Election 2022: Governor


Hello from South Korea! I really truly intended to put a dent in my posts before I went on my (two week) trip to Seoul, and I totally did not even start before leaving, so. We may go old-school for some of these, which is to say, maybe a little less of a deep dive, because let’s be honest, most of you know that what you should do in the partisan races is just. vote. for the Democrat. Your DFL option may be imperfect but the alternative is invariably worse. Unhappy with Tim Walz? Your other option for governor is anti-vax anti-choice anti-gay pro-censorship big-lie-promoting asshole Scott Jensen!

It’s tempting to just leave this post there (I’m in a hotel in Myeongdong with a remarkably uncomfortable desk) but I’ll go through the list of people on the ballot because I really do want to make fun of the “Jury Democracy” guy.

Steve Patterson and Matt Huff (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)
James McCaskel and David Sandbeck (Legal Marijuana Now)
Hugh McTavish and Mike Winter (Independence Alliance)
Gabrielle M. Prosser and Kevin A. Dwire (Socialist Worker)
Scott Jensen and Matt Birk (Republican)
Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan (DFL)

Steve Patterson and Matt Huff (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)

Here is one of my goals for the 2022 election: I really really am hoping that NONE of the statewide weed party candidates gets that 5% of the vote that makes them a major party. Making it possible for people to file as weed party candidates and just get on the ballot with that affiliation denied the DFL a trifecta in 2020, which is why we did not get the much better marijuana legalization bill they’d proposed. If you care about marijuana legalization, if you want more than the “wait, hold up, we passed what?” bill that we got, then do not vote for the fucking weed parties. Either of them, for any office.

Steve Patterson is running for office out of resentment over COVID lockdowns. Also, he thinks it’s a problem that in Minnesota, if someone breaks into your house, you’re only supposed to use violence as a last resort; he wants us to be a “Castle Doctrine” state. (Note: one of the reasons that prosecutors were able to prosecute Byron Smith after he shot a couple of teenagers execution-style was that we are not a Castle Doctrine state; we have a “reasonable person” standard, where self-defense is allowed based on the standard, “would a reasonable person be in fear of their life?” but you’re not given license to just murder someone because they entered your house.)

He also thinks that free health care would be “abused.” (It’s interesting to see someone just say that out loud. A friend of mine who lives in Canada has commented something like, “Americans seem to think that health care is a lot more entertaining than it actually is. I can’t imagine getting medical treatments for fun.“)

Anyway if you’re a pro-choice Republican who hated the lockdowns and loves guns but wants to send a message about abortion I guess maybe you could vote for this guy? (He’s pro-choice.)

James McCaskel and David Sandbeck (Legal Marijuana Now)

See above for my rant about the weed parties. During the primaries, James McCaskel’s platform was just the Green Party platform with a few minor edits; now his platform has four items on it. Three are literally indistinguishable from standard DFL positions. (He’s pro-choice; he’s in favor of vocational education; he’s in favor of living-wage jobs.) The fourth is that he wants to defund the police, so that sets him apart. If you want to defund the police and vote for him, this is not a message that will get through.

Hugh McTavish and Mike Winter (Independence Alliance)

The Independence Alliance Party is what’s left of the Jessecrats. I think Hugh McTavish is endorsed by them but that’s because I checked out their Twitter feed and they’ve retweeted him — if their website lists their endorsed candidates, it wasn’t obvious.

Hugh’s big idea is this: for each individual policy decision, we should round up 500 randomly-chosen Minnesotans, run the proposal by them, and then have them vote. He calls this “jury democracy” but what it really reminds me of is the Signoria of Florence, a system used in Medieval Florence where council members were chosen at random every two months. (It did not in fact work well for the Florentines.)

This is the sort of proposal that maybe seems like a good idea if when you think about what the government does, your answer is, “it makes laws.” I mean, the government does sometimes make laws but the main thing it does, really, is spend money. They figure out how much to tax people; they figure out how much to allocate for all the stuff we, collectively, need, from repaving roads to educating children to cleaning up polluted land to upgrading water purification plants. You can’t do budgetary allocations in isolation; there are a bunch of tradeoffs, there’s a bunch of negotiation that happens for really good reasons, and in the end the budget has to balance. Same thing goes for the bonding bill.

Even when it comes to lawmaking, the process most of the time is less “yes or no on one very specific question” and more “figuring out what we want, then figuring out how to write the law.” The marijuana legalization proposal that passed the House and died in the Senate (because it’s controlled by the Republicans) is a good illustration of this. “Should we legalize marijuana?” is only the first question. “Who can use it? how do we keep people from driving while under the influence? do we still allow employers to test you for it and fire you if you use it? do we expunge all the records of people who grew it or sold it or possessed it before it was legal? do we have any restrictions on growing it? like, can you grow it in your back yard, and if so, are we worried about your neighbor kids helping themselves to it?” And that’s just off the top of my head. He has this image that people will be rounded up for two days of presentations and then vote up or down. There are a handful of things this could work for but they are not the bulk of the work of the legislature.

