The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.
And it’s auditor day, and maybe the lieutenant governor endorsement. The filing deadline is Tuesday, so Erin Murphy will have to announce quickly if she hasn’t already. I’m not there today and trying to tune in to the livestream, but so far it isn’t working. While we’re waiting, I’d like to handicap the auditor race: no idea. No information to go on at all. When I mentioned it to anybody, no one was even thinking about it with governor sucking up all the attention. Might be well to remember that governors Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson held the state auditor position. Rebecca Otto didn’t get endorsed, but being auditor made her an immediate serious candidate for governor or whatever else she should choose to run for. So even aside from the actual job, it matters.
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.
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.
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.
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).
by Eric Ferguson on September 18, 2014 · 2 comments
State Auditor Rebecca Otto might as well be allowed to pick her opponents. Wouldn’t get much of a different result. Her primary opponent ran a well-funded lousy campaign, but I thought she might have been the one statewide DFLer to draw a serious opponent. Randy Gilbert is a professional auditor and a small town mayor, so he actually has a relevant resume for the job. The other Republicans are pretty much running just on “vote for me because I’m extremely rich” or “vote for me because I’m extremely conservative”, maybe spiced with shouts of “Obamacare!” and “voter fraud!”. So I wondered, after he was nominated, if Gilbert might be the Republican with the best chance. Then a week ago, Dan.Burns posted:
Whatever this turns out to be, this isn’t the highest-profile race on the ballot. But veteran politics-watchers know what kind of spillover effect, fair or not, these kinds of episodes can have, not long before Election Day.
It’s now less vague, maybe as bad as feared. KSTP reported they have suggestive emails, and sources speaking of turmoil inside the MNGOP. Since I’ve criticized KSTP before and I’m about to do so again, I’ll give credit where due: KSTP did go after a story that’s bad for their owner’s preferred party. The emails are substantive. They seem to show not just that Gilbert carried on an affair with a local realtor, but that their assignations happened in the houses she was selling. Well, that’s a unique form of trespassing.
Maybe not unique, but certainly bad for a candidate, is Gilbert’s decision to avoid the press and not answer questions. KSTP said he wouldn’t respond to them. I looked on his campaign web site, and as of this moment, there’s nothing about it. There’s “news” from last June about DFLers being divided, and something from 9/11 attacking Otto for being anti-mining. Nothing in between or since.
Both Rebecca Otto and Shawn Otto exemplify grace under pressure. Still under shock of an unexpected opponent, they rallied and organized an outpouring of support. Shawn personally ensured that every request of mine was fulfilled. Every one I know said the same. So every DFL event and parade became focused on persuading for Rebecca Otto. It also helped that Rebecca Otto had done great work, that was easily documented with awards and online-published papers.
DFLers responded strongly because Entenza threatened the whole DFL endorsement value.
I think Entenza thought he could run in the primary because of Mark Dayton. Entenza’s challenge was vastly different than Dayton’s challenge. Mark Dayton’s primary run had been clear when he entered the governor’s race because Mark Dayton had never been a person who flourished in endorsement politics. Yet Dayton was still a good election candidate. At every point, Dayton was clear and honest about his intentions, running against DFL opponents in a fair way. Entenza is great at insider politics, yet he snubbed insider politics. Entenza did not give notice. The way that Entenza made his case was not considered fair by DFL standards. Quite frankly, DFLers talk about the Entenza challenge in way one talks of a friend who unexpectedly changes on you.
So this race became about the people power of the DFL vs the money power of Entenza. In the dead of summer, in a race that normal media would not cover well, the DFL had to rally its votes. And they did. DFL endorsements are valuable and important. …READ MORE
Matt Entenza had campaign finance violations in past campaigns, and if I were to explain them with the same accuracy and fairness Entenza is bringing to his attacks on Rebecca Otto, I might write something like this: Matt Entenza apparently thinks campaign finance laws don’t apply to him. Maybe he just wanted to be the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s pen pal, because he sure keeps having to explain himself. Illegal contributions, forgetting to report spending, having to return money, even MPR says he seems to be trying to do it all.
Was the preceding paragraph twisted and exaggerated? Obviously, which is really the point. Well, maybe not obvious if you don’t dig in to what actually happened, or at least read my other posts on the auditor race and notice I’m a Rebecca Otto partisan so maybe you should check before believing. It might sound reasonable if you have the misimpression that candidates are all experts on campaign finance law. They’re not. Maybe you think every campaign staffer is a 40-year-old with 50 years of experience; more likely 22-years old with three months experience. Certainly I find campaign finance laws complicated, having not studied. I mostly just hope to never accidentally run afoul because I didn’t know to ask a question or someone else screwed up and made it my problem.
