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Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 0 comments

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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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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30 minutes with Paul Thissen

by JeffStrate on January 18, 2018 · 0 comments


 
Minnesota legislator Paul Thissen hopes to win the DFL Party endorsement for his 2018 bid for Governor.  Rep. Thissen, a progressive Minneapolis Democrat, and host Tim O’Brien discussed the up-coming legislative session and campaign season on December 29, 2017 at our studio in Bloomington.  The former House Speaker and DFL elder provide an engaging and informed take on what’s ahead.

 

Democratic Visions is handcrafted by southwest suburban, lefty volunteers.  We specialize in one-on-one conversations and occasionally conjure up satire and commentary.

 

Democratic Visions is looking for female commentators and interviewers to become part of Minnesota’s most appealing political issues program.   For more information, contact me, Jeff Strate, via Facebook.

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inside-baseballEnough time has gone by since the 2016 Democratic Primary that we can now, I think, separate the unreachable from the merely burned Democrats. Hillary supporters are finally admitting that their candidate may have lost (even though she actually did win the popular vote) and Bernie supporters have stopped calling foul on the entire election process.
 
Right?
 
First, from me, full disclosure: I liked both candidates a lot. I decided, as I generally do, to pick the one that I thought would win the nomination, if possible, to support as soon as I was pretty certain of that.
 
Pursuant to this, as many of you who read my blog know, I developed a model for predicting primary and caucus outcomes. My model out performed everyone else’s, including the famous FiveThirthEight. I got a few “wrong” but actually got them more right by predicting the percentage of vote split between Hillary and Bernie very closely, but since the vote was essentially 50-50, which one won was a tossup, and in a couple of races, my toss went the wrong way. Still, my numbers were closer than everyone else’s.
 
Realizing this was happening I felt comfortable supporting Hillary Clinton at one point, though given the vitriol building around the primary, within the party, I kept my mouth shut for about an extra 10 days.
 
But, even as an eventual Hillary Supporter, I still liked Bernie, and also, I understood how some of the Bernie supporters felt about the process.

 

Some of them were the outsiders, and many didn’t know very much about how it all works. There was a lot of negativity that was really based on not understanding the system, and from believing some really stupid lies. For example, the whole coin toss thing from Iowa.

 
In Minnesota, I witnessed Sanders supporters finish a caucus with one or two fewer delegates than they could have had because they simply did not understand how delegates were counted (in a walking caucus). They had piles of time, they kept calling for “democracy” and stuff, Hillary supporters were telling them, “reorganize that group, and that group, you’ll get more delegates” but they didn’t listen.

 
So yes, Bernie lost fair and square, but at the same time, many Bernie supporters left the process with significant butt-hurt, and in my expert opinion (yes, I’m an expert on political butt-hurt) some of those bad feelings were self inflicted or simply not legit, while some of those bad feelings were very valid.
 
One of the complaints that was valid was in the area of endorsements. You may remember that Clinton got way more of the usual endorsements than Sanders. Do you also remember that these endorsements came way early in the process? Not all, but at least a few of them, were given to Clinton weeks before they were given to any candidate during the 2008 primary.
 
Sanders supporters were justifiably upset at that. There should be a respectful amount of time before deciding which candidate should get an endorsement. The accusation made by Bernie supporters was that the Democratic Party was playing inside politics.
 
As a Democrat and a Hillary supporter, I have to agree with that. And, as a Democrat and a person who wants to turn our state Blue, I am concerned that the party is doing the same thing again.
 
Collin Peterson, RT Rybak, and David Wellstone have already endorsed their candidate for Minnesota Governor, just now, so early in the process that we are not even fully sure who is running. They Waltzed into the race and endorsed Congressman Walz way too early. As far as I know, these are the only endorsements of anybody in this race. There is no way that this isn’t some sort of inside politics.
 
