Primary Elections 2022: Minnesota Secretary of State

This is another easy one.

On the DFL side of the ballot, your options are:

Steve Simon
Steve Carlson

Steve Simon
Steve Simon is the incumbent and I think he’s done a fantastic job. A+, absolutely voting for him, no question.

Steve Carlson
Steve Carlson’s website includes the year “2018” in it and also “forUSSenate,” so apparently he still hasn’t taken the free advice I offered him back in 2014, when he was running with a website that had the year “2010” in it, which is that if running for offices is your hobby, you should register a website that names neither a specific office nor gives a specific year.

Anyway. He ran for Senate as an Independence candidate in 2014. He ran for the 4th district US House seat in 2016 and the main thing I took from his website is that he’s not a good rapper. (He’s an old, white, conservative dude, so this should not be surprising.) In 2018 he ran in the DFL Primary for Senate against Amy Klobuchar and in 2020 he ran in the DFL Primary for Senate against Tina Smith.

In order to run in a partisan primary, he had to sign an affidavit of candidacy affirming that he’d either gone to his DFL Precinct Caucus in 2022 or that he intended to vote mainly for Democrats in November. He says he went to the caucus (I asked) and I am more willing to believe that Steve actually went to a DFL caucus than AJ Kern, because over on his Facebook he has a post that at least mentions caucuses, and his latest hobbyhorse (which he has ranted about over and over and over at length and in detail on Twitter) is that the DFL has a rule requiring gender balance for delegates elected to the State Convention, which makes me think he tried to become a delegate to the State Convention. (Or some slightly more selective convention, it might not have been the state one.)

Steve’s biggest obstacle in being a DFL delegate is not his race or sex but the fact that he’s an anti-gay, anti-Muslim Trump supporter with complete contempt for the bodily autonomy or human rights of women. Democrats mostly do not choose as delegates people who are this far out of step with DFL principles. Do not vote for him.

On the Republican side of the ballot you’ll find:

Erik van Mechelen
Kim Crockett (GOP endorsed)

If you take a look at Erik’s website, you will find a website devoted to Trump’s Big Lie, that Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election. (Also, he wants to ban all machine counts and require a hand count of every election. I will note that we did a painstaking hand count a few years back and it took a really long time, cost a lot of money, and the Democrat won.) If you look at Kim’s website, you’ll find a bunch of doublespeak about “safeguarding” and “protecting” and “empowering.” Just to be clear, Kim is just as much of an election denier as Erik — she just knows how to say the quiet part quietly.

ETA: She managed to get fired from her job at the Center for the American Experiment (an ultraconservative area think tank) back in 2019 by being openly racist in an interview with the New York Times. “I think of America, the great assimilator, as a rubber band, but with this — we’re at the breaking point. These aren’t people coming from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible.” She issued an apology at the time, but doubled down in April of this year.

The Republican party has made it really, really, really clear that they have complete contempt for the entire concept of government of, for, and by the people. No one should trust them with elections, in Minnesota or any other state.

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. You will also be able to get them from Uncle Hugo’s when it reopens at 2716 E 31st St! (and maybe by mail order now? I’m not sure how much mail order Don is doing while getting ready to re-open.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active. (Also, I owe some embarrassing readings of my juvenalia to the Internet.)

I also went looking and found two DonorsChoose fundraisers for classrooms at Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis: math manipulatives for pre-K students (this is such a good idea) and a nice book organizer for a first-grade classroom where the shelving is coming apart.


Primary Elections 2022: Minnesota Attorney General

I actually got an e-mail from someone asking about this one this morning so I’m going to do it quickly (it’s another very straightforward race.)

DFL Attorney General Primary

Keith Ellison (incumbent, DFL-endorsed)
Bill Dahn

I am really pretty happy with the job Keith Ellison has done in the last four years, and I will talk more about this when I write about this race in the general election. In the primary, though, your options here are Keith, and … uh, this other guy. Bill Dahn’s website that he linked from his affidavit doesn’t work. I found another website here but it actually seems to be maintained by Sharon Anderson (also running for AG but on the Republican ticket, see below) and that may explain why so many of the documents on there seem to have literally nothing to do with him? Or possibly not. He has a Twitter on which he airs his two primary grievances, police officers with ‘roid rage and Jesse Ventura having paid the filing fee for him so he could re-register in the GOP primary race for governor instead of the Reform primary race for governor in 1998. (You can find area weirdo Leslie Davis explaining that controversy at great and extensive length here.) To sum up: Bill Dahn is a guy with a list of extremely niche grievances and he doesn’t belong anywhere near the AG’s office. Vote for Keith Ellison.

GOP Attorney General Primary

Jim Schultz (GOP endorsed)
Doug Wardlow
Sharon Anderson

Doug Wardlow is a far-right extremist who pals around with traitors, spreads Trump’s Big Lie about the election, and would one HUNDRED percent do anything he can think of to persecute anyone who comes to Minnesota to get a legal abortion. (Note that his website emphasizes creating a “human trafficking unit” and let’s just be clear about this: the right wing is already working on ways to use human trafficking laws to stop people from crossing state lines in order to get an abortion.)

