, free market ideologies.  Emmer speaks teabag fluently.  He’s a tried and true believer in Grover Norquist’s goal of shrinking government to the size where it can be drowned in the bathtub.