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governor’s race

Last week the news of Target Corporation’s $150,000.00 donation to Minnesota Forward made it’s way around Minnesota.  Particularly Minnesota’s LGBTQ Communities. Three different stories were written in the Twin Cities LGBT News Blog The  There were also two different blog posts here on the Minnesota Progressive Project.  A boycott of Target group has been created on Facebook over the weekend with close to 100 members already signed on.

As of last Friday many of us who started contacting Target about our disappointment over the corporations decision to support Minnesota Forward most likely got a return email that was very much like this one:

Dear Philip Lowe,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What’s more important than any one candidate’s stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward’s objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit, and view the Civic  Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota’s future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Please don’t hesitate to call me at (612) 307-5075 using the reference number 1-452594505 if you would like to discuss this further.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.


Target Executive Offices

Here was my response to that email.

Dear Dylan,

The very fact that Target Corporation has placed a business and it’s corporate interests above the civil rights of individual people, and supported a candidate that is against the very principle’s that Target claims to be in favor of, is unacceptable.

I will continue to no longer support Target Corporation and encourage other members of the LGBTQ communities to follow suit.

I will not accept or tolerate any explanation of what Target has done in this regard, except refusing to further fund Forward Minnesota and Tom Emmer’s Campaign.

In addition to Tom Emmer’s claim against the LGBTQ communities, Tom Emmer is also in favor of reducing Minnesota’s Minimum Wage requirement, which will give more power to corporations to further do damage to Minnesota’s already hurting work force.

I therefore will not accept the answer that I have been given, and now regard Target as a lying ally of the LGBTQ communities.  Come Monday morning, I will begin my communications with the Human Rights Campaign to see if we can make the move against Target a nationalized activist campaign.


That email was followed with the following response.

Dear Philip Lowe,

Thanks for taking the time to share your additional thoughts about your experience. Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.

Your feedback helps us understand the changes you’d like to see at Target. Because we’re always reviewing our policies and services, I’ve shared your comments with the appropriate team.


Target Guest Relations

In other words a professionally polite “screw you.”

The news of Target’s decision to fund Tom Emmer’s PAC went beyond Minnesota when I wrote a blog article about it on Pam’s House Blend.  In the comments of my blog post was the following.

Mr. Steinhafel,
I have long recognized Target’s progressive policies toward its LGBT employees and have thusly rewarded it with my business, even in the face of miserable customer service experiences at your XXXX location near my home.  My household easily spends over $1,000 at Target each month.  Due to Target’s heavy support of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, my household’s spending will now be directed elsewhere.

In 1985 I was a leader in the economic response to bigotry at the ballot box in Houston when anti-discrimination policies of the city were taken to a referendum.  Major financial institutions and other businesses suffered losses of income due to their support of bigotry, though many became enlightened about workplace fairness in the process and reformed their corporate human resources policies.  Twenty-five years later I cannot abide by Target’s betrayal of the trust of LGBT consumers, regardless of the “pro-jobs” rhetoric your firm has proliferated in response to other questions about support for Emmer.

Corporations and politicians are either with me or against me.  To stand lukewarm or conflicted is just as bad as outright hate.

With kindest regards,
David Phillips

And this one:

The following is an email I sent to Target, via their web page. Thanks for the corporate contact and address, as I will also be sending a message directly to the CEO.

For all the good I’ve always heard about Target doing for the local communities it serves, it was quite a shock to read an article about Target giving $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, which supports the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage. The article ( states that Target’s response was that “Target supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.” I suspect, and hope, that Target is going to find out that this contribution is going to have an adverse affect on your retail and business interests, as it appears that you hopefully will realize that the LGBT community doesn’t like getting stabbed in the back, and will realize the hypocrisy you espouse. I personally don’t do a lot of shopping at Target, as there isn’t one close to me, but I will now make every effort to avoid Target, and let my friends in the LGBT community know what you’re really up to. I don’t think they’ll react too sympathetically with your decision.

And lastly

If Minnesota Forward’s aim is to create businesses and jobs, for the love of God, why are they accepting money from the likes of Target (Walmart lite)…?!

These types of mega-retailers kill local businesses and apparently would rather shell out $150,000 to a political organization than pay their average employees a living wage.


It just so happens that as I was proofreading this blog post, I got a returned phone call from the national office of the Human Rights Campaign.  HRC Press Secretary Paul Guequierre sent me the following statement as he told me that HRC is attempting to work directly with Target over their choice to support Minnesota Forward.

Target has worked hard to create a fair and equitable workplace for its LGBT employees, and should be proud of its leadership in this area. It is for this reason that HRC is very disappointed in Target’s significant monetary contribution to Minnesota Forward, a group supporting the most clearly anti-LGBT candidate for Governor in Minnesota. We have reached out to Target to express our concern over this contribution. While political contributions to support candidates are not a factor in HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, HRC finds it puzzling that Target would take great steps to support LGBT inclusiveness while simultaneously helping a candidate who shamelessly rejects equality for LGBT Minnesotans.

The news of Target Corporations support of Tom Emmer is also in a newspaper in San Francisco where they are reportedly building a new store there.

How will Target deal with the news that what they have done in Minnesota also affects them in other parts of the country?  We have yet to see.  This is getting very interesting to say the least.


Minnesota has begun to see the first fruits of the Supreme Court Decision Citizens United.  However, the last corporation we would expect to take first advantage of it is Target.

According to WCCO News Target Corporation donated about $150,000.00 to a political action committee called “Forward Minnesota” that has sponsored a television ad for GOP Candidate Tom Emmer.

The news has only begun to ripple through the LGBT Community and is already receiving some bad press.  Many are shocked and dismayed that Target a company that participates in many LGBT related functions including Twin Cities Pride and the Minnesota AIDS Walk every year, would even consider sponsoring an ad for the most anti-gay candidate for Governor.  

