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).
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.