Election 2018: Races That Could Use Your Money (including money you can get back)

If you are a Minnesota resident, once a year you can donate $50 to a campaign and have it refunded by the government. Eligible races include people running for the Minnesota House or Senate, Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Auditor. You can also donate it to a political party. Note that you can’t use the PCR to donate to Amy or Tina, or to city or county races, because this is usable for people in state-level races and political parties only.  (You can still donate to them! You just can’t then get that money refunded.) Also note that you have to pick one candidate for the whole $50. I mean, you can donate less, if that’s what works for you, but you can’t give $10 to five people and send in five forms — you can only send in one you can only send in one form: if you donate $10 each to five people, you have to send in all the receipts together, with a single form.

You’ll want a receipt, which you send in with this form by postal mail. A couple of weeks later, you’ll get a check for $50.

I live in a safe DFL district: in 2016, my DFL representative got almost 75% of the vote. So my question was, which House races might be on the cusp? Where could I donate my $50 where it might do some real good? We need to swing 11 seats to take the Minnesota House for the DFL, and that seems eminently do-able, if we donate and volunteer. But where to target?

MinnPost made this question a whole lot easier to answer with this excellent overview of all the races. But here are my picks: all of these were races where it was 55/45 or closer in 2016 (okay, I picked a couple seats that were 56/44, due to other factors), where the Democrat seems like they have a shot, and where there’s a website set up so you can donate online.

(Let me just add, regarding my brief write-ups for each candidate — when I say they highlighted certain issues, that mostly means they put them first, or they caught my eye as being a relatively unusual or specific idea. Most covered additional issues on their websites.)

If did this based almost entirely on how close the vote was last time; there are sometimes other reasons to believe that a candidate has a good shot. Feel free to leave a comment if I left out one of your favorites.

Donate to Swing

Minnesota House District 5A

John Persell is running to re-take this seat; he lost narrowly in 2016, 54%-46%. From his site: “Since graduating from Bemidji State University, I’ve had a long career as a water quality specialist dedicated to making sure our children and grandchildren can enjoy clean water. I believe the best way for Democrats to regain the House is to fight for a progressive agenda built on social and economic justice for every Minnesotan.”

Donate to John Persell.
Volunteer for John Persell.

Minnesota House District 5B

Pat Medure is running. He is a former Sheriff and school board representative running on a platform of government transparency, educational excellence, and economic diversification. This district went 54/42 last time, with a Green candidate taking most of the balance.

Donate to Pat Medure.

Minnesota House District 14A

Aric Putnam is running. He teaches at St. John’s/St. Ben’s, and his wife is a school principal; not surprisingly, education is the first issue he mentions. He also talks about elder care, economic development, health care, and constituent services. District 14A is in St. Cloud, MN, and went 55/45 in 2016.

Donate to Aric Putnam.
Volunteer for Aric Putnam. (His checklist of things you can do includes phone-banking and text-banking — things you can do without necessarily driving up to St. Cloud.)

Minnesota House District 14B

Dan Wolgamott is running. He’s a realtor and high school football coach. The Republican has been in office since 1994, but had a razor thin margin of victory in 2016: 51/49. This district is in St. Cloud. Dan is running on a solidly progressive platform, including a ban on so-called “conversion therapy,” paid parental leave, and allowing anyone who wants to buy into MinnesotaCare.

Donate to Dan Wolgamott.
Volunteer for Dan Wolgamott.

Minnesota House District 21A

Lori Ann Clark is running. She is a small business owner who came to politics by way of her Indivisible group. Her priorities include affordable housing and child care (which she frames as key economic development issues), health care, rural broadband, and gun safety. The Republican incumbent was first elected in 2016 with a 55/45 margin.

Donate to Lori Ann Clark.
Volunteer for Lori Ann Clark.

Minnesota House District 28B

Thomas Treehus is running. He’s highlighting health care, farming, rural broadband and transportation issues. He ran in 2016 against the incumbent and is running again; in 2016, this district went 55/45.

Donate to Thomas Treehus.
Volunteer for Thomas Treehus.

Minnesota House District 32B

Jeff Peterson is running. The Republican incumbent was elected in a 2017 special election, 53/47 (defeating a different candidate). Jeff is a carpenter and school board member. One of his children was born with a heart problem: “Their family quickly learned what it’s like to make choices between paying for medical bills or their mortgage.” He highlights education, economic opportunities, and affordable health care.

