Hello, everyone, and welcome to the fall election cycle. Once again, I will try to cover the statewide races plus most of the ballot for St. Paul and Minneapolis, but if there’s a particular race you’re hoping I’ll cover, feel free to leave me a comment or send an e-mail. (I will definitely be writing about the AG race.)
I’m starting with this one because it’s a pretty easy one. This is the Senate race that is NOT a special election. This seat is currently held by Senator Amy Klobuchar, and whoever wins this election will serve a full six-year term.
On the ballot:
Jim Newberger (Republican)
What sort of Republican is Jim Newberger? The kind who finishes a bunch of his issues statements with “MAGA!” Also the sort who doesn’t have a friend with editing skills to check over his website, which is riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors.
Probably my favorite bit of his site: “It’s time to free up our health care markets, cut the bureaucrats out of the decision making process and get back on to the path of becoming the greatest healthcare providing nation in the world. I support President Trump’s push to fix this mess and look forward to doing so. MAGA!” At this point, who believes that the Republicans are going to do anything to improve health care? At this point, their sole goal appears to be screwing over everyone with a pre-existing condition while trying again to convince everyone that all their problems are Obama’s fault. (And if you believe that the Republicans can fix health care, why are you reading my site?)
Anyway, if you unironically own a MAGA hat, he’s your guy. (And again, why are you reading my site?)
Dennis Schuller (Legal Cannabis Now)
Dennis Schuller’s entire platform is weed-related: abolish the controlled substances act and the DEA, “stop workplace discrimination in the form of drug testing,” and distribute cannabis seeds.
I’m in favor of legalizing pot, FTR. I think people who want to work toward that goal should work on electing progressive Democrats who back this goal.
Eliminating workplace drug testing is something that was suggested at a conference a few months ago where a bunch of business leaders whined to Dayton’s commerce guy (was it his commerce guy? it was someone from the cabinet) about how incredibly hard it is to find anyone to hire right now because unemployment is so low. The guy unsympathetically suggested that they try raising wages, hiring people with criminal records, and consider eliminating drug testing unless they have a really compelling reason to drug test. I’m down with drug testing airline pilots. I’m deeply unconvinced we need to drug test 99% of employees out there. This is one of those places where I don’t think we need to ban it as discrimination, though.
Also, I want a Senator with more ideas than “legalize weed.”
Paula Overby (Green)
The first thing that struck me about Paula’s issues page is that it has footnotes. (You have to scroll down to the bottom, but she links to the sources of a bunch of claims she makes. Reminiscent of the Wikipedian protester! I like it.)
When I went back through, curious what specific things she wants to accomplish as Senator that would be different from what Amy Klobuchar is trying to accomplish as Senator, I was struck by the fact that she isn’t very specific about what she wants to do.
The most specific policy position she takes is on health care, and even there’s she’s kind of letting you fill in what she’s calling for:
We need to embrace a system that provides health care to all citizens, and includes dental, vision, and mental health services. Such a system will reduce costs and will operate with minimal overhead in comparison to private insurance.
She doesn’t say “single payer,” “socialized medicine,” or “Medicare for all.” It’s kind of implied by the fact that she talks about how favorably it’ll compare to private insurance, but not really stated. Anyway, this is probably a much more radical vision than Amy Klobuchar’s:
I am a cosponsor of the State Public Option Act, which would give states the option of allowing all of their residents to buy Medicaid coverage, and the Medicare-X Choice Act, which would allow Americans across the country to buy a public insurance plan based on Medicare on the exchanges.
…except I’m mostly just assuming that from the overall framing, not from what Paula actually says.
That sort of vague radicalism is pretty much what you get throughout. She does provide some specifics on education: student loan forgiveness and cracking down on for-profit institutions. (I’m a fan of both.) She talks a bunch about the problems of educational costs but then doesn’t really talk about what she wants to do going forward. (Free tuition? no tuition? telling employers that they aren’t allowed to require a BA for jobs that pay $12/hour?)
Tax payers cannot continue subsidizing obsolete technologies and bailing out bankrupt investment strategies. Trickle-down economics has clearly failed us with corporations moving trillions of dollars out of our economy into offshore resources. It is time for those who have benefited most to re-invest and help provide a stable economic future.
We need to protect workers and provide them real incentives to ensure our communities prosper. We need to return economic power to workers, who provide the source of economic prosperity. We need to promote worker cooperatives, restore pensions and sick leave benefits, and stop gambling with our shared economic future through privatized and risky retirement accounts.
I think what she’s calling for here is higher taxes on rich people (cool), less corporate welfare (sure), more protection for unions (good), an emphasis on pensions rather than 401(k) plans (mixed feelings about that one), and I honestly don’t know what she means by “return economic power to workers.”
Anyway, overall, I agree with her about a lot of the problems she sees; I sympathize with her principles; I agree with my friends who would like to see Amy Klobuchar push for more progressive policies. I am not blown away by Paula’s program. If you want to cast a protest vote against Amy being too moderate, Paula’s the person to give it to. I don’t cast protest votes; I’ve seen that backfire too many times. Neither Paula nor Dennis is going to win. Our actual choices here are Amy and Jim.
Amy Klobuchar (DFL)
If you live in Minnesota, you are probably familiar with Amy since she’s been our Senator since 2006. She’s a solid Democratic vote and has been good, in the last two years, at promptly Tweeting out her stances on stuff so I don’t have to call her. She is pretty quietly effective, good at spotting opportunities to move us closer to goals that she may not lay out as goals (she leaves that for the Kamala Harrises), like single-payer health care.
Here’s why I like Amy Klobuchar, though.
Back in 2015 I saw an absolutely horrifying article about a man, Adam Crapser, who’d been adopted from South Korea as a toddler by Americans who (a) abused him and (b) failed to complete the paperwork to make him a U.S. citizen. He was eventually abandoned by that family and given to another family which also abused him and also failed to get that paperwork done. As a very young adult, after his abusive adoptive family threw him out, he broke into their house to retrieve his own possessions including a Korean-language Bible that was the only thing he had from Korea. They had him arrested. Due to his criminal record, he was unable to simply get naturalized, and in 2014 the DHS started deportation proceedings.
Anyway, I was horrified and furious and I e-mailed my Senators. One of Amy’s staffers called me a few days later, asking for more information. I didn’t actually talk to her on the phone; I called back and left a voicemail explaining that I did not know Adam personally, I was writing because I had read an article about him.
Amy sponsored legislation to fix this particular loophole. There was a law passed years ago that retroactively made adoptees who were minors citizens automatically, but Adam was over 18 at that point and (along with a bunch of other adoptees with shitty adoptive parents) got left out. The legislation didn’t pass because the Republicans fucking suck, and Adam was deported in 2016. But she tried. She responded to a constituent saying, “look, this doesn’t affect me directly but it is bullshit and someone should fix this” by trying to fix it.
Anyway. Don’t vote for Jim Newberger unless you’re the sort of asshole who wants to take away my health care. (Like most people over the age of 40, I have several pre-existing conditions.) I’m going to vote for Amy Klobuchar, and would encourage everyone else to do the same.