What is the next move for progressives and LGBT people and those who support the LGBT Communty?  Should we begin a letter writing campaign?  Should we begin to boycott Target,which may leave many middle to lower class Minnesotan’s with only Wal-Fart (excuse me, Wal-Mart)?  What about those who use Target’s amazing $4.00 prescription program that saves many of us a lot of money?  How can progressives and the LGBT community respond to this in a way that will get our message across to the Target Corporation effectively?  Are we all really helpless to Citizens United, or is there more we can all do?

If corporations are going to begin using Citizens United as their best tools for putting themselves ahead of people, then how can we respond to that?  

I offer these and many questions for everyone’s thoughts and comments.  We have an obligation to respond to this.  This is one of those things that I hope either Mike Macintee or even Matt McNeil from AM 950 picks up on and runs with it on their radio shows.  I think it is very important that people here on the Minnesota Progressive Project and all through out the Twin Cities area be given an opportunity to respond to this in a way that will really hit Target Corporation where it will effect change in a positive way for everyone.


Why I voted no on GAMC cut

by Thissen 2010 on March 25, 2010 · 1 comment

I voted against a cobbled-together, rushed cut to GAMC today because I know that in Minnesota, we can do better.  Below is my speech from the House floor.  It fully explains why caving in to Governor Pawlenty is a mistake.

Floor Speech

By passing this bill, we are once again giving in to a Governor who holds good policy hostage like a playground bully.  This legislation will not work.  As legislators – for the good of Minnesota – we must stop giving in to the Governor.  And we should start today.

I deeply appreciate the hard work of my diligent colleagues who have labored in good faith to protect the poorest, most vulnerable Minnesotans and every one of us who rely on strong hospitals in emergencies and sickness.

I deeply respect and appreciate the work of advocates in the Save GAMC coalition who have worked so hard to be the voice for those who usually have no voice in this building.  Indeed, the only reason I considered voting for this bill is to honor the work of that coalition and thousands of Minnesotans across the state who recognized the immorality of the GAMC veto and took action.

Believe me, I know how hard that work has been.  After Governor Pawlenty vetoed GAMC for the first time last spring, several of us spent the summer traveling Minnesota listening to patients and GAMC recipients, hospitals and health care professionals about how we could make GAMC work for Minnesota.  We visited shelters and homeless camps along the river.  We learned that meaningful and lasting reform required a focus on not only the care delivered in the hospital and clinic, but also helping people stabilize their lives with housing support and chemical dependency treatment.  Regardless of what some may think, real reform does not come cheap.

The culmination of these conversations was a workable piece of legislation that spent less money but protected vulnerable Minnesotans and made sure that hospitals could care for all of their patients.  But the Governor threatened a veto and we blinked.

We reached another compromise – worse policy but workable – which passed this body with a resounding bipartisan vote of 125 to 9.  Yet, despite that overwhelming support both within and outside of the state capitol, Tim Pawlenty again vetoed our GAMC solution.

And on a party line vote, the House Republicans refused to override the veto – with 38 Republicans flip-flopping to back up the bully in the Governor’s office.

The Democrats – with big hearts, good intentions and desperate for a solution – returned to so-called “negotiations” with the Governor.

Now we are left with an unworkable bill.  We all know it.  It is underfunded – $80 million or more less than the Governor’s auto-enrollment proposal.  It is poorly designed.  It will mean job losses.  We’ve heard that from hospitals and other providers from all across the state.  We have heard that from advocates for the clients currently served under GAMC.

We should remember that the simply because the Governor defines reform in three words – “spend less money” -we don’t have to agree with him.  Starvation is not a path to meaningful and lasting reform.  That’s a lesson we all should have learned by now.

Members. there is a fine line between compromise and caving in.  We are not on the right side of that line this time.

Fortunately, we have another option before us.  The passage of federal health reform on Sunday changed the game.  It offered us a different way to serve the people now covered under GAMC.  The details and implications of that proposal need to be explored.  But the Governor’s rejection of that option out of hand with no real understanding of what it means is nearly incomprehensible.

Let’s do the right thing for Minnesotans this time and reject Governor Pawlenty’s bullying.  Let’s stand up for the people of Minnesota.  Let’s extend the current GAMC program for a few months – just as we are doing in this bill – and take a few weeks to figure out whether and how to maximize federal health care dollars for current GAMC recipients.  Let’s do it in consultation with the experts who actually deliver care and serve patients instead of behind closed doors.  And let’s actually enact a policy that works for Minnesota.

Why are we choosing an unworkable surrender when we should be choosing a sensible solution that protects vulnerable Minnesotans and all of us?

We seem to have forgotten that inside-the-Capitol logic is often illogical.   We have done better by vulnerable Minnesotans – our neighbors, friends, siblings, and children – in even the recent past.

Members – let’s not cave in to Governor Pawlenty’s threat to kick the poorest, most vulnerable Minnesotans to the side of the road if we do not do his bidding right now.  This bill is not “the best we can do.”  This proposal is not “better than nothing.”  This bill is not a step forward; it’s a step back.

I urge you to vote No.

Paul Thissen

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On the Phone for Matt Entenza

by MsTigerHawk on March 24, 2010 · 2 comments

Those who follow my blogs closely may recall me telling you that I was scheduled to volunteer on the phones at Matt Entenza’s campaign office. I told his staffer Jason that I would do it because then Jason would quit talking a mile a minute. It was a good deal. I did it tonight from 4:30 til 7:00. What a great experience it was!

The minute I walked into that campaign office I felt a part of things. I was accepted. They were all glad to see me! I had met some of the people previously at various events. I felt so welcome! As some of my dear readers may have noticed, I’ve been way down in the dumps, off and on, for about a month. Being in Entenza’s campaign office energized me and had me grinning from ear to ear again.

Entenza’s campaign is motivational, enthusiastic and very, very informed about how a campaign should be run. I could see right away that this is a campaign that is going places. I now know that Matt Entenza has a very serious chance of winning the governorship.

More after the break…
Jason welcomed me right away. So did Doug, who is in my precinct in White Bear Lake. He’s one of the best organizers in Minnesota, according to Jason. I believe him. There were also several other faces that I recognized. I have to hand it to these people for welcoming me so warmly. What a difference it made to me.