Jim Schultz is a fellow far-right extremist who’s doing his best to keep his views under wraps by responding to questions about abortion by saying that no one cares about abortion and responding to questions about whether he thinks our elections are fair (n.b.: they are) by just not answering the questions at all (although he has a shout-out to the people who think there was fraud over on his website). Wardlow, of course, calls him a RINO. Schultz is running on crime, crime, and crime, with a website that as close to content-free as he could get it. I just want to note, though, that I really vehemently disagree with his theory that no one actually cares about abortion because we’re all more focused on crime. I care deeply about abortion, and while I think it’s unlikely to be made illegal in Minnesota in the next four years, I absolutely think that the rights of women to engage in interstate travel are going to be up for debate, and the prospect of an Attorney General who’d be tempted to side with the forced-birth legislators in Arkansas is completely unacceptable to me.

Sharon Anderson, okay. I’ve written about her before, a couple of times, but here’s a quick C&P from what’s currently at the top of her blog-slash-election-site. I’ve pasted as plain text to remove all the weird formatting and also the links, go on over to see the original if you want the full effect.

Sharon must because of Medical Malpractice must citre Keith Ellison as the Minnesota AntiChrist.
magner v. gallagher – Google Search
Affiant Widow,White Whistleblower state and alleges re penalty of perjury free speech that in her humnble, opinion Keith Ellison is the Anti Christ, further complicit with former Dnc Chair Tom Perez to Q
Minnesota Attorney General election, 2022 (August 9 Republican primary) – Ballotpediauid Pro Quo dismiss ussc 10-1032 titled Magner vs Gallagher
files Consumer Complaint vs. Facebook, Zuckerberg with her opponent for MN
Jim Schultz (Minnesota)AG Muslin Keith Ellison, who answers to Quran
and not the State and Federal Constitution.
FB exploiting Blindness You Zuckberg are conflictig, arbitrarily, discriminating vs Affiant Sharon Anderson with manulipating e address etc.
THEREFORE: Legal notice to opponent mUSLIN kEITH eLLISON MN AG RE

Ha ha ha yeah anyway. This lady? WON the Republican Primary back in 1994. She was the Republican candidate in the general election in 1994. (Minnesota politics in the 90s were wild.)

Absolutely any of these candidates would be a disaster as AG but in Sharon’s case the Republican party would be unlikely to rally behind her (they didn’t in 1994, they just pretended that race wasn’t happening) because there’s “saying the quiet part loud” and then there’s … whatever this is. So if I were going with the Chaos Option and voting for Bobagain at the top of the ticket, I’d be tempted to vote for Sharon next. But not because I think she should be AG, just to be clear. I am absolutely voting for Keith Ellison in the general election regardless of who his opponent is.

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. You will also be able to get them from Uncle Hugo’s when it reopens at 2716 E 31st St! (and maybe by mail order now? I’m not sure how much mail order Don is doing while getting ready to re-open.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active. (Also, I owe some embarrassing readings of my juvenalia to the Internet.)

I also went looking and found two DonorsChoose fundraisers for classrooms at Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis: math manipulatives for pre-K students (this is such a good idea) and a nice book organizer for a first-grade classroom where the shelving is coming apart.

Primary Elections 2022: Governor

So I know I said I was just going to leave this for later but I did the thing where I e-mailed a bunch of candidates (in other races, not this one) and now feel duty-bound to actually wait until they’ve had a reasonable amount of time to get back to me (especially the one whose campaign manager e-mailed me back and said he’s out of town) and anyway, this one is straightforward and I can feel like I’m accomplishing something because I’ll have another post up.

In the Governor’s race, there are contests on the ballot for Republicans, Democrats, and both weed parties. Here’s how primaries work in Minnesota: you get a ballot and it’s divided up into sections by party, and you have to pick a party to vote in. You can vote in all the Republican primaries, or all the DFL primaries, or all the Grassroots primaries (there’s only one), or all the Legal Marijuana Now primaries (again, there’s only one). You can also vote in all the nonpartisan primaries regardless — those are typically on the other side of the ballot. If you vote in multiple party primaries (even if you pick different races) you have spoiled your ballot and it will not be counted. (If you’re voting in person, the machine will spit your ballot out and you can trade it in for a fresh ballot and try again.)

DFL: Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan vs. Ole Savior and Julia M Parker.

You know who Tim Walz is and you probably know if you’re happy with him or not. But even if you’re not happy with him, your alternative on the primary ballot is Ole Savior, this guy whose long-time hobby is running in elections. He ran for governor, also in the DFL primary, in 2018, when I described him as the “quintessential flake candidate.”

