Election 2016: State Representative District 63A

On the ballot:

Jim Davnie
Kyle Bragg

So there are a couple of politicians around I know personally, some from way, way back. I met Jim Davnie (State House representative for my old neighborhood) back in 2000, when he was first running. I did some lit-dropping over the summer and went to some campaign events. His wife and I were both pregnant. So when he door-knocked me in mid-October he started with “hi, I’m Jim Davnie, I’m running for–” and then broke off mid sentence when he processed that it was me, and I was holding a newborn, and that meant I’d had my baby. He squee’d over tiny Molly, asked about the birth, told me that he was not going to tell his wife (who’d had 24+ hours of back labor) about my ridiculously short-and-easy labor, and headed onward to introduce himself to someone else.

I really, really like Jim. Of all the local politicians, he’s the one who most reminds me of Paul Wellstone. He’s a committed progressive and also a terrific, rousing speaker. Once a high-school dropout, he’s now an educator, one of the major movers and shakers for the state anti-bullying bill, and in general a terrific voice for progressive values in the legislature. He’s one of the people I was always happy to vote for when I lived in Minneapolis.

Anyway, Jim’s website is here.

I looked up Kyle Bragg and was immediately sort of surprised that a black man who’s a union organizer was running as a Republican. Then I realized that this Kyle Bragg lives in New York and also this confused me two years ago, as well.

When I searched “kyle bragg mn,” my 2014 post about this race was the fifth hit down. Right below the whitepages link. That’s truly pathetic, Kyle. You could set up a Facebook page for your campaign. You could set up a LinkedIn page for your campaign. You could set up a GoFundMe page for your campaign and okay it’s not like I actually recommend that option but it’s less pathetic than what you’ve got, which is nothing.

The third hit down was a page for the SD63 Republicans, with a drop-down “pick the guy you want to e-mail” contact form. Kyle is one of them, so if you want to ask him any question, have at, I guess? The other thing of interest I discovered is that this guy I vaguely remember from college, Carleton Crawford, who I think ran the college Republican group, is now on the SD 63 Republicans Executive Committee.

On page two I found Kyle’s LinkedIn, which I’m leaving here so I can find it two years from now when he runs again and still doesn’t put up a campaign web page. Pretty sure this is his Facebook. He takes some very nice shots of the changing seasons in the Twin Cities.

Vote for Jim Davnie.

Election 2014: Minnesota State House, Districts 63A and 64B

So I’m just going down the ballot in order, and next up on your ballot will be State Rep. I used to live in 63A, where I was represented by Jim Davnie. Now I live in 64B, where I am represented by Michael Paymar but won’t be for very much longer because he’s retiring.

All the interesting stuff in 64B actually happened back in March, when there was an endorsing convention. I went. It was, to my surprise, significantly faster and more efficient than the endorsing conventions in Minneapolis have ever been. The DFL endorsed candidate is Dave Pinto, who I like quite a bit, though he wasn’t my first choice going in. (My first choice going in didn’t even make it to the second round of voting, alas.)

Anyway, I’ll do Minneapolis first. For State Representative District 63A, your choices are:

KYLE BRAGG – REPUBLICAN
JIM DAVNIE – DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

Kyle Bragg appears to have no website. When I googled for his name, I found a union organizer who lives in Queens; I’m thinking this is probably a different Kyle Bragg. (I mean, there are Republican union members — it does happen — but you can’t run for the Minnesota House of Representatives if you life in New York.) The New York Kyle Bragg actually sounds pretty damn cool

The Minneapolis Kyle Bragg has a LinkedIn profile that says he’s a lease specialist for an office machines company; his Facebook page has a lovely picture of Minnehaha Falls in winter, so I’m pretty sure I’m looking at the right guy.

Anyway, the bottom line is, he’s not a serious candidate; if you can’t even be bothered to set up a Facebook page for your candidacy, you’re not actually running for office even if you’ve filed for it.

Jim Davnie

I have known Jim for over fourteen years; I was pregnant with Molly (and his wife was pregnant with their older daughter) when he ran for office the first time. Jim is smart, funny, honest, thoughtful, and an amazing speaker. If you live in his district, not only should you vote for him, you should seek him out at neighborhood events to chat. Jim is freaking awesome. I would vote for him for anything. Well, maybe not Attorney General. I think you’re supposed to have gone to law school to be AG.

On to St. Paul.

This district has been represented by Michael Paymar since 1996. Paymar is stepping down at the end of this session, so there’s no incumbent. You might think this would have led to a bunch of people filing, but nope. For State Representative District 64B, your choices are:

DANIEL SURMAN – REPUBLICAN
DAVE PINTO – DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR

According to the Pioneer Press, Daniel Surman is an office director for a Republican campaign office covering the 4th Congressional District. In the MNGOP notice about the endorsing convention they held in July, they note that Daniel Surman is the only candidate who filed, and adds, “With the retirement of former-Rep Michael Paymar, he hopes to rally Republicans in our community to make sure our next State Representative will be a Republican!”

So possibly the problem is “rallying Republicans in our community.” I mean, I know there are a few. But you’d be hard-pressed to find them. Even though Daniel is so Republican he works for the party, and even though he has a Twitter, a blog, and another blog (this one’s with a group of bloggers), he doesn’t seem to have a campaign site of any kind. In other words, like the guy in 63A, he filed but he’s not actually running.

