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Mike Gelfand makes a pitch for LaVotra

by JeffStrate on January 21, 2017 · 0 comments

Now that DT has been inaugurated, Mike “Stretch” Gelfand is making a pitch on the new edition of Democratic Visions for capsules promising to excite and harden tired, defeated and deflated male aspirants to the presidency through the 2020 election.   There’s a herd of them and the new drug should have appeal to Christie, Walker, Jeb and Bernie.  Mike’s ad spot is sandwiched between segments conducted by Tim O’Brien with State DFL Chair Ken Martin and recently retired House District 48A law maker Yvonne Selcer (DFL).


The half hour, including Mike’s short spot, is pundit free.


The program premiers on Comcast Channel 15 in Edina, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Richfield on Saturday January 21 at 2 p.m. with repeats Sundays at 9 pm, Mondays at 10 pm and Wednesdays at 5:30 pm.  The program will begin appearing on Minneapolis, Bloomington and northern suburban cable systems over the next week.


Remember Wisconsin Senate? Republicans do

by Eric Ferguson on May 26, 2012 · 0 comments

Besides the recall of Scott Walker, Wisconsin has recall elections for four State Senate seats. All four are Republican, so if the Democrats can flip one seat, they take the State Senate. If as looks likely Walker survives the recall, taking the senate not only will be important to having a means of stopping more authoritarian measures from passing, but will also save the recall from looking like a failure since even with Walker surviving, flipping the Senate is a pretty big deal. Moreover, it should chasten whatever rational people remain in the Republican Party.

I don’t know what Democrats are doing in those races, but TPM picked up on something a Republican group is doing in one race, specifically, using the old-fashioned crime scare tactic. Click to enlarge:

Their other mailer isn’t quite so inflammatory, which is ironic since it’s about liberals and Democrats and the Democratic candidate burning money, because “That’s just what liberals do”.

The central point is Republicans are using their massive money advantage (I keep hearing 25-1 about the governor race, and if that’s exaggerated, it’s safe to say Republicans have taken advantage of Citizens United to get a several-fold financial advantage) in the Senate races, not just governor.

The lieutenant governor, Wisconsin’s own Bachmann clone, is also facing recall. The Democratic candidate, Mahlon Mitchell, has just come out with his own ad:

Wisconsin runs lt.governor races as separate races in primaries, but paired with the governors in general elections. This time they’re running separately, though every prediction I’ve seen says it will mirror the gubernatorial election. This is a unique circumstance though, so I offer no prediction. This race has gotten almost no press coverage, so who knows if voters will even realize the election is being held until its on their ballots. If the recall succeeds, it offers something of a backstop should Walker win. I don’t know what actual authority a Wisconsin lt. governor has, and presumably a governor of one party will try to keep a lt. governor of the other party as far away as possible. It’s really, really hard to see Walker letting a Democratic lt. governor know anything that’s going on or join in meetings or have a desk and office chair. Or office. However, if Walker is indeed forced to resign due to the criminal investigation into abuses of office while he was Milwaukee County executive, the lt. governor would become governor.

So if you’re thinking you should do something, do it. Now. I mean right freaking now. Election day is only a week and a half away, and the good guys are being badly outspent. They need any cash you can spare, and if you can spare time, the MN AFL-CIO can use you.

Maybe the most recent poll offers some encouragement. A poll conducted for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has Barret down just 3%. Yes, it’s an internal poll, but not only does it match other internal polls, but the same poll a week ago showed Barrett down by 7%. Moreover, Walker has been at 50% since the petition campaign started, so he hasn’t budged despite spending enormous amounts of money. The race is getting into the range where a strong ground game can make up the difference.


Lessons from Tuesdays elections

by Eric Ferguson on May 11, 2012 · 0 comments

Tuesday was probably the most momentous day of primary season, which may seem odd for a day that had no presidential implications, but nonetheless has implications for the rest of the country, and specifically for Minnesota.

There was the recalls primary in Wisconsin, the marriage amendment in North Carolina, and a stunning primary result in Indiana. I’m guessing most of us had our eyes on the neighboring state, but that’s not really the election that has useful lessons for us. The primary had to happen to pick the Democratic candidates of course, but I doubt the specific candidates really matter. We already knew the Scott Walker-led Republican assault on the right to organize had big blowback, and we’re waiting to see how that ultimately plays out, but the result won’t be clear. Walker has gone after women’s rights too, and he has a corruption investigation hanging over his head, so a successful recall might be spun as a collection of factors and not a statement of support for workers rights. A loss of just a few points might only mean he survived because roughly 10% of voters will always oppose a recall. It’s part of what makes recalls very difficult.