Here’s the thing that’s kind of weird: I swear I remember that he died. Like I saw a news story about Ole Savior, long-time perennial candidate, dying, and thinking, “gosh, one fewer person on the ballot next time!” and … apparently I hallucinated this? Or dreamed it? It only counts as the Mandela Effect if other people remember it (like the Berensteain Bears) but seriously Ole turning up on the ballot felt like a glitch in the Matrix. I am going to vote for Tim, because there’s an actual primary in the DFL congressional race in 4 and so I’m voting in the Democratic races, and I’m not unhappy enough with Tim to risk even the narrow possibility of an Ole win. (It’s a very, very, very narrow possibility but you never know.)

GOP: Scott Jensen and Matt Birk vs. Joyce Lynne Lacey and Kent Edwards vs. Bob “Again” Carney Jr and Captain Jack Sparrow

Scott Jensen is the right-wing ghoul, forced birther, antivaxxer, ivermectin promoter and provider who got the GOP endorsement. He’s probably going to win the primary.

Joyce Lacey has an impressively pointless website. She has a section labeled “blog” and if you go there, you’ll see a photo of her with a sign saying “viruses come and go, loss of freedom is forever” and the post title “Defending our Freedom” and a photo of her with a sign saying “Life Is For Everyone” with the post title “Defending the Right to Life for All Ages.” If you click on either post, you will find that neither post has any text — they’re just the photo. She does have a Twitter on which she mentions some activism around abuse of guardianship, but her website doesn’t mention it.

BobAgain is another perennial candidate, as is Jack Sparrow, and I’m amused by the team-up. Bob is also running in the First District congressional district special election primary (because of course, this means he can run for two things back to back! presumably if he wins that one he’ll withdraw from the gubernatorial primary but the risk here is not high.)

My favorite bit of Bob’s website is that he has a secret plan for a Viking Super Bowl victory. (This is from his application form for a running mate, which is still up):

Dr. Scott Jensen, one of the GOP candidates, has selected former Viking Matt Birk as his running mate. If they’re endorsed, I’d like to be able to roll out a plan for the Vikings to win the Super Bowl by 2025 – if you know a lot about football, I’ll give your candidacy preferential consideration. To be blunt – winning the Super Bowl is something a lot of Minnesota voters may be more interested in than anything some politico says! This is all part of a general effort to encourage people to think differently – and to begin talking when that otherwise might not happen. (I actually do have a “secret plan” for how to do this – if Jensen/Birk is nominated at the convention it could be rolled out in book form during the campaign – you could possibly help write it and be a co-author. There is an admittedly lighthearted aspect to this. There would be some “serious side effects” from following the plan – that would be worth discussing too – but… bottom line… it could be done.)

If I were voting in the Republican races, I would absolutely vote for Bobagain to be the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis: Darrell Paulsen and Ed Engelmann vs. Steve Patterson and Matt Huff.

It took a lot of digging to find Darrel Paulsen’s website. Googling got me to his LinkedIn, which pointed me to the Facebook of his company, Paulsen and Company, which had a link to his Twitter, which when I scrolled down a bit had a link to his website. He’s a disability advocate and wheelchair user (his website had a link to this really interesting article from a few years ago about his and his wife’s parenting experiences). Anyway, he came to cannabis legalization via disability advocacy, I think.

Steve Patterson’s issues page starts out with a whine about the COVID lockdown (“My business partner Brian Miller and I were on pace to open Prime Stein Brewery in Rochester in June of 2020. That plan was derailed by Governor Walz and he created his first of several overly aggressive executive orders stating that no one could leave their home unless they were going to work.”) Moves on to the statement “I also do not believe in free healthcare as I think if it was free it should be abused” and wraps up with him wanting to enact the “Castle Doctrine” in Minnesota. Whee. I look at people like this and wonder why they’re not running as Libertarians? I assume it’s because the Libertarians aren’t a major party and Grassroots is at the moment.

If I were voting in this primary, which to be honest I have no idea why anyone would, I would vote for Darrel Paulsen.

Legal Marijuana Now Party: Chris Wright and L.C. Lawrence Converse vs. James McCaskel and David Sandbeck.

Chris Wright is one of the founders of the Grassroots party so I find it very funny he’s now running in the LMP primary. His issues page is a mix of “sure, that DFL proposal sounds great” and “I don’t know enough about monetary policy to truly evaluate your proposal but I’m pretty sure you don’t either.” He doesn’t comment on the accidental legalization of THC (none of the weed candidates do, that I saw) but he does have a long rant about why the other legalization bill proposed by the DFL and shot down by the Republicans is basically just as bad as keeping weed criminalized (because there’s a licensing requirement and taxes and stuff.)

Much like how Patterson is a Libertarian running on a weed party ticket because it’s a major party, James McCaskel is a Green running on a weed party ticket because it’s a major party. The text on his Platform page is bold, underlined, and centered, and thus really difficult to read, but they’re basically the Green Party’s Ten Key Values.