Look, Walz would be a great governor (but see below) and I like these three guys. But we had a race with several women being mentioned, some dude comes along, and three dudes jump on his bandwagon. OK, maybe this wasn’t a sexist-jerk act, but it certainly was a knee-jerk act.
 
These endorsements won’t mean anything. Endorsements are only marginally important, somewhere just below lawn signs in their campaign related oomph. But, the early insider endorsements do have an effect. They make people feel like they are being left out of the process.
 
In other words, the total negative impact of early insider baseball endorsements on the process will cause more DFL votes to go away than the total positive impact of having particular endorsements would have on a given candidate’s standing. In behavioral biology and game theory, we call this a spiteful act.
 
Rybak, Wellstone, and Peterson can’t take back their endorsements, but it would sure be nice if everyone else could show some restraint.

 
Below: I’ll add this thought. A seated Democratic member of Congress who leaves his seat to run for something else, and thus gives that seat to the Republicans, in a year like this, is a bone head. Sorry, it is true. If Walz gives his sea to the Republicans next election, and the US House is Republican by one vote, then he will have to … I don’t know what. But something.
 
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Corporatocracy and the State Auditor

by Invenium Viam on June 8, 2015 · 1 comment

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end.

I’ll never look into your eyes, again.

                                      The End, the Doors

 

 

“Two people went into a back room in the middle of the night, behind closed doors, and made some decisions,” State Auditor Rebecca Otto told Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer on Almanac last friday night. “And so only those two people know why they did it. … This is about trying to strip and gut a constitutional office … that is the people’s office.”

 

It’s also about stripping Minnesota Senators, duly elected by their constituencies, of their legislative powers.

 

It’s also about stripping the power of self-government from the people — who elected those Senators to their Constitutional offices — to choose the kind of state government they want by electing people to represent their well-being and interests at the seat of government.

 

And it’s about a brazen corporate power-grab of the powers of a constitutional office that answers directly to the taxpayers for how money is spent and how the business of government is conducted.

 

This, friends, is what a corporatocracy looks like. Did you think that when it came is would look like the Hollywood dystopia of Logan’s Run, or of Blade Runner? It will never look like that.

 

It will look like what we’re seeing in this covert attack on the State Auditor’s office: the loss of self-government to powerful moneyed interests.

 

Think about that for a minute. Two individuals took it upon themselves to circumvent the processes of government, to bypass the Minnesota Senate, and to thwart the will of the people who elected them, thereby to achieve purposes that are detrimental to the residents and taxpayers of the state.

 

At least now we know from the Star-Tribune story posted Sunday, June 7, who the two malefactors are: House Majority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Strib reporter Ricardo Lopez had this to say about it:

Approved by the House, the measure — which would gut the role of the state auditor, Democrat Rebecca Otto — had never been heard in the Senate. Yet that night, Sens. Sandy Pappas and Jim Carlson, leaders of that bill’s conference committee, were being instructed by Bakk’s chief of staff, Tom Kukielka, to approve the controversial change.

 

“Do it,” Kukielka said, according to one senator’s recollection of the conversation. Pappas and Carlson told the Star Tribune that Daudt and Kukielka had insisted the change was a crucial part of top leadership’s final agreement. [emphasis mine]

 

And while Rebecca Otto, speaking in the person of State Auditor, may have been unable to ascribe motivations to the pair, former State Auditor and later Governor Arne Carlson in his blog post Raw Politics and the Office of State Auditor was less reluctant in his willingness to call a spade a spade:

Now, why would Senate Democrat leadership accept a Republican proposal to virtually eliminate the office of the State Auditor which is held by a Democrat incumbent?

 

The answer likely has little to do with the issue of privatizing the office by permitting local government to contract out their audits and all to do with the incumbent’s stance on mining leases and, particularly, the proposed copper mine located in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota. It should be remembered that in addition to an audit responsibility which charges the State Auditor with oversight of the more than 20 billion dollars spent by local governments, the State Auditor also serves as a constitutional officer elected by the people of Minnesota. As such, she serves on the State Executive Council, the State Board of Investment (pension investments), Land Exchange Board, and a variety of other state boards. One major issue that regularly arises is the management of state lands including the issuances of mining leases.

