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Mike Hatch

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

The convention hall as seen from visitor and alternate seating.

I’m writing this prior to the August 14th primary, and you might wonder why I’m writing this now, in the heat of the primary campaign when DFLer-on-DFLer campaigning is at it’s thickest (though just how negative depends a great deal on which specific race is the subject). There are two answers: one, passions about whether the endorsements made this cycle and regarding the process actually spikes right after the primary; two, this is in my mind because of recent conversations with DFLers in the last week or two with a couple connected points: the DFL has not had an endorsed non-incumbent win the gubernatorial election since Wendell Anderson, and a consensus is forming that Erin Murphy is toast. That latter opinion is based on a couple polls that are at least two weeks old by now and have other issues — not to go into a tangent, but I refer for example to the huge number of undecideds and the polling of registered voters instead of likely voters — so that opinion is premature. Not wrong, but premature, and many Murphy supporters seem in denial about the big trouble the Murphy campaign is in. By no means all, but plenty haven’t come to terms with Murphy’s situation yet.

Erin Murphy is the DFL endorsee, and if she doesn’t pull it out, we’re going to have our usual, and usually heated, discussions/arguments about how we endorse and who we endorse and whether to endorse. So I suppose I’m getting a jump on that.


When our non-incumbent gubernatorial endorsees keep losing, that begs several questions:


Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 1 comment

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

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

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Entenza violated campaign finance laws

by Eric Ferguson on August 3, 2014 · 7 comments

Rebecca_Otto_Matt_Entenza.jpgMatt Entenza had campaign finance violations in past campaigns, and if I were to explain them with the same accuracy and fairness Entenza is bringing to his attacks on Rebecca Otto, I might write something like this: Matt Entenza apparently thinks campaign finance laws don’t apply to him. Maybe he just wanted to be the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s pen pal, because he sure keeps having to explain himself. Illegal contributions, forgetting to report spending, having to return money, even MPR says he seems to be trying to do it all.
Was the preceding paragraph twisted and exaggerated? Obviously, which is really the point. Well, maybe not obvious if you don’t dig in to what actually happened, or at least read my other posts on the auditor race and notice I’m a Rebecca Otto partisan so maybe you should check before believing. It might sound reasonable if you have the misimpression that candidates are all experts on campaign finance law. They’re not. Maybe you think every campaign staffer is a 40-year-old with 50 years of experience; more likely 22-years old with three months experience. Certainly I find campaign finance laws complicated, having not studied. I mostly just hope to never accidentally run afoul because I didn’t know to ask a question or someone else screwed up and made it my problem.
What I do have is a greater respect for factual accuracy than Entenza has exhibited in his ambush campaign against Otto. He’s doing to her with his “voter ID” charge what I did to him in the first paragraph: make an attack by twisting isolated incidents barely on the margins of factual accuracy with a hope of finding an audience that will believe it without checking. Though frankly, I’m not exaggerating as much.


So there’s the underlying issue of frac sand mining, and the issue of who correctly construed who, as Republican gubernatorial campaigns go after each other. For the part of the story about Republicans going after each other, Bill Kuisle, running for lieutenant governor with GOP gubernatorial endorsee Jeff Johnson, said it makes sense to delay frac sand mining so the effects can be studied.

I’ve pulled the key quotes from the back and forth between the two campaign[sic]. Below is the quote from Kuisle from the interview, in response to a question about frac sand mining:


“‘I’ve followed the issue a little bit in the papers,’ said Kuisle, a farmer of 160 acres between Stewart and Rochester. ‘You can’t be an expert on every issue, but I think you’ve got to look at all sides. That is a tough one.
“I think the moratorium, give it six months or a year, to study the issue is a good thing. You need to determine what you hope to protect. Is it air pollution, trout streams, transportation? Source: The Caledonia Argus, “Republican-endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor stops by Argus offices”, July 15, 2014



The Hutchinson Effect

by TonyAngelo on October 19, 2010 · 4 comments

This is a footnote of sorts to The Horner Effect series, part three of which will be done soon.