Donate to Jeff Peterson.
Volunteer for Jeff Peterson.

Minnesota State House District 34B

Kristin Bahner is running. Kristin is an IT consultant and entrepreneur, and came into politics after helping to organize the Minnesota Women’s March in 2016. Her website highlights education (including universal Pre-K and helping schools to hire more teacher’s aides); the environment; and economic security (including livable wages). This district went 56/44 in 2016.

Donate to Kristin Bahner.
Volunteer for Kristin Bahner.

Minnesota House District 37B

Amir Joseph Malik is running. He is a lawyer from Illinois who now lives in Blaine, and emphasizes living-wage jobs, health care, the property tax burden on seniors, and education. Over on his Facebook page he has a post up saying that people who wear the Confederate flag to the Minnesota State Fair are spitting on the graves of Minnesota veterans (I like this guy) although as a constitutional rights attorney he recognizes their right to be assholes.  This district had a razor-thin margin in 2016 (50.26/49.52, or 168 votes), and the Republican incumbent is utterly reprehensible — possibly the comment about Confederate flags was a subtweet. GO DONATE TO THIS GUY.

Donate to Amir Malik.
Volunteer for Amir Malik.

Minnesota House District 38B

Ami Wazlawik is running. It went 57/43 last time, but this is an open seat. Ami went to St. Olaf College and did a stint in AmeriCorps; now she works for the White Bear Lake school district. Her website highlights her support for Marty’s Minnesota Health Plan; solving the achievement gap; and protecting the environment.

Donate to Ami Wazlawik.
Volunteer for to Ami Wazlawik.

Minnesota House District 42A

Kelly Moller is running. She’s a prosecutor who was inspired to go to law school after hearing her friends’ stories about sexual assault, and she works in the Hennepin County Attorney’s office. On her website, she highlights education (making sure students have mental health support; schools can meet the needs of students with disabilities; and college is made more affordable); health care (allowing anyone to buy into MinnesotaCare); environmental protection; jobs and transportation (including collective bargaining rights). This was an extremely close race in 2016, decided by 125 votes.

Donate to Kelly Moller.
Volunteer for Kelly Moller.

Minnesota House District 44A

Ginny Klevorn is running. She’s a business owner and professional mediator who has worked as a guardian ad litem in juvenile court. Her website highlights education (predictable funding that keeps pace with inflation — you’d think this would be obvious, wouldn’t you?); health care (she wants to allow Minnesota residents to buy into the same health plan legislators get); and support for small businesses. She is trying again against the Republican incumbent. This district went 54/46 in 2016.

Donate to Ginny Klevorn.
Volunteer for Ginny Klevorn.

Minnesota House District 49A

Heather Edelson is running. She is a psychotherapist who was a first-generation college graduate (after what sounds like a very difficult childhood; she describes her mother as “loving but strong-willed” and she moved out at 16). She has also volunteered as a guardian ad litem in child-protection cases. She talks about the usual issues (education, health care, seniors) with a strong emphasis on mental health issues, since she’s coming from that background. (Under “Gun Safety,” she includes, “Support initiatives to help increase student mental health service access in schools, to improve awareness of mental illness, and to improve outcomes.”) This district was 51/49 in 2016.

Donate to Heather Edelson.
Volunteer for Heather Edelson.

Minnesota House District 52B

Ruth Richardson is running. She’s a black woman, so if you’re skimming this list overwhelmed by the white-bread-ness of most of the candidates, go donate to her (or to Amir Malik). She comes from a large blue collar family and worked three jobs to put herself through law school. Her website highlights gun safety legislation; better school funding and universal Pre-K; union support; and reproductive rights. In 2016, this race was decided by 121 votes.

Donate to Ruth Richardson.
Volunteer for Ruth Richardson.

Minnesota House District 54A

Anne Claflin is running. She is a research scientist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and not surprisingly, her signature issue is water. (Instead of an “Issues” page, she has a “Clean Water” page. Her Twitter feed is also heavily water-focused.) This district went 52/48 in 2016.

Donate to Anne Claflin.
Volunteer for Anne Claflin.

Minnesota House District 54B

Tina Folch is running. She works in government, doing strategic planning. Her website highlights infrastructure, affordable higher education, and affordable health care. She also mentions protecting local government control. (So, the right of cities like Minneapolis to impose their own minimum wage ordinance.) This district went 55/45 in 2016.