If you’re a Republican you’ll probably vote for him anyway, although you might ask yourself, don’t you want a State Rep who acts like he wants the job of representing you?

Dave Pinto is a county prosecutor. During endorsement season he held “conversations” (with topics) rather than meet-and-greets, which was an interesting idea. He doorknocked us at least once and I also talked with him on the phone; I found him thoughtful and engaged. When he doesn’t have an answer, he’ll ask for your ideas (as opposed to pulling buzzwords out of his ass to try to make it sound like he has all the answers.)

Anyway, I think Pinto’s going to be an excellent State Rep, and I’m planning to vote for him.

Election 2014 already

Apparently it’s election season again ALREADY.

Over on my old blog, I conscientiously and obsessively blogged about the Minneapolis mayoral race.  (It was an interesting year.)  The election came and went, they counted (which took a few days) and I hung up my political-blogging hat thinking, “done with THAT for a while.”

Picture of the Minnesota State Capitol dome.

Minnesota State Capitol. (From http://www.flickr.com/photos/mulad/)

But…it turns out that here in my new district in St. Paul, our State Rep, Michael Paymar, is retiring.  (He’s represented this district since 1996. So — for a while, although our State Senator, Dick Cohen, has been representing District 64 since 1986.)  The caucuses are in February (February 4th, I think; I wrote it down on the calendar) and the Senate District Convention is in March (late March, thank goodness! it shouldn’t interfere with MarsCon). And if things in this district run like things in my old district, odds are excellent that it’s the Senate District Convention that will effectively pick our next State Rep.

I mean, officially there is a primary, and there’s an election.  But the DFL endorsement holds an awful lot of weight in these races, and the DFL-endorsed candidate has a definite edge in the primary. And come the general election, well, I expect that a Republican will run, but I would be pretty shocked if they won.

(DFL = “Democratic-Farmer-Labor.”  It’s just the Minnesota name for the Democratic Party.)

Anyway. I feel much less well-informed in St. Paul, mostly because I have less of a sense of who the jerks are.  In Minneapolis, there are certain endorsements that people will put in their materials that will cause me to write them off unless they are also endorsed by the people I know I like, to balance them out.  I’m sure St. Paul has a similar crowd of People I Would Hate, If I Knew Who They Were, but I don’t know who they are yet.  (Does that mean I pay more attention to who you know, than what you believe?  Well, not exactly.  It’s more that I pay more attention to who your buddies are, than I pay to what you say you believe.)

This is all preamble to note that I got a phone call this evening from Matt Freeman, a candidate to replace Michael Paymar.  He gets points for being the first candidate to call me, although mid-December is honestly a point at which even I do not really want to be thinking about elections.  We chatted a little (I told him I’d moved last year from Jim Davnie’s district; he wanted to know why I moved, and it wasn’t until I was telling him my answer that it occurred to me that I might be tipping my hand about how best he could craft his pitch.  I don’t think he did, though.)  I wrote down the caucus date and his name and then told him to go ahead and give me his pitch.

The two big issues he talked about were (1) raising the minimum wage, and (2) improving the opportunity gap with Early Childhood education.

Having listened to that amazing This American Life episode about free universal preschool as well as having read about studies, I’m on board with Early Childhood education funding as a potential panacea for the opportunity gap.  I’m also a fan of raising the minimum wage, although I was curious what he wanted to raise it to.   Matt said he thought $9.50 was achievable although he would prefer $10.50; he also wants to peg it to inflation and to work for mandatory sick leave and parental leave.  (Universal paid sick leave is one of those “everybody wins” sorts of ideas.  Totally aside from the fact that letting sick people stay home is the humane and reasonable thing to do, I do not want people with the stomach flu handling my food.)

I asked him about his stance on gun control (which has been one of Michael Paymar’s signature issues, not that he’s had much success with it.)  He talked about background checks and mental health screenings, which is actually a huge red flag for me because what exactly does that mean? Does this mean that people who seek help for mental illnesses are going to go into a database accessible to gun salespeople? Because no. I’m a big fan of medical privacy, particularly regarding mental health records.  He backpedaled when I asked for details and it was clear he hadn’t thought about this much.

One thing he had thought about was that we needed to work harder to figure out how to sell gun control to outstate Minnesotans.  And he’s right about that. Minnesota has a strong hunting culture in the rural parts of the state, and guns just have a different place in people’s lives when they live in the country as opposed to the city.

(My friend Elizabeth, who is a Quaker and a committed pacifist, bought a gun when she moved to the country, because they were raising chickens and were troubled with possums. In the city, if a possum moves into your garage, you can call Animal Control.  In the country, you have to deal with this stuff yourself, and that means either owning a gun, or having a neighbor with a gun.)

Anyway. He does not have a smooth, polished political pitch down yet, and I’m wondering now how long he’s been making these calls.  You would think people would start with the people who’ve been to caucuses in the past, but we haven’t been to a caucus in this district yet so presumably he got my number off the voter registration records and that suggests he’s cold-calling registered voters.  Seems impractical, but what do I know about this stuff?  (He was Chris Coleman’s campaign manager so I expect he knows what he’s doing.)

There are currently seven people running for this seat, I think. (All of them Democrats.) In looking for information, I discovered that someone else is already obsessively blogging about this race, relieving me of the responsibility: http://www.theracefor64b.com/  I’ll probably write about it anyway, though.