If forced to choose between these two people, I guess I would go with Chris Wright on the grounds that at least with him, weed is genuinely central to his political philosophy, he’s not a Green who’s hitchhiking on the LMP because they’re a major party right now and the Greens aren’t.

Honestly, for anyone who’s embracing chaos in their approach to the partisan primaries, you’re not going to beat Bob Again as an option.

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. You will also be able to get them from Uncle Hugo’s when it reopens at 2716 E 31st St! (and maybe by mail order now? I’m not sure how much mail order Don is doing while getting ready to re-open.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active. (Also, I owe some embarrassing readings of my juvenalia to the Internet.)

I also went looking and found two DonorsChoose fundraisers for classrooms at Bethune Community School in North Minneapolis: math manipulatives for pre-K students (this is such a good idea) and a nice book organizer for a first-grade classroom where the shelving is coming apart.

Jason Lewis Ambushed me with a Town Hall Meeting

I was at my friend Lyda’s house today for lunch. As we were carrying dishes into her kitchen, the phone rang. She looked at the Caller ID, which said JASON LEWIS.

“Why the is Jason Lewis calling you?” I asked. Jason Lewis is the US Congressional Representative for the 2nd District. Lyda does not live in the 2nd District; she lives in St. Paul, which is represented by Betty McCollum. Lyda has a St. Paul area code and a St. Paul exchange.

“I HAVE NO IDEA,” Lyda said.

“You could pick up and tell him to go to hell,” I suggested, helpfully.

“Feel free,” she said. So I picked up Lyda’s phone, expecting a deeply misguided fundraising phone call. Instead, I got a recording of Jason Lewis telling me that I had been invited to a Telephone Town Hall and if I wanted to stay on the line, I’d have the opportunity to hear from Congressman Lewis and (maybe) to ask him a question. Lyda was OK with me monopolizing her phone line and continuing to listen in, so I stayed on the line, pressed the keys to be added to the “ask question” queue, and live-Tweeted it.

Continue reading

Election 2016: U.S. House, 5th Congressional District

The 5th district Representative is Keith Ellison. I like Keith Ellison a lot: he’s a reliable liberal vote in Congress and he makes conservatives’ heads explode. Especially this year. (Did you hear that Trump’s campaign manager talked about Trump’s “five-point plan to defeat Islam”? She’s since blamed sleep deprivation for how that came out, but I’d say this is a good example of the definition of “gaffe” that goes “a politician was caught accidentally saying what they really mean.”)

The candidates on the ballot:

Keith Ellison (DFL)
Frank Drake (Republican)
Dennis Schuller (Legal Marijuana Now)

So yeah, Keith Ellison. Reliably liberal Democrat. I don’t know what all else to say about him: his policies are basically exactly what you’d expect (protect voting rights, reduce carbon emissions, expand Pell Grants… he has a lot of specifics if you look on his Issues page).

Frank Drake. His Platform section starts off as follows:

My number one issue that desperately needs to be addressed is Education. For far too long we’ve been scared to make the necessary changes which will give our children the best chance to succeed in a global market. We’re stuck in a 19th-century school calendar, but we live in the 21st Century.

We need to modernize our school calendar so we can catch up to the rest of the world. We also need to emphasize the basics such as arithmetic, reading, writing, spelling, and science.

Okay. First of all, school calendars are set by the states. This is not remotely in the Federal government’s wheelhouse, and I find it sort of hilarious and fascinating that a Republican is advocating so strongly for increased federal control over something that historically has been a local issue.

Also, I’m not sure if he’s paid much attention to this, but the Republican party has been having an ongoing freakout over the Common Core standards, which were the Federal government’s attempt to emphasize the basics such as arithmetic, reading, writing, spelling, and science.

He then goes on to say:

In High school, we have to encourage some students to learn a skill or trade because college isn’t for everyone. These students graduate High school,  ready to enter a field as an apprentice.

Just a couple of days ago I was writing about Ron Moey (candidate for Minnesota State Senate) and a questionnaire he filled out back in 2002 during a prior run for office, which included a question about whether he’d try to protect students from job training, basically. From the 14-year-old questionnaire: “The Profile of Learning and School-to-Work system are turning K-12 schools into job training centers where job skills training is replacing academic instruction. … Will you support legislation that protects students in K-12 schools by prohibiting all requirements that all students must participate in career skills training or other work-based curriculum, instruction or employment-related activity in career areas?” Ron answered “yes,” which was clearly the correct answer. I added, “I think most Republicans these days are OK with in-school job training these days, but maybe not?” Question answered! Republicans are A-OK with job training these days. (Much like they’re A-OK with the Federal government implementing basics-oriented standards as long as it’s Republicans doing it instead of Democrats.)