Actually, one possible future lesson: Walker has already spent eight of the $13 million he has raised, plus there have been independent expenditures on his behalf, and the polls have moved maybe a point or two Walker’s way. Maybe that’s enough, but it doesn’t seem like much for such a preponderance of spending so far, and the pro-recall spending to come won’t nearly match it. Maybe we’ll learn there’s a limit to the effectiveness of big money and TV ads. Maybe I just hope that’s the case. Maybe the limit is only because of the unusual circumstances. Should would be nice though if the main thing we learn from Citizens United is that only so much money has an effect.
TonyAngelo already dug into the nitty gritty of the North Carlina polls and results so I won’t repeat it all. It does seem to bear repeating, as a warning for amendment opponents here:

  • That many voters went into the voting booth confused or wrong about the amendment’s effects.
  • We learn that the word “marriage” is a hang-up for many people who are OK with civil unions and gay rights in general.
  • The coming change of attitude thanks to generational change is just coming, and not yet arrived.

    I also want to point out that the pro-discrimination margin of victory is large enough that it probably can’t be overcome by that quirk of Minnesota law that counts non-votes on amendments as “no”.

    Here’s a big lesson to take away, which I emphasize because it disproves an assumption made by many marriage supporters. I refer to the assumption the Republicans put this on the ballot just to increase their turnout. Sure, they cynically used this strategy in prior elections, but notice that’s not what North Carolina’s Republicans did. They put it on the primary ballot, when they expected a presidential contest without a Democratic contest, and therefore a higher proportion of voters being Republicans. That wasn’t a strategy to generate turnout, but to take advantage of it. In other words, they picked the strategy most likely to let the amendment pass.

    Let me pound this in: they gave up the chance to generate turnout in order to maximize the chance of passage. I don’t see how to interpret this other than they really believe in the their bigotry. Are Minnesota Republicans any different? I doubt it. So I suggest we get it into our heads that they put this, and the photo ID amendment, on our ballot not to get their voters out, but because they really believe other people don’t have rights. We’re up against sincerity, not cynicism.

    Switching to Indiana, Republican primary voters just threw out a six term US Senate incumbent in favor of an ideologue so partisan, he actually says there is too little partisanship, and “bipartisanship” should mean Democrats give in to Republican positions. Dick Lugar was so safe he didn’t even have a Democratic opponent in 2006 (if anyone wondered why Howard Dean wanted a “50-state strategy”, there’s Exhibit A), and now the seat looks winnable, a fact which is meaningless except to us news junkies and political activists. There are some more meaningful aspects however.

    The most obvious might be that we saw the template in 2010, when the Democrats had no business hanging on to the Senate but did anyway.  I saw a clear line between the Senate and the down-ballot races. The Senate races got much more scrutiny from the press than the House or governors, let alone state legislatures. The result was that crazy people running for Senate got exposed to their voters in way other crazy people didn’t, so a lot of voters who picked any Republican to punish Democrats for the economy made an exception when it came to the crazy Republican Senate candidate. Why didn’t they make an exception in other races? They didn’t know. There were some House and gubernatorial races where nutcases lost winnable races, but those were also instances where the press covered them. I fear press focus on the presidential race will let more nuts get through, but at least now we know: get the press to cover them.

    We also learned that any ideas that Republicans might moderate a bit, or least err on the side of sanity, to win general elections, are wrong. No, they won’t. Being a Republican is entirely about winning the primary. This is going to scare Republican office holders out of doing anything that might play well in the center or be OK with Democrats if it might bother the most extreme part of their base. You want to talk to a Democrat? You do remember Dick Lugar, don’t you?

    Speaking of Lugar, he had two concession statements, one a typical congratulations to my opponent and thanks for the chance to serve all these years and so on, … and then there was the second statement/ballkick:

    In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

    You’d think Lugar was channeling Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. So sane Republicans still exist, and still sometimes hold office. That’s the good news. Bad news — they don’t dare speak up until after they’ve already lost, thus why the question for Lugar is, “You wait until NOW to say this?”

    Then again, maybe it isn’t craveness or fear that causes them to hold back. Maybe it’s denial. I’m thinking of Lugar’s attempt at false equivalency:

    Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its ability to even explore alternatives.

    Factual fail, Senator. Most Democrats did oppose the trade agreement with Columbia, but there were three agreements voted on one right after the other. Most Democrats voted for the one with Panama, and almost all voted for the one with South Korea. So could it be Democrats are open to trade agreements, depending on the specifics — you know, how they’re supposed to do it? Entitlement cuts: he refuses to notice how his party attacks Obamacare for cutting Medicare payments. Of course, those affect the private companies making money off the pointless Medicare Advantage, and Republicans don’t want entitlements cut that way. Well, please pardon us our reluctance to cut the poorest people.

