Recent Posts

ken martin

30 Minutes with Ken Martin

by JeffStrate on January 13, 2017 · 0 comments

State DFL Chair Ken Martin and Tim O’Brien take measure of the 2016 election and the future of Democrats in Minnesota and the nation on this half hour Democratic Visions special. Martin and DFL Vice Chair Marge Hoffa took office in 2011 and are seeking a third term as DFL Party leads. Martin and Hoffa have a campaign website.


As of the publication of this post, only former State DFL Associate Chair Donna Cassutt (2005-2011) is challenging Martin. Cassutt served with state party Chair Brian Melendez who announced his retirement two days after the guberantorial vote recount that confirmed in December 2010 Mark Dayton’s win.   Cassutt has a campaign venue on Facebook.


Democratic Visions is an independent community access CableTV and internet program handcrafted by southwest suburban, lefty volunteers. I’m in my ninth year of producing the thing.


Democratic Visions One-on-One

by JeffStrate on December 29, 2016 · 0 comments

What happend? What's next?

The Uptake, the citizen driven, online, news service, was “baptized” during the tumultuous, September 2008 Republican Party Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  That’s the G.O.P. convention associated with un-announced search warrants, the torching of squad cars, the arrest of more than 300 protestors including journalists, roughed-up demonstrators and conventioneers; that’s the one that nominated John McCain and placed a tiara on Sarah Palin as its VP candidate to an amused and bemused electorate.


Two months later, voters, Obama and Biden solved that problem.


This past election season, neither Sanders or Clinton and Kaine were provided a position to help solve the Trump problem.  With DT’s carnival about to enter the big top’s center ring, America’s political culture continues to morph into the kitsch world of a John Waters film.  The cynical fun, however, is now a real nightmare.


The Uptake executive producer Mike McIntee  joined Tim O’Brien for a 22 minute, one-on-one, Democratic Visions meet-up on December 19th.  Much has since happened.  The following day, McIntee was carting office and streaming gear into the renovated press bunker at the Minnesota Capitol.   Six days later, the StarTribune reported that Amy Klobuchar had told it that she would run in 2018 for re-election to the U.S. Senate and not for Governor.   A few days after that, the President-Elect was defending Israel’s settlement policies and damning Kerry and Obama via tweets. Only the tandem deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds have dimmed these recent Twitter flare-ups.


That said, the new edition of Democratic Visions features Mr. McIntee and Mr. O’Brien sharing still timely perspectives on  the life political as the informed and engaged adults that they are.    Mike and Tim have a lot to say about where we’ve been and where we’re headed, about the DFL, future DFL leadership, the national Democrats and DT.


The second and third courses of the viewing include a visual essay set inside the winter time, tropical redoubt of the Como Conservatory and some ruminating by truck driver, critic-at-large Bruce Baird.


View the half hour program on YouTube here.


Democratic Visions on cableTV


Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —

Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.


Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.


Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.  Programs are streamed during airings.


Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Community Channel 15 Schedule varies consult website –


Democratic Visions is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington. Our program is not financially supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.


State DFL Party Chair on Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on October 22, 2015 · 0 comments

Ken Martin and Tim O'Brien

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and host Tim O’Brien discuss lefty stuff on the current  edition of Democratic Visions.

Ken Martin, Chair of the State Democratic Farmer Labor Party, and Tim O’Brien discuss challenges that Minnesota Democrats are facing during the build-up to the 2016 campaign season on the autumn edition of Democratic Visions.

The 25 minute long discussion is posted on YouTube.   I’ve listed its cable TV schedules below.

Martin, who became politically active as an Eden Prairie High School student when he volunteered for Paul Wellstone’s first U.S. Senate campaign, is optimistic about DFL prospects in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. Republican Congressman John Kline is not seeking re-election to represent the 2nd District, which Martin points out, is a swing district trending left. Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, Martin feels either DFLer Angie Craig or DFLer Mary Lawrence can win in what he feels could be the most expensive congressional race in 2016.


