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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Cong. John Kline Not Impressed With 2nd District GOP Field

Category: John Kline
Posted: 02/08/16 20:15

by Dave Mindeman

Congressman John Kline is not thrilled with the GOP field looking to succeed him. He is not endorsing anybody...he is not even impressed with anybody.

Kline isn't making any secret of his wish that Mary Pawlenty would have gotten into the race. It even looks like he was the main recruiter on that one.

"I talked to her and talked to her," Kline said of Pawlenty, the wife of former governor Tim Pawlenty. "I actually thought she was going to get in. If she had gotten in, we wouldn't be having this conversation. The others would not have gotten in, for the most part, and Mary would win in November."

But after repeated attempts to persuade her, Kline is left to assess the field that is there. And, apparently, he doesn't think it has much to offer.

His main criticism centers around their ability to raise money. Wow. There's a surprise. Kline still has a hefty bank vault to work with in his own campaign fund, so he knows what he speaks of....but I do not see him offering any of his coffers to this group.

We know he doesn't have the time of day for Gerson (and vice versa) since Gerson ran against him for party endorsement twice and was a primary opponent once. He was dismissive of Howe and Myhra because of the lack of fundraising...even though Howe has put a significant sum of his own money into the campaign. And strangely enough, he thinks Jason Lewis may be too far right to be competitive....imagine that one.....

"He spent a lot of time -- his life -- with a microphone in front of him so he speaks well. He hasn't raised money like I think he needs to, so we'll have to see how that plays out. Jason of course has to be a little bit careful because he spent a lot of years making himself 'Mr. Right' and so he'll have to work that. He's a smart guy so we'll see how he works through that."

Odd comments coming from a Congressman who lived and breathed the right wing agenda.

But it would seem that Kline holds out hope for Darlene Miller.....

Kline spoke most warmly of Miller, the latest entrant to the race. Her campaign is being run by a former Kline aide. "The new arrival, Darlene Miller, brings a lot," he said. "Clearly one of the things she needs to bring is the ability to raise money."

As the MN Political Roundtable blog has pointed out, fundraising may end up being one of Darlene Miller's strengths...

Candidate Miller has announced her team ... with Steve Ralls as Campaign Treasurer.....Steve Ralls is about as Washington as you can get ... political treasurer is his game. Steve Ralls is a name known throughout the halls of Congress ... just ask Paul DeMarco, Jeff Fortenberry, Shelly Moore Capito, Markwayne Mullin, Ben Sasse, Mike Thompson, Rob Wittman, just to name a few politicians who have used his services.

He has the connections that Kline likes to see.

Kline didn't mention the fact that Miller has no intention of abiding by the endorsement...nor the fact that her website does not even identify her as a Republican.

Kline is withholding his coronation endorsement.

He is not impressed with this field....and he is not alone.
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New Ed Bill Would Not Have Happened Without Kline Retirement

Category: John Kline
Posted: 12/11/15 13:38

by Dave Mindeman

Congressman John Kline is getting kudos from various quarters over passage of the new education bill that replaces No Child Left Behind. And I am not going to disagree with most of that. Kline played an important part.

But I would also postulate that this bill would never have passed if John Kline was going to run for re-election.

The House version (Kline's version) of this bill passed...but without a single Democratic vote. The Senate bill had to forge more compromise with the Democrats in order to avoid a filibuster, so it passed with a much more bipartisan vote.

In late August, the conference committee began to deliberate the final bill and in early September, Congressman Kline announces his retirement.

Looking at the future, if Kline had run and won again, he would not have been the Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee. That position is term limited and Kline got a special waiver to keep the job for this term. So, Kline must have decided that this bill was going to be his legacy...it became important to him that it pass. And the only way it could pass was for a broad compromise to occur. And, in the past, compromise has not been one of Kline's strong suits.

Kline has always been criticized by the Minnesota version of the Tea Party...and, of course, any education compromises would subject him to more of that criticism. But with his retirement announcement, he was free from the partisan pressure that surrounds this GOP leadership via the Tea Party elements. And that also allowed the conference committee to incorporate a number of Senate bill compromises.

Core principles on both sides stayed in place. The bill is definitely an improvement over the old NCLB. It is not perfect, but it is also not going to be a large burden for education innovators. Kline got his reduction in Federal oversight, but Democrats got mandatory funding thresholds and some solid early education funding.

Kline gets his legacy and leaves Congress on a high note.

And we get an education bill that President Obama called "a Christmas miracle".

But I truly believe that all of this was possible only because John Kline decided it was time to retire.

That announcement appears to have done more for American education than the entire remainder of John Kline's career.

So be it. We shall take it.
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The CD2 Race Continues To Be A Curiousity

Category: John Kline
Posted: 09/15/15 15:12

by Dave Mindeman

So Mary Pawlenty and Mike McFadden have decided not to run in the 2nd District. That was surprising....especially about Mary Pawlenty. Why float that out there unless you are pretty sure about running.

That leaves us with a curious situation. John Kline announces that he is retiring (rather abruptly) and there is no "heir apparent" on the GOP side.

The curious thing about all this is that Rep. Tara Mack was thought to be the person being groomed to run for that seat when Kline retired. She has had a higher profile in the legislature via the HHS committee and being the spokesperson on healthcare for the House GOP.

But that "grooming" seems to have fallen victim to the untoward "documents exchange" that has been at the forefront of the news over the last couple of weeks. No discussion of Mack as a Kline successor now.

The timing of the Kline announcement was curious as well. Some people thought that there was a possibility of Kline making the announcement right after the scandal broke as a purposeful means of blocking any kind of Mack opportunity.

I dismissed that for a couple of reasons. Kline's announcement timing followed the Mack news extremely closely. Could Kline really have been ready but holding his announcement back or moving it up just because of that breaking news? And secondly, I thought that Mack and Kline were on cordial terms if not friendly.

In regards to that last part, I have heard from a few people that Kline and Mack were NOT on such good terms. That some kind of falling out had occurred and that Kline was not happy about Mack succeeding him. If true, that would add a little more intrigue to the timing, but it doesn't change the reality much. Mack is out of the 2nd District consideration and is probably going to be in a fight to keep her legislative career going.

It also leaves a bit of a void. With Pawlenty and McFadden dropping out of consideration, there is not a deep GOP bench to take up the banner. Rep. Steve Drazkowski seems to be the main contender left, but I'm not sure he fits the District as a whole very well and lacks name recognition outside of the District's southern part.

Democrat's Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence are now the beneficiaries of that very early start and have made other Dems reluctant to start something up against established campaigns.

Joe Atkins and Rick Hansen are still considering....but the length of time it is taking them means it has become difficult to get to yes.

The conventional wisdom that this has become a competitive seat is very real.
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