I did pretty darn good on the phone, too, in getting people to agree to come to Matt’s event on Thursday afternoon. I’ve got a lot of years of sales experience in telemarketing, door-to-door, business-to-business and even hawking customers at the Minnesota State Fair for Encyclopaedia Britannica. I’ve been to a ton of motivational seminars and company sales trainings. The Entenza campaign in good to go on these sales techniques. After all, that’s what a campaign is…selling the candidate to the voters.

Right before it was time for me to go home, Matt walked in from wherever he had been. He, too, welcomed me warmly and with great enthusiasm. I really appreciated that. How different that was from my previous experience of being involved in a campaign where they didn’t even want my help and didn’t acknowledge that I had anything good to offer. Now I feel human again. I feel valued. I feel included rather than excluded. I bet I’ll go back and have this experience again. I’d love to go on the campaign trail with this campaign once or twice, too. The excitement of the Entenza Campaign is just what I needed! Thanks!


The DFL Governor’s race in 2010 continues to go through some interesting turns.  According to the numbers given so far by MnPACT! John Marty has gained four delegates more than Paul Thissen.  Those numbers could change within the next few days.

As the District Conventions start winding down and we start getting ready for Congressional District Conventions, and finally the State DFL Convention in Duluth, we see an interesting tension between the vision of progressives vs. the election process. So the question becomes is the 2010 MN DFL’s Governor’s race going to be decided because of a Candidate’s progressive vision, or because a candidate chose to align themselves with a voting process?

Gubernatorial Candidate John Marty is not accepting PAC money to win his vision as Governor. John Marty is also the most bold, progressive of all the DFL Candidates. It appears that because John’s voting process did not align itself with that of Take Action MN and John was not elected as one of their “preferred candidates.”’s so called “uncommitted candidates” are being collected by storm, with one goal in mind. To elect one of’s candidates. Has chosen to go with vision for a progressive Gubernatorial Candidate, or have they chosen only those who also go along with their election process? The responses to my last post were many, but I still have not seen any evidence of my questions being answered.  This is again one of the reasons why many former participants are now working on John Marty’s Campaign.

John Marty comes to the table with a clean, clear vision. John Marty wants to write into law the Minnesota Health Plan that includes single-payer. John Marty will sign into law Marriage Equality for LGBT Minnesotan’s. John Marty is committed to jobs, education, campaign finance reform, cleaning up the State’s Budget, bringing actual honor back to the Governor’s office. In making himself a candidate for Governor, John Marty was the first to come up with these campaign ideas. Only after John pushed for these ideas, did many of his competitor’s decide to add them to their campaign’s. The only exception is John is still not taking PAC money.

Why is the issue of PAC’s so important here?  Well, for one thing it will mean that John Marty will be able to do his job based on his vision for Minnesota. John Marty will have financed his campaign based on his vision and not on an election process that includes PAC money. What does this mean? John Marty will not be backed into a corner by PAC money in the Governor’s office.

Because John Marty has not accepted PAC money, he will be able to stay with his vision. John Marty will stand up to lobbyists and even right wing extremists who will seek to bring him down.  John Marty already showed that he is stronger than right wing extremists on marriage equality.  Check out Truth Wins Out where John confronted a right wing phony who tried to catch him on marriage equality.  

Tattooed, right-wing-Xtian rocker Bradlee Dean and his sidekick Jake apparently crashed a meet & greet in Cokato a couple weeks ago and “confronted” gubernatorial candidate John Marty on his support for marriage equality.

I was quite impressed with Marty’s excellent, articulate  response to these bigots who were clearly baiting him.

Watch these two video’s of John Marty’s Marriage Equality position being attacked by the right wing. In the second video we see John Marty defending his position.

These examples show how John Marty is committed to a vision as opposed to submitting himself to a voting process.  John Marty shows himself to be a true initiator who will stay on his course.

Given that Take Action MN and can easily be seen as PACs, and has chosen who they will and will not endorse candidates based on their voting process, how will their candidates rise to the occasion when their vision is opposed?

Will Margaret Anderson-Keliher really be able to pass the Minnesota Health Plan with single-payer when PACS will offer her money to change the plan to a public option, only to see the public option compromised out of the Minnesota Health Plan? Can R.T. Rybak say no to the National Organization for Marriage should they offer him money to not sign a marriage equality bill?  Will Paul Thissen refuse PAC money from corporations that will challenge him when he fights for the middle class?  Only time and circumstances will tell. Then we will see if was really committed to a voting process instead of a bold progressive vision. If it is discovered that it was more about a process, will it be too late for Minnesota to elect a bold progressive Governor who would have stayed with his vision to be elected to change things in Minnesota?

Lastly, John Marty is a bold progressive who does not give up or cave in. How will’s candidates do against the Republican’s mean machine candidate with the independent voters?  Again, only time will tell.


As I have been helping out at a couple different DFL Conventions in the past couple weeks I have been hearing something that kind of disturbs me. The following quote is a paraphrase of several like it that I have heard.  “Minnesota is not ready for a bold progressive Governor, we need a nice slow moderate progressive.”  

I find this remark to be quite interesting given the present state of affairs with Gov. Tim Pawlenty running what used to be a great Minnesota right into the ground. Our State Legislator can pass progressive bills, but they get stopped in their tracks by the Governor’s office. This is exactly what happened with GAMC. Yet, as much as people want progressive change, there are those who think that a bold progressive guy like John Marty just cannot be elected Governor. I am going to the State Convention as an alternate delegate for John Marty and I stand by that decision.  

