Election 2018: Associate Justice Supreme Court 2

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed the last few days, between the coming elections and the news cycle, and this morning thought, “why don’t I do an easy one?”

This is a super easy race because I did some in-depth research on the challenger, Michelle MacDonald, in 2014. Then updated it in 2016.  So really all you need to know is, never vote for Michelle MacDonald for anything, not even dogcatcher, not even if you’re a Republican. I did find some updates to the ongoing trainwreck that is her career, which I’ve put under the cut.

On the ballot:

Michelle MacDonald
Margaret Chutich (Incumbent)

Continue reading

Election 2018: Minnesota State Auditor

This is a statewide race. The Minnesota State Auditor’s office audits local governments and counties. They have a FAQ but it’s pretty technical. The office has existed since before Minnesota was technically even a state; despite being fairly low-profile, it’s been a springboard to higher office for a number of people who’ve served in that role, including Arne Carlson and Mark Dayton. Judi Dutcher ran for Lieutenant Governor after serving as auditor, as Mike Hatch’s running mate, but lost; current Auditor Rebecca Otto tried for the governorship this year but dropped out after not receiving the DFL endorsement.

I think that this job may have worked so well for Arne and Mark (and Judi came really close — if Hatch hadn’t called a reporter a “Republican whore” after Judi muffed a question on E85, she’d probably have gotten to the Lieutenant Governorship, although arguably Auditor is a better job anyway) in part because done right, it’s really apolitical. We can argue across party lines about how tax money ought to be spent, but none of us — I hope? — is going to defend graft and blatant waste, which is what auditors are generally looking for. So you get to spend 4+ years doing things that basically everyone in the state, if they notice you’re doing it, is probably going to approve of.

Weirdly, Rebecca Otto managed to really piss me off. My older daughter used to do Junior Roller Derby, which for years had practice space at the Minneapolis National Guard Armory. They abruptly lost their practice space when (I found out quite some time later) Rebecca Otto told them they could no longer rent out the facility after normal business hours. Why? I still don’t know! I sent her two e-mail messages and got no response at all, ever. (It’s still not 100% clear to me why this was even something she oversaw.)

This is also one of the jobs where in the past I voted for a Republican. I quite liked Judi Dutcher and voted for her in 1998. (She then switched to the DFL in 2000, sensibly enough.)

To add to the overall confusion about what this person actually does, in 2015 a law got passed saying that counties could opt to hire private auditing firms instead of using the State Auditor. This makes me nervous, although the larger counties have been allowed to hire private auditors for years. More than half of Minnesota counties opted for private firms to do this in 2016 (probably in part because it’s cheaper.) Rebecca Otto sued over this and lost. So what’s even going to happen with this office? Are they likely to ditch it completely, like they ditched the office of the State Treasurer? Do we actually need a State Auditor overseeing all this stuff or is it reasonable to just require counties to have an auditor come in? Several candidates talked about this but I did not come away feeling exactly enlightened.

Anyway. On the ballot:

Chris Dock (Libertarian)
Pam Myhra (Republican)
Julie Blaha (DFL)
Michael Ford (Legal Marijuana Now)

Continue reading

Election 2018: Ramsey County Attorney

There are two people running:

John Choi
Luke Kyper Bellville

This is a straightforward one. I like John Choi for a number of reasons, but the #1 reason for my respect for him is that he opted to prosecute the police officer who shot Philando Castile. Unsuccessfully: Yanez was acquitted. But you can’t guarantee outcomes as a prosecutor. You file charges, go to trial, and do your best, and he did.

Luke Kyper Bellville ran for judge in Hennepin County in 2016. Here’s what I wrote about him two years ago. He was clearly a flake candidate two years ago. Then he ran for Saint Paul school board last year; he was clearly a flake last year. He remains a flake. Basically the only content on his website are his answers to the questions from an ACLU questionnaire, which he seems to have scanned in; they’re fine. But he tells you nothing about his experience and qualifications, even to the point of reassuring voters that he has a law degree. (He does. I dug that up when he ran for judge two years ago.)

The pictures on his current website seemed so oddly chosen I ran a google image search and found a nearly-identical-in-design unfinished site on the same host. (Content warning: allegedly it’s a “before and after” site for a penis pump. When I visited on 9/30/2018, however, the pictures were the same as the ones on Bellville’s campaign site.)

Anyway: definitely vote for John Choi.

Election 2018: Minnesota State House, 64B

This is my legislative district. Running:

Dave Pinto (DFL)
Alex Pouliot (Republican)

Dave has been my rep since Paymar retired. I like him. He’s progressive, smart, and thoughtful. You can see the bills he was chief author of in the last session here; bills he co-authored are here.

Alex Pouliot is currently a legislative aide for the Transportation and Regional Government Policy committee, which may explain why (unlike many Republicans) he likes buses. In trying to track down other information about him, I found this article from 2008, when he was 18 and volunteering for Mitt Romney. It has this absolutely priceless bit:

The state deputy chairman of the Minnesota Teenage Republicans, Pouliot began to take interest in politics about three years ago, a passion sparked by a U.S. history class. He remembers reading about robber barons and taxation.

“I thought, that’s not fair, these people earned their money,” said Pouliot, adding that abortion is important to him because he’s Catholic.

How many people read about the robber barons of the Gilded Age and say, “wow, it’s so unfair these people got taxed!” (Also, his reading of Catholic teaching was interestingly selective.)

Anyway, I’m going to vote for Dave Pinto.

Election 2018: US House, 4th District

We have the exact same three candidates we had two years ago:

Betty McCollum (DFL)
Greg Ryan (Republican)
Susan Pendergast Sindt (Legal Marijuana Now)

Here’s what I wrote about these three people two years ago. It basically all still applies except that this year, Susan Sindt has a campaign Facebook page instead of no web page at all. It is 99% posts about weed, re-shared from other Facebook pages.  It has no link to donate or volunteer so she still flunks my “is this person actually running for this office” test. (To recap: if you are actually running for office, you will, at the bare minimum, have a web page with a way to donate to your campaign and volunteer.) She also did fill out a questionnaire from WCCO — she didn’t take them up on the invitation to write essay-type answers, but McCollum and Ryan apparently didn’t fill it out at all! (WTF, Betty!)

This is a safe Democratic seat so if you really want to vote for the Legal Marijuana lady, I don’t think you need to worry about throwing the seat to the Republicans, but I don’t know why you would, since in general having third-party candidates running from the left helps Republicans and hurts Democrats, and Minnesotan Democrats increasingly support legalizing marijuana. Including Betty McCollum.

 

Election 2018: US Senate (Smith seat)

This is a special election. As you probably recall, Al Franken resigned and Tina Smith was appointed to fill his seat. The person who wins in November will serve out the remainder of the term and then run again in 2020.

On the ballot:

Tina Smith (DFL)
Karin Housley (Republican)
Jerry Trooien (Unaffiliated)
Sarah Wellington (Legal Marijuana Now)

Continue reading