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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Some DFL Gov Analysis and Thoughts

Category: 2018
Posted: 06/07/18 15:37

by Dave Mindeman

OK, I am going to offer up a discussion of the governor's race here. I want to make it clear from the outset that I am not promoting or endorsing any particular campaign. Not at all. I am still deciding what to make of all this - so some of this is just thinking out loud.

So with that said, here are those thoughts.

I don't buy the idea that the Democrats are in disarray and hurting their November chances. All of these filings will take some time to sort out but you can make a case that the DFL attention going into the primary could be a very positive thing - even if some of it means airing a lot of dirty laundry.

The Republicans have their own divisions - they have always done better at internalizing those issues in their tribal ways. But that does not make them any less of a factor. A Pawlenty/Johnson race will probably get nastier than anything Democrats might deal with.

The catalyst of most of the Democratic activity probably centers around Keith Ellison's decision to leave his Congressional seat and file for Minnesota Attorney General.

I think his reasoning is real and actually very logical. He can be more effective in dealing with the Trump administration by serving Minnesota from the AG office. California is the prime example and Ellison teaming up California AG Xavier Becerra to tag team Trump's administration in a legal sense is a great, grand strategy.

But for Democrats, there is another aspect which is more important. With Ellison running for re-election, the CD5 race would be a sleepy race with a slight uptick in turnout to vote for Governor. But the Ellison filing turns CD5 into a Democratic turnout juggernaut. Our core voters will be weighing in on a CD5 primary and November election. The national interest will be significant with Ilhan Omar in the mix. And with her legislative seat now in play, and that, in turn, will affect turn out in 60B.

So who benefits? Frankly, it probably benefits the endorsed Erin squared ticket. These are the most metro and most blatantly liberal voters in the state - and they will be coming out in the primary in droves.

So there is one point to ponder.

But let's look at it in another way. Lori Swanson and Rick Nolan provide a working base in the 8th District. Democratic mining and 2nd Amendment people can find a home in that campaign. And again, it will probably benefit turnout in the Range, where there still is a basic core Democratic base. This ticket has more geographic balance, however, Swanson has alienated a significant portion of the core liberal vote.

Walz/Flanagan has been counting on an appeal to a statewide constituency. Their base will be in the rural first district. The early addition of Flanagan to the ticket was a wise choice. She automatically brings in a progressive base appeal - balances the ticket geographically -and enhances the youth and female vote. That strategy may have gotten a hiccup from all the last minute filings. The statewide strategy is still a good one meant for the general election - but now it will have to overcome a primary electorate which will be more left than expected.

So, any issue of disunity in the party is probably going to be made up for in turnout expectations. Democrats will be very engaged. Candidates that can emerge from the primaries without getting into negative warfare, will have a clear path to win in November.

Like I said before, I have the feeling that the negative aspects of a primary contest are larger for Republicans because the Trump schism in the party will have to be aired out in public. Don't underestimate that problem.

So, when you see people shaking their heads about "Democratic disarray", don't buy into it. The interest is with Democrats and if the GOP thinks they have a window of turning Minnesota red - they are wrong.
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DFL: A Wild Convention Day

Category: 2018
Posted: 06/03/18 07:32, Edited: 06/03/18 07:34

by Dave Mindeman

Well, this has been a memorable DFL convention. A fairly normal Friday evening agenda gave way to a crazy Saturday of events.

The shock of the day came early with the out of the blue endorsement of Matt Pelikan over incumbent Lori Swanson for DFL Attorney General.

Swanson has had a strained relationship with the progressive wing of the DFL and Matt Pelikan highlighted that point in a rousing speech to the convention. He made Swanson's high NRA rating a cornerstone of his questions and even took on what he considered her weak settlements with corporations.

Swanson compounded the problem by sending Mike Hatch to the podium to defend those accusations, while not speaking herself during the presentation on her behalf. Hatch gave a somewhat rambling and convoluted defense that was more technical than passionate and turned a potential respectable showing for Pelikan into a shockingly close vote total.