I think a lot of R.T. Rybak, Margaret Anderson-Keliher, Paul Thissen, and Matt Entenza.  When my partner and I began our walking sub caucus at the SD 63 Convention on Feb. 27 we began as an uncommitted, bold-progressive, LGBT sub-caucus.  As it became apparent that we would not have enough people to gain a delegate we started to change our minds.  We had people from MAK come over, and we had folks from R.T. Rybak come over.  We also had folks from Paul Thissen’s come over to try to get us to move over to their sub-caucus.  And then came the folks from John Marty’s group.  And that is when my partner, myself and another person from our LGBT Caucus in SD 63 made the decision to walk on over and join John Marty’s group.
Our main reason for joining John Marty’s group is because of all the candidates that are running for Governor he is the only one who has marriage equality as an item on his campaign brochure that he hands out at his campaign stops.  In fact, marriage equality is second down from health care.  John Marty is not only someone who writes on his brochures that he’s for marriage equality, he actually does it.  

Last Tuesday night Sen. John Marty presented his marriage equality legislation at a Senate Hearing. Marty’s bill SF 120 would make marriage gender neutral in Minnesota. The MN Senate is going to continue discussing the matter, but like the House is concerned that with a Governor who is hostile to LGBT issues currently in office, can the bill survive Pawlenty’s veto?  

In a time when Minnesota needs a health care single payer plan, ethics and campaign finance reform, environmental isseus, labor problems and progressive tax reform, I truly believe John Marty is the guy that can get it done.  

John Marty is a Wellstone, Grayson, Weiner, and Franken style progressive.  John Marty is bold, unafraid of opposition, and is careful about who he is taking money from for his campaign.  Can Minnesota a State that has literally been torn apart by the backwards politics of Gov. Tim Pawlenty elect a bold progressive Governor?  Or will Minnesota wimp out and elect a centrist DFL person who will say what they will do, but then will coward down when faced by their opposition?

As much as I applaud the work of the Campaign and Take Back Minnesota, I am very interested in the fact that when selecting progressive candidates, that John Marty is not among their endorsed candidates.  While the candidates that are endorsed by them are good, I question a system that leaves out one of Minnesota’s best progressive candidates for Governor.  And I also question what is going on when people say that they don’t think John Marty can be elected in 2009, because he lost in 1993.  Are Minnesotan’s already deciding that we cannot elect another Wellstone like progressive, when we already elected Al Franken?  In John Marty we could have another Al Franken as Governor.  Can Minnesota do it?

We have over 300 uncommitted delegates so far.  I would strongly recommend that if any of those uncommitted people read this diary, that you visit and take another hard look at what Minnesota can have.  May Minnesota elect a Governor who will not just make change, but will make real bold progressive change that will be good for all of Minnesota.


Cost of War is budgetary ‘Elephant in the Room’

by Senator John Marty on March 3, 2010 · 0 comments

In challenging times like ours, it is important to step back and look at the big picture. In the Senate we wrestle with painful choices to balance the state budget. Some factors affecting the budget are outside of our control, some we can control, and others fall somewhere in-between. While most legislative work addresses things we have direct control over, we should at least understand other factors influencing the resources available.
The cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars is the budgetary “elephant in the room.” It’s enormous and it’s right in front of us, yet we don’t talk about it as we face our economic woes. We don’t need to get into arguments about the wars to consider the burden war places on our economy.

President Dwight Eisenhower, one of our nation’s greatest military leaders, late in life, expressed deep concern about what he called “the military industrial complex.” Eisenhower stated, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

During World War II, people were told that the war would require blood, toil, tears, and sweat — real sacrifice, not just for soldiers overseas, but also for the people back home.

In contrast, for the current Iraq and Afghan wars, people were told they wouldn’t have to sacrifice at all; taxes would be cut, not raised. President Bush told people after 9/11 that the patriotic thing to do was to “go shopping.” Perhaps that was due to delusional ideology, or perhaps it was a trigger-happy leader who recognized that if people understood the true cost, the war would be unjustifiable.

What this means for Minnesota’s economy is clear. In addition to the incredible sacrifices made by so many military families, Minnesota’s share of the cost of the wars now exceeds $5 billion for every two-year state budget cycle. Think of the investments that could be made in our communities if the federal government invested that money in the states instead of in the war. We could have avoided the layoffs of teachers and police and firefighters and health care workers. Think of the investments in living wage jobs, the investments in nursing homes for seniors, the investments in early childhood and helping at-risk kids succeed, the investments in public infrastructure.

Minnesotans working to build a better future face growing setbacks: Young people on the “six year plan” to get a two year college degree because they work two jobs to pay tuition. Parents struggle to find a safe place for their young kids during the workday because of cuts in sliding-fee child care. Employers unable to hire older workers because their pre-existing conditions would send the employer’s insurance premiums through the roof. People with disabilities face shrinking state programs that once covered them.

Those setbacks occur because states are unable to help people get a fair shake due to budget problems. It is time to press Washington to change its priorities away from war and into facing human needs in our communities.

The military budgets of all other nations of the world combined, barely exceeds the $693 billion the U.S. will spend on the military this year. And the $693 billion doesn’t include the $42 billion for Homeland Security, nor the undisclosed budget for the National Intelligence Program.

Based on population, Minnesota’s share of total military spending, including the two wars, is almost $12 billion every year. That’s two-thirds as large as our entire state general fund budget of roughly $17 billion/year. Imagine what we could accomplish if we cut our military spending by half. The savings would balance the state budget and make huge investments in education and community development.

President Eisenhower said, “I hate war, as only a soldier who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” He was clear in his message: “This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.”

Sixty years later, we can see that the endless war has a real cost here at home. For the first time in our history, we are losing ground: High school students today have a lower graduation rate than their parents’ generation. Fewer young adults have access to health care than their parents have. Today’s workers will be less likely to have a decent pension than their parents enjoy. Eisenhower warned us. In spending money on war, we are truly taking away the hope of our children.

If we care about our future, ignoring the economic cost of war is just as foolish as ignoring the human cost.


Please keep up to date with my campaign @


I’m getting into a standard routine for these events. Brush teeth, put on face, leave work, remember where I parked my car, get in and hope I don’t have to scrape ice off the windshield, figure out which cd to listen to. Tonight would it be Eric Clapton, Jelly’s Last Jam or Asleep at the Wheel? Clapton won. Crossroads, Sunshine of My Love, I Shot the Sheriff, and other greatest hits. Now try to decide the best way to go. Shepherd Road to Hwy 5 to I494 sounds good. I should go that way more often. It’s quick and direct. Not the safest way to go in my car, but oh well.

