Election 2018: Minnesota Secretary of State

JESUS H. CHRIST, PEOPLE, WHY WOULD ANY OF YOU TRUST A REPUBLICAN FOR EVEN FIVE GODDAMN MINUTES WITH A BALLOT?

(This whole thing was written in all-caps but it started to get kind of long and difficult to read. But please imagine me shouting this whole post.)

The entire Republican party, nationwide, has made it absolutely goddamn motherfucking clear that they will deny the vote to any person they judge likely to be a Democrat if they can come up with even the barest pretext that allows them to do it. They will purge voter registrations based on race and zip code. They will require people to get a government-issued photo ID, and then close down every office that would supply those IDs if they’re reachable by people in poor city neighborhoods or mostly-black small towns. They will, in a state where the local reservations have never gotten around to assigning street addresses, announce with less than a month before the election that you’ll need a street address to vote. They will reject online voter registrations. And while insisting that this is all to ensure the integrity of our elections (WHICH IS A LIE) they will refuse to fix systems that can literally be hacked.

Republicans are the minority in this country. Even with our fucked-up system that lets Presidents win when they lost the popular vote, that lets Senators who represent 44% of the US population approve a Supreme Court Justice for life, even with the structural unfairness that gives Republicans a disproportionate voice in running this country, they know, they know that they cannot win if they do not cheat.

Steve Simon is a perfectly fine Secretary of State and to my knowledge, he’s an upstanding citizen of excellent character. Right now, though? Right now, I would vote for him if he were a literal yellow dog.

We have a Republican guy named John Howe running who wants you to believe that the real problem here is “voter fraud” (IT IS NOT) and a guy named William Denney who’s apparently the last Jessecrat standing who wants you to believe that it would be better to have someone from a third party running elections (it’s possible he has a point but it doesn’t matter; he’s not going to win).

Vote for Steve Simon.

 

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Election 2018: Judge, Court of Appeals 2

This is a state-wide race: it is on everyone’s ballot. I almost didn’t notice it was contested, because the challenger didn’t have a website up in time to get it linked from the voter info portal site I use to see what the races even are.

Running:

Lucinda Ellen Jesson (Incumbent)
Anthony L. Brown

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Election 2018: Governor of Minnesota

This was a genuinely hard choice in the primaries but now that we’ve arrived at the general election, it is SUPER easy.

On the ballot:

Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan (DFL)
Jeff Johnson and Donna Bergstrom (Republican)
Chris Wright and Judith Schwartzbacker (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)
Josh Welter and Mary O’Connor (Libertarian)

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Election 2018: US House, 5th Congressional District

As I started up a video to watch Jennifer Zielinski talk at the State Fair along with Greg Ryan, it occurred to me that I could maybe devote a little less perfectionistic attention to the races where (a) nothing I find is going to change who I’d vote for and (b) nothing I write is going to change who wins.

This seat hasn’t been held by a Republican since 1962.  Keith Ellison’s lowest total was 56% the first time he ran, when the Republican and the Independence candidate more or less tied with 21%. The most impressively unbalanced result was in 2012, when Keith got 75% to the Republican’s 25%.

Given this, I’m sure it was a huge relief to the Republicans that Jennifer Zielinski stepped forward to run and the Republican slot didn’t go to Bob “Again” Carney, who published a book calling for Trump to be impeached, or Chris Chamberlin, who ran for President in 2016 under the name Vlad Draculea. Their best case in a race like this is a friendly, hardworking, basically normal person who will campaign and turn out the vote because it’ll help them in statewide races.

On the ballot:

Ilhan Omar (DFL)
Jennifer Zielinski (Republican)

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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)

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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.