Election 2020: US Senate Primaries

I’m going to kick this off with an easy one.

Senator Tina Smith was appointed in 2017, ran to keep the seat for the remainder of the term in 2018, and is now running for a six-year regular Senate term. Senator Amy Klobuchar was re-elected to a six-year term in 2018 and is apparently not running for Vice President; if, say, she gets appointed to a presidential cabinet position sometime in early 2021, Tim Walz will get to appoint someone to fill her seat, and that person will then run in the 2022 election to serve out the rest of that term. Mentioning that just in case anyone’s wondering.

On the DFL ballot:

Tina Smith
Steve Carlson
Christopher Lovell Seymore, Sr.
Paula Overby
Ahmad R. Hassan

On the Republican ballot:

Jason Lewis
Bob “Again” Carney Jr.
Cynthia Gail
James Reibestein
John L. Berman

I always imagine Willy Wonka (the Gene Wilder version) singing “come with me…and you’ll be…in a world of pure imagination” when I hit the “Insert Read More tag” button, for some reason. Rivers of chocolate: probably cooler than political candidates. Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka: less of a weirdo than some of these people.

Democrats first, obviously.

Tina Smith

I like Tina. She’s a solid, reliable Democrat; I might wish at times for a more fiery progressive, but there’s a lot to be said for quiet effectiveness, including that she beat her Republican challenger by 10 points in 2018 and I am very much hoping she puts a stake through the heart of Jason Lewis’s political career this November.

I am voting for Tina in November and if it weren’t for my weird hobby I’m not sure I’d even bother looking up the other candidates, but that’s probably what you’re here for, so read on, this one has some DOOZIES.

Steve Carlson

Steve Carlson’s website includes the year “2018” in it, so apparently he didn’t take the free advice I offered him back in 2014, when he was running with a website that had the year “2010” in it, which is that if running for offices is your hobby, you should register a website that’s something like SteveCarlsonforAmerica or SteveCarlsonforPublicService or something else that names neither a specific office nor gives a specific year, because nothing telegraphs “I am a perennial candidate” like having the wrong office and/or year in your URL.

Anyway. He ran for Senate as an Independence candidate in 2014. He ran for the 4th district US House seat in 2016 and the main thing I took from his website is that he’s not a good rapper. (He’s an old, white, conservative dude, so this should not be surprising.) And in 2018 he ran in the DFL Primary for Senate against Amy Klobuchar.

Anyway. He’s an anti-gay bigot, an anti-Muslim bigot, he opposes abortion rights and he likes Trump, and that’s just from the absolutely minimal stuff you can read on his site because holy shit life is too short to watch his videos (he greatly prefers to make endless, endless videos over writing anything). However, if for some reason you want to hear an older white conservative man rapping about abortion using the phrase “All Life Matters” (oh, yes indeed) it’s still on his current website.

Christopher Lovell Seymore, Sr.

Chris Seymore’s Facebook page claimed on June 12nd that his website, the URL for which is linked from the Secretary of State site because he put it on his forms, would be live on June 15th. I’m pasting in a link here but FTR it’s June 24th and nothing loads. He probably should’ve just stuck with the Facebook page and put that link on his form. He ran for Senate in 2018 as well but didn’t seem to have any positions.

Like Steve Carlson, he prefers sharing his thoughts via video. I tried watching a few but he’s very inclined to ramble rather than get to any sort of point. His personal page refers to him as “Elder Christopher Lovell Seymore” which is not a selling point for me personally — I am genuinely suspicious of people who use religious titles while running for political office.

Last week he posted a long chain of e-mails from 2016 about how the DFL is persecuting him because he got kicked out of a party position after he ran against an endorsed candidate.

His posts are incoherent and overloaded with emojis and hashtags and don’t actually say anything other than demanding repeatedly that Tina Smith debate him.

Paula Overby

If you are dissatisfied with Tina Smith because you would really like someone more progressive, then Paula Overby is probably your candidate. She ran in 2018 as a Green against Amy Klobuchar, and normally that would be a pretty big strike against someone in my book but Amy K’s seat was genuinely very safe; she won 60%-36%. (Oh, but she also totally cost Angie Craig the 2nd District Congressional seat in 2016. Hopefully she learned a useful lesson about close races.)

She’s a Tulsi supporter, which I also consider a strike against her, but when people show up in her mentions who don’t like Tulsi she engages with them thoughtfully, and she was positive about multiple candidates in the Democratic primary, although she’s been pretty unrelentingly negative about Biden. (Who was not my first choice, or my second choice, or my third choice, but is about 100 billion miles better than Trump, and anyone running as a Democrat who says they’re basically as the same pretty much demonstrates they’re not engaging with reality.

Anyway. Good news: it’s a primary. If you want a more progressive candidate than Tina, and aren’t bothered by her lack of a “vote blue no matter who” attitude, you can absolutely vote for Paula! I am not remotely worried about any of the other weirdos here winning.

Ahmad R. Hassan

I saved this guy for last because he pissed me off so much.

He’s a real estate agent with a JD who lives in Katy, Texas.

