Election 2022: Minnesota State Auditor

For State Auditor, I’m going to make a very specific plea: even if you hate Julie Blaha (I don’t know why you would, but if you do), do not vote for the weed party candidates.

On the ballot:

Julie Blaha (DFL)
Ryan Wilson (Republican)
Will Finn (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)
Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now)

Julie Blaha (DFL)

The State Auditor audits the spending of county and municipal governments. They have a page explaining what they do and also a FAQ that explains who’s responsible for various kinds of oversight that are outside their domain.

Julie Blaha is the only person running for the job who understands what the job even is. That alone is a reason to vote for her!

Ryan Wilson (Republican)

This is one of the handful of offices where I have at any point in my life voted for a Republican (I voted for Judi Dutcher, probably in 1998. I mean, she switched to the DFL a few years later, retroactively justifying my positive feelings about her). It’s not necessarily a particularly partisan job because “waste and graft” are at least in theory something both parties are supposed to be against. However, at this point, most of the Republican party has embraced lies, fascism, election theft, and science denial, and I have no reason to believe that Ryan Wilson is any better than the rest of his party.

Ryan Wilson wants to audit the schools. The problem here is that my full expectation of any Republican auditing schools at this point is that they’d declare social-emotional learning, sex ed, and any history they disliked to be “waste.”

Will Finn (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)

Will Finn’s actual name is Kevin Finander, but he’s running as Will Finn because that’s “how the Libertarians and pro-weed folks know me.” He runs something called the “Taxation is Theft” political action committee. The Grassroots party repudiates him along with everyone other than their 1st Congressional District candidate who’s on the ballot as a Grassroots party candidate. Hilariously, Will’s link goes to a Linktree page that links to the Grassroots Party page saying he’s not a valid candidate, which honestly says about all you need to know about both the Grassroots Party, and Will Finn. They’re a bunch of clowns and no one should vote for any of their candidates in the hopes that they’ll drop back into well-earned obscurity.

In 2018, both weed parties had a bunch of candidates on the ballot who were Republicans filing entirely in an attempt to act as spoilers. This worked, and the main reason we didn’t get the DFL’s really good marijuana legalization bill was that they didn’t have a majority in the Senate due to a handful of seats with these fake weed party candidates who sucked off just enough votes to give those seats to the Republicans. Oliver Steinberg, the party chair, engaged in a bunch of breast-beating about how he was going to try to make sure this didn’t happen again. This year, the treasurer of the Grassroots party, Marcus Harcus, tried to change the party name to Marijuana Advocates with Governing Aspirations, MAGA, in an attempt to siphon votes the other way. This got foiled by Oliver Steinberg.

Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now)

Tim Davis at least has a website. He lists four issues: (1) Drug Legalization; (2) Alternative Energy & Resources; (3) Population Reduction; and (4) Right to Die.

The State Auditor’s office has nothing at all to do with three of those things. Alternative energy, they oversee some public pension funds and Ryan Wilson has criticized Julie Blaha for disinvesting from coal; Tim Davis gives absolutely no indication that he’s talking about pension funds here, and I literally think he just doesn’t know what the auditor actually does.

Also, I’m just going to note, seeing “population reduction” and “right to die” back to back is chilling, and it does not help that he provides zero explanation of what policies he’d actually advocate for.

The Legal Marijuana Now folks managed to really impress me in 2020 by offering up Oliver Steinberg’s criminal record when I asked what their US Senate candidate stood for. The LMN party stands for even less than the Grassroots party; they literally just want to continue to be a major party so they can keep acting as a spoiler.

So yeah: vote for Julie Blaha. If you hate Julie Blaha for some reason (maybe she beat you in the Crop Art competition at the State Fair and you hold a grudge?) write in your favorite person who you think would make a terrific State Auditor. Do not vote for the weed candidates. Tell your friends not to vote for the weed candidates. The weed parties have done absolutely nothing useful or helpful with their major party status. They do not need to be providing an endless parade of actual Republicans with a second slot on the ballot.

So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)


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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