Donate to Tina Folch.
Volunteer for Tina Folch.

Minnesota House District 55A

This is an open seat. Brad Tabke is running. He’s a former mayor of Shakopee who has a “Manifesto” instead of an issues page, where he highlights workforce development, a transportation system, affordable housing, and education. He also talks about working to reduce racial disparities. (“It is unconscionable to me that Minnesota can simultaneously rank second best in the nation for raising a family while also being second worst in the nation for racial inequities.”) This district went 56/44 in 2016, but it’s an open seat, which I think makes it potentially a pickup.

Donate to Brad Tabke.
Volunteer for Brad Tabke.

Minnesota House District 56B

Alice Mann is running. She is a family-practice doctor who immigrated to Minnesota from Brazil when she was a child. In addition to working at the Lakeville Family Health Clinic, she’s done volunteer stints providing medical care in Puerto Rico after Maria, and in a Syrian refugee camp. Not surprisingly, her website emphasizes health care policy, as well as education and affordable childcare. This district went 53/48 in 2016.

Donate to Alice Mann.
Volunteer for Alice Mann.

Minnesota House District 57B

John Huot is running. He has a particularly interesting bio: he lost his older brother in the Vietnam War, then his mother to cancer, and since his father was unable to care for him alone, he was raised by an older sister. He was befriended by a predator priest who molested him, and he was one of the first in Minnesota to receive a settlement. As an adult, he became a firefighter/EMT, worked for thirty years in emergency services, started a flower shop that failed, and is now a realtor. His website emphasizes living wages and union organizing; affordable health care that does not depend on an employer; environmental protection (he’s currently on the Community Advisory Council to the Pine Bend Refinery); veteran services (he notes that his father had PTSD from his service); and public safety. He also ran in 2016; that race went 54/46.

Donate to John Huot.
Volunteer for John Huot.

Donate to Hold

These are races where a Democrat currently holds the seat, but it was very close last time, and you should consider donating because we will also need to hold swing seats if we want to take the House!

Minnesota House District 19A

This is currently held by a Democrat who is not running again. Jeff Brand is the DFL candidate this year. His platform emphasizes transportation, education, agriculture, and child care. The district went 53/47 in 2016. The Republican (who also ran last time) is pro-tobacco (seriously!) and wants to deregulate day cares (I mean, he’s probably correct that there’s be less of a day care shortage if fewer expectations like “don’t leave the Tide Pods where the kids can eat them” were imposed on day care providers, but I’m not sure that’s a great solution here?)

Donate to Jeff Brand.
Volunteer for Jeff Brand.

Minnesota House District 20B

Again: currently a Democratic seat, but the incumbent legislator is not running again. Todd Lippert is running. He’s a UCC Minister and has been very involved with ISAIAH, which is a left-wing Christian organizing group. He highlights health care and “the caring economy” (child care, elder care, end-of-life care); education; and clean energy. This district went 54/46 last time.

Donate to Todd Lippert.
Volunteer for Todd Lippert.

Minnesota House District 25B

Duane Sauke is the incumbent. A former public school teacher, he narrowly won this seat for the first time in 2016 (52/48). He is highlighting civility, education (including early childhood education, and lowered tuition for public university students), and economic development (including affordable housing and livable wages).

Donate to Duane Sauke.
Volunteer for Duane Sauke.

Minnesota House 37A

Erin Koegel is the incumbent. She was elected for the first time in 2016, and the vote went 47/45/8, with the 8% being taken by a Libertarian who doesn’t appear to be in the race this time. Her website highlights transportation, small business development, and education.

Donate to Erin Koegel.
Volunteer for Erin Koegel.

Minnesota House District 48A

Laurie Pryor is the incumbent. She was first elected in 2016; the race went 52/48. Her website emphasizes gun safety laws; better regulation of assisted living facilities; a hands-free cell phone law; and requiring pharmaceutical companies to pay to help solve the problem of opiate addiction.

Donate to Laurie Pryor.
Volunteer for Laurie Pryor.

Minnesota House District 57A

This was Erin Maye Quade’s district, which she won fairly narrowly (52/48) in 2016. Robert Bierman is running. He’s a small business owner. His website emphasizes education (including increasing access to trade schools, magnet schools, and internship programs); environmental issues; health care (negotiating lower prescription drug costs and expanding access to MinnesotaCare); and gun safety (he supports funding public health research).

Donate to Robert Bierman.
Volunteer for Robert Bierman.