    Here’s something Lugar said that has gotten no attention, but sounds potentially very big, bolding mine:

    I also knew from the races in 2010 that I was a likely target of Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other Super Pacs dedicated to defeating at least one Republican as a purification exercise to enhance their influence over other Republican legislators.

    He seems to say there is a plan not to go after Republican incumbents if they deserve a challenge, but just to pick one in order to make a point about those groups’ ability to enforce ideological purity. It sounds like picking one person out of a group to be beaten, not as punishment, but to show the rest of the group you have the ability to inflict harm with impunity if they cross you. Do the movement conservative groups literally pick someone to attack, just to prove they can? Lugar seems to think so, though that was in the midst of defeat after 36 years in office. Even if there is no plan to take out just somebody, even if Mourdock didn’t already hold the view Democrats should not be spoken to let alone compromised with, it’s clear outside conservative groups can and will punish anyone who has anything to do with Democrats.

    The lesson I take is that working with Republicans is going to get even harder. The losses of ideological puritans haven’t deterred them one bit, and let’s face facts, that this nihilistic party did so well in 2010 gives them good reason to think the voters won’t punish them for it.


  • Well done United Wisconsin

    by Eric Ferguson on January 18, 2012 · 0 comments


    United Wisconsin turned in their recall petitions today.

    The million signatures to recall Walker roughly doubles the number needed, so unless they committed fraud out of the GOP’s most paranoid fantasies, they have easily enough. The signatures outnumber the votes for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett in 2010.

    They also had a healthy excess for recalling the lieutenant governor, and maybe enough (pending validation) to recall four state senators (they need one to take the state senate), including the majority leader.

    Something that should give Walker some pause is they got those million signatures while carrying out the other petition drives simultaneously.

    I haven’t found any video (if anyone finds some, feel free to post it in comments)(UPDATE: Rachel Maddow found video). has a photo slideshow.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


    Observations on Wisconsin

    by Eric Ferguson on August 11, 2011 · 0 comments

    SolidarityYesterday results in Wisconsin were, as Tony pointed out, pretty much as predicted by the last polling. It’s mildly disappointing not to flip the state senate, and Republicans are predictably thinking themselves vindicated rather than lucky these elections took place in Republican districts. Note to Scott Johnson: yes, labor and progressive groups spent heavily, but you seem to want to pretend they weren’t matched by outside conservative money — trying to excuse losing two?

    So the result was mixed. Two is pretty good, but one short of an ambitious goal. Two supposedly safe Republicans barely hung on. What do we take from this?

    We can’t be sure how similar Wisconsin is to the rest of the country, but I’m willing to infer a few things. One is that the left was reenergized, but the right is energized too. This shouldn’t be a surprise since they turned out big just last November. They should be surprised the left reenergized so fast, though they seem not to be aware this has happened and their enthusiasm advantage is gone in Wisconsin, probably nationally. We, meanwhile, shouldn’t think we’ve reversed their advantage. We’ve merely balanced them, that’s all.

    Josh Marshall at TPM had an interesting take, in response to a reader suggesting the recall was a questionable use of resources. He suggested we stop thinking in terms of spending limited resources, and more in terms of building up muscle. I’m not sure that  applies entirely to money, but I see his point in terms of building up an organization and spreading a message. That is in fact how my senate district DFL was thinking when we attended every neighborhood event in our district this summer, despite having no election this year. To be sure, the point of stripping Wisconsin’s public workers of their right to organize is partly to reduce union resources, and it has to hurt, but there’s a new pool of volunteers and people with experience running campaigns, and despite not flipping the senate, coming this close in tough circumstances has to be a confidence boost. If some of this new muscle goes into union organizing, maybe Republicans won’t succeed in banning unions (they haven’t tried to outright ban unions except for specific groups of workers, but I have little doubt this is their goal).
    As happy as Republicans are about hanging on to their majority by a one seat, and that just barely in supposedly safe districts, the whole state gets something to say about the attempt to recall Gov. Walker next year. If they want to be cocky, let them. I like the Democrats’ odds right now. They can also recall the legislators elected last year, and unlike recalling legislators who survived the Democratic wave in 2008, these legislators had the Republican wave behind them. There will be a lot more vulnerable Republican legislators next year, while the Democrats survived the wave so should be even less vulnerable than Democrats recalled this year. If Democrats go after legislators as well as Walker, they have a good chance to flip the Senate, maybe the Assembly too. It would be a very ambitious goal to flip the whole state government, but it’s hardly inconceivable.