He goes on to talk about Obamacare:

Did you know, every person in Minnesota has to carry over 70 mandated health coverages? Each coverage carries a cost and is the primary reason why health care costs have skyrocketed. Many of these coverages you will never need. My Plan would allow greater flexibility on the health care exchanges, allowing people to choose some of their coverages. All while protecting people from being denied coverage who have a pre-existing condition.

So a couple of notes: he doesn’t put his plan on his website, which is a shame since he’d be basically the only Republican I’ve run across with an actual plan. Pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t have one either, but who knows. Also, it’s absolutely true that you’ll never need some of the mandated coverages. I looked this up — your plan must include coverage for outpatient care, hospital care, emergency services, pregnancy and maternity care, mental health care, prescription drugs, labs, chronic disease management, and rehabilitative services. It’s been years since I’ve needed hospitalization coverage and those fascists make me buy it anyway on the specious grounds that you never know when you might get trampled by a wandering white-tailed deer or suddenly need your gall bladder removed or whatever.

It is in point of fact absolutely true that Ed, for example, is never going to need pregnancy and maternity care. They make people buy that one because it’s in everyone’s interest that pregnant women get prenatal coverage, and if only women who are planning to get pregnant buy it, it’s going to be ridiculously expensive, and there will be a shit ton of women who get pregnant unexpectedly, opt not to terminate, and wind up either not getting prenatal care at all, or needing state help to afford it. This is in no one’s interest, not even Frank’s, though I’m sure he feels deeply affronted at the idea that prenatal care for women he doesn’t know might benefit him in any way.

Anyway. Frank is a moderately typical Republican, hasn’t thought through most of his positions to any real degree, and misuses capitalization. Next!

Next is Dennis Schuller. I’m going to C&P an excerpt from his website:

If the government can take away your basic right to use a plant as you see fit there are truly deeper issues. Prohibition is a human rights issue and I am a human rights candidate personal safety is my number one concern, everybody should be safe and not afraid of violent criminal acts. When we confuse morality with criminality we become a church state, the separation of church and state is protected in the constitution you can subscribe to any religion you want but you still have to follow the rules set forth by the government but not vice versa. However rules are supposed to make sense and be limited in scope to pretty much anything that impedes the citizen’s right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. I believe a kinder friendlier government should be our goal, our government should seek ways to end animosity and create good will and stability for our citizens. Thanks to our ancestor’s diligence abundance and modern convenience is what sets us apart from past Americans so let’s end the cold war mentality and follow a better path towards individuality and shared responsibility. Allow me to sum this up “Free The Weed & Free The People”

I know a lot of people who smoke pot these days. (Many of them legally, because they live in Washington State or Colorado.) Those people are all smart and articulate speakers/writers so I feel a little bad making the joke here that the entire website reads like he wrote it while stoned.

But, the entire website reads like he wrote it while stoned.

I have very minimal experience with marijuana because I tried it a handful of times and concluded I really didn’t like its effects. The one time I got really stoned, I attempted to write a letter in which I was complaining about the effects. And it came out kind of like this. My sentences would start on one topic and finish on another. I couldn’t stay focused on anything for more than a fraction of a second. I eventually gave up trying to write. (And I couldn’t read either and I got really bored and this is how Naomi decided that marijuana was not for her. Well, plus there were the leeches. It was just a bad time all around.)

I am pro-marijuana legalization and I am happy to see that society is moving in that direction but I see no particular reason to vote for Legal Marijuana Now candidates in general and if I were going to vote for a LMN candidate I’d want someone who’d be a credible officeholder, not someone who goes meandering off on weird tangents and writes all his paragraphs as wall-to-wall run-on sentences.

Also, the case for marijuana that goes “but it’s just a plaaaaaant” makes me want to list all the incredibly harmful toxic plants out there. There are bunches! Natural does not equal benign! (I don’t think marijuana is sufficiently dangerous to justify the laws against it. Even remotely. But I prefer to pressure Democrats and Republicans to recognize the stupidity of these laws, rather than voting for third-party candidates.)

In summary: vote for Keith Ellison, who is both a perfectly fine Congressional Rep and the only credible candidate in this race.



Election 2016: State Representative District 60A

(By request.)

This is a much more interesting race than a typical Minneapolis legislative race, because there’s no Republican at all and the Democrat is instead being challenged by an “Independent Progressive Liberal.”

The two candidates:

Diane Loeffler (incumbent, DFL)
Gabe Barnett (challenger, endorsed by the Green Party, chose to list his party as “Independent Progressive Liberal.”)

Diane Loeffler has been in the legislature for 12 years. Per her Wikipedia page, she has actual bona fide expertise on health care policy; she’s a health care policy analyst and planner for Hennepin County as her day job. Not surprisingly, if you click the Issues page on her website, the first thing you’ll see is a page about health care.