Regarding the presidential race, Martin advises, “We can’t rely on their (the Republicans’) incompetence to deliver the Presidency.” Martin supports Hillary Clinton, but as Chair of the State DFL Party, says that “We’re Democrats. We don’t do a coronation.” In Minnesota, all Democratic Primary presidential candidates and their campaigns will have equal access and be welcomed to debates.


Both Martin and O’Brien also weigh in on next year’s local Minnesota Legislature races and the use of social media in making political connections.  In a related segment, I present my disdainful take politicians who grin for selfies and a humorous advisory from on Facebook etiquette. “Facebook Manners” is a clever, internet video parody of the kind of instructional films that were shown to teenagers during the Eisenhower era.


EP, Mtka, Edina, Hopkins, Richfield, Comcast Channel 15 —
Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Channel 16 — Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.
Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 — Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Program is streamed at the MTN website during cablecasts.

Champlin, Anoka, Ramsey, Andover – QCTV Channel 15 — Fridays 8 a.m.,Saturdays 6:00 a.m., 10,30 a.m.,10:30 p.m.
Dem Vis is hand made by unpaid volunteers from Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Bloomington.  Our program is not supported or endorsed by any political party, political action committee or special interest group.


State DFL’s GOTV tour visits Hopkins

by JeffStrate on October 31, 2014 · 2 comments

Democratic Visions taped some of the action when the DFL’s Get Out the Vote Tour bus visited its Coordinated Campaign office in Hopkins.  State Party Chief Ken Martin, Lt. Gov. candidate Tina Smith, 3 CD congressional candidate Sharon Sund, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and St. Paul Mayor Chris Colemen pumped up the hard working gathered.  Other notables can be spotted behind the speakers.  From Hopkins, the DFL bus headed to Carleton College, Northfield, then to Eagan, Oakdale, Hmong Village on Saint Paul’s eastside and the DFL Office in Frogtown (St. Paul).   Rather than follow the bus of politicos, electeds and worker bees, Dem Vis retreated to its edit bay to assemble this video.  It runs about 9:30.


DFL Monday Night Madness

by Eric Ferguson on November 7, 2012 · 0 comments

UPDATE: It’s 2:30 PM on election day, so if the speakers moved you to get fired up and ready to go, get going RIGHT NOW! Go to and plug in your zip code to search for the nearest location. GOTV will be going until the polls close.

This is video from the 2012 Monday Night Madness (in other years called Midnight Madness), which is a DFL election eve tradition. It’s rally of state and local elected officials and candidates with a large number of volunteers ready for a nighttime lit drop. Speakers included DFL state chair Ken Martin, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, State Sen. Scott Dibble, State House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, Rep. Keith Ellison, Sen. Al Franken, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. This took place at the Minneapolis United Labor Centre.


GOP dirty tricks taint Supreme Court races

by InformedVoter on October 20, 2012 · 0 comments

[DFL candidates may want to perk up their ears and think about talking about the latest “shenanigans”from the dying Minnesota GOP.  DFL state chairman Ken Martin may want to call for an investigation.]

Right-wing pranksters broke into the data files of the Republican Party of Minnesota this week and stole an e-mail list to send out a fraudulent “voter guide” to party loyalists with a false endorsement of judicial candidates in three races for the state Supreme Court.

The electronic burglary and voter fraud were reported by GOP State Chairman Pat Shortridge in an e-mail to central committee leaders on Friday.

Shortridge reported that “some of you may have received an e-mail late last night linking to another ‘voter guide,’ which was not authorized by the Republican Party of Minnesota.  The person who sent the e-mail can certainly advocate for his point of view on judicial races.  However, he cannot go beyond the scope of our party Constitution and party rules.  He misused his access to party e-mail lists and invented a fictitious party title and organization under which he linked to a guide that – unlike the state party’s guide – advocates for particular judicial candidates.”

Shortridge indicated that the conspirators had sent an earlier e-mail that supported the three challengers in the Supreme Court races.  Shortridge wrote that the first fraudulent e-mail “implied an official Republican Party of Minnesota seal of approval for three judicial candidates.  This is most definitely not the case, and we wanted to clear up any confusion.”

The two fraudulent e-mails claimed official GOP endorsement for the three challengers in the Supreme Court races.

