Posted: 01/01/13 00:37, Edited: 04/24/13 21:28
by Dave Mindeman
Next up....the 10 Ten Best Politicos for 2012. Again, this is a progressive perspective...act accordingly.
#10. Congressman Tim Walz. The Congressman didn't have as much difficulty with his re-election this year...mostly because the GOP challengers couldn't get along. But Congressman Walz had a very steady year in the 1st District. He pushed hard to get the farm bill to the floor (while Paulsen and Kline and Bachmann sat on their hands). And he even came out in favor of at least looking at new gun laws after the CT tragedy. And this comes from a politician that is endorsed by the NRA. Walz is not the most predictable Democratic vote in Congress, but he has well reasoned positions.
#9. Rep. Elect Ron Erhardt. I always love a good comeback story and Erhardt embodies it fully. A member of the 2008 override six, Erhardt's Republican legislative career was pulled out from under him and it looked like retirement was in order. But, he changed parties and after an unsuccessful endorsement bid in 2010, he came back in 2012, won the endorsement and the election and wouldn't you know it - he is about to become the new chair of the House Transportation Policy Committee. A poetic full circle.
#8. Rep. Betty McCollum. McCollum was the first member of the Minnesota Congressional delegation to speak out after the Sandy Hook tragedy and she forcefully called for new gun laws.
?The time has come for President Obama, Congress and the American people to come together to act immediately to end the epidemic of gun violence and the proliferation of guns designed to be weapons of mass murder. Inaction and obstruction by the National Rifle Association to common sense gun laws is not tolerable.?
She was first to go public and she was unequivocal. You have to respect that in a society that is timid on guns.
#7. Senator Amy Klobuchar. Although I sometimes get critical of Klobuchar's leadership and support for local candidates, I fully admire her superior political skills. Although she probably has to thank her opposition for some pretty weak competition during her two Senate runs, Klobuchar knows how to exploit that weakness and make it play to her strengths. She has become one of the most popular Senators in the nation (polling wise) and the talk about a possible Presidential run are not without some merit. She needs to make use of this enormous political capital and use it to solve some of our problems. Maybe 2013 will be her year.
#6. Congressman elect Rick Nolan. Another comeback story with a solid happy ending. Nolan had to use all of his experience and political skills to maneuver through a very contested primary and then take on the incumbent Chip Cravaack. Cravaack was always considered vulnerable but his ability to garner labor support and the use of a redrawn district that added suburban voters had greatly improved his chances. In a tough election with lots of outside money, Rick Nolan managed to win going away. Congratulations to our new Democratic Congressman.
#5. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Mark Ritchie was on the hot seat more than once this year as he tried to maneuver through some tricky Constitutional amendment issues. He and the legislature sparred over wording and timing. And although the Supreme Court sided with the legislature on the critical wording issue, Ritchie continued to educate the public about what they were voting on and in the case of the Photo ID amendment, this education was vital to the outcome. Ritchie has never been one to shy away from controversy....fighting for issues that are important to this state. If he runs for re-election in 2014, the GOP will almost certainly make him a target.
#4. Senator Al Franken. Franken has been working tirelessly to build relationships in the Senate. He has even worked on a bi-partisan basis with Dick Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and, yes, even Ron Johnson to promote bills that affect Minnesota. He has also been willing to work on issues that don't garner a lot of public attention, like net neutrality. Al has been there to defend the administration when needed or to chide them when they are coming up short as he did in 2010 in a closed door meeting about the health care bill. He has been doing a lot of the hard work in the Senate without a lot of credit or publicity. Keep it going, Senator, keep giving us the truth.....but maybe with a few more jokes?
#3. Governor Mark Dayton. Dayton continued to be the check and balance for a partisan Republican legislature in 2012. Although I was a little disappointed with the emphasis on the Viking Stadium, nevertheless, he pushed back against legislative overreach. He made it clear that if given a Democratic legislature, progress would ensue. Well, he has it....and we shall see what happens. Dayton also campaigned against the Marriage Discrimination Amendment forcefully as well as his work against Photo ID - joining Arne Carlson in a very effective commercial for the Vote NO campaign. Governor Dayton is recuperating from back surgery at the time of this writing and we wish him a speedy recovery.
#2. Rep. Erin Murphy. (with props to her team -Rep. Steve Simon, Rep. Deb Hilstrom, and Zach Rodvold). Let me explain. Just like Senator Patty Murray's task to keep the Democratic Senate majority in the US Senate was not considered a winner, Erin Murphy faced a daunting task to bring back the House Democrats. And just like Senator Murray, Erin Murphy's work was a resounding success. You have to remember the situation when it started. The House Democrats were solidly in the minority. They just had a redistricting that, according to many, slightly favored the Republicans. A general political consensus that a retaking of the Senate was more plausible than the House. And they had to run the mine field of two Constitutional amendments put forward by Republicans, and at the time it looked like both would pass. But Murphy and her team went to work. She may not remember, but early in the process, my wife and I had coffee with her to talk about the House situation. Rep. Murphy was upbeat but I could tell she was somewhat tired. Long hours and endless travel had to take their toll. But she recruited an incredible group of candidates and the money came in to back it up. Sound strategy, endless doorknocking, and long, long days, paid of in a big way...because this month the House will open with a 73-61 majority.
#1. Richard Carlbom (MN United for All Families). Richard Carlbom probably does not consider himself overtly political. In fact, he had to play down the politics of gay marriage in order to defeat the amendment. But the political skills brought to bear in the Vote No campaign were enormous and astonishingly effective. $11 millions dollars and 50,000 donors. The backing of the DFL Party, the Independence Party, and a number of heavyweight Republicans. It was an amazing grass roots campaign...not an astroturf one...but a truly deep down, on the ground, grass roots campaign that defeated a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It was the first time it happened...and Richard Carlbom played a major, major role in making it happen. I'm not minimizing the enormous individual efforts across the state, but someone had to manage it. Someone had to make it all come together. It was a textbook campaign and the process will be studied as a textbook for the future.
There you have it. The best of Minnesota for 2012. My best to all of you for a prosperous and less contentious 2013.