She supports “universal access” (“Universal access to affordable health care whether unemployed, self-employed or involved in a small business”) and doesn’t talk on her website about single-payer, even as a long-term sort of goal. In talking about costs, she focuses on “changes the promote health, prevention, and universal coverage,” which…okay. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers here and I am not an expert, but. There’s only so much you can do to get people to voluntarily make changes that “promote health.” (We’ve successfully shifted societal norms around smoking, but that took literally decades.) I think the idea that we can control health costs by encouraging healthy lifestyle choices is really questionable. It’s a politically safe answer but I’m super doubtful, in part just due to all the many people I’ve known over the years who were perfectly healthy until suddenly they weren’t.

On the plus side, she talks about both “support for home care” and “an improved system of options when home care isn’t enough,” and it is really damn rare to see people address caregiving; she’s clearly aware of the importance of not incentivizing self-destructive behavior (if it’s expensive to get a mammogram, a lot of people will just skip it); and public health approaches.

I was thinking that I really thought there should be some up-to-date information on how she wants to deal with MNsure-related stuff but then I got to her “Fairness and Respect” issues page and saw that it includes “Formally recognize in law all long-term committed relationships, including gay and lesbian partnerships” and now I’m curious when she last updated this site in any way.

Gabe Barnett’s campaign site is a Facebook page. He has a little sidebar that links to but when I clicked, that just took me back to the FB page. A campaign FB is definitely better than nothing, but if you want to track down someone’s position on issues they’re a lot harder to find.

In his pinned post up top, he says, “Our community’s leaders should share our values of equity, justice, and compassion for all people, regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, or income. Our elected officials should share our passion for a truly sustainable approach to the environment, and remain steadfast in our goal of protecting our natural resources and stopping climate change. Our representatives in St. Paul should be leading the conversation on these progressive ideals, and pushing the envelope on innovative ways to address them with integrity and conviction.” Someone left a question asking how he differed from Loeffler, and he said, “Thanks for inquiring. We will be releasing my full platform in the coming weeks.” On his FB page, the closest thing I found to a platform is this image. I’ll note two things: (1) the image was posted in May, and he promised a full platform soon in June, so this is definitely not what he meant. (2) if you’re using a screen reader, images of text on Facebook are completely inaccessible. So if you’re blind, you’re not going to be able to read it.

I will admit that I feel some hostility toward people who talk a good line about progressivism, but even while campaigning, can’t be bothered to do a few really minimal things (like not posting important text in picture-only format).

I guess I’ll also note that the text starts out, “Together WE can… * get corporate money and influence out of Minnesota politics and restore power to the people. * eradicate institutional racism, sexism, and classism from the public sector” — so, no ableism listed. (It goes on for 15 more lines that I’m not going to type out. If you’re using a screen reader, I would strongly encourage you to e-mail Gabe at and ask him to send you a text version.)

Fundamentally it looks like he doesn’t disagree with Loeffler on much; he thinks that in general the Northeast representative should be trying to push the Overton Window to the left and apparently doesn’t think Loeffler’s doing a good job there. Here’s his statement: “I believe that, as progressive and diverse as Northeast is, we should be boldly leading the conversation on making Minnesota an inclusively equitable and sustainable state, not meekly toeing a moderate party line.”

And, okay, I kind of get where he’s coming from here, but you know, I am pretty sure he is vastly overestimating the legislature’s overall interest in listening to anyone’s Bold Conversation.

There’s a nice article about Gabe that ran in a freebie local paper. He starts out complaining that too many people ignore “down-ballot politics.” (Tell me about it, Gabe.) He also notes, “Whether it’s gay marriage, or smoking bans, or medical marijuana, these things happen when this city does it, then that state does it, then that county does it, then this city does it, and all of a sudden it’s a national movement” — and yeah, I think he’s often correct. He goes on to say he was inspired by Bernie (cool) and that he’s undecided on the Presidential race (less cool). (He does say that if it looks close in Minnesota he’ll hold his nose and vote for Hillary, and he isn’t super impressed by Jill Stein, either.) This article also talks about his in-person outreach to the community: “Social media’s a great tool…but again, local politics should be about community engagement.” To which I would say that community engagement is great, but when you’re talking about an area with almost 18,000 households and over 40,000 people, there are some real advantages to having a centralized place with a bunch of information about yourself, like a website. With your platform.

Gabe comes across as super young to me, but he’s actually 35, so not that much younger than I am. He’s a musician (a fairly successful one — his band, Gabe Barnett and Them Rounders, has performed at First Ave).

Fundamentally, here’s what strikes me about this race.

There’s a legitimate philosophical question about what you want from your elected representatives. Do you prefer someone who is pragmatic, who will set smaller, more achievable goals and get more of those things done, or would you prefer someone who is idealistic, who will have big goals and try to inspire people to work toward that goal, and who (honestly) probably won’t get anything done in the short term? If what you want is something big and sweeping, do you think you’re more likely to achieve it in baby steps, or with the revolutionary, aim-for-the-moon approach?