One is “Shifty Dan” Griffith, a candidate for Chief Justice who was found guilty of telling six lies and fined $1,000 in a child welfare case in International Falls. The transcript in that matter indicated that this was not the first time that Griffith had lied to the judge.  Recently, Griffith denied that he lost a unanimous plebiscite of lawyers in his home county in his 2010 race for state-wide judicial office, only to have an International Falls Journal article revealed which showed that Griffith had even failed to vote for himself.

Another judicial candidate backed by the GOP conspirators is “Pastor Tim” Tingelstad, who is running against Associate Justice David R. Stras.  Tingelstad is a Bemidji magistrate who believes the “Word of God” should direct the decisions of the state’s highest court and that the “Truth of God” should overrule the Constitution, statutes, and court precedents.

The third challenger backed by the rogue GOP activists is their most curious choice.  Dean Barkley, the clownish 1998 campaign manager for Governor Jesse Ventura, is running against Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson.  Barkley founded the Reform Party, which became Minnesota’s Independence Party.

In discussing the theft of state party e-mail lists, Shortridge described the conspirators.  “In May, our state GOP convention expressly decided NOT to endorse judicial candidates,” he wrote.   “Some in our Party continue to refuse to accept this fact, a source of growing frustration for us and the members of the State Executive Committee.”

Shortridge warned that the conspirators’ “unauthorized ‘voter guide’ contains a number of misleading statements, and you should be wary of any information contained in it.” Referring to Barkley, Shortridge added that “the unauthorized distribution of a guide that advocates for particular candidates (including one candidate with a history of activism as a member of a different political party and quite liberal viewpoints) and implies that they are endorsed or ‘recommended’ by the Republican Party of Minnesota is improper.  It disrespects the decision of Republican delegates to our state convention and improperly uses the party’s brand and resources to promote candidates that have not been endorsed through our grassroots convention process.”

In the wake of federal fines for false reports by his predecessors, Shortridge is wary of the federal charges that may arise from this latest conspiracy.  He wrote, “We expect people to follow the rules.  Our party has learned the hard way what happens when we don’t.”

Short ridge’s concerns are valid. By breaking into the party’s data bases, falsifying party titles and organizations, stealing e-mail lists, and sending electronic communications with false information to warp three elections to the state’s Supreme Court, the conspirators appear to have engaged in wire fraud, election fraud, and conspiracy to interfere with the civil rights of three very smart lawyers.  It doesn’t take Efrem Zimbalist Jr. to figure out that the FBI might be looking into these potential federal charges.

While the GOP is bawling about imaginary “voter fraud” in its support for the voter restriction amendment, the elephant-riders are at the heart of real voter fraud.

At a time when the bankrupt state Republican Party of Minnesota does not need another black eye, it behooves Shortridge to reveal the names of any of the conspirators that are known to him.  

His party is about to lose the U.S. Senate race by a 70-30 split, may lose U.S. Representatives Michele Bachmann, Chip Cravaack, and John Kline, may lose control of both the Minnesota Senate and Minnesota House, and may lose the deadbeat lease on his Capitol Hill headquarters.  Shortridge does not want to add a federal indictment to his woes.

Come clean, Pat Shortridge!


After getting spanked in the 2010 election, much has changed in the Democratic Farmer Labor party. First, we got a new Chair, Ken Martin. Second, Ken set about revamping the operation. 2011 was a record-setting year for fundraising. 2012 is going great as well.

The DFL spent $100,000 to support endorsed MN-08 candidate Rick Nolan. MN-08 is one of the least expensive markets, so that money went a long way. Nolan won. I argue there is a causal relationship.

Next consider the shape of our rival party. The Republican Party of Minnesota (MNGOP) is broke both financially, morally and spiritually.

They haven’t been paying their employees. They nearly got evicted from their headquarters. They had huge troubles paying their debts from the 2010 campaign and recount. They can’t fundraise and major donors are withholding their money because of the overall dysfunction.

The MNGOP is mired in a sex scandal. They just got busted breaking state campaign laws by running campaign activities out of the Senate Majority Leaders offices. They face FBI investigations into their finances.

The Ron Paul supporters have taken over the party and its nearly civil war.