 

In politics as in life, the simplest answer is probably the right one. Arne Carlson has been around politics a long, long time. And while State Auditor Rebecca Otto is right that only the two individuals who entered that room at 3:00 a.m. in the dark of night can know what words were spoken between them, it’s clear that their motivations must have proceeded from an equally dark intent — one not meant to see the light of day. Otherwise, why did the House and Senate leaders feel the need to sequester themselves so completely, so that not even their aides and the committee chairs could know what was said? Could it be, merely, as Daudt claims, to rubber stamp a set of budgetary provisions (see esp. Sec. 3. [6.481] COUNTY AUDITS.) already approved by the House? Could it be as innocent, as Bakk claims, as allowing the remaining counties in the state to conduct their own private audits as 28 others are now doing and as requested by the League of Minnesota Counties — a claim now disputed by that organization’s spokesmen?

 

As former Governor of Louisiana and former US Senator Huey Long liked to say, “That dog don’t hunt.” Was that set of provisions in the budget bill really worth circumventing the entire Minnesota Senate and the voters who elected them? Was it worth forcing the budget committee leaders to include the language in a bill they knew had not been vetted by their colleagues? Is it worth gutting a constitutional office that is one of the pillars of good government in Minnesota and a defender of the taxpayers interests nationally recognized for excellence?

 

Could something as simple and innocent as what is being claimed by the two majority leaders really be worth all that? And is it worth the fight that Speaker Daudt is now making to keep the language in the budget bill regardless of the Governor’s demands that it be excised and ignoring the warnings of legal scholars that the provisions are not constitutional?

 

No, it doesn’t pass the smell test. There’s surely a hidden agenda here. It seems much more likely that there were promises and offers made that weren’t in the best interests of the people of Minnesota, but were in the interests of a few power brokers at the capitol, otherwise the thing would never have been done the way it was. We may never know what those promises and offers were, but we can be sure that they are the prime movers working behind the scenes of this debacle.

 

This is not what Democracy looks like. But it is what Corporatocracy looks like. Be warned.
 
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70% of Republicans Rejected Johnson

by Grace Kelly on August 13, 2014 · 3 comments

jeff johnson speaksMore people voted for Dayton in yesterday’s primary than for all of the Republican candidates for governor. There should have been Republican excitement in a primary with four strong Republican candidates. There was not. To win with 30% of the vote is sad. It meant that 70% of the Republican primary voters rejected Johnson. Perennial candidate Sharon Anderson received more Republican votes and a higher percentage of Republican votes for Attorney General, and she is not even a lawyer. Maybe Republicans just like those plain vanilla names like Johnson or Anderson. Maybe Sharon Anderson should have run for governor on the Republican ticket instead of Attorney General.

 

In the debates, it was clear that Republicans have little enthusiasm. They ask questions about how the Republican candidate would deal with a Democratic legislature. Even Jeff Johnson says, “We kinda start out in hole”. When pressed for what he could do, Johnson says “We can’t promise the world”. The most exciting promise is that he is going to fire all of the Met Council. Most of Johnson’s answers were long meandering diatribes on how we can’t really make promises. I noticed the debates did not display the audiences, which was curious until I found out there was a pattern as the picture to the right shows. Since yawning and sleeping are contagious, it was definitely in the best interest of the Republican party to not show the audiences. There were even worst days where debates had many empty chairs in the audience. Maybe the poor and homeless that Republicans so despise were finding a place to safely rest. Republicans don’t get kicked out even when they fall asleep in Congress.

 

Heh, wake up!
 