What I do have is a greater respect for factual accuracy than Entenza has exhibited in his ambush campaign against Otto. He’s doing to her with his “voter ID” charge what I did to him in the first paragraph: make an attack by twisting isolated incidents barely on the margins of factual accuracy with a hope of finding an audience that will believe it without checking. Though frankly, I’m not exaggerating as much.
UPDATE: the decision of the administrative law judge summarily dismissing Entenza’s compaint against Otto is embedded below, after the images of the offending mailer.
I ran into a supporter of perennial candidate Matt Entenza while doorknocking today. It’s probably good news that this was the first one since our doorknocks had to focus on the primary. She received the deceptive mailer claiming Rebecca Otto supports requiring photo ID for voting. It’s displayed below so readers can see it’s as bad as I’m saying. The mailer essentially repeats the charge Entenza made in his complaint to the Office of Administrative Hearings, where Entenza charged that Otto lied when she denied his accusation, which complaint was thrown out for being nonsense — at the same time the mailer went out. Mr. Entenza, feel free to borrow Rick Perry’s “oops”.
Of course, not everyone reads blogs, saw the inside pages of newspapers (for all that we politics junkies thought this was big news, it’s still a page B3 sort of story) or has the developed skepticism to check out charges for scurrilousness, which presumably the Entenza campaign is counting on. So no, not everyone heard this was a lie.
So at the last address on my walk list, the outcome of which I suspect is going to henceforth push me to get to one more address in all future doorknocks, the resident said she was supporting Entenza. I asked what she liked about him, and she couldn’t immediately recall. I had a guess though, and asked if it was the photo ID charge. Yes it was. She was possibly not expecting a straightforward “it’s not true” rather than some spin, and she let me explain just what Entenza was twisting. I did catch a huge break in that this person had lawn sign for State Rep. Jean Wagenius, whose campaign t-shirt I happened to be wearing and lit I was carrying along with the Otto lit. This person is a strong Wagenius supporter, and learning the Wagenius is actively supporting Otto sealed the vote switch. You don’t always catch a break like that when trying to persuade at the door. You hope to just get someone to think about it or maybe check into something. So today ended on an good note. Voluntary disclosure, I’m chair of the DFL for SD63, which includes Wagenius’ district HD63B.
Still, that’s what it’s going to take to counter Entenza’s message. He’s sent three mailers already, which Otto won’t be able to match. She needs people who know what’s what to sway one voter at a time. The offending mailer is below the “read more”.
Entenza claims he is from Greater Minnesota, and thus, would do a better job representing the interests of Greater Minnesotans. This implies that highly acclaimed sitting State Auditor and candidate for re-election Rebecca Otto is not doing well in this area. In fact, she is doing very well. She is recognized for her fair and non-partisan treatment of people and local governments across the state. The previous State Auditor used the position in a more political way, implying bias, and voters rejected that approach by the largest upset of an incumbent in 112 years when Otto was first elected. It is now well-understood, here and nationally, that Otto is doing it right.
This is similar to the misleading language Entenza is using on pensions and social security. "Too often these days, we hear stories about how folks who worked hard and played by the rules their whole lives have their retirement at risk by poorly managed pension funds and Wall Street middle-men that charge exorbitant fees. Privatization of pensions is unacceptable. Minnesotans’ pensions should not be privatized and that Wall-Street middle men have no business near our pension plans.” This, again, implies that Otto has somehow been involved in privatizing pensions. She has not. In fact, a review of Otto’s website shows that she has been leading the charge against the move to privatize public pensions, and that the Public Employee Retirement Association is stronger than ever on her watch.
A similar thing happened in a recent news article about Otto leading a national conference of State Auditors, bringing the State Auditors from around the country to Saint Paul. A few accounting firms that work with local governments were some of the conference sponsors. Entenza said of this, via his campaign mouthpiece, that "The people being regulated should not be paying for lavish events for those doing the regulating. Attending parties and events thrown by firms the auditor is supposed to be watchdogging is not how Matt Entenza will run the office.” Again, this is a blatant attempt to mislead voters. The State Auditor does not watchdog or regulate private CPA firms in any way, and there were no lavish events at the conference. In fact, the conference was part of required continuing education classes that help auditors keep up with the latest laws, regulations and trends. So here, Entenza would have readers believe that all State Auditors from around the country are somehow having a conflict of interest. Really? He says he wouldn’t attend such conferences if elected. How then, one wonders, would his staff be able to do their jobs?