And I do get some of the appeal here because there are certain issues where there’s really broad consensus among individuals and the government just continues to dick around. But the thing he is proposing is a hilarious idea on its face. Of course, he thinks it’s “literally the most consequential idea for governance and democracy in U.S. history” and the fact that newspapers are not reporting on this means he is being censored. (Also, apparently two Carleton professors told him to fuck off? Oh, he explains this further down: he wrote to the Political Science profs trying to get him to teach his book, which is a bunch of anti-lockdown stuff, in their classes. I would kind of love to know who told him to fuck off and just how persistent he was in e-mailing them because the normal response to these sorts of e-mails is to ignore them, he must have been amazingly annoying to get “fuck off,” spelled out, as a response.)

Gabrielle M. Prosser and Kevin A. Dwire (Socialist Worker)

Like all Socialist Worker Party candidates, Gabrielle Prosser links not to a website telling you anything at all about Gabrielle Prosser or even the Socialist Worker Party’s ideas for Minnesota, specifically, but to The Militant, their paper, which currently has headlines about Iran, Ukraine (they’re not Tankies, I’ll give them that much credit), railroad workers, the White House, and amnesty for immigrants.

There was an article in May about Prosser gathering signatures to get on the ballot. They’re actually doing some really interesting outreach in Greater Minnesota but there’s just remarkably little information here on what Prosser’s actual vision for Minnesota is, which I consider a pretty baseline requirement for anyone running for an office.

Scott Jensen and Matt Birk (Republican)

God almighty where to even start.

You know what, I’m going to go ahead and talk about abortion. Scott Jensen spent years supporting a “personhood amendment,” the sort of law that would make abortion illegal in all circumstances, the kind of law that would absolutely kill women. He’s now backed off, pretended he never meant this, and is saying that since Minnesota’s courts have found that women here have a constitutional right to an abortion, this isn’t an issue we need to worry our pretty little heads about.

I mean, the US Supreme Court found in 1973 that women had a constitutional right to an abortion! And, welp. Would it be a long-term project to make it illegal in Minnesota? Yes, but it could definitely be done in less than 50 years! Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices have a mandatory retirement age of 70; it’ll take a while for the judges to turn over, but there’s one who’s 67, so that’s one who will definitely be appointed in the next governor’s term, and two more who’ll be up one term after.

I also don’t think anyone should underestimate the power of Republicans to find ways to fuck you over. The Minnesota Republican Party, back in 2003, proposed a bill about circuses, presented it as “there’s this old law on the books, super out of date, let’s just fix this” and then at the last minute shoved through an amendment that turned it into an anti-abortion bill (this is in fact how the waiting period tossed by the MN courts this year originally got passed). I am really confident that if Republicans are given power, there are existing regulations that were not written about abortion but could be twisted to throw obstacles into the path of people who need abortions.

There was a story on This American Life in July about a woman who sends out abortion pills for self-managed abortion. (Act 5, “The Pill Smuggler.”) Stephanie is not a doctor or a nurse. She orders misoprostol and mifepristone in bulk from overseas, repackages them, and sends them to people who need abortions. There are people all over the country doing this and almost certainly there’s someone doing it in Minnesota. Abortion is legal here, but distributing “legend drugs” (drugs for which people are supposed to have a prescription), outside the system of doctors and pharmacies: that is against state laws. How illegal is it? That probably depends on where you get caught and who’s in power. The Stephanies of Minnesota are going to be vastly safer in a pro-choice state full of pro-choice electeds — and so are the women in North and South Dakota relying on their help.

Anyway. Jensen is also an antivaxxer who promoted the use of ivermectin to treat COVID (n.b.: ivermectin does absolutely nothing to treat or prevent COVID although if you have a parasitic worm infection it’s a great treatment for that). He spread the gross urban legend that schools have litterboxes for students who identify as cats. (They do not.) He’d be an absolutely atrocious governor by any measure, and he absolutely could win. (There was a poll a month or so back saying he was down by 18 points. I think he’s down, but not by that much — I think this was a bad poll.)

Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan (DFL)

When I think about how Tim has done in the last four years, the main thing I think about is that he was sufficiently competent and non-destructive that I felt safe, for the most part, not paying super close attention to what he was up to. He wasn’t going to, oh, try to instigate a coup if I took my eyes off him for fifteen minutes. He was definitely going to do things I disagreed with, but they’d all be in the category of, “things that a Democrat might do that I would not be happy about.”

I also want to note something I’ve been very happy with, which is that for the last two years, we’ve had some of the most functional, easy-to-access public COVID testing in the country. Every time I’ve wanted a PCR test I’ve gone over to the airport, walked in, gotten one. The only time I even had to wait was during the height of the Omicron surge; I think that’s also the only time it took more than a day to get a response. It’s a spit test rather than a brain poke. Parking is free. Over the summer they rolled out test-to-treat at the airport site so you could test and immediately get Paxlovid. Everything about this was so much easier than in many other states.

There’s so much COVID-related stuff that frankly comes down to, “it turns out that having a pandemic fucking sucks.” Distance learning was absolutely awful for my kid. I still think it was a reasonable decision to make. There’s a ton of stuff like this, where someone can easily say, “this thing that happened / that’s happening, it’s bad! it’s really bad!” and … yes, that’s true for a lot of stuff. Pandemics totally suck! WHO EVER WOULD HAVE PREDICTED.

Anyway, I am absolutely going to vote for Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan with no hesitation whatsoever.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active.

I also went looking and found a cool DonorsChoose fundraiser for a classroom in Minneapolis: a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got.


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