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The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

This is the promised follow up to Changing how the DFL endorses gubernatorial candidates where somehow I had a long post and didn’t get to what the title implied. So, the primary is over, and we have another data point. A gubernatorial endorsee lost again.
The main reason Erin Murphy lost should be obvious, at least if you looked at the results by CD: she did terrible outside the Twin Cities metro area. She did win CDs 4 and 5, but not by much, whereas Tim Walz cleaned up in his district, CD1, and got right around 40% everywhere else. Murphy needed to do that well in her central city base, and she didn’t.
Murphy did catch a break when the Lori Swanson campaign imploded. I noted, as the results came in, how if Murphy’s percentage went up, Swanson’s went down by the same amount, and visa-versa. The preelection polls had massive numbers of undecideds, and Murphy and Walz went way up from their poll numbers as undecideds decided, but Swanson actually went down. I’m convinced Murphy was the big beneficiary of Swanson’s problems (self-inflicted — I don’t think Murphy pulled something) but that wasn’t enough to overcome the perception she was too metro-centric. That gets us to the error in choosing a running mate.


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:


Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 1 comment

Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state conventionSo by now, you’ve likely had your head spinning from the news from the DFL side regarding who is running for what, and lots of candidates coming out of the woodwork to run for this and switch to that, and run for something when they were running for something else. It’s interesting, at least to a politics junkie, and you’re reading this web site, so…

You were likely looking at the governor race, and this involves that to be sure. You may not have been following closely enough to know the candidate filing period just closed, or you heard but didn’t care what that meant. The weirdness has a whole lot to do with that however. It all starts, however, with the race for state attorney general (AG). Yes, an office a lot of people haven’t even heard of.

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I could be wrong. If I’m right, then I have to admire the cleverness of a certain group of Don Samuels’ supporters, even if, as the title implies, there’s something coldblooded about it.


A new organization has sprung up for this election season, the Minneapolis Progressive Education Fund. They put out a mailer promoting the candidacies of Don Samuels and Iris Altamirano for the Minneapolis at-large school board seats. Altamirano is one of the candidates endorsed by the DFL. Samuels is not. The other DFL endorsee is Rebecca Gagnon. Voters might be fooled by the effort MPEF is making to hook together Altamirano and Samuels. The images below are a mailer MPEF sent Minneapolis voters (click to enlarge). Some voters have received a robocall supporting Samuels and Altamirano while bashing Gagnon. I didn’t receive one myself and don’t know of anyone who caught who made the calls, but the content sounds roughly the same as the MPEF web site. The mailer is positive about the supported candidates, but the robocall and web site are pretty negative. The web site tries to tie Gagnon to the unproven rumors about State Sens. Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden. Pretty nonsensical rumors unless someone believes the senators are politically suicidal (denying funding to the Minneapolis public schools? Remember that saying about extraordinary claims…), but MPEF says, “The Star Tribune and MinnPost also have reported on claims…” and yes, someone made claims, those outlets reported that someone made claims, so true as far as it goes. Other than that attack on Gagnon, it’s all generic “every child can learn” sort of stuff said by all school board candidates everywhere.

MPEF mailer image 1   MPEF mailer image 2

So what’s the strategy? It’s more than knowing the word “progressive” plays well in Minneapolis. The trick is Samuels doesn’t need to beat both endorsees. Since there are two positions, he just needs to beat one. Apparently the strategy is to hook him to one endorsee, giving the impression he’s the other endorsee, while simultaneously hitting the other endorsee with a negative campaign. That may explain why Samuels didn’t seek the DFL endorsement, which he never would have gotten for any public office, but instead attempted the same sort of ambush campaign Matt Entenza tried in the auditor primary: keep quiet until filing so opponents aren’t expecting anything, and then hit hard with a well-funded negative campaign. The brilliance of this strategy is it would have worked equally well whichever candidate MPEF chose to support or attack. Whether there was a reason or a coin flip, MPEF chose to make it appear Samuels is running with Altamirano, even though they’re not similar candidates, and I’ve yet to hear anyone in Altamirano’s campaign have a good word to say about him.



A week ago, Sharon Sund was endorsed by acclimation during the early part of the DFL 3rd Congressional District  Party’s convention in Maple Grove.  Party activist and former CD3 Chair, George Greene nominated Sund.  The seconding and the voice vote took a few additional seconds putting Sund in the ring with G.O.P.  incumbent Eric Paulsen.

Sund photo


Two years ago, Brian Barnes won the DFL  CD3 Party endorsement over Sund.  Barnes went on to lose to the conservative Eden Prairie Republican.