    Does last night portend anything for other states? No way to know. There might be a recall of Michigan’s governor. Ohio is set to have a referendum on repealing it’s new anti-union law this November. For either of those to succeed would be so big, the press might not go along with GOP spin like it seems to be doing in Wisconsin.

    Specifically in Minnesota, we got lucky. Don’t anyone take an “It Can’t Happen Here” attitude. We’re more like Wisconsin than any other state, and we had the same flipping of the state legislature they did. 8,000 votes is all that saved us from having the same reactionary governor Wisconsin has, and our GOP legislators tried the same stripping of union rights as their Wisconsin counterparts, and judging by the policy changes they tried to shove through the shutdown negotiations, they really thought they would make Gov. Dayton sign them. Presumably the next time Republicans control both governor and legislature, they’ll be passing such measures if they haven’t decided they’re politically toxic.

    Are there preventive measures we can take? Never again losing the legislature is good, though holding it forever, I’m not so sanguine about. Thinking specifically about the right to organize that drove the Wisconsin recalls, one of our arguments for opposing the marriage amendment is constitutions are supposed to enshrine rights, not enshrine the denial of rights. Maybe it’s time to pass our own amendment and enshrine a right, to wit, put the right to organize into the constitution.

    Clearly it won’t pass a Republican legislature, but let’s take a long view. The marriage discrimination amendment is a case in point both ways. Republicans kept pushing it until they got a majorities in both houses and could get it passed. We have hope of defeating it because while these amendments were slam dunks for Republicans during the last decade, attitudes have been changed, not because they just mysteriously evolved, but because equality advocates kept making their case despite being in a clear minority. Getting union rights into the constitution will present an extra obstacle at minimum, and if we can convince the public this is a right worth protecting, stripping those rights will be extraordinarily difficult, but such convincing could take a while. Even many people who think the government went too far attacking public workers may just think stripping their rights was unnecessary, but may not think there is a definitive right to organize whether the government likes it or not. Actually, rights subject to government grant and revocation aren’t really rights.

    Actually, there’s a double whammy here, because not only would amending the constitution (thinking big, how about the federal as well as the state constitution) secure a right, but as the resurgence of the left in Wisconsin shows, this is good politics. The issue that drove the recall campaigns could work here too.

    One more lesson: this is not the time for disgruntled lefties to sit out politics or vote for a third party. These are not the old-fashioned Republicans who won’t do what Democrats want done, but at least believe in getting problems solved in way we can all live with and won’t try to shove through a repeal of all good things accomplished over the last century. Arne Carlson would not defeat Allen Quist if the 1994 primary were held again. Harold Stassen probably couldn’t get elected chair of a precinct. That temptation to dismiss all major party candidates as the same has got to be resisted, at least while the state is so closely divided.


         This is the third installment of our examination of a Progressive mid-western governor and a Tea Party governor. Which state will do better at job creation? At what cost will those jobs be created? We also need to remember that Dayton’s biggest jobs program, that would create tens of thousands of jobs, is being stymied for ideological and political reasons. Walker has carte blanche to do whatever he wants because of his legislative majorities.

        So far, Governor Walker has won the self promotion battle, claiming 10,000 jobs created in January, and 25,000 so far through March. A closer look reveals a cost to job creation that has gone unnoticed. New jobs may be added, but the unemployment rolls are going down at a snails pace in Wisconsin. The unemployment rolls have only gone by down 2,100 in Walker’s three months. In fact, last month the unemployment rolls actually increased for the first time in thirteen months. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has stalled at 7.4% for three straight months.

        Dayton, on the other hand, has garnered zero media attention. He has been boring to a fault. In his own, quiet way, he might be the tortoise compared to Walker’s hare. While Wisconsin plays a shell game with jobs, adding 17,000 but barely reducing the unemployment rolls, Minnesota has reduced its unemployment rolls by 9,000, while 8,500 added to the employment rolls. Minnesota’s unemployment rate has steadily gone since December, with a brief stall last month.