When I’ve laid out bare minimum requirements to be treated seriously as a candidate, it’s never even occurred to me to specify that you need to be a Minnesotan. Like how is he even on the ballot, for fuck’s sake? I’m not saying “he has lived in Minnesota for five minutes before filing,” I’m telling you, he straight up does not live here in any sense and never has. According to his Facebook page, “Dr. Hassan is familiar with Minnesota, while officiating professional sports events. He decided to run for office in Minnesota following news of the recent civil unrest.”


I do not know, or care, what he thinks he stands for.

I do, however, know (because I asked) that the “Doctor” in his title is because he holds a JD.

::deep cleansing breath::

On to the Republicans!

Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis is the kind of fucking asshole who thinks that we’re all going to regret getting rid of the police because who are we going to call about a bear in downtown Saint Paul?

The irony here is that a lot of “defund the police” arguments boil down to, “the police are entirely useless at many/most of the things we send them to deal with, so let’s spend the money on other professionals to deal with stuff,” and a bear is actually a fantastic example of this sort of thing because you don’t want cops for a bear, for fuck’s sake, you want animal control. Also, regardless, what you do about a bear wandering around in the middle of the night minding its own business is to wait for it to leave (it did) and let area businesses know they should cover up their garbage better.

He’s also a misogynistic asshole who voted to eliminate the ACA and replace it with  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and in his book, he compared gay marriage to slavery, saying, “How does somebody else owning a slave affect me? If I don’t think it is right, I won’t own one, and people always say ‘well if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t.’ Uh, you know if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.”

I loathe him.

Bob “Again” Carney Jr.

Bob runs regularly (hence the “again,” he’s very open about being a perennial candidate) and he ran as part of the 2013 Minneapolis Mayoral Clown Car as the “Demand Transit Revolution” party, which he explained nowhere that I could find when I went looking so I don’t know if he meant “we should build more trains” or if he wants to rip out the trains and build PRT or…what. The only position of his I am clear on: he really really does not like Trump.

Cynthia Gail

She’s an art teacher in Albert Lea who ran for State Senate in 2016. According to that 2016 article, she believes in government transparency, early education, better roads for rural areas, and mental health research. Also: “She said she wants children whose parents cannot teach them to be able to access iPads prior to elementary school to increase cognitive learning.”

She has no website. Her personal Facebook page includes a single one-minute video where she says she believes in “social equality” and then tries to explain what this means and really doesn’t. (Seriously, she talks about how her kids asked her why poor kids had things they didn’t and she said “because we can’t afford them” and it’s not clear to me whether she’s trying to say “poor people get too many handouts, time for more middle-class handouts” or “poor people should get what they need,” seriously.) When I went back to see if she’d added anything, I found a link to a fearmongering article about how Antifa was going to impose Sharia Law on Minneapolis.

James Reibestein

He has an actual campaign web page on which he has:

  • Random appreciation for Moms, Dads, nurses, and veterans.
  • An extended complaint about how he wasn’t allowed to run for Republican endorsement because no one responded to his voicemail. (It sounds like the information he needed was on their website.)
  • A photo of his affidavit of candidacy.

If he has any positions on anything at all, he doesn’t mention what they are.

John L. Berman

John Berman put his blog address on his election candidate information form, but I had to track that down to find it because he’s not linked on the SoS site and also doesn’t turn up when you Google it. Next to occupation and employer he wrote “Engineer & Recipient of Minnesota-certifed torture” and he said he had an endorsement from “Sarak of Vulcan” (n.b.: if he means Spock’s father, it’s spelled Sarek.) In the “Comments or Filing Statement” space he wrote:

I’m actually a member of the Vulcan Farmer Party, but I’m a Vulcan in name only. I am an actual farmer, though. I wanted to be a Vulcan ever since I saw Charlie X, the only episode I saw during the original run. I got scared at the wiggly space face and went to my room , but I thought Vulcans stood the best chance at overcoming a kid abusing his power. I’ve farmed garlic, not 100% successfully, but farming on Vulcan is tough with two suns and three moons. Don’t believe the stuff about Vulcan’s not having a moon. Roddenberry was paid off by that Bloomie guy way back. He knew farming is hard and that if it that Vulcan info got out, he’d be a goner. He slipped up, though. I’m also a recipient of Minnesota-certified torture. There’s more info at bulloney.com. I avoid the word, “victim,” because there’s the mentality stigma. Otherwise, I try to be mental as often as possible. Sometimes I mess up. There was this guy, de Torqueville. Had a tool van and drove around to state fairs that had drag races too. The logo on his van was Repair Her Faults. Jan and Dean were there. More info at bulloney.com. Bloomie has an EE. So did Torquey. I’ve got one. Physics, math .EE/applied physics. But farming is really tough. Trust me. But when diesel engines stalled on battlefields, farm boys got’em going . I LOVE diesels. See bulloney.com and my AC6140VPP, pointy fenders, 1 warp pod.

