Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 04/07/15 10:42, Edited: 04/07/15 10:44
by Dave Mindeman
Now I am going to admit at the outset that I only have sketchy information on this topic....and I may have the wrong impression on some of the information I do have - but maybe I can at least start the discussion.
I am talking, here, about the two DFL candidates that plan to challenge Kline for Congress in the 2nd District.
First, let's see where we have been in the last two cycles....when Mike Obermueller was the Kline challenger.
Here is the money data for 2012:
Kline raised $2.3 million. He spent $1.95 million. Obermueller raised $717,000 and spent $705,000. Kline won 54-46. (Open Secrets)
Data for 2014:
Kline raised $2.78 million. He spent $3.23 million (had a surplus from 2012). Obermueller raised $933,588. He spent $933,332. Kline won 56-35.
Obviously, because of the large cash infusion in 2014, Kline took the more recent race a bit more seriously. Obermueller's finances got dwarfed by our 2nd district corporate shill, and the struggle was always uphill. Still, the fact that Kline won by 8 points in the 2012 election year should be the comparison to use going into 2016. The possibility remains high that Democrats could do well in next year's elections.
So who are his current challengers:Angie Craig
. She made her formal declaration for the position yesterday. Her bio indicates that she works for St. Jude's Medical, a medical device manufacturer. She is married to Cheryl Green and they have 4 sons.
I am going to give my honest concerns here. I have heard her speak at our local DFL convention. She talked a great deal about health care and voiced here support for the ACA. However, my concern, until I hear more clarification is that she will be another voice to repeal the Medical Device Tax. After all, her company would benefit from that repeal. There is nothing inherently wrong with that - after all, the entire Minnesota Congressional delegation is working for that repeal. I am anxious to hear how she plans to replace the funding if, indeed, she does favor a repeal. But the other concern is that her website lists her 4 "priorities" and healthcare is not one of them. She lists education, jobs, social security, and infrastructure. Those are very good priorities, but health care is going to have to be high on the list when discussing John Kline. And it is not like she doesn't have expertise in this area - in addition to her position with St. Jude's, she is on the board of several health care related non-profits.
When she spoke at our convention, she also talked some about student debt. Well, she outlined the problem at least. Her website
gives it one paragraph under education. Student debt is an issue that needs to be addressed when John Kline is your opponent. And, in order to be effective on the issue, you need to demonstrate an alternative plan. Maybe that is coming, but it needs to be front and center.
I am concerned about the lack of political experience. She lists a position of precinct chair in Senate District 51. That is a caucus position that is often achieved by just showing up in your precinct. There is no mention of activity with local campaigns or any state party activity. And again, there is nothing wrong with that. But Kline is an experienced and crafty politician. Unless Ms. Craig loads up her staff with experienced political operatives, I am afraid she may be heading for a meat grinder.
Money is also going to be an issue. A news article said she just started raising money 4 days ago. Mike Obermueller worked himself to death to raise $900,000 - and that still wasn't near enough. Ms. Craig needs to show some fund raising acumen or at least a willingness to invest in herself if she is able. I'll mention it again - a lack of political experience probably means a lack of fund raising contacts needed.
On a positive note, she seems to have gathered the endorsements of all the local Senate District 51 elected leaders. Rep. Sandy Masin and Rep. Laurie Halvorson, Senator Jim Carlson, and former Congressional Candidate Mike Obermueller are listed as endorsees. That will be a big plus for her going forward.
As I said before, these are my early impressions of the Craig candidacy; and as we move ahead, clarifications may change those impressions.Mary Lawrence.
Word has it that Mary Lawrence will make her formal announcement later this week. I don't have a website to reference here and my information is even more sketchy, but I'll give my early impressions anyway.
First of all, Mary Lawrence does not live in the 2nd Congressional district. She plans to move to Prior Lake, but right now she lives in Minneapolis. Whether or not she has any past experience with the 2nd District is unknown, but that is a concern.
Her bio is impressive: She is an ophthalmologist with the Veteran's Administration with numerous awards and leadership positions. Her press release gives us a little more about why she is running
...."After serving our nation's Veterans and Service members as a physician at the VA for over 17 years, practicing and teaching medicine, I've seen first-hand the negative consequences a hyper-partisan government can have on the people it's supposed to serve," Lawrence said in a statement released to the Pioneer Press. "But there's nothing wrong with Washington that can't be cured with some Minnesota commonsense."
I won't go into her priorities because she hasn't had the opportunity to do that yet, but being a veteran herself, she can probably challenge Kline somewhat on his military background and foreign policy -- although it remains to be seen if she expanded her veterans knowledge beyond the health care field.
But there is one note that caught my attention
....Lawrence's campaign released a statement saying Lawrence raised $515,000 in the first quarter of the year. It isn't clear how much of that money came from Lawrence herself.
That is worth noting. Whether it came from her own checkbook or others, that figure is already over half of what Obermueller raised during the entirety of his 2014 campaign. Does she have the connections to raise more in sufficient quantities? That's another question. If she has not lived in the district, what connections would there be? Will she depend on outside money? These are unknowns.
OK - there are my first impressions on these two candidates. I probably sound a bit more critical than I should be at this point, but I guess I am at the point of wanting everything on the table. Kline is absolutely the worst possible Congressman for this district and we need to replace him. We are going to need an extraordinary effort from a good candidate. Maybe it is one of these two - maybe it is someone who has not yet emerged.
I may have some things wrong in this post - if I do please feel free to comment. More information is always better. And, as I said, things could change as more clarification becomes evident.
2016 offers an opportunity. It may be a last chance opportunity in the 2nd District.
We need to get this one as right as we can.