    See the complete chart, taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics after the break.    






































    Change Employment



























    Change Unemployment



























    Ch. Unemployment Rate



























    Final Rate



























         The committee to recall Senator Harsdorf just turned in over 22,000 signatures. This is almost 7,000 more than they need. Harsdorf becomes the fourth Republican Senator to face recall. There are four more Republicans to go, as well as recall committees for eight Democrats. So far, none of the committees to recall Democrats have gotten enough signatures.
       Now we move on to the election phase. The Democrats have not yet announced a candidate in this somewhat red district. St. Croix county, the largest in the district, went for Prosser in the last election, Burnett, and Polk counties also went for Prosser. However, the margins were quite close in those three, and Kloppenburg won Dunn and Pierce counties to take the district. Enthusiasm seems to be on the Democrat’s side. If Kloppenburg, a virtual unknown, can take this red district, than Harsdorf is in trouble.
        Harsdorf has 10 days to challenge the recall. Then the board has one month to verify the signatures. Then six weeks until a general election. The board will most likely ask for an extension because they have to verify so many recall campaigns in this unprecedented action. We’re looking at an excruciating three months at least until the election.  

    Next news: Who is our candidate?


    Today’s Strongman Report – 20 March 2011

    by TwoPuttTommy on March 20, 2011 · 3 comments

    While Gaddafi went on Libya State TV (why not? He owns it) to channel the ghosts of Baghdad Bob and Tom Emmer, ol’ “Baseball Bat” Walker chose to go on Faux Noise Fox News (why not? The GOP owns it)  to peddle similar camel dung:  Sean insHanitty Interviews Walker:  Walker Claims Credit for 10,000 New Jobs And Lower Unemployment

    Hey – “Baseball Bat” Walker’s makin’ that claim all over!  Like, just last week – in Hudson, WI:

    MnPP: Walker Claims Credit for 10,000 New Jobs And Lower Unemployment

    Speakin’ o’ other claims  Ol’ Baseball Bat is makin’ that aren’t true: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says out-of-staters account for “almost all” in Madison protests” – FALSE.

    Hey – who the (cheney) does Ol’ Baseball Bat think he is –  former Gov. “TBag” Pawlenty??!?

    TBag’s court cases don’t turn out so swell – for Timmy.  Ol’ Baseball Bat’s only been in office for FAR too long since January, and already this:

    WSJ:  Judge Blocks Union Law

    The first installment of this Strongman Report series was subtitled …Today’s Example of “Republicans run on the platform ‘Government doesn’t work!’ – and once elected, they prove it.”.  Graphics and links for previous installments in this series are below the fold.

    (Strongman Report – 08 March 2011)

    (Strongman Report – 05 March 2011)

    (Strongman Report – 01 March 2011)


    Today’s Strongman Report – 08 March 2011

    by TwoPuttTommy on March 9, 2011 · 0 comments

    From the #YouCantMakeThisStuffUp Dept…. while  Gaddafi declared a tax cut

    2:41pm  Libyan state TV announces wide-ranging tax cuts. It says:
    The general public committee has decided to reduce customs on basic commodities to zero per cent and to reduce customs on all other commodities to only five per cent. It also decided to remove all consumption and production taxes.

    … reports that “Walker’s budget slashes tax credits that aid poor:

    Low-income taxpayers in Wisconsin would lose hundreds of dollars in tax credits a year under Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget – at the same time the governor wants tax cuts for businesses and investors to boost jobs.

    Thanks to the eagle-eyed and dedicated reader that sent that tip in!!!

    In other news of note concerning Scott “Baseball Bat” Walker, who dreams of treating the least amongst him worse than Gadaffi:
    Walker’s Latest Mea Nota Culpa, via the Wisconsin State Journal.

    The Daily Page:  “A former GOP aide to Senate Republicans: You can beat Walker”

    Via the Green Bay Press-Gazette:  “(GOP) Sen. Cowles: Republicans have to be “flexible” on collective bargaining negotiations”

    Via DailyKos: “Wisconsin recall update: 15% of signature goal reached”

    And finally, Faux Noise’s @MikeTobinFox still hasn’t posted a new tweet, ever since the news came out he’s a KochWhore SpokesTool “typical Fox Reporter”.

    Send tips/suggestions for the next “Strongman Report” to: …

    (05 March 2011 Strongman Report, here)

    (01 March 2011 Strongman Report, here)


    Today’s Strongman Report – 05 March 2011

    by TwoPuttTommy on March 5, 2011 · 2 comments

    Recommended Reading (and, in one case, viewing!):

    WaPo:” Jon Stewart hosts Ravitch, rips critics of teachers in newest, funniest show”

    The Daily Page:  “Isthmus, Wisconsin Associated Press sue Gov. Scott Walker over access to emails”

    Albert Lea Tribune: “Minnesota Watches Wisconsin”

    MPP: “Canada prohibits Faux Noise broadcasting; Wisconsin Protests demonstrate why”

    Strib: “Arne Carlson criticizes Wisconsin governor’s tactics”

    Send tips/suggestions for the next “Strongman Report” to: …

    (01 March 2011 Strongman Report, here)