The first person I met up with was Orrie. Great to see him again so soon. He asked me so sadly what happened to the Rukavina button he gave me. He noticed I had the Dayton button attached to my purse again. What could I say? He looked so downtrodden about it. Sorry, Orrie. I just couldn’t help it.

Holly was there. She sought me out right away. I like to hang with her at these events. I don’t think she liked my hat, though.

Tonight I met TwoPutt Tommy. Live and in person. What a cool guy! What did we have in common? We were both wearing a hat. I love hats.

I made it into the reception after all and didn’t even have to pay the $25. Ole Savior came to the rescue with some extra passes. Thanks, Ole!

Craig from TheUptake was there again, too. And another guy from TheUptake. Gosh, what was his name? Darn brain fog!

After hanging out for an hour, Holly and I made our way into the ballroom. It was time for the debate. Who were all those people sitting up on the platform? Those are all candidates? Good grief, there sure are a lot of them. Just think, only one is going to win. But each one thinks that it will be him or her. Each of them is convinced of it. Some of them don’t have a chance in hell. Others have a high probability of being the One.

There were so many candidates tonight that each person did not get to answer each question. Five candidates answered one question, then five different candidates answered another question. And on it went.

Judy Stuthman from the League of Women Voters laid the ground rules and gave some background information. Later I introduced myself to her as a member of the Captain John Holmes chapter of DAR. I liked Judy and thought she did a great job with her role.

The host and producer of the evening was Gary Eichten. He did an excellent job. Some of the candidates didn’t make it easy for him when they went over their time limit and wouldn’t quit speaking.

There were nineteen candidates. Count them! Why would anyone want to be governor anyway? Whoever wins will sure have a big mess to clean up. There were a couple of candidates who didn’t come. Matt Entenza wasn’t there again tonight.

Because of the word limit on this blog, I’ll try to keep the answers of each candidate short. That means mega paraphrase. If you want to know more about each candidate and his or her stand on the issues, go to their website.

I’ll take each question separately along with each candidate’s response. I’ll add my own comments, too, because I can’t help putting in my two cents worth. Well, with inflation, maybe 25 cents.

Candidates’ remarks after the break:
Question #1: Budget Deficit

David Hann (GOP) – Trim government costs. We don’t need increased revenue. Priority is education.

Tom Horner (IP) – Define what goals MN has. Economic reform. Retain businesses through social and physical infrastructure. Increase sales tax and tobacco tax.

Tom Bakk (DFL) – It’s a myth that taxes have not gone up. Property taxes have risen. Believes in progressive taxes. He’s got his talk down perfectly for every event. Raising taxes alone won’t be enough, he emphatically states.

Steve Kelley (DFL) – Balanced approach. Education is highest priority. Favors carbon tax. Cannot raise taxes enough to balance budget.

Mark Dayton (DFL) – Raise taxes on MN’s wealthiest 10%. Source: MN Dept of Revenue. Fair taxes. Long term economic growth is essential. Put people back to work.

Question #2: Rising Property Taxes

Paul Thissen (DFL) – Rely on fair state taxes to fund education instead of property taxes.

John Uldrich (IP) – Commonweal (common good). Need new taxes as well as tax cuts. Recited a tax poem. (What’s with all the tax poems? Are all the candidates going to write one?)

Tom Rukavina (DFL) – Fair farming. He’s the Farmer Labor part of DFL. He’s good on agriculture. I’ve heard him before. He knows what he’s talking about.

Phil Herwig (GOP) – Everyone but him is out of their minds.

Marty Seifert (GOP) – He’s a rural guy. (I did not know that.) He wants to move government at all levels into the 21st century. LGS is equalizer. Not a hammock.

Question #3: Compromise Between Gov & Legislators

Bill Haas (GOP) – He wouldn’t call a special session until there is a solution. Legislators want to go home. What a whiner! (Yes, he’s a whiner, not a winner.)

Tom Emmer (GOP) – All I have in my notes is “mulch for dogs.” I was busy grinning at Holly and gazing at Dayton and wondering why I have to go to work tomorrow for someone else instead of for myself. I think Emmer was making some kind of analogy. He should work on that.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) – Governor and all legislators must respect each other. She has a track record of assurance in working across party lines. One thing she focuses on is the Legacy Amendment.

Rob Hahn (IP) – He sees a lot of anger between the DFL and GOP; that’s why 3rd party is needed.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) – Too much bickering. We need to get to work like he did in Minneapolis. Need to make government more efficient. Is he the One?

Question #4: Governor Perpich wanted to make education important and make MN the brainpower state. Do you share Perpich’s vision?

John Marty (DFL) – We have to make MN the brainpower state. We need k-12 and higher education investments. Likes the New Minnesota Miracle.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) – Drive by shootings = drive by news media. I don’t think she likes the media’s questions. Education is her top priority.

Ole Savior (DFL) – Still wants to bring in money from other countries. He doesn’t want to raise our taxes. He wants us to keep our money in our pockets.

Leslie Davis (GOP) – There are brilliant people in Minnesota. We have good resources. So why are we broke? His Money Plan will solve all our problems. Go Leslie! (He did remember my name.)

Question #5: Our Aging Population

Tom Horner (IP) – He started out as a journalist. He learned to ask good questions and then listen to the answers. (And?)

Tom Bakk (DFL) – There is a bubble of people who are retiring. He wants to make use of a concept called spending silos. (“Bubble of people” is an interesting phrase.)

Steve Kelley (DFL) – We have the opportunity to come together as a state. He doesn’t consider the aging population to be a problem. He sees it as a challenge and an opportunity.

Mark Dayton (DFL) – He told the story of a nurse he knows who is overworked and exhausted. Dayton always has a good anecdote to make his point. He wants to put people first. For example, health care dollars should go to health care, not for huge profits to the insurance companies.

David Hann (GOP) – The current tax system to support longterm care won’t work anymore.