A few people have questioned why I left the 2006 Governor’s race out of The Horner Effect series. I suppose I should have more explicitly addressed why it was left out, so I’ll do that now and while I’m at it I’ll go ahead and dispell some zombie myths about the 2006 election, many of which are conveniently contained in a diary on Swing State Project:

If recent Minnesota gubernatorial elections are any indication, the great equalizer will be the late October televised debates. Polls moved in double digits in both directions in a matter of a week based on Minnesota gubernatorial debates. If you impress there, you’re golden.  If you fail to impress, you’re ruined. And that’s true almost wherever your poll numbers may currently be. The Independence Party’s articulate 2006 candidate Peter Hutchinson was not in a position to win, but he nonetheless impressed in the debates and managed to surge at Mike Hatch’s expense, handing victory to Pawlenty.

This is simply not true. There is no evidence that Peter Hutchinson cost Mike Hatch the election, despite popular belief.
The Hutchinson non-factor

The easiest explaination for why I left the 2006 Governor’s race out of the Horner series is that I’m trying to determine the impact Tom Horner will have on the election with the assumption that he will finish with somewhere around 15% of the vote on election day, if not more. In doing this I’m looking at past elections where the IP candidate played a significant role and I didn’t include the 2006 governor’s race because Peter Hutchinson didn’t play a significant role.

The races I focused on in the Horner series were the ones in which the IP candidate got a decent chunk of the vote. Those candidates that got the aforementioned decent chunk are in bold in the following chart, from part one of the series:

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The DFL – GOP vote share correlations in the non-bolded races are very strong, meaning the race was decided by the vote share distribution between these two candidates and that distribution was not influenced very much by the other candidates in the race.

To show this graphically let’s compare a few scatterplots, these are from the 2006 and 2008 Senate races respectively, in 2006 the IP candidate got less than 3%, in 2008 the IP candidate got over 15%.

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Here is the 2006 Governor’s race where the IP candidate got just over 6%.

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While it is not quite as tight as the 2006 Senate scatterplot, it resembles that distribution much more so than the 2008 Senate race. But this doesn’t show how Hutchinson’s vote was distributed. Again, well look at the 2006 and 2008 Senate races first, then the 2006 Governor’s race.

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Again, which race does it more resemble. Hutchinson’s vote came in a small band throughout the state with little direct effect on either candidate. It’s important to point out again that correlation is not causation, we have no idea where those Hutchinson voters would have gone had he not been in the race, but it’s highly unlikely that they would have fled, en masse, to one candidate to another.

Even in a race as close as the 2006 Governor’s race was, Pawlenty won by just over 21,000 votes,  Hatch would have had to collect at least 67.5% of Hutchinson’s votes to have overtaken Pawlenty, quite the tall task in a race decided by 1 point. And that’s under a best case scenario too, assuming none of Hutchinson’s voters decide sit out the election if he’s not on the ballot.

About that Hutchinson surge

Looking at all the polls done in the last month of the campaign that included  Hutchinson, he was at 7,7,6,9,4,7,8 for an average of 6.85%. He finished at 6.43%, so pretty much exactly what he’d been polling at the whole time.

On the other hand, averaging out all the polls in the last month for the other two candidates gives you 45.5 for Hatch and 42.5 for Pawlenty. If anyone surged at the end it was Pawlenty, not Hutchinson and this was most likely because of Hatch’s public blowup which drove undecided voters to Pawlenty.

The 2006 Governor’s race was, for all intents and purposes, a two person race between Mike Hatch and Tim Pawlenty, Peter Hutchinson just wasn’t a factor no matter what kinds of elaborate reasoning has been constructed to try and make him into one after the fact.

But Peter Hutchinson got 10% in Ramsey county

Peter Hutchinson scored 10% of the vote in the DFL stronghold of Ramsey County, doing much better than that in some of the city’s most liberal precincts. If I remember correctly, Hutchinson’s haul in Ramsey County alone was the difference between Hatch and Pawlenty.

