Election 2020: US House MN-04 Primaries

This is the Betty McCollum seat and not the Ilhan Omar seat, which has a much more competitive primary; I’ll be writing about that before the primary, but the more complex races tend to take me more time. My next post is going to be about the Minneapolis school board primary, since I’ve had multiple people ask about it already.

In Saint Paul, we’ve got the following DFLers:

Tiffini Flynn Forslund
Alberder Gillespie
Betty McCollum (incumbent)
Reid Rossel
David Sandbeck

And two Republicans:

Gene Rechtizgel
Sia Lo

To remind people again how this works: you can pick one party for all your partisan races. If you vote in both the Republican and the DFL primary, even if you’re voting in the Republican race for Senate and the DFL for House, your ballot is spoiled and your votes will not be counted. In person, the machine will spit out your ballot and you can go back for a fresh ballot and a re-do, but if you vote by mail, you are SOL because your ballot is separated from the envelope before being put through the machine, and they have no way of knowing whose ballot it was.

I’ll do the Republicans first to get them out of the way.

Sia Lo

Sia Lo is the sort of personable, generally-reasonable-sounding candidate that the Republican party hopes they’ll be able to persuade to run in unwinnable districts because he won’t embarrass them horribly. He’s a Hmong-American lawyer. His website has a some law-and-order posturing, a little bit of vaguely Trumpy-sounding stuff (“Preserve American Greatness”), and the utterly laughable claim that “the private sector will provide better solutions and products for Minnesota” (as opposed to “socialist style healthcare systems like the Democrats are advocating for.”)

Gene Rechtizgel

Gene, who has apparently run before but did so as a write-in candidate, would be the “quixotic and also embarrassing” option; his website has that “totally unhinged” look, feel, and tone, although his actual positions are a fascinating mix of ludicrous (just put Israel entirely in charge of the entire region, that will definitely work out well) and reasonable stuff expressed in a way that makes them sound bonkers (he wants restaurants to be required to put a list of ingredients for each dish on the menu. Or as he puts it:

11. ​Protect Your Right to Know​! Gene for People Rechtzigel will not only work whole-heartedly to tell you what and how your food was made of on the label at the store or on the menu at the restaurant of your choosing, shown as easy as seeing the price; but Gene for People Rechtzigel will also wholeheartedly try to make government transparent so you will know the truth as it is happening!  The following two examples of government cover-ups will be history if Gene for People Rechtzigel’s vision of how transparent the government should be before the King(The People are the King, government should be servant of the People)! 

He goes on from there with a long rant. My eyes glazed over. Anyway, if you want the normal Republican to be on the ballot, vote for Sia Lo.

On to the Democrats.

Tiffini Flynn Forslund

Tiffini ran once for the Minneapolis city council, then failed to file during the two-week filing period. In my post about this, I said that she’d dropped out after getting arrested for drunk driving. She left a really indignant comment about how she was still in the race (as a write-in) and her failure to file had nothing to do with the DUI.

This time, she’s on the ballot. (In Saint Paul. I assume she moved.) She doesn’t, however, have a website; she has a personal Facebook page where she’s talked some about her campaign. (That’s what I linked to.)

In her credentials she mentions being the state director for UniteWomen.org MN. I looked up UniteWomen and they’re a women’s group with a trademark and a social media presence and a website that does not get updated very often at all, like the Minnesota page still lists Al Franken as a Senator. But, there’s also a Facebook page and Tiffini posts to that quite regularly; it has 713 members, although not a huge amount of back-and-forth (given how quickly back-and-forth in political FB groups turns into infighting, that might be just as well?)

Her Facebook page has no written information about her positions on anything but it does have a lot of videos and I felt like I should really watch one, so I pulled up a Facebook Live from yesterday. In it, she sends her very young grandchildren to take themselves to the bathroom by themselves, yelling “okay, now, run run run!” when they get to the street a block away from where she’s standing and then giving an extended narration about opening her campaign checking account while pointing the camera at rocks and the driveway. Apparently someone is currently preparing a website for her and it’s supposed to launch this week. There is nothing in the video about her positions on anything. I will consider taking a look in a week to see if she ever got a website up. For what it’s worth, the one bit of policy discussion I found from her anywhere is this Our Streets Mpls Bicycle Coalition questionnaire she completed back in 2017.

Alberder Gillespie

Alberder Gillespie got her website up between when I started my research earlier this week and today. Her issues section focuses on voting rights, criminal justice reform, the Green New Deal, and Education (which is mostly stuff like “increase funding for STEM education,” not anything that strikes me as particularly groundbreaking.) She works for the City of Minneapolis as the Census Project Coordinator. She was interviewed by KARE-11 (along with several other Black women running for office this year) about why she’s running. She is on Twitter (and appears to follow a mix of political accounts and sports accounts) and put up a selfie of herself wearing a cute mask.

Reid Rossell

I think I’ve mentioned that I automatically hold it against candidates when they put “WE THE PEOPLE” on their website in all caps and when they Randomly Capitalize Words and just for the record, I find this just as irritating in Democrats as I do in Republicans. He has a minimal policy statement (promising “Bold, Progressive, and popular goals”) and a “more on the issues” button that just re-loads the home page.

Two years ago he ran in the same primary and I noted he was a historic oak restoration specialist who did beautiful work (I’m not sure if he retired or just lost his URL, but his website doesn’t seem to be around anymore) and I’ll note to his credit that he was interviewed by the PiPress in 2018 in a roundup of small business owners and what they thought of the $15 minimum wage, and he was strongly in support of it and already paid all his employees $18/hour to start.

David Sandbeck

So yeah, David Sandbeck spends all day every day on Twitter attacking Joe Biden. Joe Biden was not my first choice either, but he’s now the Democratic nominee. I really don’t give a shit what else Sandbeck thinks he stands for; we might get closer to some of it under a Joe Biden presidency, we are not going to survive four more years of Trump, and if you don’t see a difference there, which he makes repeatedly clear he does not, I am super done with you.

Updated to add he showed up on Twitter to yell at me for my “lies” about how frequently he attacks Joe Biden:

Anyway: most of us are aware that party conventions are theater performances, and Joe Biden has been the nominee since April, when Bernie dropped out. I didn’t fully get into this aspect of his candidacy when I did this writeup a month ago, but David Sandbeck is amazingly obnoxious on Twitter. Just incredibly annoying. Which explains why a number of people I know already have him blocked.

But! Just wanted to let you all know how very, very misinformed you might have been because he does not attack Biden every day, it’s not even every other day, though if you scroll through his Twitter feed without paying close attention to the dates things were posted, I think you’ll find it’s an easy mistake to make. Also, while he advertises on PornHub (the source of my comment about how I’m never surprised when a BernieBro doesn’t seem particularly fussed about outreach to women), he also advertises on YouTube. Just thought I should clear that up.

Betty McCollum (incumbent)

You know, we really do not give enough credit to quiet, effective people who vote the right way. Betty McCollum was one of the sponsors in the House of the Green New Deal, and in the last month she voted for DC statehood and co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing act. She voted against re-authorizing the Patriot Act. (You can see a bunch of her votes here.)

I think Betty is fine and I’m going to vote for her. If you want to make her feel insecure about the possibility of getting primaried in the future, vote for Alberder Gillespie, who (now that she has her website up) seems like a competent candidate with a sense of how things actually get done in Washington.



3 thoughts on “Election 2020: US House MN-04 Primaries

  1. Thank you so, so much for these amazing breakdowns of the candidates. We live overseas and it really helps us figure out who we want to vote for. Much appreciated!

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