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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Erdmann Tries Contrast But Still Shows His Naivete

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 02/16/18 18:00

by Dave Mindeman

Jeff Erdmann has been circulating another round of questionable facts regarding Angie Craig. And once again, I would like to offer a counter narrative....

Here are the facts as presented - and my response:

What Happened in CD2:

Angie Craig points to a 1.8% loss to Jason Lewis in 2016 as evidence of a strong campaign. But a closer look at the 2016 election results should trouble Democrats. Craig was the lowest performing Democrat on the ballot in CD2 in 2016.
2016 CD2 Results

1st Place State Senate (DFL) Candidates 180,019
2nd Place Hillary Clinton 171,287
3rd Place State House (DFL) Candidates 169,536
Last Place Angie Craig 167,315

Receiving fewer votes than the far-less-prominent state house and senate candidates despite spending nearly $5 million is an enormous red flag.

Response: Once again, Erdmann is showing a naivete that gives me pause about the ability to run a Congressional campaign. Senate and House candidates did not have 3rd party challengers. And totaling up the individual seats is not a fair comparison for a Congressional wide race. There are several incumbents that are popular enough in their districts to win comfortably no matter what the circumstances.

Erdmann notes third party votes....

Over 10% of voters couldn't support Craig or Lewis: 40,000+ CD2 voters voted third party (29,000+) or left Congress blank (11,000+) despite voting for other offices. Not surprising when you have two multi-millionaire candidates backed by Super PACs and corporate interests. Working class people in CD2 deserve better options.

And yes, a third party candidate did siphon off votes, but if that candidate wasn't there, probably at least half would have voted for Angie (probably more than half). If you add 15,000 votes to Craig's total, she has 182,000 votes - which would be first in Erdmann's comparison.

And, if Erdmann would know normal voting patterns, he would realize that the farther you go down the ballot (especially in Presidential years) the more "drop off" (skipping races) you get. The 11,000 "blanks" is normal and a bogus argument.

And as for two "multi-millionaire" candidates, I don't remember much discussion about their financial backgrounds. Lewis is comfortably wealthy, but he gave zero dollars to his own campaign. Angie gave a fairly large sum but she was facing off against a true multi-millionaire going into a primary against Mary Lawrence. As it turned out, Lawrence dropped out early, but the potential contest had to be addressed. And although Erdmann seems to insist that (rather count on) money is not important, those PACs and corporate interests helped to even out the financial spending difference for Lewis going against Craig.

It is unfortunate, but in the current political environment, a candidate who cannot afford an extensive media campaign simply cannot win. I wish it were not so, but I deal in pragmatic reality, not pie in the sky expectation.

Erdmann delves into cost per vote...

Craig spent over $28 per vote and got similar support as Obermueller in 2012, who spent under $5 per vote. In the last two presidential cycles (2012 and 2016), Mike Obermueller and Angie Craig received nearly similar vote totals. But Angie Craig spent $4 million more and was facing a far less popular opponent than Obermueller (who faced incumbent John Kline)

Obermueller had similar numbers in 2012, but he lost by 8 percentage points, while Angie lost by less than 2%. And yes, Angie Craig spent a lot more per vote, but the race in 2016 was a target for both parties. In 2012, Kline had such a huge money advantage that the race didn't attract much outside attention. Mike didn't get much help.

One more thing from Erdmann....

You shouldn't need to run twice to win: Mike Obermueller lost CD2 in both 2012 and 2014. Angie Craig lost in 2016 on a similar platform. The problem is not name ID or building a campaign infrastructure, it's message and record and how those connect with voters. Walz and McCollum and Ellison didn't have to run twice because they appealed to voters the first time. We can't afford to risk losing to Jason Lewis again by running the same candidate and expecting a different result.

Again, the naivete is striking. Running twice is common in districts like this. Kline ran 3 times before he won. McCollum and Ellison ran in pretty safe Democratic districts - their only issue was to win the endorsement. Walz is the only one who has any direct comparison. He first won in 2006 - a Democratic wave year -by five points. He raised more money in his district than Democrats had in the past and offered a good contrast to his opponent Gil Gutknecht. However, he did not have a progressive message and was not targeted by the NRA, like Democrats in this district were in the past.