While this is not untrue, it’s also not relevant. Hutchinson got 19,527 votes in Ramsey county and the difference between Hatch and Pawlenty was 21,108, so it was close, but not quite enough. But what if it was, let’s say Hutchinson got 22,000 votes in Ramsey county, what then? Certainly 100% of those votes wouldn’t have gone to Hatch had Hutchinson not been in the race, in fact it’s not even clear that Hutchinson’s good Ramsey showing came at Hatch’s expense, which is what the implication is of stating that Ramsey is a DFL stronghold.

Let’s look at the difference between the percentage of the vote a candidate got in Ramsey versus Statewide.

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In 2006 Mike Hatch’s vote share difference between Ramsey county and statewide was almost the same as it was for the other DFLers in the chart in other years. The big difference you can see is that Tim Pawlenty did worse in Ramsey in 2006 than past GOP candidates have and Peter Hutchinson did better. This would seem to be rather conclusive evidence that Peter Hutchinson’s Ramsey county votes did not have an adverse effect in Mike Hatch, even though he got almost 10%. If anything it appears that Hutchinson actually helped Mike Hatch in Ramsey county by soaking up moderate Republicans.

Occam’s Razor

Hutchinson’s generally impressive showing in the debates made it possible for him to score those kinds of votes out of left-leaning areas and ultimately threw the election to Pawlenty.  I don’t think liberal voters in St. Paul would have been any more likely to vote Hutchinson merely out of protest for Hatch than other regions of the state if not for the fact that they liked what they saw in Hutchinson.

While the above theory is certainly plausible, as we have seen there’s no data that backs it up and more to the point we have a glaringly obvious reason for why Tim Pawlenty surged at the end and Mike Hatch lost, there is no need to construct elaborate “Peter Hutchinson pwned the debates” theories.

When faced with multiple possible explanations for why a thing happened Occam’s razor suggests you go with the simple one and the simple one in this case is that one week before the election Mike Hatch lost his mind and called a reporter a “Republican whore” and that was all that got talked about until election day. Peter Hutchinson was a non-factor.

Putting 2006 to bed

This is the problem with theorizing about the results of an election without knowing the facts. I have had this very same debate, albeit in much less detail, with many well intentioned DFLers who are convinced that if it wasn’t for the damned IP candidates, whether its CD3 and CD6 in 2008 or the 2006 Governor’s race, the DFLer would have won. When it comes to 2006 at least, that’s simply not true.

The 2006 Governor’s election was about Tim Pawlenty and Mike Hatch and there is no evidence that Peter Hutchinson had any impact one way or the other. That is why the 2006 governor’s race wasn’t included in The Horner Effect series, in 2006 there was no Hutchinson Effect.


Wow, any doubts I may have had about Margaret Anderson Kelliher over Mark Dayton have been greatly eased. According to a story on Politics in Minnesota (link…  the two DFL insiders that screwed Steve Kelley out of being Minnesota’s Attorney General support Mark Dayton. Either one of these jokers supporting him would be reason enough for me to not support Dayton, that fact that BOTH of them do really takes the cake.

It is not necessarily well documented, but in 2006 the endorsed DFL candidate for Attorney General dropped out after a minor scandal (ironically that candidate is also running for Governor now, Matt Entenza). The State Central Committee decided to endorse former gubernatorial candidate Steve Kelley, who drew praise from DFLers when he withdrew from the Governor’s race at the 2006 DFL convention, called for DFL unity and endorsed Mike Hatch. Kelley’s reward for this? Despite getting the official DFL endorsement Kelley had to run in a primary against Mike Hatch’s protege (Lori Swanson) and Mike Hatch’s “close political ally” (Bill Luther, who sole job was to draw votes away from Kelley to clear the path for the protege Swanson).

Oh well, the past is the past, but sometimes people are judged by the company they keep (sorry to Mark Dayton, who is generally a good guy). After the DFL convention in April I donated some $$$ to Margaret Anderson Kelliher. This has inspired me to throw a little extra cash her way :-).


