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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

South Metro Tea Party: Johnson and Abler and Howe - Oh My

Category: GOP 2014
Posted: 04/23/14 00:26

by Dave Mindeman

A Tuesday night and its that time of the month....South Metro Tea Party meeting. They had a big agenda tonight...so let me fill you in on what the 40 or so members are up to.

They have this thing at the beginning...something like an open mike night, where they get a minute to just speak their mind or make announcements. In this case, they were discussing the need to get people to school board and city council meetings for reports. Well, a hand in the back shot up and told the gathering that she attends every school board meeting in Farmington....why? Because she is a school board member. Her name is Laura Beem - watch out Farmington, they have infiltrated the board!

Just before the main speaker, a surrogate for Jim Abeler took the mike and proceeded to paint a picture of Jim Abeler that I did not recognize. You would think he has been the epitome of a hard core right wing conservative. Not the somewhat moderate character he pretends to be. No mention of his transportation override vote or human services budgets. Its like he has been transformed.

The main speaker for the evening, however, was GOP governor candidate Jeff Johnson. He opened with a little smiley about how the Alliance For A Better Minnesota couldn't figure out how to attack him, so they called him an extremist because he attended a Tea Party meeting. Well, that got a few chuckles, so he pushed it - he has news for them, he attends LOTS of Tea Party meetings.....which got some semblance of applause.

Johnson proceeded to "speak to the crowd". He called Dayton the "most incompetent governor in the US". Really? You know PA's Tom Corbett is still in office, right? And he called the anti-bullying bill - "social engineering for our kids". Really, again? He tackled Dayton's record by saying....oh yeah, the economy is good now, but Democrats have set us up for failure in the future. Wow....that made sense (not).

Johnson has decided that the primary factor in what makes him the ideal candidate is "demeanor". Yessir...he said that. He said that he passes the likability test. Voters might disagree with him on issues but he is just such a gosh darn nice guy, they will still pull that lever.

Couldn't find much substance there.

We then got a late entry to speak as new Secretary of State Candidate John Howe addressed the room. Howe has an interesting approach - he is going to run for SOS but apparently his issues will have nothing to do with the office he seeks.

First off, he went into, what he says is, his claim to fame - opposition to the Vikings Stadium. Oh yeah...there is an SOS issue.

The the obligatory - "I blame Mark Ritchie for giving us Al Franken." Sure, Mark Ritchie orchestrated the whole Norm Coleman debacle.

Then he goes into campaign finance. Says we have 11 DFL Senators because the DFL cheated on campaign finance. Yeah - better photos make better election outcomes. Started a little campaign slogan - "Can't cheat and keep your seat." Sure - another thing that applies to an SOS race.

Then he pulls a Scott Brown and says that you can tell he is a REAL conservative because he drives an old truck with 140,000 miles on it. OK - I'm convinced.

Then the agenda moved to a general discussion of the GOP Senate candidates. Again, it was like an "open mike night". Anyone could say whatever was on their mind. Judging from the comments, Mike McFadden is not going to get a lot of Tea Party support. To quote one of them -"If McFadden is the candidate, I'll have to hold my nose and vote for Franken." Now that is a ringing endorsement.

Oddly enough, there was a lot of positive things said about Monti Moreno, although everyone called him Marti when speaking. He apparently has a good red meat stump speech that gets them all wound up.

Generally though, Sen. Ortman gets the most positive responses - although one of the Duesenbergs (I forget which one he is) went out of his way to mention that Ortman sponsored a tax hike bill (questionable validity but it was mentioned).

One last item to mention. Soon to be former Rep. Mary Liz Holberg was there (she is running for County Commissioner after she leaves the legislature) and she stood up during one of the discussions and pointed out that she doesn't consider the endorsement to be important. She said, " We have had fatally flawed candidates come through that process" and we need to do better. I thought that was interesting coming from a long time legislator.

They seem to expect a primary battle, but tried to promote the endorsement as a "good thing" anyway. It was tortured logic.

Well, there you have it....another evening with the "Don't Tread On Me' people. It is something to watch.
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GOP MN US Senate - Ranking The Field

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 04/22/14 01:07, Edited: 04/22/14 01:08

by Dave Mindeman

Al Franken is up for election this year and there are a number of Republicans that want to take his job. Who will be the last person standing? Well, again, its fun to speculate. Here we go:

4. Rep. Jim Abeler - Abeler appears to have entered this race as a kind of alternative candidate. After all, he was a member of the Override Six and it would seem he thought he could appeal beyond the base. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear to appeal to any faction, and it looks like he will be the first casualty.

3. Commissioner Chris Dahlberg - Dahlberg kind of hangs around hoping that the two top tier candidates stumble. He has had some backing from media mogul Stanley Hubbard, but hasn't caught on with anybody else. He is treading water financially - his best shot is a credible showing at the convention. He is abiding by the endorsement because he really doesn't have much choice.

2. State Sen. Julianne Ortman - I used to think that Ortman was a very distant second, but I don't think that anymore. She has had a cash infusion of late and seems to be on track to win an easy endorsement at next month's convention. That would be a boost that will make her competitive in the primary. She has decent name recognition and is showing some willingness to do battle.

1. Mike McFadden - McFadden has been described as a Romney Clone. He is a financial analyst with virtually no political experience...and he has been doing a poor job of handling the press and outlining positions. So why is he still in first place? Just money. Lots of money. However, going forward he looks awfully vulnerable. Ortman is a much closer second than she was a month ago.


From my perspective, and granted, it is a biased one, Al Franken looks to be in pretty good position. These four candidates all have serious flaws that the Franken campaign will probably exploit. Still, a lot of outside money could come raining down if an opportunity presents itself.

So far, Franken's own fundraising has discouraged that influx.
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Medical Marijuana - Enforcement And Policy Don't Mix

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 04/22/14 00:45, Edited: 04/22/14 00:45

by Dave Mindeman

Governor Dayton and some legislators have given law enforcement too much power in the Medical Marijuana debate.

Legislators must make policy - Law enforcement has to enforce it.

Letting law enforcement do both is, in a word, a mistake.

I understand that Governor Dayton wants a close relationship with the law enforcement community. They have a difficult job and a lot of responsibility. But they also screw up.

In too many instances, law enforcement has overreached...or succumbed to temptations....or developed their own rules.....or have let their personal biases get in the way.

They need to have a clear, focused direction on what is expected from them when enforcing the law. And the legislature and Governor need to give them that. But when policy and enforcement get mixed, we always run into problems.

Law enforcement focuses on outcomes. They see the outcome they have expected from the past and then they look for the policy that makes that happen. The easiest way to do that is to stick with the status quo.

But the more important part is process. If the process is not fair, the outcomes aren't either.

Medical Marijuana is a policy heavily dependent on process. The final process may or may not involve law enforcement....in most cases it should not. What we are trying to do here is separate the drug substance from a law enforcement outcome. That can only happen when the policy divests itself away from a criminal end game and into a true medical outcome.

Law enforcement is only ALLOWED to see one side of this because we are too timid to move beyond criminality. There is a need to do more....to go beyond the old ways. And that is for legislators to decide. Only they can devise a divergent policy and define other outcomes.

I appreciate the political need to have law enforcement support a political campaign. It looks good on that campaign flyer. But legislating is more complicated than pleasing law enforcement. Legislating is making good policy that applies to everyone and every outcome.

It is time for this governor and this legislature to understand that. They still serve the broader electorate -- not just certain factions.
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