Posted: 12/30/12 19:30, Edited: 12/30/12 19:31
by Dave Mindeman
End of the year. Time once again for the 10 Worst Political Persons in Minnesota. Remember as always, this is from a progressive perspective - so keep the comments civil and as rational as possible.
#10. Alan Quist - The looming perennial candidate thrust himself into a divisive and nasty 1st District Republican nominating campaign. And even by Republican standards, it was pretty bizarre. After the nominating convention deadlocked, he and State Senator Mike Parry proceeded to a bitter primary fight that drove opinion polls into the ground for both candidates. Quist "won" the primary, but never gave Cong. Tim Walz any serious problems. And now it looks like Quist wants to take this winning "formula" into a special election in Mankato for Terry Morrow's House seat. Does Quist ever actually look at the aftermath of his political moves?
#9. Rep. Mary Franson - Rep. Franson will forever be associated with this quote: "Isn't it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves." In keeping with her personal war on the poor, she has supported legislation that will keep EBT cards from being used out of state and sponsored legislation that will drug test anyone applying for the MFIP program...and they have to pay for the test. Wow! And all this sandwiched around an election in which she won by 12 votes. That is what you call a mandate.
#8. Zygi Wilf - Again, Zygi is not an overt politician, but he has certainly shown an astute ability to be a covert one. In a legislative session that had a huge deficit and controversial amendments, Zygi's stadium dominated the agenda. With threats to take his Vikings and play somewhere else and plenty of lobbying money, Zygi pushed through an extraordinarily favorable Stadium plan that uses a questionable state share plan from electronic pull tabs. And if that money doesn't come through as planned, Zygi's stadium will get state general revenue funds. Besides all that, Zygi gets rights to a pro soccer team as well. Political gamesmanship that would make Jack Abramoff proud.
#7. Kurt Bills - Bills branded himself a simple economics teacher that wanted to go to Washington. But Bills was more of a symbol of the growing problems of the Minnesota Republican Party. A party that prided itself on strong endorsements, Bills, and his Ron Paul state allies, coopted the nomination from the establishment and took the Party on a hopeless campaign ride against Senator Amy Klobuchar. Bills lacked money, name recognition, and campaign machinery -- other than that he was fine. He led the GOP to the worst Senate defeat in state history and is back to teaching high school economics. Bills isn't necessarily a worst political person candidate, but he may be on the most naive list. Bills was a pawn in a divisive state party power play and after the November election, he is probably still wondering what hit him.
#6. Dan McGrath - MN Majority - The idea that there is rampant voter fraud in Minnesota is ludicrous on its face. But MN Majority and Dan McGrath took this absurd premise and centered an entire campaign on it. They were aided by a Republican State Legislature willing to put Constitutional emphasis on it with an equally ludicrous Constitutional amendment placed on the ballot. McGrath looked like he had a winner as an uneducated public favored the idea that looked logical at the outset. But as truth began to come to the for forefront, the Voter ID Amendment ended up in defeat. But MN Majority's delusion runs deep...McGrath was quoted after the election with this:
"Initial post-election research now being conducted by Minnesota Majority indicates that voter fraud likely played a role."
#5. Tony Sutton - I am sure you are wondering how Tony Sutton could possibly be on a 2012 Worst list. After all, he resigned his Party Chair post in December of 2011. But resigning did not end the influence of Tony Sutton. Over the course of 2012 his gutting of the Republican Party financial structure became more and more of a problem. The brazenness of his actions will become legendary. After the great GOP comeback of 2010, Sutton started spending ghost money to keep building the party. He backed the recount funding in the Governor's race with just his signature and proceeded to grind the state party deep into debt. Debt that made them a non-entity in the 2012 elections and debt which still sits on the books. Debt which hinders their efforts to find a way out of the post-2012 debacle. That is why Sutton is on the 2012 list.
#4. Steve Sviggum - Former Speaker of the MN House and career politician is here because he could not figure out how being on the Minnesota Board of Regents and working as MN Senate Communications Chief could possibly be a conflict of interest. He persisted in this belief until the Regents finally said he could no longer serve. Sviggum had similar problems when he was a fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (Public Affairs..hmmmm). In regards to his Humphrey job and the Regents, he said, ""I think the roles are manageable. I think they're exclusive of each other."
As to the Regents Job and the Senate job -- "I would not have applied for the Senate job if I had to leave the Board of Regents," he said. Sviggum views the board as possibly the most important economic development tool for the state after the governor. "I really believe it's the opportunity for public service."
Apparently, Sviggum can't see a conflict of interest if it raps him up side of his head.
#3. Michael Brodkorb. Brodkorb is no stranger to this list. He has had many notable "worst" subject lines. But this year, he is applying as a "victim". Yes, Michael Brodkorb the hard nosed, in your face, political operative is a victim this time. We are all aware of his unlikely affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and the intense fallout from all of that. But when he was fired from his Senate Communications Director position, Brodkorb cried foul. Other affairs have happened and such punishment was not applied. Why Brodkorb, says he? And what's more, Brodkorb claims gender discrimination. Women do not suffer the same fate. Poor Michael. Such injustice. But it is hard to feel sorry for Michael Brodkorb and it is even harder to swallow the now six figure costs (and rising) to the State of Minnesota.
#2. Congressman John Kline. It may seem a little odd to put John Kline so high on the list especially when probably half of Minnesota has no idea who he is. But Kline's claim to fame is his sins of omission. He holds a powerful committee chairmanship. He has opportunities to deal with No Child Left Behind and other education issues. He has power on labor issues as well. But what has he done? He has been the obstructionist. He does nothing in the committee and criticizes administration attempts to move something...anything...forward. He does nothing for his district as well. Requests for help from local government fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, Kline rakes in money for his political campaign from all sorts of business interests. His campaign style is to hide in Washington. He doesn't debate the issues....seldom makes serious appearances. He continues to be elected, but this year the gap has narrowed. Are his days numbered? Let's hope so.
#1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. I know you are getting tired of seeing Bachmann top this list. She has done so several times, but it is truly hard to think of anyone in Minnesota who is a worse political person. She has a dream Republican district. It is very conservative and they keep sending her back to Washington. This year it was by the narrowest of margins. But the unapologetic Michele continues to find conspiracies to publicize, administration officials to criticize, and facts to make up. Her credibility is suspect and her ability to get anything done in Congress is nil. Yet she continues to seek publicity in any manner she can. The 6th District had questions this time around. They weren't as sure of her representation as they have been in the past. And with good reason. But she has a loyal, disturbed following and it has carried here back to Washington. Her hold on the top of this list continues to be unquestionably safe.