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Zellers Brags About Failure in Leadership

by Grace Kelly on July 14, 2014 · 2 comments

zellars failure

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers is bragging about his failed leadership in shutting down the state government in a press release:

 

“Democrats, political pundits, special interest groups, and even many Republicans predicted that we wouldn’t hold to our principles and that the Republican-controlled legislature would cave to the intense political and media pressure during the shutdown,” said Zellers. “But I did not surrender and the GOP legislative majorities did not cave. Instead, it was Governor Dayton who surrendered to us after two weeks.”

 

In the legislative races in the year after the shutdown, it was clear that Minnesotans thought the shutdown was the worst possible choice, They rightly blamed the Republicans because the Republicans are still bragging about it. I knew in the Jim Carlson race that I had a winning argument with Business Republicans. I would ask Business Republicans: Would they run a business this way? Would they run a negotiation this way? Would they trust a supplying business that ran this way? The answers are resoundingly “no”. As an MBA, I knew this. There is even a class in negotiating in the MBA curriculum, that Minnesota Republicans would have failed. Obviously, the improved winning margins in a non-presidential year meant that many voters saw the shutdown as wrong.

 
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DFL state convention live blog

by Eric Ferguson on June 1, 2014 · 9 comments

I’m at the DFL state convention, and I’ll be live blogging it, which means I’ll be posting updates below. The video above is an introduction similar to this, just for kicks. Feel free to subscribe to my channel. I may post video updates if opportunity arises, but I’ll generally be where people are trying to talk or people are trying to hear, so no promises, but I’ll see if I can show some of what goes on at a convention. Otherwise I’ll be posting what’s happening, maybe with an opinion since I’m allowed to do that. It’s a blog you know, and I’m not pretending to be a reporter or to be without biases. Jump to a preview of what’s going to happen.
 
Late Saturday update: The Saturday portion of this live blog got very long and made the front page a long scroll, and there are other posts worth reading. So I’m putting the “read more” below this paragraph, and the time stamped updates start on the jump. As expected, life required my presence at home, but I plan to live blog Sunday too, if I can get The Uptake’s stream working for me (quickie update: it worked). I suppose it depends on traffic, but I should have a better connection anyway. The mining resolution is expected to be the controversial part of the platform debates. Guess we’ll watch and see. Some things, like the constitution changes, might be inside baseball, but leave a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer.
 
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So someone with a private equity firm in Los Angeles which employed MNGOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour decided to buy Honour a governorship. Well, I guess having your own governor is a trinket few of us 99 percenters can boast of.

 

Compete Minnesota’s state filing shows that as of April 14, the group had more than $250,000 cash on hand, which came from three contributors. Alec Gores of the Gores Group, a private equity firm where Honour worked for several years in Los Angeles, contributed $200,000 of the total amount.

 

Now be fair, $200,000 isn’t a whole gubernatorial campaign, and it sure isn’t in Koch brothers territory. Still every billionaire does his bit, and it all adds up, every little $200,000 donation. In case you haven’t heard of Compete Minnesota, neither has anyone else. Because it’s new. Well, I imagine the three donors heard of it. Gores at least must have heard of it, offering a wad of cash out of his deep concern for Minnesota.

 

I imagine that deep concern was expressed  a bit like this:

“Alec, Scott here. Can you stick a bunch of money into my campaign? Not that I can ask of course, but if someone wanted to make an independent expenditure, and asked you without my knowing about it, would you provide a big bunch of money? Purely hypothetical of course since it has to be independent.”

 

“Of course Scott, no problem. What are you running for?”

 

“Governor.”

 

“Ah. So you think you can beat Jerry Brown?”

 

“No, I’m in Minnesota now. I’m running for governor here.”

 

“Minnesota?”

 

“Yes.”

 

(sounding it out) “Minn e so ta”

 

“Yes”

 

“You’re sure that’s a real state?”

 

Thanks for watching out for us Alec!*

 

*Not that ALEC, a different one.

 

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