Question #6: Higher Education

John Uldrich (IP) – He’s opposed to saying there will be X number of college graduates by X date.

Tom Rukavina (DFL) – Doesn’t know if it’s an obtainable goal at 50%. He set up scholarships at U of M. Says we must make education affordable.

Phil Herwig (GOP) – Too much money goes to U of M executives. He wants to disband the welfare system. Speech evaluation of Herwig: too loud and angry sounding. Too many double starts.

Marty Seifert (GOP) – It’s not the job of the governor or the legislature to dictate whether kids should graduate from college. He does, however, want higher education to be affordable.

Paul Thissen (DFL) – He doesn’t want us to forget about nontraditional students. He’d like to see a tax credit for graduating students if they stay in Minnesota. Go Paul!

Question #7: Foreclosures/Affordable Housing

Tom Emmer (GOP) – Not my favorite candidate. Needs to work on his presentation skills. He thinks we have too much government. I think not.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) – She says we have a jobs problem. She has an economic development plan. It came to me tonight that Kelliher enunciates her words too clearly. I never thought that was possible.

Rob Hahn (IP) – He wants government to work with businesses of all sizes to see what they need in order to hire more people. He wants to reduce capital gains taxes.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) – He can handle all the issues. After all, he’s done it in Minneapolis. Two of his main issues to focus on are jobs and health care. He’s astonished by Tom Emmer’s remarks. He told us exactly why. Ooooh, Rybak’s getting feisty. Loved it!

Bill Haas (GOP) – He works with business owners all the time. They tell him they’re about to move their businesses out of Minnesota. He maintains that we need to decrease government spending.

Question #8: Should state government decrease unemployment, and if so, how?

Susan Gaertner (DFL) – By providing physical infrastructure and thus creating jobs. By more and better education. By fixing the holes in the budget.

Ole Savior (DFL) – With a new Vikings stadium. With a State Fair that lasts all year. With $5 billion that we’ll get from oil companies by suing them like we did the tobacco companies.

Leslie Davis (GOP) – His Money Plan will save the day. Says you can’t buy debt with debt to get out of debt. Why does that make sense? I really should read his Money Plan and blog about it. That should at least be entertaining. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t understand it. Finance is not my forte. My talents lie elsewhere.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) – I never heard of him before so know nothing about him. He came with a young lady who was his spokesperson. He wants more low income housing. He knows what it’s like to be poor and struggling.

John Marty (DFL) – We need a good health care system. How about the Minnesota Health Plan? I’m all for that. Maybe another WPA like they had during the Depression. I grew up on a farm in Vadnais Heights. Our neighbor across the street had a huge stone retaining wall that was made by the WPA. Marty also advocates for rebuilding what we have, such as old houses and other buildings.

Question #9: What is the best way to raise state taxes?

Tom Bakk (DFL) – The economy was humming along so Pawlenty decreased taxes. Now we need consumption taxes. He wants to get the public to buy into increased taxes. (He’s got good phrases tonight. I like “humming along.”)

Steve Kelley (DFL) – Property taxes are regressive. They also cause disparities. He wants an energy efficient economy. He wants Minnesota to be energy-independent.

Mark Dayton (DFL) – Says our current tax system is ridiculously unfair. Wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans. They can afford it. He won’t raise taxes on those who can’t afford it. He always gets lots of cheers for this one at other forums. Tonight the audience was more prim and proper than at other events I’ve been to. Remember this about Dayton: he’s good with money. He used to be the president of an investment company.

David Hann (GOP) – He won’t raise taxes at all. He will reduce them further. He wants tax reform. He’s for a flat tax. He wants to stop tax withholding and just have everyone pay their taxes on election day.

Tom Horner (IP) – He wants us to look at what kind of state we want to live in. Say, listen, Tom, have you ever heard of reNEW Minnesota? Look at their website:  Take a peek and see what kind of state we want to live in.

Question #10: Cleaning up the Lakes

Tom Rukavina (DFL) – Minnesota lakes are our jewels. (Good metaphor.) He thinks that some of the Legacy Amendment funds could be used to clean up our environment.

Phil Herwig (GOP) – He says he’s not an expert on everything. (Mark Dayton is; maybe you could get advice from him.) Herwig says he knows where he can get answers, though. (From Dayton?) Claims that when he signed up to run for governor, he didn’t know he would be asked questions like this. Oh, quit whining! We’ll have to call you Mogen David, too.

Marty Seifert (GOP) – He will veto any legislation that tries to use Legacy Amendment funds for anything other than the environment. He had a good phrase that caught my attention: “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” I guess that if I had to choose a GOP candidate for some utterly strange and unfathomable reason, I’d have to go with Seifert over any of the other candidates in his party. Gosh, what an awful thought, to have to vote GOP. Now is that a backhanded compliment for Seifert or what? I have to make it clear, though, that I have never in my entire life voted Republican and I never will. My Granny taught me that from a very early age.

Paul Thissen (DFL) – He says we need to have a conversation about the environment. Ok. Wanna have it over tea and scones?

John Uldrich (IP) – He instructed us not to forget Lake Superior. He asks what effect global warming is having on our lakes. (Doesn’t he know that the current proper name for it is climate change?)

Question #11: Public Policy Innovation

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) – Too much that is done in the legislature is based on emotion. We need a big database system with evidence-based date. Say, Margaret, I just happen to know the database queen. She currently works in DHP at MDH. She’s the expert you need.

Rob Hahn (IP) – He says the same sex marriage issue is not a religous issue but a human rights issue. He also wants to see joint custody of children worked out in divorce cases. That’s a nice idea but not in all cases, such as when one of the parents is abusive or has a drug addiction. Talk to Susan Gaertner about it. She’s more than likely got a good take on it.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) – Wants a New Food Economy. He wants to quit importing so much food. He’s into grass fed beef. He likes Minnesota apples, too.

Bill Haas (GOP) – Let’s reform government. Let’s make the governor and the legislature work together to get the budget done. Then let’s go to a legislature that is only in session every other year. He thinks we need to change the fundamental way that government serves the people.