Then consider that the DFL is united and resolute to win this November. Very significant things are at stake. Both Houses and our state’s constitution.

Here’s what winning in November will look like:
President Obama and Sen. Klobuchar will win Minnesota regardless of the state of the DFL. But these things are dependent on our party doing what its supposed to do:

  1. Take back State Senate
  2. Take back State House
  3. Defeat anti-marriage amendment
  4. Defeat vote suppression amendment
  5. Take back Oberstar’s seat
  6. Keep Tim Walz in office

We also have some opportunities. A year ago, I would have never expected this, but the following would gild the lily:

  1. Obermueller defeats Kline in MN-02
  2. Graves defeats Bachmann in MN-06
  3. Barnes defeats Paulsen in MN-03

Obermueller has the best chance because of redistricting. Graves has an outside chance and I think will definitely scare Bachmann. Barnes winning would be dreamy.

So for anyone who wants to moan about the state of the DFL, let’s talk in November.


Waves of concern rippled among democrats throughout northeastern Minnesota Thursday on the heels of former State Senator Tarryl Clark’s announcement that she intends to bypass the party endorsement and force a DFL primary in the 8th congressional district. In what is likely to be one of the milder comments directed at the St Cloud resident in the wake of her revelation, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin stressed the importance of party unity if we are to defeat incumbent Tea Party Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN/NH):

We are disappointed to hear that Tarryl Clark will not be abiding by the DFL endorsement.  As a former associate chair of the State DFL Party, Tarryl Clark knows the importance of the endorsement process.  By forcing a primary election, we risk wasting valuable DFL resources and drawing the focus away from the real goal of defeating Chip Cravaack.

There is far too much at stake in the Eighth Congressional District to focus on anything other than making Chip Cravaack a one-term Congressman.  That is why it is so important that we unite as a party in support of a DFL-endorsed candidate who understands the values of the Eighth District and who is committed to representing the people of northeastern Minnesota in Washington

And Martin is indeed correct that Clark knows better. During her 6th district race against Michele Bachmann, Clark argued that forcing an expensive and time consuming primary benefits only the republicans and insisted that “a unified DFL team has a better chance to defeat(the incumbent).”  Yet this year Tarryl Clark has inexplicably backtracked on that firmly-held conviction, choosing instead to  hand Bachmann-clone Chip Cravaack  the best – and only –  lifeline he could possibly hope to receive after his dismal performance representing the 8th district in Congress: a divided DFL party.

The concerns of handing Cravaack a victory are valid. To the best of my knowledge, a DFL candidate for the U. S House of Representatives has never defeated an incumbent member of Congress after first fighting their way through a primary. The conventional wisdom ‘when the DFL fights, the DFL loses’ certainly applies here and armed with that information, one must ask the following question:

Why would any DFLer who truly cares about working people risk allowing a union busting, right wing extremist like Chip Cravaack to become entrenched in northeastern Minnesota?


Are you an unemployed Republican? Are you thinking of running for office? Well, the Minnesota Republican party has a solution for you. It appears that they’ll pay you to run for office.

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin filed a campaign finance complaint against Sen. Dave Thompson for receiving a paycheck from his party while running for office. Thompson did not report the income.

MPR News reported last week that the Republican Party paid Thompson $70,000 over the last two years. Martin said Thompson should have disclosed the income, which is required by law.

He also said he finds it questionable that the Republican Party paid Thompson while he was running for office.

“I don’t think political parties should be putting candidates for office on their payroll,” Martin said. “I don’t know what the illegalities of that are but clearly I think there are some ethical questions that need to be answered there.”

— Photo from MPR


Its not just one year out from the 2012 election, its also symbolically one year past the spanking we DFLers received in the 2010 election.  Its a great time to both look back and look forward, to compare where we were to where we are to where we think we’ll be going.  

On November 3rd of last year (the day after the election), I wrote an open letter to the DFL Central Committee.  I asked them to consider a few items when they chose the next Party Chair.  In my post, I complained about how in debt the party was, the lack of a communications strategy and how the Coordinated Campaign was neither coordinated nor much of a campaign.