Sund’s early endorsements include Congressman Keith Ellison, MN 2020 founder and former State Rep Matt Entenza, Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik, former State Rep. Betty Folliard, State Rep. Mike Nelson (40A), and Democracy for America.   I have assembled video that I had lensed of Sharon’s endorsement and post-endorsement speech into a segment for the next edition of Democratic Visions.  The segment contains only a portion of Sharon Sund’s speech.

Sharon Sund’s campaign website is here.

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Keith Ellison and the broken edge of the bottle

by Eric Ferguson on May 4, 2014 · 2 comments

“You see the red? That’s the Republicans. They’re lower than us by a lot. But guess what. That line, it waves up and down, but it’s pretty steady. Don’t you think so? Look at our line. It looks like the broken edge of a bottle.”
US Rep. Keith Ellison was endorsed for reelection at yesterday’s CD5 DFL convention. The video is his endorsement and speech, starting with a nomination by Sen. Al Franken. He’s unimpressed with his own win and thinks no one else should be impressed either, not in such a safely blue district. When he won his first election in 2006, the fifth district had a lack of turnout but plenty of excuses why it as last in among Minnesota’s congressional districts in turnout. He didn’t accept those excuses, and in 2012 it topped the state. It comes down to one of the best ground games in the nation. You can hear him making the point to the delegates that if you aren’t helping with the ground game, you’re really not helping. For reasons I can’t fathom, many of his Democratic colleagues are unwilling to engage in a ground game and improve turnout beyond what’s necessary to eke out their own reelections. Do they refuse to believe the ground game matters? Do they not care about the other Democrats on the ballot? Maybe there’s something about the state’s political culture that assumes a serious ground game. Don’t really know. We do know that we can’t win the House or state legislature by improving turnout in safe districts, but we sure can win statewide elections, and stop the noxious Republicans who have caused all sorts of damage from the governor’s office, as state attorneys general or secretaries of state.
I have to think the Republicans know what a difference turnout in this district has made, given that photo ID advocates (“photo ID” please, stop saying “voter ID”, not the same thing) tried to impose it in just Minneapolis. Or maybe they were just acting from the Republican principle that urban votes, by definition, shouldn’t count. “But we won most of the counties!” “Look how red the map is!” “Excluding the cities Minneapolis and St. Paul, I — as the Republican candidate — actually won the state by approximately 6 percentage points. That last quote is real; from Tom Emmer, defeated 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who is now running for Congress — in a non-urban district now represented by Michele Bachmann.
This video looks like it was shot with a phone camera at the back of the hall, and, well, there’s a good reason for that. Did my best to clean it up, and the sound is tolerable. Maybe treat it like radio. The other videos are State Attorney General Lori Swanson, running for reelection, and State Rep. Deb Hilstrom, seeking party endorsement for the open seat for Secretary of State. A representative from her opponent, State Rep. Steve Simon, spoke before I got there.




Emmer up big in internal poll

by Eric Ferguson on April 24, 2014 · 2 comments

h/t Daily Kos Elections. The Tom Emmer campaign has released internal poll results for the Republican primary showing him blowing out his opponents. If the results are right, Phil Krinkie and Rhonda Sivarajah aren’t even breaking into double digits.

3. Tom Emmer holds a staggering 64-point lead on the primary ballot against his two primary opponents (combined!). On the primary ballot test, Emmer receives 73% of the vote, while Rhonda Sivarajah garners 5% and Phil Krinkie 4%. Emmer’s lead is even larger among self-identified strong Republicans (78% Emmer – 6% everyone else), strong Republicans who are ideologically very conservative (77% Emmer – 10% others), and strong Republicans who are Tea Party supporters (77% Emmer – 8% others). In other words, those who are most likely to vote will be voting for Tom Emmer.
4. Tom Emmer’s support climbs even higher when likely primary voters learn he is Republican-endorsed candidate (79% voting for Emmer – 3% Krinkie – 4% Sivarajah).



The DFL Feminist Caucus Earthquake

by Grace Kelly on April 4, 2014 · 5 comments

worldviewWow, I am blown away. For a long time, I had thought that women’s groups were just a case of reverse sexism. Now of course, my experience is that generally women are better and just not recognized. That is just a fact of life. However, I had seen cases where male candidates had better represented gender equity and civil rights and were not endorsed. I even knew of one candidate endorsed because of who the parents were.
That just changed. The DFL Feminist Caucus just endorsed a young Somali male over an experienced older white female. I don’t know enough about the particulars of qualifications to judge the actual endorsement. The fact that this ever happened in a women’s group is revolutionary.


The DFL Feminist Caucus announces today it’s endorsement of Mohamud Noor for State Representative, House District 60B.

Laura Nevitt, the President of the DFL Feminist Caucus said, “We are proud to support a courageous man who has shown unwavering support for gender equity, access to reproductive health care, anti-bullying legislation and comprehensive sex education.