At this point in my life, I will pick the pragmatist pretty much every time. Half a loaf is not only better than no loaf, it’s way more than I was expecting. Typically I feel like I’m doing pretty well if we get 1/4 of a loaf. But I have very close friends whose views I respect who want their representative to throw that loaf to the side and say “you motherfucker, that is HALF. HALF A LOAF. For people who have NO BREAD. Why should we take this?”

I guess what I really want (and what I definitely feel like I had in my old district and have in my current district) is a legislator who will grab that half a loaf and put it somewhere safe and them come back to the table and pitch a fit about the missing half.

Is that what 60A has in Diane Loeffler? This is one of the things that’s harder to know from outside the district. Even if she’ll just shrug and take the half-loaf, though, that’s who I’d want representing me in the legislature because so much of what the legislature is about is fighting for these incremental changes in the face of complete intransigence. (I mean, the titanic fight that got us passage of one of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the country would be a good illustration of this.)

Diane Loeffler’s “Results” page has some hilarious examples of what I mean, though. It includes, “Diane worked to make more aware of property tax refunds (1/3 of those eligible don’t apply).” This is one of those tiny accomplishments that nonetheless put a chunk of money in the pocket of a bunch of people who were probably able to make good use of it. She got $24 million allocated to replace a bridge in the Northeast that was in particularly poor condition. She mentions helping to pass the graduated licensing law, which restricts new teenage drivers. (Some of this stuff looks really old. I think this really might have been a good year to update her site, though possibly she checked out her opponent’s FB page and the fact that he never got a platform uploaded made her figure she didn’t need to bother.)

If I lived in this district, it’s possible that Gabe would door-knock me and blow me away so much I’d vote for him. But part of my attitude here (which also heavily influenced my preferences during the Democratic primary) is that I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, immersed in the talk-a-good-line, never-get-shit-done school of progressivism, and I’m kind of over it. If you have goals like “make Minnesota’s public colleges tuition-free” I have a lot of questions. Where are you going to get the money? How are you going to set this up so it’s not just a blank check for the university to spend money on stupid shit? How long will individuals from other states have to live here to qualify for residency, and how will this impact the ability of Minnesotans to get in to our colleges and universities? Will this be an unlimited sort of deal or four years only? What if someone changes their major? What about students who come in needing remedial work? …I mean, it’s not that I don’t think this is a good idea. At the very least, I think that public college tuition should be something that every student can pay for by working part-time in a crappy job. (I also think that if someone got B’s and A’s in college-preparatory classes at their high school and arrived at the university and got told they needed remedial classes, their school district should be on the hook for the cost of the remediation.) And finally, how are you going to accomplish this when the legislature wasn’t even able to pass a transportation bill? There are 5.457 million Minnesotans; the House Rep for 60A will represent 40,000 of them.

(If you have a request for an analysis of a Minneapolis or St. Paul race I haven’t written about, feel free to let me know. I don’t do suburban or outstate races because I’m insufficiently versed in local jargon, hot-button issues, etc.)

Election 2016: MN State Senate, District 63

My old Minneapolis district has the following two people on the ballot:

Patricia Torres Ray
Ron Moey

So, here’s my story about Patricia Torres Ray. Back when the seat opened up, Ed and I had gone to our caucus and signed up to be Senate District Convention delegates, so we were getting door knocked and called by all the various DFLers running for the open seat. Patricia door-knocked us as we were preparing for a St. Patrick’s Day party — cleaning house, peeling carrots and potatoes, etc. We told her we were happy to talk to her but she’d need to come in and talk while we continued to get ready for the party. Which she willingly did.

We really liked her. We actually liked several of the people running that year, but Patricia wound up being our first choice. And that was true for a lot of people: she was ahead on the very first ballot, and gained each time until she hit endorsement levels.

She’s smart, progressive, thoughtful, and good at her job. I’m still a fan.

Ron Moey has no website. Here’s what I was able to glean about him:

  • He runs a drain cleaning company I’ve heard of – Ron the Sewer Rat. I looked him up on Angie’s List and he has a ton of reviews and a solid A rating. If you need a drain cleaner, he’s a great person to call.
  • A Gun Owner’s PAC thinks he’s great.
  • The anti-abortion MCCL thinks he’s great.
  • Here’s the weirdest and most interesting thing I found. He also ran back in 2002 and filled out a questionnaire about education policy. This is still online. The thing I find sort of fascinating is how differently Republicans talked about education 14 years ago. Back then, the target of everyone’s hatred was the Profiles of Learning. And let me just be clear about this: I hated the Profiles of Learning. I still consider it one of the most jaw-droppingly misguided and badly implemented educational policy iniatives I’ve seen in my lifetime. It came from my own party, and I remember looking at one particularly dismaying set of state election results and saying, “well, on the bright side, hopefully they’ll ditch the PoL.” (They did.)