Tom Emmer (GOP) – He slammed Rybak. Therefore Emmer is icky. He was also name dropping.

Question #12: What separates you from the other candidates?

Ole Savior (DFL) – As soon as the moderator asked this question of Ole, the audience all laughed for awhile. Not at him, but with him. No one is really sure why he runs for everything all the time. Is it for publicity for his art? I don’t even know what kind of art he does, but I would be glad to take a look at it. My oldest son majored in studio art. He has a BFA from the University of Minnesota. Now he owns his own business. Roll Music Systems.  It’s a Minneapolis based business, but he takes it to Germany with him when he’s there. Ole says that he’s pro-life, anti-gay marriage, but all for gay rights. Just not gay marriage.

Leslie Davis (GOP) – He wants to be the GOP chiropractor in that he will move GOP in a better direction (by manipulating them into shape?). He claims to be a Compassionate Republican.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) – He keeps everything organized and he knows what it’s like to struggle.

John Marty (DFL) – He stood up to powerful interest groups. He stood up for marriage equality. He’s the author of the Minnesota Health Plan. He has the courage of his convictions. He’s one of the DFL’s most progressive candidates. The other two would be Mark Dayton and Tom Rukavina.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) – A Fresh Start. Fresh Start sounds like a morning deodorant. Could you please pass that over to Rob Hahn?

Question #13: Corn Based Fuel/Ethanol

Steve Kelley (DFL) – Talked about algae that can grow on sewage waste. Algae oil can be used for energy. Turn corn into plastics.

Mark Dayton (DFL) – We need to feed our own people as well as help with global starving. For energy he likes wind, geothermal and solar. Will improve energy conservation.

David Hann (GOP) – Agriculture is a big deal in Minnesota. The government should not be the one to decide. I guess he wants energy to be made and controlled in the private sector.

Rob Hahn (IP) – We can’t just cut spending without looking at subsidies. Promote new crops and technology.

Tom Bakk (DFL) – He said, “Everything that sustains life comes from the ground.” (That’s profoundly and fundamentally awesome when you think about it.) He has always been a supporter of ethanol, but there must be a better way to energy than depending on food for fuel, i.e. corn turned into ethanol.

Question #14: Health Care – Is it the state’s responsibility to provide it for the poor?

Phil Herwig (GOP) – He thinks we should get government out of our health care. He asks why government should make insurance companies pay for treatment for drug and alcohol addiction? Phil. Try. To. Think. It’s called compassion. I’ll quote the late great Senator Paul Wellstone for you: “We all do better when we all do better.” I urge you to go immediately to the reNEW Minnesota website ( ) and see what kind of Minnesota people with a heart want to live in. Your kind of mentality, Mr. Herwig, is exactly why the next governor will be DFL. People are so sick of having a governor who just doesn’t care. You don’t get it, though, do you? And that’s why you don’t have one single chance of winning this election.

Marty Seifert (GOP) – He thinks that the majority of ER visits are not made by ER patients. Most of these visits, he says, are made by people with colds or flu or scraped knees. Hey Marty, where did you get the statistics? I agree that it’s a problem, but I’m not so sure that it’s the majority of patients. Seifert wants to send these patients to urgent care or primary clinics instead. Ummm…Marty…did you know that the reason so many people use the ER is because they don’t have any insurance? The ER has to take them. Also, if a baby starts screaming in the middle of the night and is in obvious pain, where are you going to find a primary care clinic or urgent care that is open at 3:00 a.m.? Sheesh!

Paul Thissen (DFL) – Stated that many people are too sick to get health insurance. Either they are too sick to work and therefore can’t afford it or the insurance companies turn them down for preexisting conditions. Paul is on the Health Care Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives. Listen to him. He’s very, very smart. He knows whereof he speaks. So does John Marty.

John Uldrich (IP) – It’s the commonweal again. At least he agrees that we must take care of those who are not able to take care of themselves. He agrees that it’s a moral issue. He does say, however, that it’s a major challenge to address.

Tom Rukavina (DFL) – He stated that the market based approach doesn’t work. He also informed the audience that Governor Pawlenty just announced that people will have to pay for their own anesthesia before they get their teeth pulled. What??? Does Pawlenty spend his sleepless nights thinking up new ways to torment Minnesotans?

Question #15: Transportation Infrastructure

Rob Hahn (IP) – Light rail is important to him. He’d also like to see passenger rail from here to Duluth with a stop in Hinckley. Let the casino pay part of the bill. Yes! A train to Duluth! I would take it as often as possible. Can we get one to Lutsen, Grand Marais and Thunder Bay, too? Thunder Bay would connect with the Canadian rail system.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) – He’s already working on getting passenger rail to Duluth. He also insisted on having transit capabilities on the new 35W bridge. See, Rybak looks to the future. Go RT!

Bill Haas (GOP) – Fix the metro roads first and fill up the pot holes. Then do the rural areas. We have to have priorities.

Tom Emmer (GOP) – We must set prioriites. He claims that the state subsidizes 80% of the North Star line. He doesn’t want more rail. Too bad. We’re going to have it whether you like it or not. Go DFL!

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) – Told the audience that MNDOT says that Minnesota is billions of dollars behind in transportation infrastructure. We need to catch up.

Question #16: How should Minnesota increase productivity as Baby Boomers retire?

Leslie Davis (GOP) – We have no money for all this stuff that we want. We need his money plan. The Davis Money Plan.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) – He passed on this question.

John Marty (DFL) – He wants to make sure that everyone has what they need in order to be productive. People need health care. Minnesotans need the Minnesota Health Plan. They also need sick leave.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) – She noted that Miss America contestants are given more time to respond to a question on world peace. (So why did she just take up half of her time to tell us that instead of using the time to answer the question?)

Ole Savior (DFL) – He apologized for not saying this sooner: the poor and elderly and children do come first with him. Ole seems like a nice guy. He knows he’s not going to be the next governor. I think he has a good heart, though.

