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Mary Lahammer interviewed Ryan Winkler for last night’s Almanac. During that brief interview, Rep. Winkler gave us the DFL’s mantra for the next 2 years:

REP. WINKLER: Divided government and gridlock and the type of divisiveness that we’re already starting to see is not the way we move ahead and they’re going to send Democrats back in to get things done.

That’s stunning. The new legislature hasn’t even been sworn in and Rep. Winkler thinks he’s Carnac. Before the first bill is submitted, Rep. Winkler thinks that Republicans are being divisive and sowing the seeds of gridlock. That’s world class chutzpah.

A couple themes are developing already. First, Paul Thissen is questioning whether Republicans will stand up to their big corporate special interests:

Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks?

As I wrote here, that’s what chutzpah looks like. First, Republicans didn’t propose any tax breaks for corporations. Thissen knows that. Thissen doesn’t care because the DFL’s communications aren’t based in honesty. The DFL specializes in repeating outright lies. Second, Thissen and the DFL didn’t fight for Main Street.

When it was time to fight for miners on the Iron Range, the DFL didn’t.
When it was time to fight for women operating in-home child care businesses, Thissen & the DFL sided with AFSCME instead.
When it was time to fight for small businesses in outstate Minnesota, Thissen and the DFL raised their taxes instead.

Rep. Winkler, I’ve had enough of your dishonesty and chutzpah. I’m especially disgusted with your reckless assumptions. It’s reckless and dishonest to accuse Republicans of being divisive a month before the 2015 legislative session has even started. Further, it’s dishonest to say that Republicans having honest policy disagreements with the DFL is automatically considered gridlock.

That’s a clever Alinskyite tactic but it’s deceitful. Before the DFL started employing Alinskyite tactics, expressing honest policy disagreements on the House floor or in committee were what’s known as debates.

Further, it’s dishonest and deceitful to think that all DFL ideas are great solutions to Minnesota’s problems or that Republicans’ ideas are automatically doomed to failure. If Rep. Winkler honestly thinks that, then he’s a narcissist who thinks of himself as intellectually superior.

Considering the fact that he once called a black man an “Uncle Thomas”, then insisted that he didn’t know that that was a pejorative term, there’s reason to think that he’s just a lefty bomb thrower who’s prone to shooting his mouth off.

During the 2013 session, the DFL voted to hurt some small businesses with major tax increases and hurt other small businesses with forced unionization. Repeatedly, the DFL showed their hostility with small businesses. Many of the businesses hurt with the DFL’s tax increases were in outstate Minnesota.

Despite those indisputable facts, the DFL is insisting that disagreeing with them leads to gridlock that hurts Minnesotans. The DFL’s policies are what hurt Minnesotans. No catchy, dishonest mantra will change that truth.

Paul Thissen’s op-ed, which was also published in the Rochester Post-Bulletin, had so spin that I couldn’t fit it into one post. Here’s more of Thissen’s spin:

They voted against the Homestead Credit Refund that provided $120 million in direct property tax relief to 450,000 homeowners, helping reduce statewide property taxes for the first time in 12 years.

Bill Salisbury’s article quickly discredits Thissen’s spin:

Overall, cities have proposed a 4.6 percent property-tax levy increase, counties’ levies would go up 3 percent, townships would levy an additional 2 percent and special taxing districts proposed a 3 percent boost.

Thissen and the DFL initially raised taxes and fees by $2,500,000,000. After getting blasted for raising taxes on B2B transactions, Thissen and the DFL returned to St. Paul a repentant bunch. They quickly repealed the tax increases they’d passed just months earlier. Thissen and the DFL frequently justified that gigantic tax increase by promising property tax relief to the middle class. Apparently, the DFL failed. Property taxes didn’t drop. They’re still going up.

They failed to support our farmers, voting against grants to help family farms start up and expand, against livestock disease research and against the new Farm-to-Foodshelf program.

Republicans voted against the DFL’s attempt to use taxpayers’ money to buy votes with massive spending increases directed at their special interest allies. The Dayton-Thissen-DFL budget wasn’t a budget as it was the DFL checking off as many of the items on the DFL special interests’ wish list as possible.

The DFL’s tax bill didn’t reform the tax code to make Minnesota competitive with its neighboring states. It’s amazing that the DFL’s hostility to businesses didn’t result in them losing more seats.

More importantly, I hope to hear the Republicans move on to governing and discuss how the entire state can prosper together as one.