    But the questionnaire talks about protecting students from job training. (“The Profile of Learning and School-to-Work system are turning K-12 schools into job training centers where job skills training is replacing academic instruction. … Will you support legislation that protects students in K-12 schools by prohibiting all requirements that all students must participate in career skills training or other work-based curriculum, instruction or employment-related activity in career areas?” Ron answered “yes,” clearly the correct answer.) I think most Republicans these days are OK with in-school job training these days, but maybe not?

    He also answered yes to this one: “Nonprofit foundations and the federal government are promoting a massive expansion of an early childcare system in every state that will place the government in authority over parenting. An early childhood government education system will require government credentialing, and therefore mandate a government curriculum. State early childhood curriculum incorporates content aligned with the Profile of Learning and often uses material deeply offensive to parental values and beliefs. For example, the early childhood credentialing program called TEACH uses a curriculum that promotes childhood acceptance of homosexuality, engages in sexual identity training, promotes negative attitudes toward western civilization and history, rewrites history that reflects a bias against traditional values, and trains young children to be political activists. Will you support legislation that prohibits the state from usurping the authority of parents for their children or from requiring early childhood curriculum that is negative toward traditional values?

    I’m not even 100% sure what they were objecting to there — early childhood education programs like ECFE? (ECFE is a parent/child education program run through local school districts. I went to ECFE classes with Molly when she was a baby and toddler. I got some useful stuff out of the program.)  Universal Pre-K? Credentialling requirements for day care providers? The fact that the state can remove your children from your home for abuse or neglect?

    I mean, clearly they’re opposed to the book Heather Has Two Mommies but the precise objection here is genuinely unclear to me.

Anyway — Ron Moey has no website or online info and is endorsed by a bunch of people I don’t like, so I’d strongly recommend Patricia Torres Ray.


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 2016: State Senator District 64

The candidates for my State Senate seat are Dick Cohen (DFL) and Ian Baird (Republican).

Dick Cohen, the Senator from my current district, has been in the Minnesota legislature since 1976. He’s not as old as you might think — he got elected for the first time when he was ridiculously young, and so he’s younger than my father. But since 1976, my father has lived in four different cities and worked at four separate universities, despite being a faculty member (who, as everyone knows, typically get tenure somewhere and stay there basically forever). In those same forty years Dick Cohen has stayed in St. Paul, and in the legislature. (He did move from the House to the Senate ten years in.) I will admit some mixed feelings about legislators who serve for this long.

But he’s kept up with the times and has been a hard-working, reliable progressive vote.

Ian Baird looks about eighteen to me. His biography talks about his parents’ dairy business and says, “Today I work as a theater artist and carpenter.  I’ve worked on shows ranging from  Les Miserables to, well, shows you’ve never heard of.” This got me curious and I went looking for his CV. Most theater professionals make it really easy to find them, via a listing like this one on Minnesota Playlist. Or a website. Or a LinkedIn page. I turned up a LinkedIn page that might be Ian’s; I’m not sure. It’s even more pathetic than my LinkedIn page. I did find a CV that might be his here. If it’s his, he graduated college in 2013, so that explains why he looks so ridiculously young.

He also probably went here: (I’m not 100% sure because there are a number of academic institutions named Northwestern. This is based in part on what I found on the LinkedIn page.) This is a small, weird, very conservative, very Christian college. They also emphasize career-oriented degrees, so the fact that he emerged with a History degree and a Theater minor is kind of fascinating.

He also doesn’t appear to have turned out the sort of Christian his parents were probably hoping for when they sent him off to school, given that his “About” page that goes with the CV includes the observation that “Religion, like performance, offers a place for people to hide from the reality of who they are.”

Working my way to his actual campaign: his positions include “why do we pay for trains when I never ride them,” “I’ve heard lots of horror stories about education,” and “paid leave legislation is bad.” He’s also pro-transparency (fair), thought the police officer who shot Philando Castile should be tried (yay), and has nothing much to say either on his campaign website or his campaign Facebook page about the GOP’s social positions. His Facebook page also mentions that he’s pro-fireworks and views himself as the candidate for fans of Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. (I am fond of Ron as a character, but have never said to myself, “wow, I wish I could have him represent me in the legislature.” I’d totally vote for Knope, though.)

Unclear: whether he’s reflected at all on the fact that most of the people in his party view arts funding the way he views trains, or the fact that most of the people in his profession are heavily dependent on health care plans set up by Democrats.


Anyway, it’s an interesting picture. Not someone I’d vote for, but I wish Ian success in his life as a Theater artist and I hope he’s gained financial independence from his parents, because I bet they are a lot more conservative than he is.


Everyone else should vote for the progressive dinosaur!


Election 2016: U.S. Representative, District 4

(I’m going to tackle the ballot out of order and do the presidential race last.)

I live in St. Paul, and our Congresswoman is Betty McCollum. This is largely regarded as a safe Democratic seat.

Here’s who’s running:

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

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