I’ve got a bone to pick with Maureen Reed. Yesterday Maureen Reed’s campaign sent out a really whiney email implying that people are trying to twist her campaign’s record. I figured I should probably chime in, you know because I’m bored and whatnot.

In the email Reed sent out she says people are claiming that she’ll run as an independent and corrects the record saying that she’s running as a ‘Proud DFLer’. Ok fine, she PREVIOUSLY ran as an independent and claims rather boldly that she can rally independents. The reality is that her 2006 run dramatically underperformed other independents who’ve run in CD6. I don’t know who or what a Binkowski is, but it seems to know more about reaching independents in CD6 than Maureen Reed.

About that independent record of hers… It’s probably the reason Tim Pawlenty is waltzing off into the 2012 Presidential campaign sunset right now. Sure T-Paw bested Mike Hatch by 21,108 votes, and much of the blame can be pinned on the Hatch campaign, BUT the 141,735 votes that Maureen Reed helped peel away certainly can’t add much to her proud DFLer status. By my count that’s 120,000 reasons for us to blame Maureen Reed for Pawlenty’s re-election.
A little bit further into the email her poor staffer unsuccessfully attempts to defend against claims that Maureen Reed doesn’t have a record of results, that she’s not really for health care reform because she worked for HealthPartners and that she’s not electable.

Maureen has made health care her issue. It’s even the first thing she talks about on the issues page of her website. But here’s a reality check. I’m looking at two of Maureen Reed’s FEC reports right now. I don’t seem to see any disbursements showing the campaign paying her staffers health care or unemployment. In fact, I see a 20-something staffer making $1,000 a month listed as a consultant. From what I can tell, up through Q3 of 2009, all of her staffers were listed as consultants.

Recently Reed was on AM950 claiming that she NOW pays all of her staffers health care and unemployment. These reports I’m looking at show two fundraising quarters where she wasn’t. So when Maureen Reed claims that she’s electable because of her small business experience and health care expertise, you can probably understand my less than positive reaction.

I also think it’s pretty disingenuous to call yourself the most electable candidate in the race and then have to go to the primary because nobody thinks you’re electable within the local party. She says she’s doing ‘surprisingly well in the delegate count’, but I suspect the reality is more that they’re surprised to have any delegates at all.

Basically, what I’m saying is if you think Michele Bachmann is doing an OK job and you really don’t think a DFLer can win in November, go ahead and support Maureen Reed. I suspect that the Reed campaign’s unique brand of whiney unprofessionalism will really register with the voters. I mean, there’s always 2012, right gang?

But what do I know? I’m just some dude on the internet and stuff.


Mike Hatch Neutral In Governor’s Race

by Grace Kelly on July 13, 2009 · 10 comments

I called Mike Hatch, who graciously returned my call. Rumors abound that Mike Hatch is actively involved in the governor’s race because of the opposition research that Matt Entenza did on Mike Hatch. So I asked Mike. He said he is not involved in the governor’s race. He has had phone calls and lunches with many of the candidates. He has commented on the political viability of candidates for the TV show, Almanac. At some future time he might get involved, but right now, he is neutral. Mike Hatch’s strongest concerns that he discussed was economic fairness in health care and in foreclosure, which he gladly talked about. So I think that some campaigns are using a Mike Hatch bogeyman that simply does not currently exist!


Good points from Smart Politics

by Joe Bodell on December 2, 2008 · 8 comments

In a post entitled “Minnesota is not Massachusetts”, Eric Ostermaier makes some really great points on the results of the 2008 election and what it means for DFL fallout (which happens every year) going forward:

In other words, if the DFL is carrying the ‘right message’ for Minnesotans, how is it that that the Republican Party held the governorship in 2006, held 6 out of 7 Congressional seats since 2006, and appears to have held, subject to the recount, the most fiercely fought Senate race in state history?

While the DFL can choose to criticize Franken in hindsight as a flame-throwing celebrity, how do they account for these other high profile losses? Are DFL supporters prepared to say all of the DFL nominees in these races were ‘weak candidates’ without good credentials?