That’s a clever trick on Thissen’s part. You’d almost think that there was a Republican governor setting the agenda. It’s the governor that proposes. The legislature’s role is to debate Gov. Dayton’s budget, then offer amendments to the things he got wrong. Unfortunately for Minnesota businesses, there’s be so much uncertainty caused by Gov. Dayton’s budgets that businesses didn’t create as many jobs as they could have.

Will Thissen and the DFL support opening PolyMet? Will they support building the Sandpiper Pipeline project? Will they insist on a silica sand-mining moratorium? Those projects alone would spread prosperity throughout more of Minnesota.

When Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen attended the DFL State Convention, their devotion to Iron Range jobs was so tepid they wouldn’t even permit a debate on whether the DFL’s platform should include a simple statement saying that they support mining.

I’d love hearing Speaker Thissen explain how stifling debate on a major economic development issue helps “the entire state can prosper together as one.” That explanation would likely be more twisted than a pretzel.

Then again, I could say that about most DFL economic policies.

Paul Thissen’s op-ed in Friday night’s St. Cloud Times is breathtakingly dishonest. Here’s a prime example of Thissen’s dishonesty:

On the campaign trail, Republicans like Daudt attacked these accomplishments as inadequate, attacks ironically financed by enormous contributions from big Twin Cities corporate special interests. So it seems fair to ask:

Will Republicans be willing to stand up to their big Twin Cities corporate donors and make sure to continue DFL investments in education that are closing the funding gap between rural and suburban school districts rather than handing out corporate tax breaks?

I frequently wrote about the Democrats’ dishonest claims that Republicans supported “handing out corporate tax breaks.” To be fair, most of those claims were made against Torrey Westrom’s and Stewart Mills’ congressional campaigns but Thissen’s claims are dishonest just the same. One of the DCCC’s ads accused Torrey Westrom of shutting down the government “to give tax breaks to his wealthy friends.”

First, Republicans haven’t written any legislation that would “hand out corporate tax breaks. Thissen knows that’s verifiable fact but he doesn’t care because he’s utterly dishonest. Soon-to-be Minority Leader Thissen can clear this all up by citing which legislation the Republicans authored would’ve given corporations tax breaks.

Most importantly, though, let’s focus on who funded the DFL’s legislative campaign. In St. Cloud, the DFL paid for most of the campaign mailers. I don’t recall getting any mailers from Dorholt’s campaign proper. I also got mailers from a pro-union group called Working America Minnesota Political Fund. This is one of their mailers:

Will Minority Leader Thissen “be willing to stand up to [his] big Twin Cities” special interest allies in the next legislative session? Will he stand up to the environmental activist wing of the DFL? Will he tell Alida Messinger that he’ll steadfastly support mining on the Iron Range?

History shows he won’t. When AFSCME and SEIU insisted that the DFL impose forced unionization on small businesses, then-Speaker Thissen didn’t think twice. Rather than siding with the hard-working ladies who run in-home child care facilities, Thissen and the DFL voted with Eliot Seide and Javier Morillo-Alicea instead.

When convenience stores told him not to raise the cigarette tax because that’d hurt their businesses, Thissen didn’t just ignore them. He raised the cigarette tax $1.50 a pack. Thanks to Thissen and the DFL, convenience stores in Greater Minnesota got hurt.

Will a Republican legislature respond to the unique economic challenges that have made it harder for our economic recovery to be felt from border-to-border?

Unlike the DFL of the last 2 years, the GOP House will respond to Greater Minnesota’s economic needs. The GOP didn’t ignore small businesses’ calls to not start applying the sales tax on business-to-business transactions. In the House, the DFL voted for raising those taxes. After they got an earful from businesses after the session, the DFL knew that they’d overreached.

Sensing that their majority status in the House was in jeopardy, the DFL quickly moved to repeal the B2B sales taxes that they’d passed just months before.

Paul Thissen wasn’t the only DFL legislator who displayed hostility to businesses. That’s why he’ll soon be the House Minority Leader rather than getting another term as Speaker.

It’s hard to believe but today marks the 10 year blogiversary for LFR. It’s been an incredible experience. The first subject that I sunk my teeth into was the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. These days, there isn’t much in the way of good news coming from across the ocean thanks to our incredibly inept president.

Back when I started, I did lots of writing about world events. After the 2006 election disaster, I started paying attention to state government. In March, 2007, I broke my first news story thanks to a great tip from then-Rep. Steve Gottwalt. It’s still one of my favorite posts:

I just got off the phone with Steve Gottwalt, who had some shocking news from the Capitol. Today, at a committee hearing, Cy Thao told Steve “When you guys win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money.” This was Thao’s explanation as to how the DFL plans on paying for all the spending increases they promised their special interest friends.

The DFL still has the same mindset today as they did in March, 2007.