To believe that name ID and campaign infrastructure aren't of paramount importance is an utterly horrifying statement to me. His message will do him little good if he cannot get it out to the entire district. Word of mouth might make inroads in a legislative race, but can't work in a Congressional one. And as for record - Jeff Erdmann has none.

It is not just message that wins - it is a message that fits the district. That was what Walz did. Unfortunately for Jeff, the second district is NOT a liberal strong hold. We keep working on it, but the reality is that we have to compromise and form a coalition that can win.

Jeff Erdmann has a progressive message. He would get my support if he wins the endorsement, however, he needs more than just progressives - I fear he does not have the right plan to win in the 2nd. Maybe in the future, progressive values will fully win the day and Jeff would be the candidate that fits the district. But we aren't there yet - we have a lot more work to do. And trying to win here without any money and with only local name recognition is not a winning combination.

Sorry. But that is the truth of the matter.
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Angie Craig: Our Best 2018 Hope

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 01/29/18 12:22

by Dave Mindeman

Well, sorry, but I have to venture into the CD2 race once again. We are getting some sketchy accusations from some of the Erdmann supporters - and I think it needs serious clarification.

First of all, I would like to indicate that Angie Craig and I have had some candid and frank discussions about her time with St. Jude and how it affected her health care policy. We disagreed in the early part of her campaign - if you check my past posts, I have been a kind of "voice in the wilderness" about being against the move to repeal the Medical Device tax. Obviously, St. Jude was in favor of that repeal and Angie Craig supported it as well. I pointed out that undermining any funding portion of the ACA would cause future problems and Angie at least listened to my case.

I never made much headway in that argument because the entire MN Congressional delegation -both Democrats and Republicans- supported the repeal. Angie, therefore, represented a MN majority opinion. And in the end, she and I settled on an "agree to disagree" finalization. She did carefully listen to my argument and we still talk about it from time to time.

So, let's talk about articles recently circulating that criticize Angie Craig for her St. Jude involvement and on her 2016 campaign.

There is this Daily Kos "diary" that has this headline: MN-2: New Revelations That Dem Candidate Angie Craig Worked To Undermine The ACA in 2012.

Boy, talk about a misleading introduction. As a person who has discussed this topic directly with Angie Craig, I can assure you that this is absolutely false. The St. Jude argument was strictly focused on the Medical Device Tax. The company fully supported the ACA itself. In fact, St. Jude and competitor Medtronic, benefited heavily from the ACA. Profits have soared. The idea that St. Jude or Angie Craig were trying to undercut the ACA are just ridiculous. Craig and I never had an argument about the law itself - it was always about the Med Device tax.

Then there is this notion that because Angie Craig was involved with the St. Jude Political PAC, she was pushing money toward the Republicans. If you look at her involvement tenure, you will notice that while she was there, the PAC began to give Democrats much more money than it did before. The goal was the same - influence toward the repeal of the device tax - but Democratic voices were targeted as well. After Craig left St. Jude, the PAC again, started to revert back to its Republican centric giving.

This is public record. Look it up.

In the KOS article, there is this characterization of 2016:

Unfortunately, despite outspending Lewis by several million and blanketing the airwaves with negative ads about his reprehensible statements, Craig lost by 2 points in a devastating upset. She received identical support to Mike Obermueller in 2012 despite spending over $4 million more than his campaign. And she actually drew fewer votes than the largely unknown state house and senate candidates, which is almost unheard of, especially for a candidate as well-funded as Craig. A third party candidate also drew 8% of the vote.

Obviously, the person writing this article knows nothing about the nature and demographics of the 2nd. Craig lost by 2 points. That is the closest anyone has EVER come to winning this seat since Bill Luther lost it to John Kline in 2002. We have tried every type of candidate - a war veteran, a labor union person, a legislative rep woman - every type of candidate but they lacked one crucial thing - money to compete.