I assumed that Chair Brian Melendez would resign after the thrashing we received.  He eventually gave notice in December.  The only candidate to emerge as his replacement was Ken Martin.

I spoke to Ken yesterday about the state of the DFL.  

“Its going great.  We just had our most successful Founder’s Day ever,” Ken began.  “And we’ve raised the most money ever raised in an off year.”

The DFL had a deficit of between $500,000 and $800,000 to dig out from under and December will tell if they meet their aggressive fundraising goals.  This is very different place than the perpetually broke DFL that Melendez led.

Also on the bright side, the DFL just hired an Executive Director and Outreach Director.  They are accepting resumes for the Coordinated Campaign manager position and Communications Director (after Kristin Sosanie left for the Obama campaign).  They will be hiring a New Media Director in January.  In other words, they have the money now to start organizing for the 2012 election.

Below the fold you can find out about Ken’s vision for the DFL, both for the 2012 election and beyond.
“DFL budgets have a line item for fundraising by the chair,” Ken explained.  “Most chairs have set it at $100,000.  I set a target of $650,000 and I’ve met it.”

The DFL has had to rebuild its small donor lists.  This is the only part of the fundraising effort that isn’t kicking butt.  Yet.

I spent a decade in non-profit fundraising.  Building a great list takes time;  its a numbers game.  The better the list, the larger the small percentage return is.  You continually maintain the list or it withers.

With fundraising going in the correct direction, Ken has begun building for the 2012 cycle and the future.

“We have got to do the fundraising,” he explained.  “But I feel that the Chair’s role is to provide vision and leadership.  We need to build permanent infrastructure.  Candidates and parties tend to only think of the upcoming election, never beyond.

“We need a road map for the next six to eight years.  I am working on a plan I call ‘Build to Win, Build to Last.’  

We also talked about candidate recruitment.  The biggest problem the party faces is redistricting.

“Candidate recruitment is going slower than I’d like because we’re waiting to learn what the new districts are on February 21st of next year,” Ken said.  “The problem we face is like in the Sixth District [Michele Bachmann’s].  The district needs to shrink by 100,000 people.  Who would want to run when you don’t know if you’ll even be in the district on February 22nd.”

Ken also wants the party to make more of a commitment to the candidates we recruit.  We need candidates who will commit to campaigning for several cycles.

“We have to ask how can we help?” he continued.

“But its not just committing to the candidates, we also need to invest in long-term training and grooming of candidates.  We need to find candidates to run for school board, city council and all the other local offices.  These candidates need to build up their name recognition so they are ready to run for higher office.  We need to build a pipeline of candidates.”

I asked about the Coordinated Campaign of 2010 and that several candidates complained to me that they felt abandoned.

“The Coordinated Campaign should not be a top-down operation run from St. Paul,” Ken replied.  “It needs to be bottom up.  There needs to be a culture change.”

“Like Howard Dean had a 50 state strategy, we need an 87 county strategy.  We need to provide our candidates and their campaign training.  We need to invest in the tools to help candidates at all levels.  We need invest in staff to support all of our campaigns.  But its also not just simply throwing money at problems.  We need to invest very strategically.”

Since we were talking about supporting candidates, I asked about the DFL endorsement.  Several candidates won the endorsement, but lost the primary in 2010.    Margaret Anderson-Kelliher was a high profile loss, but the party did nothing for Dan Powers, the CD2 endorsed candidate.

“We have to find a way for making the endorsement work and for making the endorsement matter,” Ken stated.  “The system isn’t working.”

“Many people think the endorsement is about picking the candidate they like best.  Others want a candidate who will win.  Endorsement is supposed to be about picking a candidate early so we can get behind them.”

I want the endorsement to be more like a primary in the sense that I believe the solution is to get more people involved,” he stated.

If we have a well-funded party, have an 87-county strategy, if our party is working hard at grooming potential candidates and creating a candidate pipeline and if we have all the best tools in place, I wholeheartedly support changing the endorsement process.

Ken wasn’t about to reveal his ideas for changing the endorsement process.  That will be a discussion for a later date.  Like possibly a year from now.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to a much better 2012 election cycle and Ken’s Build to Win, Build to Last plan.