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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2012: Top Ten Best Political Persons In Minnesota

Posted: 12/31/12 18:37, Edited: 04/24/13 15:28

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.

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2012: Top Ten Worst Politicians In Minnesota

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 12/30/12 19:30, Edited: 12/30/12 19:31

by Dave Mindeman

End of the year. Time once again for the 10 Worst Political Persons in Minnesota. Remember as always, this is from a progressive perspective - so keep the comments civil and as rational as possible.

#10. Alan Quist - The looming perennial candidate thrust himself into a divisive and nasty 1st District Republican nominating campaign. And even by Republican standards, it was pretty bizarre. After the nominating convention deadlocked, he and State Senator Mike Parry proceeded to a bitter primary fight that drove opinion polls into the ground for both candidates. Quist "won" the primary, but never gave Cong. Tim Walz any serious problems. And now it looks like Quist wants to take this winning "formula" into a special election in Mankato for Terry Morrow's House seat. Does Quist ever actually look at the aftermath of his political moves?

#9. Rep. Mary Franson - Rep. Franson will forever be associated with this quote: "Isn't it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves." In keeping with her personal war on the poor, she has supported legislation that will keep EBT cards from being used out of state and sponsored legislation that will drug test anyone applying for the MFIP program...and they have to pay for the test. Wow! And all this sandwiched around an election in which she won by 12 votes. That is what you call a mandate.

#8. Zygi Wilf - Again, Zygi is not an overt politician, but he has certainly shown an astute ability to be a covert one. In a legislative session that had a huge deficit and controversial amendments, Zygi's stadium dominated the agenda. With threats to take his Vikings and play somewhere else and plenty of lobbying money, Zygi pushed through an extraordinarily favorable Stadium plan that uses a questionable state share plan from electronic pull tabs. And if that money doesn't come through as planned, Zygi's stadium will get state general revenue funds. Besides all that, Zygi gets rights to a pro soccer team as well. Political gamesmanship that would make Jack Abramoff proud.

#7. Kurt Bills - Bills branded himself a simple economics teacher that wanted to go to Washington. But Bills was more of a symbol of the growing problems of the Minnesota Republican Party. A party that prided itself on strong endorsements, Bills, and his Ron Paul state allies, coopted the nomination from the establishment and took the Party on a hopeless campaign ride against Senator Amy Klobuchar. Bills lacked money, name recognition, and campaign machinery -- other than that he was fine. He led the GOP to the worst Senate defeat in state history and is back to teaching high school economics. Bills isn't necessarily a worst political person candidate, but he may be on the most naive list. Bills was a pawn in a divisive state party power play and after the November election, he is probably still wondering what hit him.

#6. Dan McGrath - MN Majority - The idea that there is rampant voter fraud in Minnesota is ludicrous on its face. But MN Majority and Dan McGrath took this absurd premise and centered an entire campaign on it. They were aided by a Republican State Legislature willing to put Constitutional emphasis on it with an equally ludicrous Constitutional amendment placed on the ballot. McGrath looked like he had a winner as an uneducated public favored the idea that looked logical at the outset. But as truth began to come to the for forefront, the Voter ID Amendment ended up in defeat. But MN Majority's delusion runs deep...McGrath was quoted after the election with this:

"Initial post-election research now being conducted by Minnesota Majority indicates that voter fraud likely played a role."

Of course.

#5. Tony Sutton - I am sure you are wondering how Tony Sutton could possibly be on a 2012 Worst list. After all, he resigned his Party Chair post in December of 2011. But resigning did not end the influence of Tony Sutton. Over the course of 2012 his gutting of the Republican Party financial structure became more and more of a problem. The brazenness of his actions will become legendary. After the great GOP comeback of 2010, Sutton started spending ghost money to keep building the party. He backed the recount funding in the Governor's race with just his signature and proceeded to grind the state party deep into debt. Debt that made them a non-entity in the 2012 elections and debt which still sits on the books. Debt which hinders their efforts to find a way out of the post-2012 debacle. That is why Sutton is on the 2012 list.

