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To Mr. Erdmann: Don't Use The Big Money Problem To Divide Dems

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 08/07/17 19:06, Edited: 08/07/17 19:08

by Dave Mindeman

Jeff Erdmann had an extensive interview with the Uptake which covered a broad range of topics.

I'd like to take a closer look at a few of his statements.

There is no question that money is the scourge of modern day politics. Citizens United opened up the Pandora's Box and we have had to deal with it ever since. Democrats have had to scramble to raise money just as much as Republicans, but to say Democrats are abandoning their principles because of money is just too broad a concept to be justified.

Here is some specifics from Erdmann:

"I think the voters of district CD2, I think they deserve to have competition. Last go around, Angie self-funded a big chunk. This is what happens in politics, is that you see wealthy people come in and they can write a big check for themselves to loan themselves money, and then competition goes away and in a sense, they have no competition and they get the endorsement. I don't think that's good for the democratic process.

"When Stuart Mills (Mills Fleet Farm executive who ran as a Republican for congress in northern Minnesota) goes and tries to buy an election, when Betsy DeVos tries to go and buy a seat as Secretary of Education, I don't think that's okay. And when other candidates try to do that, I don't think that's okay. Especially when you're trying to represent the Democratic Party, which is supposed to be kind of against the influence of big money and trying to buy and lessen or reduce, the voice of the people."

I don't know if Mr. Erdmann was paying attention early on, but Angie Craig did have competition. Mary Lawrence made a brief splash in 2015 by putting in over $1 million of her own money. But she failed to connect with the activist base and dropped out. Angie Craig did self fund at the beginning, but she worked to establish a broader base of support and it paid off.

Erdmann's example of Betsy DeVos is more on point. She made her donations for a different purpose - to buy influence. To buy a seat at the table. Most of the Democrats who raise money, do it to establish name recogntion - to introduce themselves to the party and the electorate. Unfortunately, it takes a large amount of money to do so. If individual donations can reach that level, then we have the ideal situation. Bernie Sanders did it and it took him a long ways. However, Jeff Erdmann has a couple of problems.

First, judging by his comments about the last election, he has not participated in the party. Sure, he may have wished to stay out of the political fray in order to be "authentic" to his students, but authenticity also includes being honest about your political views as well.

If Jeff Erdmann was really considering what was good for the Party and what was good for his place in politics, then he should be running for the legislative seat held by Anna Wills in Rosemount. There his "authenticity" would mean something. He would have an established base. He could learn how to raise money the right way and build a campaign base of volunteers who could help him win a needed legislative slot.

But Erdmann never learned any of that. He didn't get into the trenches. He may have the ideals of a progressive and would vote the right way legislatively - BUT YOU HAVE TO GET ELECTED FIRST.

A Congressional race for a novice is a large undertaking. And without a previous electoral springboard, you simply have to have a donor base of support that can build that name recognition.

Angie Craig did that. She seeded it with her own money. She reached out to all the right people. Hired experienced staff. And kept building that base. And if not for that Trump surge at the end, I think she would have won. She has stated that she will not self fund her campaign this time around. She is going to count on the base of support she built last time. She is not beholden to big money, as Mr. Erdmann would imply.

Erdmann can criticize big money in politics - I will join him in that criticism. But we are where we are. And I think attacking Angie Craig for doing exactly what she needed to do is the wrong approach.

And very divisive within the District Party.

More on the rest of Erdmann's interview later.
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