The work of feminism is ongoing, and all too often we are still fighting old battles, but there is also new work to be done in communities that are just beginning to address these issues. Noor is uniquely qualified to be a champion for feminist values in those communities

Noor brings a voice and perspective to the Capitol that is not yet present, but is a much needed voice as we move forward in making Minnesota equal for everyone”

As an officially chartered caucus of the DFL, the purpose of the DFL Feminist Caucus is to support, advocate and promote the health, safety, human rights, and improved socioeconomic and political conditions of all people in their home life, work life and communities through the elimination of sexism in accordance with the Principles of the Caucus. Those principles can be found at


I used the metaphor of the world map on this article because “up” and orientation to the North is arbitrary. Could it be that we are seeing real gender equity?


I still like the chair/vice chair balancing of the DFL for that has saved us on many occasion as people move on in their lives. Keeping gender balance is important. It could also be that the DFL Feminist Caucus also becomes gender balanced while still being successful at the same mission.
I think this change is really going to help gender equality because this endorsement proves that a man can get an endorsement over a woman in the DFL Feminist Caucus. Now everyone will be working to prove themselves in gender equity. May the best candidate win endorsement!


DFL caucuses outdrew MNGOP

by Eric Ferguson on February 28, 2014 · 2 comments

The DFL outdrew the state Republicans at the Feb. 4th caucuses, roughly 14,500 to 14,100. That’s actually a big deal. If you’re shrugging at that because there are more Democrats, so they should have a bit bigger turnout, not really. Yes, there are more Democrats, but what draws people to caucuses are contests for public office. Caucuses, at least on the DFL side, also elect precinct officers and start the process of building the party platform — and I’m a big believer in face time for building a strong grassroots, as are apparently other people who turned out without a high profile contest. Still, let’s admit it, attendance tends to rise or fall with the contests for public office. That’s why the MNGOP should have had much higher turnout.


The DFL currently holds every statewide office, and all are up for reelection except Amy Klobuchar’s US Senate seat. The incumbents are running unopposed except Mark Ritchie, who isn’t seeking reelection as secretary of state. So we do have a contest between two strong campaigns for state reps. Steve Simon and Debra Hilstrom, and they did their best to get supporters to turn out. But still, that’s just secretary of state, which matters when a partisan SOS is trying to interfere with voting instead facilitating it, but it doesn’t get many people excited. Besides, the GOP has a contest for SOS too, and for everything else, including governor and US Senator.


As if that weren’t enough, Republicans have more contests for Congress, and I’m presuming they have more State House races since they have a minority of seats going in. Now add in that the non-presidential party is generally more motivated in midterm elections, and everything points to much higher turnout for the MNGOP. So even for the DFL to be close is really surprising.


Is 64B headed for no endorsement?

by Grace Kelly on February 23, 2014 · 5 comments


Today I heard that the 64 endorsing convention starts at noon and has to end at 6:30. Normally, the starting convention business takes two hours. Senate District 64 always goes to sub-caucusing for delegates, which takes 2 hours. The 6-candidate race for the 64B state representative is last on the agenda. A 64B endorsement takes an hour to start, then ballot turnaround is at best a half hour. To get to one candidate from 6 candidates would likely take 4 ballots and could take 8 ballots. Any controversy adds an hour. My calculations show a need for 7 hours with the possibility of going 11 hours.


Add two more factors. The proposed rules prevent central committee endorsement. The last item on the agenda is the 64b endorsement. Any non-winning campaign now has the ability to slow down the convention to no endorsement.


So what options do we have?


1) Start at 9:30 AM on a Sunday, making some people angry about violating the standard Sunday sleep-in time or religious-service time. Current discussions have proposed 11:00 AM.


2) Negotiate with the school, paying all needed fees and penalties.


3) Get a different site.


4) Get rid of the central committee rule of no endorsement which would make the central committee elections the substitute for the actual endorsement race. A central committee endorsement also tends to make people angry.


5) Ramrod the schedule. Allow NO interruption speeches until voting pauses. Skip all 64B speeches and debate.Move 64b ahead of other business to allow business to happened during vote counting.Rushed conventions tend make people very angry because they are inherently unfair.


6) Plan to suspend the convention and have business finish at a second meeting.


7) Move 64b endorsement above state and county delegate selection and have that business go to a suspended second convention.


8) Use Ranked Choice Voting to get the top two candidates. Hopefully the convention could then get to the 60% endorsement vote in the second ballot.


A combination of solutions might be needed. The problem with fairness and people moving to lower choice candidates is that it takes time. Without time, this is going to upset people. Remember there is no ranked choice in this election. A no endorsement could give Republicans an opportunity. The DFL cannot afford no endorsement in this race.
Updated: As Dan so rightfully pointed, there is a DFL primary. However, I still think that a high primary cost with a low primary vote is not a good choice.