Bonus Races to Donate To

Joe Perske for Minnesota Senate, MN-13

This was Michelle Fischbach’s district until she got yanked out to serve as Lieutenant Governor. She was initially pretty cranky about this, then decided she liked the job, and ran as Tim Pawlenty’s running mate. Then (SURPRISE!) he lost in the primary.

Anyway, this is a serious long-shot race: Michelle Fischbach won with 69% of the vote in 2016. But if the Democrats can take it, that would flip the Senate. This race qualifies for the PCR.

Donate to Joe Perske.

Dave Hutch for Hennepin County Sheriff

Dave Hutch is running against aggressively assholish Trump-supporting racist, Rich Stanek. Hennepin County overwhelmingly went for Clinton over Trump — 63% to 28% overall, and even most of the suburban precincts are blue. I think Dave Hutch has a real shot here if he has the resources to make sure people know what they’re getting in Stanek vs. from him. This race is not eligible for the PCR.

Donate to Dave Hutch.
Volunteer for Dave Hutch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elections 2018: Ramsey County Commissioner, District 5

My husband helpfully pointed out that I’d forgotten to write up this race and we’re voting in it.

I’d forgotten to write it up because while there’s a primary, it’s Rafael Ortega vs. two not particularly serious candidates.

On the ballot:

Rafael E. Ortega
Charles S. Barklind
James Jaeger

Continue reading

Elections 2018: Ramsey County Commissioner, District 3

(By request.)

This was one of those races where I knew there had to be some backstory, because there’s an established (long, long, long established) incumbent who appears to be a DFLer, but who is not endorsed by the DFL, and two solid challengers, one with a DFL endorsement. Here’s who’s running:

Jennifer Nguyen Moore (endorsed by the Democratic Socialists)
Trista MatasCastillo (endorsed by the DFL)
Janice Rettman (incumbent)

In races like this, the incumbent will nearly always make it past the primary, so the primary is mostly to determine who they’ll be facing. (Occasionally the incumbent comes in third, but this is nearly always a surprise unless criminal charges are involved. No criminal charges are involved here.)

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Elections 2018: Minnesota State Rep, 60B

This is currently Ilhan Omar’s seat, but she pulled out of this race to run for Keith Ellison’s when he pulled out of that race to run for Minnesota Attorney General. There are now seven people running to replace her.

On the ballot:

Mohamud Noor
Mary Mellen
Peter Wagenius
Angelo Jaramillo (has suspended his campaign & endorsed Noor)
Cordelia Pierson
Haaris Pasha
Joshua Preston

Peter Wagenius is a personal friend of mine.

Continue reading

Elections 2018: Saint Paul Ward 4 City Council, SPECIAL ELECTION AUGUST 14

Do you live in Saint Paul Ward 4? Then on August 14th, in addition to having a bunch of primaries, you also have an actual real election. That’s right, your City Council race is not a primary. (We have Instant Runoff Voting in St. Paul city races, so primaries in those are not a thing.)

On your ballot, and you can rank them in order of preference:

Mitra Jalali Nelson
Shirley Erstad
David Martinez

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Election 2018: Hennepin County Commissioner, District 4

Peter McLaughlin has been the District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner for approximately forever. (Okay, found it: since 1991. I was starting college in 1991 and didn’t move to Minneapolis until 1991.)

I have a long-running sense of not liking him very much, although in part this is because he was a close ally of Sharon Sayles Belton, who I didn’t like (I really disliked the projects the city undertook during her administration), although she got replaced by RT Rybak seventeen years ago now, so this is a somewhat outdated grudge.

My main ongoing grudge against Peter McLaughlin is that he is a big fan of spending public money on sports facilities. He helped pass a county-wide tax to build the Twins ballpark, and to circumvent the law saying they were supposed to hold a referendum on it. He was less enthusiastic about the county funding the Vikings Stadium, but had this hilarious/infuriating line about why referendums were bad:

A referendum “doesn’t make a bad idea any better,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who voted for Target Field but dislikes the Vikings stadium proposal. “I don’t believe in government by referendum. It lets elected officials off the hook for making judgments about these things.”

The point of a referendum isn’t to make “bad ideas better,” it’s to make it possible for people to shoot down the plan of spending their money on sports facilities. It’s not like Minneapolis voters shoot down every referendum that comes their way; they faithfully pass school-levy referendums. People want referendums on sports facilities because it appears to be the only possible way to keep politicians from cramming them down our throats over and over and over.