Bit by bit, I started doing original reporting thanks in large part to frustrated state legislators who were being ignored by the Star Tribune and the St. Cloud Times. In 2008, I started covering the candidate forums. They were quite memorable. I still remember Rob Jacobs telling 2 major groups that he wasn’t an expert on their issues (transportation that Monday, health care the next day) but that he was a good listener. Despite telling everyone covering the events that he was totally unqualified for the job, the St. Cloud Times endorsed him over Rep. Dan Severson. The good news from that fiasco was that the Times had egg on their face when Rep. Severson beat Jacobs by 10 points.

The last 3 years, I’ve spent lots of time being the taxpayers’ watchdog. I’ve scooped the Times so many times that I’ve lost track of how many times it’s happened. Hopefully, I’ll be around when the mismanagement comes to an end. Hopefully, it’ll happen soon.

If you appreciate the reporting I’ve done, feel free to drop a few coins in the tip jar. Thanks for being incredibly loyal followers to LFR.

According to this article, Rick Nolan is upset with outside groups’ smear campaign against Stewart Mills:

But the ads were also strongly disliked by Nolan, who was frustrated that he didn’t have the authority to pull third-party ads, or even talk about them with the group sponsoring them.

That’s total BS. It’s an outright lie. It’s true that Congressman Nolan can’t coordinate anything with independent expenditure organizations, from ad buys to GOTV operations. There’s nothing illegal if Congressman Nolan had issued a statement criticizing Nancy Pelosi’s PAC for running ads that bordered on slander. It wouldn’t have been smart for him to do that, though, because his ads were exceptionally similar to the ads run by Pelosi’s PAC.

WASHINGTON — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided it would fund a lot of hit ads against 8th District Republican challenger Stewart Mills. So the Washington-based group recorded television ads and sent out mailers that mocked U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s opponent for his shoulder-length hair and his wealth obtained through a successful; and hard-working family business, Mills Fleet Farm.

Now that this election is in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to say some things that I didn’t say prior to the election. First, Nolan’s statements about there being too much money in politics is typical DFL boilerplate. It isn’t that there’s too many ads on TV.

It’s that there are too many spineless DFL politicians who won’t criticize their supporters for funding smear campaigns.

If Nolan was a man of integrity, which he isn’t, he could’ve criticized House Majority PAC, the DCCC and AFSCME’s PAC for running a smear campaign. Apparently, Nolan didn’t learn that the First Amendment protects people who criticize political campaign machines.

The ads were viewed by political friends of Mills as ridiculous, offensive and personally nasty. “They’re just so absolutely not grounded in any sense of reality. They’re going after a person’s appearance and also success … and isn’t success the American Dream,” Mills said during an interview during the campaign.

Stewart Mills highlights beautifully that Rick Nolan didn’t stand up for people trying to achieve the American Dream. That’s because Nolan spent the campaign criticizing achievement. Stewart Mills spent his entire campaign showing how the company he runs has done more to help the middle class than the entire Democratic Caucus has done in the last 10 years.

It’s time for Iron Range voters to decide whether they want someone representing them who tells them he supports them until election day, then ignores them the next 22 months. They made a mistake this time. They should’ve voted for Stewart Mills because he would’ve went to Washington to get PolyMet opened.

Now that the election is behind him, Rick Nolan will likely ignore the PolyMet issue for the next 22 months. That’s how Iron Range voters will know whether Nolan supports them or if he’s just committed to paying PolyMet lip service.

This article is mostly about how the Range delegation will get along with the incoming GOP majority in the House. Still, there’s a paragraph that’s highlight worthy:

Dill said he believes the House Republican majority will be pro-mining. And he said metro-centric DFLers, including some who were defeated, have never asked him about going fishing, snowmobiling and ATVing. “They don’t understand us and our lifestyle,” Dill said.

I’m certain that Rep. Dill didn’t think that statement through but he’s right. The metro-centric part of the DFL doesn’t understand the Range’s people or lifestyle. I’d add that that’s because they only care about metro issues with one exception. The environmental activist wing of the DFL is steadfastly anti-mining. They’re unmistakably the dominant wing in the DFL. That fact isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

The DFL is the ‘Party of the Highest Bidder’. When it comes to their agenda, they’ll side with the faction that will contribute the most to their re-election campaigns. If there are competing special interests, like miners and environmental activists, they’ll attempt the political equivalent of a high wire act. That’s what they did this year.

Rangers should take note of the other thing Rep. Dill said:

Dill said he believes the House Republican majority will be pro-mining.

