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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

CD2 Candidate Forum: Erdmann and Craig

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 12/19/17 11:22

by Dave Mindeman

I was at the CD2 Congressional Forum last night for Jeff Erdmann and Angie Craig. It had a little different format, so we should explain that.

Apparently, this was only meant as a "get to know the candidates" event. So all the questions were given to the candidates in advance. The only thing they did not know was which ones would actually be used.

So, it was not a debate....and the answers given were not meant for comparisons but for learning the positions of the respective candidates. OK - that is fine.

So, here are my observations and I talk about these things because this Congressional District will be competitive and we need to assess these candidates honestly and with the perspective of who can best confront Jason Lewis and who has the best chance to win. Politics isn't about being nice, it is about winning a seat at the policy table. And Democrats need that seat badly right now.

So here goes.

I had hoped that Jeff Erdmann would have improved a little more by this time. But, the reality is, he did not. This was a very easy format. It was an opportunity for him to be forceful in his policy and show some real passion.
But he "played it safe".

I have to bring up the "binder". Because the candidates got the questions far in advance, Erdmann put all of his answers into a binder separated by color coding. And when a question was asked, he would flip through his pages looking for the question and his researched response. It was awkward. A couple of times, when he was first for the question, he would hold things up by flipping through the binder because he had difficulty finding the right page.

OK. This is a Federal Congressional race. This is not high school debate. It is not a school board race. It is not a MN legislative race. It is a position that sits in Washington representing 1/8 of Minnesota directly.

The person who wins this endorsement (and by the way, both candidates say they will abide by the endorsement), will face Jason Lewis. Lewis is a very experienced media guy. He is articulate. He is polished. And if you are not prepared, he can make you look foolish in a debate. His policies are horrendous, but he knows how to play the game.

Last night, I was trying to picture Jeff Erdmann going up against Lewis in a debate format. Granted, Erdmann would prepare differently and probably have a different approach, but I swear, Lewis would eat him up.

Policy wise, Erdmann is great. He has progressive ideas and a big heart. But that is not enough in this environment. If we are going to change Citizens United and income equality, we have to start winning these political races. And at this moment, Jeff Erdmann, as the candidate, cannot win.

Yes, he can improve. But it has to start right now. He has to learn from last night. He has to change his approach. And I do mean now.

OK - you can look at the above observations and say, man, that is kind of brutal. Sorry. Maybe it is. But we have to look at political contests more realistically and find the problems that can be fixed....now.

Now you probably think that Erdmann was the only one there last night from what I pointed out so far.

Angie Craig was there, too. And her experience was evident and on full display. She looked polished and ready. She didn't challenge Erdmann but stuck to her message.

I am sure single payer fans are unsure about Craig's stance on Universal Health Care...but Craig is trying to be open to the various avenues to get there and not lock herself into one difficult path. If Single Payer became viable enough to pass the House, I feel confident that Craig would be on board. But if an opportunity came along to really fix Obamacare - or a full public option was available....those are things she would champion as well.

But on just about every subject, the policy differences between the two was minimal. Maybe Jeff emphasizes the idea of too much money in politics stalls our government process. But outside of repealing Citizens United, Jeff offers no other policy change to help.

I know this is one sided in its presentation, but I quite frankly could think of no other way to evaluate last night. It was painfully obvious that Jeff Erdmann is not ready for a Congressional campaign.

I do not say that to be mean - I say that to be truthful. Like I have said before, when it comes to 2018, I am going to be brutally honest about what I think. So, you are warned.

The final analysis of last night was simply this. Angie Craig is a great candidate for Congress. Jeff Erdmann is a great football coach.
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