#4. Steve Sviggum - Former Speaker of the MN House and career politician is here because he could not figure out how being on the Minnesota Board of Regents and working as MN Senate Communications Chief could possibly be a conflict of interest. He persisted in this belief until the Regents finally said he could no longer serve. Sviggum had similar problems when he was a fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (Public Affairs..hmmmm). In regards to his Humphrey job and the Regents, he said, ""I think the roles are manageable. I think they're exclusive of each other."
As to the Regents Job and the Senate job -- "I would not have applied for the Senate job if I had to leave the Board of Regents," he said. Sviggum views the board as possibly the most important economic development tool for the state after the governor. "I really believe it's the opportunity for public service."
Apparently, Sviggum can't see a conflict of interest if it raps him up side of his head.

#3. Michael Brodkorb. Brodkorb is no stranger to this list. He has had many notable "worst" subject lines. But this year, he is applying as a "victim". Yes, Michael Brodkorb the hard nosed, in your face, political operative is a victim this time. We are all aware of his unlikely affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and the intense fallout from all of that. But when he was fired from his Senate Communications Director position, Brodkorb cried foul. Other affairs have happened and such punishment was not applied. Why Brodkorb, says he? And what's more, Brodkorb claims gender discrimination. Women do not suffer the same fate. Poor Michael. Such injustice. But it is hard to feel sorry for Michael Brodkorb and it is even harder to swallow the now six figure costs (and rising) to the State of Minnesota.

#2. Congressman John Kline. It may seem a little odd to put John Kline so high on the list especially when probably half of Minnesota has no idea who he is. But Kline's claim to fame is his sins of omission. He holds a powerful committee chairmanship. He has opportunities to deal with No Child Left Behind and other education issues. He has power on labor issues as well. But what has he done? He has been the obstructionist. He does nothing in the committee and criticizes administration attempts to move something...anything...forward. He does nothing for his district as well. Requests for help from local government fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, Kline rakes in money for his political campaign from all sorts of business interests. His campaign style is to hide in Washington. He doesn't debate the issues....seldom makes serious appearances. He continues to be elected, but this year the gap has narrowed. Are his days numbered? Let's hope so.

#1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. I know you are getting tired of seeing Bachmann top this list. She has done so several times, but it is truly hard to think of anyone in Minnesota who is a worse political person. She has a dream Republican district. It is very conservative and they keep sending her back to Washington. This year it was by the narrowest of margins. But the unapologetic Michele continues to find conspiracies to publicize, administration officials to criticize, and facts to make up. Her credibility is suspect and her ability to get anything done in Congress is nil. Yet she continues to seek publicity in any manner she can. The 6th District had questions this time around. They weren't as sure of her representation as they have been in the past. And with good reason. But she has a loyal, disturbed following and it has carried here back to Washington. Her hold on the top of this list continues to be unquestionably safe.
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Kline: He Is Accurate. It Is Unclear.

Category: Guns
Posted: 12/28/12 16:53, Edited: 12/28/12 17:07

by Dave Mindeman

MPR has this Poligraph segment which supposedly checks out the validity of politician's statements. Let's take a look at something they check out about Congressman Kline....

Second Congressional District Rep. John Kline is among those that are skeptical a new (assault weapons) ban would work. He told MPR News that it's not clear the first ban was all that effective.

"It's not clear -- you'd have to go back and do an in-depth analysis -- that that resulted in a safer America," he said.

And the Verdict?

Kline is correct that the data are mixed.


Kline is correct? That the data is unclear? That there is no way to be sure?

Of course he's correct. He didn't say anything.

Any person off the street can take virtually any statement and say the data is unclear and be considered to correct.

Geez, Poligraph. At least look for a defined position. Of course, if that be the case, Poligraph would probably never check on Kline at all.

He has no defined positions.

Will somebody ask him about the farm bill? Please?
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