I’ll guarantee that the House GOP will be pro-mining. Since 2009, Republicans have been firmly pro-mining. That’s been the best kept political secret of the past 4 years.

State Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, took a positive view of the House change in leadership. “Rangers will be able to work with Speaker Daudt. It will be a new experience, but I am looking forward to learning how to navigate in the minority,” he said in an email.

Republicans, I’m certain, will do everything to make Rep. Metsa’s time in the minority a pleasant and, hopefully, long-lasting experience.

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If there’s anything that’s clear about the Eighth District race, it’s that Eighth District voters voted for a congressman who will be utterly irrelevant:

Candidates for 8th District Congress from the Brainerd Area received 254,004 votes on Tuesday, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan polling a mere 3,636 more ballots than Republican Stewart Mills. The result: A narrow re-election victory for Nolan in a race that drew national media attention and more than $12 million in independent groups for advertising — mostly television.

A final count gives Nolan 128,820 to 125,184 for Mills, a 48.5 percent to 47.1 percent margin. Nolan and Mills volleyed the lead for about two hours until the congressman opened about a 2 percent lead at 10 p.m., which he maintained with only slight slippage until Wednesday morning when his lead was too much to overcome.

The Eighth District just voted for a man who will be utterly irrelevant when the next Congress is sworn in. Nancy Pelosi’s caucus will have their smallest caucus since 1929. Seriously, that’s how irrelevant they’ll be.

More important, the Iron Range voted against its own self interest. They voted for a life-long environmentalist who won’t lift a finger to open PolyMet. The DFL is dominated by environmental elitists from the Twin Cities. That won’t change anytime soon because the environmental elitists write big checks to the DFL. The Range’s legislators are subjected to the Metrocrats’ agenda and always will be until the Range breaks away from the DFL.

Republicans were accused of playing the PolyMet issue for political advantage. Rangers said they’d forget about PolyMet the day after the election. To be fair, Republicans haven’t always had the Range’s best interests at heart so a certain amount of distrust is justifiable.

What Rangers are about to find out, though, is that PolyMet wasn’t just a political position taken by Republicans for the 2014 election. Rangers will see the Republicans’ commitment to PolyMet and other similar projects. The Range will find out that Republicans want people prospering wherever they live in Minnesota.

Finally, Rangers will find out that this isn’t their daddies’ DFL. This DFL is run by Alida Messinger, the woman who writes big checks to environmental organizations and to the DFL in her effort to prevent PolyMet from getting built. If Rangers keep voting for the DFL, they’ll continue to have the same shitty economy they’ve had for the last 15-20 years.

Einstein once said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I disagree. Voting for the DFL again and again, then expecting the FL and Alida Messinger to change is either stupidity or political suicide. The DFL won’t change. It’s time the Range finally admitted that.

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Throughout this campaign, Gov. Dayton hasn’t told Minnesotans the truth about MNsure. In his final debate with Jeff Johnson Friday night, Gov. Dayton insisted that MNsure was getting better all the time. Gov. Dayton said that despite this information:

Counties will have to start next month processing thousands of paper applications for health insurance for MNsure, the state’s online health exchange.

Local officials say the unexpected shift will result in a significant increase in workload for counties, which already are dealing with additional duties related to the Affordable Care Act. “We will have to gear up for it, there’s no doubt about that,” said Mary Jo Cobb, Sherburne County health and human services director.

Apparently, Democrats think spending $155,000,000 on a website that didn’t work last year and that isn’t working this year is proof that MNsure’s getting better all the time. People living in the real world, however, think that’s a gigantic waste of their hard-earned money.

Politicians, for the most part, don’t think about whether money spent improves people’s lives. Businessmen, on the other hand, are constantly monitoring whether the money they’ve spent is producing positive results because it’s either their money or their job depends on spending their investors’ money wisely.

The Twin Cities legislators that voted to create MNsure will likely win with 75% of the vote. For them, consequences don’t exist. As long as they do what the DFL machine tells them to do, they won’t have a thing to worry about.

This information is frightening:

Since the MNsure exchange launched a year ago, it’s been plagued with technical problems. That’s caused more people than expected to resort to submitting paper applications, said Janet Goligowski, gateway services director in Stearns County’s human services department.

“Presumably, the concept is that the online system will be so easy and so intuitive and user friendly that no one would really think to go to paper applications, which are very hefty and very long,” Goligowski said. However, since the exchange has been unable to process many applications promptly, “people just really naturally gravitated toward the paper applications,” she said.

That’s frightening. Apparently, the Dayton administration thought that the website would work beautifully so they didn’t need a tested manual system. The Dayton administration’s actions and assumptions wouldn’t be tolerated in the private sector. The thought of not being prepared for multiple eventualities is disgusting.