More recently, he tried to swing a deal for the soccer stadium whereby the “excess capacity” of the Target Field sales tax would go to pay for the soccer stadium, instead. What that means: currently, there is a 0.15% sales tax collected in Hennepin County. Out of that money, $5 million/year goes to libraries, youth and sports programs, and long-term ballpark maintenance. The rest goes to pay off the $350 million in bonds that were sold to fund the construction of Target Field. At the moment, that tax is collecting quite a bit more than they’d expected, allowing the county to pay off the debt early. (They’d planned on a 30-year repayment plan, and they’re going to be done in 20 years. At which point the tax is supposed to just end.)

I mean, there are a couple of ways to look at this. I tend to think, “no, you assholes, pay off the motherfucking debt and dump the tax we never agreed to.” It’s not entirely unreasonable to say, “hey, we’ve planned for that thirty-year term, so let’s just take the extra money and spend it on civic improvements,” but I don’t then say, “…like yet another sports facility!!!!” 

As it happens, that plan fell through and the stadium was built in St. Paul.

On the plus side, Peter is a big fan of bike paths and transit. I am also a fan of bike paths and transit, and I particularly love the Greenway, which he was one of the movers-and-shakers for.

But this is the first time in years that Peter has had any sorts of real opponent; last time, the only person running against him was Captain Jack Sparrow. So I’m excited at the possibility of someone who likes bike paths and transit, and is not and endless booster of circumventing laws about referendums to build sports stadiums. (If you’re a sports stadiums kind of voter, Peter’s your guy, but one of the bizarre things about the whole “yeah, let’s spent a gazillion dollars building yet another sportsball palace!” thing is that public sentiment runs so strongly against these projects!)

Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Peter McLaughlin
Angela Conley
Megan Kuhl-Stennes

Continue reading

Election 2018: Hennepin County Sheriff

One of those small silver linings to the hurricane of storm clouds that is the current presidential administration: a lot more Hennepin County residents realized in the last year what a flaming dick Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is.

In 2016, he sent deputies out to North Dakota to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. He notifies ICE when foreign-born people get booked into the jail.  He’s a Trump fan and lackey.

I’m not sure if it’s fair to blame him for the fact that his son downloaded child porn on a cell phone connected to the Stanek campaign.

In his favor, he punched a Nazi sympathizer while in Reno. I mean, credit where credit is due.

But it’s not like Stanek being an asshole is new news. (Here’s what I wrote about him in 2014 — the quick summary involves use of the n-word, a road-rage incident where he beat up another driver, and an arrest of someone for being on a public sidewalk because she’s previously annoyed him. That road rage incident was back in 1989, but I’m struck by the fact that he got into another fist fight in March, which suggests he’s still got a volatile temper, even if the March dude, as noted above, probably deserved to be punched a few more times.)

Here’s who’s on the primary ballot:

Dave Hutch
Rich Stanek
Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks is hard to Google because he shares a name with a fancy menswear store. He appears to be a decent guy with law-enforcement experience who wouldn’t be Rich Stanek, but he hasn’t gotten a ton of traction.

Dave Hutch (also a decent guy with law-enforcement experience who isn’t Rich Stanek) has the DFL endorsement; I think he’s (maybe) got a shot at beating Stanek, if people actually vote in this race:

The fact is, only about 347,000 people voted in the 2014 sheriff’s race. Stanek snagged 68 percent of those votes. This was after the majority of Stanek’s own deputies endorsed his opponent, Eddie Frizell.

The rub: About 714,000 people were registered to vote at 7 a.m. that morning.

In Hennepin County in 2016, 429,288 people voted for Hillary Clinton; 191,770 voted for Donald Trump. Even with the suburbs, Hennepin County swings very, very blue. But most people, even the ones who vote in the midterms, don’t vote in this race.

One note: I think his name is actually Dave Hutchinson? So on the ballot he might be Dave Hutch, Dave Hutchinson, or Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson, which was probably what he was going for when he filled out the forms.

Vote for Dave Hutch in the primary, and talk to your friends about voting for him, too (especially once he gets past the primary, talk to them about voting for him in the general). Tell them why they shouldn’t vote for Stanek, and why they should vote for Hutch. There are thousands of people in Minneapolis who’d vote for Stanek’s opponent if they knew more about Stanek; maybe enough to swing this race.