The DFL has nominated a variety of different candidate ‘types’ against the GOP since 2006 – all of whom came up short: a longtime DFL party loyalist, former Commerce Commissioner, and 2-time statewide winner for Attorney General (in Mike Hatch), an activist (in Patty Wetterling), a federal whistleblower (in Coleen Rowley), an amiable former Transportation Commissioner (in El Tinklenberg), and an Iraqi war veteran and supposed rising star of the Party (in Ashwin Madia). These candidates are not cut from the same cloth – and certainly are not in the mold of Al Franken.

The whole post is worth reading. I’d pick a bone with the contention that people are voting for Republican candidates — we’ve already established that there is a rather large class of Minnesotan voters who simply aren’t comfortable with voting a straight ticket under any circumstances. While that could be taken to mean they actually like candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman, I wonder whether correlation is being conflated with causation on that point.

More after the break
Nevertheless, there are great points to be drawn for progressives looking for great candidates who can win in 2010. Ostermaier’s post looks at Dems who have lost — what about those who have won? Mark Dayton was (and is) fairly liberal. Amy Klobuchar leans left, but is somewhat closer to the middle than Dayton. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is pretty liberal, and I have no idea what Attorney General Lori Swanson’s political leanings are.

The point? Liberal vs. conservative isn’t quite good enough. The way to win in this state is to prove that getting things done when the People need them done is the primary, and only, goal. Winning means building a huge movement across the state, and building bridges between geographical areas and political islands, between the Metro and Bemidji, the Iron Range in the north and CD1 in the south. For DFLers, it means a commitment to honest governance, and that means a lot more than how liberal, moderate, or conservative you are. It means competing everywhere, not just in the “rural L” of CD1 and CD7 and not just running up the vote in the Twin Cities and the Iron Range. It means being able to hold your Republican opponent accountable for their record with civility and without getting into the mud, something neither Mike Hatch nor Al Franken was able to do effectively regardless of the outcome of the pending recount.

It means a lot of things. So who’s going to step up to the plate in the 2010 cycle?


Courtesy of Finance and Commerce, Attorney General Lori Swanson is dropping efforts to fine underage buyers of violent video games — and Minnesota had to foot the bill for attorney’s bills.

Paul Smith, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said Monday that the state decided not to pursue the case further because of a deal that would require the attorney general’s office to pay a reduced amount in fees owed to plaintiff’s lawyers. Smith could not say what the reduced amount was, though a court filing from May 19 shows that the plaintiffs’ lawyers were owed nearly $84,000. Woglsand did not return calls Monday.

The Entertainment Software Association, one of the plaintiffs in the case, announced Monday that the state paid $65,000 in attorney’s fees and expenses.

In 2006, the measure was challenged only days after Pawlenty signed it by the Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association, which asked for a permanent injunction.

In arguments before the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, then-Attorney General Mike Hatch said violent video games cause psychological harm to children. However, District Court Judge James Rosenbaum ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying the state could not provide sufficient evidence showing the causal link between exposure to violent video games and aggressive behavior in minors.

It was a stupid piece of legislation in the first place. Parents should not use their television as a babysitter, and they should not depend on the state to control the games their children play. Instead of depending on a legal taboo, why not discuss the issue with one’s entire family, ensure understanding, and trust your children to make the right choices? Is that concept anathema to the modern American family?

It’s a tough spot for Swanson to be in — it’s her responsibility to pursue the laws set before her by the Legislature and the Governor, even stupid laws like this one. And there’s definitely a generational divide here — younger people are much more likely to disagree with their parents and their state legislators on the effects of video games. But come on, folks — this was never going to pass muster with the courts, and rightfully so — and now we’re all stuck with the bill.

As for Hatch’s role in the 2006 ACORN “donation” (of one dollar less than would require the money to go into state coffers) from a legal settlement, and ACORN PAC’s subsequent endorsement of Hatch’s gubernatorial bid — I honestly can’t say I’m surprised. That’s definitely not a silly little thing, but it’s a post for another day.