Why Gov. Dayton’s administration didn’t prepare for this is beyond incomprehensible. Apparently, Gov. Dayton thinks that his job is to sign bills. He hasn’t shown an interest in making sure the nuts and bolts operations are operating properly.

That’s why MNsure is an ongoing disaster. That’s why his administration is an ongoing disaster.

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It isn’t a surprise that the Strib endorsed Steve Simon. It’s just sad that they said this about him:

This is the issue that should matter most when those Minnesotans who do exercise their civic privilege vote for a new secretary of state on Nov. 4. And once this key consideration is taken into account, it’s clear that Steve Simon, who represents portions of St. Louis Park and Hopkins in the Legislature, is uniquely well suited to succeed Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who is not seeking a third term.

Simon, like Ritchie, is a DFLer. But he has built bipartisan consensus to increase voter participation. As chair of the House Elections Committee, Simon was instrumental in passing the “no excuses” absentee voter law, which starting this election makes it easier for Minnesota voters to cast a ballot, as well as the bill allowing online voter registration. And he carried the bill to switch Minnesota’s primary election from September to August to better accommodate state voters living abroad.

That’s BS. Simon didn’t build bipartisan consensus “to increase voter participation.” The only time Republicans and Democrats have disagreed about election policies, they were discussing Photo ID. Other than that, they’ve largely agreed.

Lately, though, Rep. Simon has shown a particularly nasty, race-hustling side:

STEVE SIMON: I really don’t support this idea of a sort of Lexus lane for voting or the so-called “Express Lane Voting. First of all, it seems intended to be a separate but equal system. All I have to go on are Dan’s own words when he characterized on a TEA Party TV show in the spring when he said “If you don’t want to show an ID, be my guest. You can go over to the side and wait 2 hours in the cold. That’s fine.”

It isn’t accidental that Rep. Simon used that disgusting term. Rep. Simon intended to frighten minorities, especially African-Americans, into turning out and voting. That type of partisanship indicates that Steve Simon isn’t the nonpartisan, consensus-seeking public servant that the Strib wants us to believe. It’s apparent that he’s a politician who won’t hesitate in saying anything to get elected. Further, that tells me that he isn’t the man of integrity that’s required to do this job.

What’s most disheartening is that nobody in the DFL or in the Twin Cities media have said a thing about Rep. Simon’s racism. Nobody’s called him out for his racist fearmongering. That’s both disgusting and disheartening. What’s worst is that Steve Simon has repeatedly resorted to this inflammatory racist rhetoric. Why would anyone think that he’s an impartial, nonpartisan arbiter of administering elections?

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Dan Severson’s campaign to be Minnesota’s next Secretary of State is finishing strong. Severson’s last ad is especially powerful because it’s silent except for the imagery:

Here’s the question it poses to Minnesotans:

Not sure who to vote for? Ask yourself this…Who do you trust more? A lawyer who seems to think that elections are a child’s game? Or a man who gave 22 years defending your right to vote?

During last week’s debate on Almanac, Dan Severson introduced an initiative called Express Lane Voting. Earlier this week, Steve Simon, the man who hasn’t offered anything in terms of an agenda, intentionally played the over-the-top race card. Here’s what he said during a debate:

STEVE SIMON: I really don’t support this idea of a sort of Lexus lane for voting or the so-called “Express Lane Voting. First of all, it seems intended to be a separate but equal system. All I have to go on are Dan’s own words when he characterized on a TEA Party TV show in the spring when he said “If you don’t want to show an ID, be my guest. You can go over to the side and wait 2 hours in the cold. That’s fine.”

Let’s be blunt. Steve Simon doesn’t have an agenda of his own. He’s a lackluster candidate at best. Now that he’s in trouble, isn’t it interesting that Steve Simon has resorted to race-baiting?

By comparison, Dan Severson has run a positive, substantive campaign. He’s offered new ideas. He’s highlighted his years of service to our nation. Having known Dan for almost a decade, I know that he’s a natural-born hero. Dan’s 22 years of service verify that.

When Dan proposed a system to make voting easier for Minnesotans serving overseas in the military, the closest thing to substantive criticism DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin’s could come was that Severson had sponsored lots of veterans legislation while in the legislature.

Minnesota’s Secretary of State needs to be a man with integrity. Anyone that’s willing to intentionally play the race-baiting card to attract votes isn’t a man of integrity. That’s the definition of a politician who didn’t hesitate in frighten voters with the worst political imagery imaginable.

Dan Severson is a leader and a man of integrity. That’s what I’m looking for.

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