That was the end of the questions that required longer answers. The next set of questions was the “lightning round” and only required a yes or no answer. Some of the candidates had a problem with that, but most were pretty good about it.

That was the end of the debate. After that people, mostly media and bloggers, went to the Spin Room to talk to individual candidates. I mingled awhile before I left. This was a good event, although not as high energy as the Macalester forum on Monday night.

I seem to have misplaced my glasses again. So I drove home without them. No problem. I heard a voice saying “Use the Force.” Must have worked. I got home safely.

One last thing: I have a few awards to give out.

Best Ties: David Hann, Tom Horner, Steve Kelley and Rob Hahn.

Best Presentations: Mark Dayton, Rob Hahn, John Marty, Tom Rukavina, R. T. Rybak, Marty Seifert and Paul Thissen. This was based on public speaking skills, thinking on feet and good ideas. Also on who was nicest to this blogger this time around.

I can’t believe I stayed up all night to write this. It’s almost time to go to work. I’m just going to lie down and close my eyes for a few seconds…    



Launch Event Draws Over 750 Attendees; First To Feature All Eleven Democratic Hopefuls

TakeAction Minnesota launched a one-of-a-kind organizing campaign on Saturday afternoon, packing over 750 political leaders and community activists into Arlington High School’s auditorium in St. Paul to give birth to the “reNEW Minnesota campaign” – an effort to ensure that a progressive candidate wins the governor’s race next November.  The event, featuring a diverse array of speakers from around the state, including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, was the first gathering of the eleven Democratic candidates who hope to succeed Tim Pawlenty as governor.

Dan McGrath, TakeAction Minnesota’s Executive Director said that the enthusiasm at the reNEW campaign kick-off was a sign of the times.  “Minnesotans are looking for a course correction.  To win an election and make this change a reality, people have to be organized – but they also need to be inspired. The reNEW Minnesota campaign is not about just endorsing a candidate or winning the governor’s election next November.  Minnesotans want to know how their lives and their communities will change for the better as a result of who we elect as Minnesota’s next governor.”  

The launch began with a social hour in which meeting participants, speakers and candidates mingled together.  From there, attendees moved to the auditorium’s cafeteria tables for a two and a half hour program.   It was a multi-lingual event, featuring simultaneous translation for the many Hmong, Somali, and Latino attendees.  

Rather than a traditional candidate forum, the gubernatorial hopefuls engaged with event participants in table discussions designed to foster conversations around how best to lead Minnesota forward, as well as a “vision” of the core values and beliefs that the reNEW campaign was founded on. The vision, a result of thousands of discussions with Minnesotans from around the state, is a set of common values that TakeAction Minnesota believes will motivate progressives to political action.  The values are intended to serve as a guidepost for legislative decision-making.

One of the focal points of Saturday’s program was a video unveiling this “Vision for a reNEWed Minnesota.”  The five-minute video, edited by Alliance for a Better Minnesota, featured community leaders describing the values that connect Minnesotans.  Following the video, the eleven candidates were given three minutes apiece to address the question “How does your life experience connect to the reNEW Minnesota vision?” The reNEW Minnesota campaign, which plans to endorse one of the gubernatorial candidates next year, expects the vision to resonate emotionally with candidates and voters alike.

McGrath told reporters that “the definition of insanity is doing things the same way over and over again and expecting a different result.  The reNEW Minnesota campaign is about changing the way we engage in politics in this state by organizing from the ground up and connecting up different communities.  Instead of having politics done to us, we’re going to build our future together on our own terms.  And by doing this, we intend to win the governor’s race next year.”


Dana Houle to manage Matt Entenza’s campaign

by Populista on August 18, 2009 · 4 comments

Dana Houle is one of the best campaign managers in Democratic Party politics right now. He’s knocked off two House Republicans in a row and was hired as El Tinklenberg’s campaign manager before he dropped out of the race.

Well now he has officially been hired as Matt Entenza’s campaign manger. This is a very good get by the Entenza campaign. Dana is whip smart and will be a relentless advocate for the Entenza campaign. He doesn’t have a record in DFL politics and so that’s obviously a disadvantage but Dana is a quick learner and can adapt to whatever political climate he’s put in. Campaign’s presser below the fold.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Matt Entenza’s campaign for governor has hired Dana Houle as manager.

Houle, who first came to Minnesota to work on Elwyn Tinklenberg’s campaign in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, joins Entenza’s campaign effective today.

He brings with him a strong background winning challenging campaigns, working with organized labor and directing policy for politicians on the state and federal level.

Notably, Houle managed Rep. Paul Hodes’s 2006 victory over Republican incumbent Charlie Bass and Rep. Jim Himes’s 2008 victory over Republican incumbent Chris Shays. He also served on Capitol Hill as Hodes’s chief of staff.

Additionally, Houle has been a contributing editor to premier online political community DailyKos ( since 2003. He is on leave from this position while he manages the Entenza campaign.

“I’m very happy to be able to stay in Minnesota and help Matt earn the DFL endorsement and then win next November,” Houle said. “I’m ecstatic to be able to work with someone who’s a great candidate and will be a great governor.”

Houle can be reached at the Entenza campaign office at 651-647-1425.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have great people like Dana on my campaign staff,” said Entenza. “This is a challenging race with many good candidates. Dana’s broad experience and smarts will be tremendously valuable as we continue to pursue the DFL endorsement and victory in 2010.”

Matt Entenza is a leading Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) candidate for governor of Minnesota. His campaign revolves around three core principles: growing jobs all over Minnesota by focusing on the potential of the clean energy economy, providing better educational opportunities to our children and those seeking higher education, and ensuring health care for all. Entenza represented St. Paul in the Minnesota legislature for 12 years, including four years during which he also served as House Minority Leader and led the DFL to significant gains. In 2007, Entenza founded Minnesota 2020, a think tank that has been an important voice for progressive policy positions and which he chaired until April 2009. Entenza is a graduate of Worthingon High School in Worthington, Minn., Macalester College in St. Paul, and the University of Minnesota Law School.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Draft Rybak for Governor Executive Board