This KOS article shares its disdain for the money aspect of campaigning. I have that opinion as well. However, it cannot be ignored. Angie Craig spent that money (much of it her own) to build something that other CD2 Democratic candidates have always lacked - name recognition. Jason Lewis did not need to do that - he was a well known radio talk show host. He had his own megaphone. And despite a heavy Trump support turnout in the southern part of the district - she lost by that 2%. Every indicator prior to that Democratic collapse in the final days of 2016, had Craig winning.

Going into 2018, Angie Craig still has that name recognition. She is not going to self fund this time (because she is comfortable financially, doesn't mean she is crazy enough to bankrupt herself) and she will use the contacts she has built up over time in the district to garner support.

So what about Erdmann? I have been active in this district for 20 years and I have never seen Erdmann at any event or meeting or fundraiser. That doesn't mean he hasn't been out there - but you would think that I would have run across him somewhere. He popped up suddenly this year with "all the answers".

Now the KOS article gives us this account:

Jeff Erdmann thinks he knows why Craig lost. He was a volunteer for her in 2016, phone banking and going door to door. That spring, a voter asked him a question about Craig's position on an issue that he couldn't answer, so when Craig held a Q&A with the volunteers, he asked her if it was OK to direct voters to the website for an answer. "No, not really," Erdmann recalled her saying, "because we haven't developed our website yet because we don't want the Republicans to know where we stand, and we haven't seen end-of-summer polling yet."

That clearly doesn't sound like something Craig would say - but Erdmann says he was there. Angie Craig worked hard to direct people to the website; she needed people to find out about her. Maybe they were revamping some policy or there was a misunderstanding about what was meant. But even given that, was that supposed to be some kind of indication about why she lost?

Erdmann has taken positions to the left of Craig. I do not question that what he is saying is progressive and has merit. But elections are not about being right on the issues. Elections are about getting 50% plus one at the ballot box. Jeff Erdmann has no experience. No money to build any name recognition. And no past party affiliations. And yet, he wants us to believe that he can defeat a now incumbent Congressman.

I know Angie Craig. I have disagreed with Angie Craig. I am confident that Angie Craig knows what she is doing.

The demographics are better for Craig now. The Trump support in the south has wavered some - not much, but Craig doesn't need much. The suburbs are on fire to vote. Jason Lewis has a record. The Democrats have the advantage this time.

Nothing is ever certain. And that is why we need to have our best candidate on the ballot. A candidate who is already tested....built some name recognition....and has built party support.

Even though we have had our difference, I firmly believe that Angie Craig is that best candidate.
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Jason Lewis Will Not Accept Facts - Even From Fox

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 01/27/18 10:08

by Dave Mindeman

Well it is confirmed. Rep. Jason Lewis is so much into denial on Trump that he won't believe any source - even Fox News - on anything negative on Trump.

The self described "wordsmith" stammered all over himself trying to spin the Trump attempt to fire Mueller story into a fabrication.

"I don't know," he said during an interview with Brianna Keilar on CNN Friday. "There have been so many stories on this particular quote, unquote Russia investigation, I don't know what to believe anymore. We'll see."
Keilar pushed back, saying the story, first reported by the New York Times, had been confirmed by multiple news outlets, including Fox News.
"I'm inclined to believe those sources, but by the same token, a number of corrections brought forth by members of the mainstream media on the Russian story already, every network, every newspaper had to issue corrections," he said. "I just think that there is a zealousness out there, people want to be the first to get a story out or drive the nail home and they don't use sometimes good journalism to get that done."

Quote, unquote? Really Lewis, are you trying to tell us that the "Russia story" has no foundation at all? Nearly every news outlet has confirmed that Trump tried to fire Mueller last June. Every single one. But Lewis can't allow himself to admit that his Trump, his icon, could be put in a negative light. At least one he was willing to admit.

Lewis is a hopeless Trumper. He only sees what he wants to see. He can't be bothered with facts. Is that someone that should be representing us in Congress?

I hope your answer is no - because that would be a fact based response.
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