Swanson wanted no part of a drawn out fight and pulled out of the endorsement battle entirely. Which leads to a lot of speculation regarding her next move. As a Mike Hatch protege, the goal has always seemed to be a run for the governor slot that Hatch could never pull off. That could happen now.

Still, the most logical course would be for her to run in the primary against a weakly funded Pelikan. A contest in which she would have to be favored. So, we shall have to wait and see the path she takes.

Then came the contest for Governor. Another wild ride that took 6 ballots. Walz was the favorite going in but after the first ballot he only led Erin Murphy 41% to 39%. Murphy's momentum had hit the floor - and the victim seemed to be Rebecca Otto who started with a weak 18%.

Otto soon left but worked behind the scenes for advantage. As Murphy pulled slightly ahead in numbers, Walz and Otto opted for a no endorsement strategy - which was an unprecedented goal, given the fact that the whole idea of a convention is to endorse a candidate.

The convention began to wear down that strategy and slowly moved the numbers toward a Murphy win. Prior to the 6th ballot, Walz withdrew and Erin Murphy was endorsed by acclimation.

Since Walz had already indicated that he would go to primary if he did not get the endorsement, the no endorsement strategy must have been a somewhat desperate attempt for the Otto campaign to join that contest without the baggage of an endorsement promise she made.

Rumors were rampant about other candidates joining the primary field. Lori Swanson was in the mix and even Tom Bakk fueled some speculation that he would join as well.

All of the speculation does not diminish what Erin Murphy accomplished here. She ran a dogged campaign. She worked hard on outstate delegates. She was bold in her progressive assertions. She beat the odds and moves into the next phase with some clear momentum.

It was a wild and captivating convention. This year has been a little crazy.
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DFL MN Governor's Endorsement Race

Category: 2018
Posted: 05/24/18 03:52

by Dave Mindeman

The DFL convention is coming up in about 10 days - so let's see where we stand.

In the race for Governor, we still have three candidates. Rep. Erin Murphy, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, and Cong. Tim Walz.

General consensus says that Walz has a lead in delegates but it is not a commanding lead. Murphy seems to hold a within striking distance 2nd place and Rebecca Otto follows very closely behind Murphy.

In other words, this is still anyone's ball game.

Walz claims to have broader state wide appeal - and I can go along with that. He comes out of the first district and although not considered a "progressive" candidate, he says a lot of the right things....even denouncing his NRA support from the past. Walz paired with Peggy Flanagan as Lt. Gov. early on. She is very popular with the progressive wing of the party. We shall see if that pays dividends at the convention.

Erin Murphy has garnered a lot of endorsements. More than I would have expected. Labor has been coalescing around her and she already had the Nurses Association on board. She has worked very hard on outstate visibility and it looks like she has made some inroads. Murphy chose to hold off on a running mate to keep options open during the convention.

Rebecca Otto stands with the Environmental community and has solid credentials in that regard. She offers a bold agenda. Her Lt. Governor selection was very interesting - Zarina Baber has been in IT for many years and could speak authoritatively on the MN IT problems.

All three have clear strengths - but there are weaknesses as well.

Walz will battle his perceptions on guns and his previous NRA affiliation will be brought up more than once. His progressive "conversion" will be something he will have to prove to make for broader appeal.

Murphy has made progress, but her statewide name recognition still has some holes. Coming from deep in the metro, her rural appeal will be questioned; although she has already come a long way in that regard. She did not "retire" from the legislature, so some may question her full commitment to the executive office.

Otto has the boldest agenda of the three and it is a very progressive one. Single Payer health care, environment legislation, $15 minimum wage, and more. It is ambitious and probably impossible without a full Democratic legislature, but give her credit for the boldness.

This endorsement will probably need several ballots. There is even the possibility of coming out with a no endorsement finale - which means a big primary contest. Walz may even go that route if he doesn't get the endorsement anyway.

We will try to keep you updated. I'll be at the convention.
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