If you need more information, he has a blog on his website. I can’t decide if it’s more coherent, or less coherent, than that paragraph. If you visit his mostly nonexistent campaign website he steers you specifically to this post. Given that he’s also running in Kansas and lists an address in Washington, I’m not sure whether he lives in Minnesota, although he does have a phone number with a St. Paul area code and it sounds like he’s at least spent significant time here.

Anyway. If you’re a Republican, I would recommend that in the primary, you vote for Bob “Again” Carney as he at least has the sense to loathe Trump. Not being a Republican, I’m going to vote for Tina.



20 thoughts on “Election 2020: US Senate Primaries

  1. Slight typo in the Paula Overby section: “she also totally cost Angie Lewis the 2nd District Congressional seat in 2016.” Did you mean Angie Craig?

  2. Wow. No more words.

    You know, you may have to make a printed collection of these at some point for political connossieurs.

  3. Thanks for this as usual. It’s depressing to read sometimes and I wonder if it’s just as depressing to write up.

  4. I was seriously thinking about voting for Paula Overby but really can not figure out what her position on separation of church and state as posted on her campaign website means. Maybe for? Maybe against? I just can’t figure it out.

  5. I’ve been waiting for these to start. I was already pretty decided on Tina but I’m really looking forward to your take on MN-04.

  6. I’m rather fond of Bob Carney after the Minneapolis mayoral forum where he was totally up front about being a single issue transit guy and then answered a question about supporting the arts scene by talking about how a great transit system will make getting to the art much easier.

    I’m completely dumbstruck by the Texas guy. How *spectacularly* condescending.

  7. Thank you for your posts! They always help me come election time. I did a little more research on Tina Smith after I discovered her involvement in the PolyMet mine case. I found that she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar ‘introduced an amendment to the annual federal defense spending bill to expedite an exchange of Minnesota land between the federal government and the mining company PolyMet.'(1) Smith couched the amendment in economic terms, saying that she was championing miners. I was surprised, given her efforts with Governor Dayton, to reduce water usage and increase recycling efforts. I did a little more digging, and found that the ‘trailings’ (waste produced from the copper and iron mining process, which happens to contain arsenic?) (2) will affect the Embarrass River, which empties into Lake Superior and the St. Louis River, among other bodies of water. Even with the water treatment process, which PolyMet says will be necessary for 500 years at least, this puts into question the quality of these water sources for wildlife and citizens of Northern MN. There is also a ‘Mine Site’ (3) (which will consist three large pits? Not sure what those will be for, but I’m not fond of digging big holes in a national forest) included in the mine’s plans, which is situated entirely in the Superior National Forest. The mine is also set to destroy over 900 acres of Minnesotan wetlands, so that’s troubling. The ore body itself will also be on public land, hence the ‘land swap’ amendment Smith Klobuchar introduced.

    In short, there are many reasons this mine seems a bad idea, and I was curious if you had a perspective on this and Tina Smith’s involvement.

    1. Here’s where I initially found the information about Smith and Klobuchar introducing this amendment: https://www.ontheissues.org/Domestic/Tina_Smith_Environment.htm

    2. Here is an explanation of the mine’s plans and potential environmental impact: http://duluthreader.com/articles/2015/11/11/6228_a_minnesotans_guide_to_the_polymet_environmental

    3. Here is the source Environmental Impact Statement for the PolyMet mine, replete with maps: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/feis-toc.html

  8. Another thing about this Ahmad Hassan character. I saw his campaign signs illegally posted on right of ways on various streets in St Paul this weekend. Now I see one in Richfield! Did he paid someone here to do it or did he drive up from Texas? Very Weird.

    • Yeah, I saw one in Minneapolis (at the intersection of 46th St and the little road that comes up from the parkway just before the Ford Bridge) and I have no idea if he paid someone to post the signs or if he traveled? Either way he’s a ding-dong.

  9. It’s absolutely ridiculous how hard it is to find any information on most of these candidates. This is, hands down, the most information I could find on a lot of these weirdos who either had no site to speak of, or if they did, it appeared to be a triple-columned indecipherable 1980s look. I am unsure what it is about candidacy that makes setting up a simple squarespace account so difficult? All this to say – THANK YOU FOR THIS and all the hours of research you must have put into finding all of this out.

  10. Thanks for putting this together. It’s interesting and helpful to hear about the mainstream candidates and also fun/disturbing to hear about the oddballs from the various parties.

  11. Wow, this race really brought out the best and the brightest …

    Thanks for the laugh (and some legit info!) as I fill out my absentee ballot!

  12. You are hilarious!!! and spot on. I did my own digging on these candidates and THEN found your blog post, so it cracked me up but also assured me I wasn’t crazy!

    How is it legal for this jackass from Texas to be on the ballot?!

    And wtf is up with Seymore Sr, who’s “running my campaign with 3 parallel timelines… 1. Under the seven grandfathers teachings… & the Prophecy of the 8th Fire” 😳

    Did not know that crazy stuff about Lewis being a terrible bigot, so if Overby can’t step it up by November I guess I’ll have to vote for Smith again.

    But anyway, thank you! Do you need any food? You definitely earned it.

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