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Let’s recount the DFL’s Eighth District Convention last Saturday. According to multiple tweets, Leah Phifer got the most votes in each of the 10 rounds of balloting. Still, she didn’t reach the 60% threshold needed to win the DFL’s official endorsement to run for the US House of Representatives. It was considered a fait accompli that Ms. Phifer would run in the August DFL primary. Why wouldn’t she? She was the frontrunner in each of the 10 rounds of balloting.

Late Wednesday night, though, Ms. Phifer dropped a bombshell, announcing that she wouldn’t run in the DFL primary.

In her official statement, Ms. Phifer said “My goal, since first declaring my candidacy in October 2017, has always been to win the DFL endorsement, bring new voices to the table and strengthen the party. A divisive primary season would only serve to weaken the party and distract from the issues affecting the people of the 8th District.”

This doesn’t make any sense. Phifer was the only environmental activist of the 4 candidates that were either considering running in the DFL primary or who had announced that they were running. Further, CD-8 was the only district where Rebecca Otto defeated Tim Walz. Clearly, environmental activists were activated in the Eighth. In a 4-way race, there’s no reason to think that she couldn’t have defeated her opponents.

Considering the fact that DFL Chairman Ken Martin said that a divided DFL that didn’t endorse a candidate couldn’t defeat Pete Stauber and considering the fact that the DFL was a divided shambles Saturday night after they failed to endorse a candidate, isn’t it interesting that they suddenly have 3 pro-mining candidates running in the DFL primary? What are the odds that the frontrunner, the candidate who stood between DFL unity and DFL division, unexpectedly dropped out?

It’s difficult to believe that someone who looked that energized in that picture voluntarily dropped out of the race. I think the more likely question is more nefarious. Which of Ken Martin’s inner circle forced Leah Phifer from the race?

Finally, let’s recall a little history within the CD-8 DFL. Chairman Martin and Congressman Nolan have fought to prevent a fight between the pro-mining faction within the DFL and the pro-environment faction. In fact, they fought that fight for years. Why wouldn’t they fight to prevent it one last time?

Yesterday, I wrote that the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Rebecca Otto, Minnesota’s State Auditor. Otto filed a lawsuit that was doomed from the start. That was obvious from the start. That’s why the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against her. Now we’re finding out more about the lawsuit.

In writing the majority opinion for the Court, “Chief Justice Lorie Gildea said that the state Constitution does not lay out the state auditor’s duties. Rather, she wrote, the Constitution specifically leaves it up to the Legislature to define duties of constitutional offices such as the auditor. Thus, the 2015 bill did not violate the Constitution. The ruling also explains that another state office, which no longer exists, originally audited county finances.” Further, “50 counties notified Otto’s office they would not sign contracts with her office for it to conduct audits” after the 2015 law passed.

That had to sting Otto. That’s because in 2016, “the auditor’s office charged $84,000 for an annual audit, while Becker County paid just $31,000 in 2012 for an audit done by Hoffman Dale and Swenson Governmental Audit Services of Thief River Falls.” That’s more than $2,500,000 in lost revenues for Otto per year.

Back in January, 2018, she said “Fighting for this constitutional office is the right thing to do. But as you witnessed today, it’s complex.” Actually, Mrs. Otto, the justices thought it was pretty straightforward. (I’m not a legal scholar but I’m betting that justices rarely rule unanimously on complex lawsuits.)

Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, might have the best understanding of what’s happened:

“It seems to me,” Nash said, “that [Otto] is using the taxpayer dollars to create an issue for her to campaign with for governor.”

If that’s what was happening, her strategy failed. Furthermore, if that was her strategy, she should be politically crucified. If that’s true, then a ton of the taxpayers’ money was wasted for that mission. If this was her Hail Mary attempt at winning the DFL endorsement, then Mrs. Otto made a major miscalculation.

What’s amazing is Otto’s misunderstanding of Minnesota’s Constitution. Mrs. Otto either doesn’t understand Minnesota’s Constitution or she, like other DFL politicians, was willing to throw Minnesota’s Constitution under the proverbial bus for political gain.

My question in the aftermath is this: are there any patriots left in the DFL whose respect for the Constitution is steadfast? I haven’t found any lately.

Becky Otto’s “capricious” lawsuit suffered a final defeat today when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against her. In their ruling, the Court wrote that “The Constitution … ‘does not expressly detail the duties of the constitutional executive officers’ of state government and are instead ‘prescribed by law.'”

If that sounds familiar, you’ve been reading what I’ve written on the subject. In February, 2016, I wroteArticle V of Minnesota’s Constitution talks about the executive branch of state government. Specifically, it says ‘The executive department consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be chosen jointly by a single vote applying to both offices in a manner prescribed by law.’ Nowhere in Article V, Section 1 does it outline the duties of the State Auditor. That’s properly left up to the legislature and governor to determine through state statutes.

Had Ms. Otto listened to me then, she would’ve saved Minnesota taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Sarah Anderson, the chairwoman of the State Government Finance Committee, said she was not surprised by the court’s unanimous ruling.

Rather than conceding defeat, Otto issued a non sequitur statement, saying “The Supreme Court has now made clear that the State Auditor has authority and responsibility over county finances, including the authority to conduct additional examinations of a county following a private CPA firm audit, and that the counties are responsible for the costs.” It’s an odd statement considering the fact that nobody questioned whether the OSA had the authority to audit counties.

The fact that it was a unanimous ruling against Mrs. Otto says that it’s quite the public spanking for her. This should get every taxpayer upset:

Republican lawmakers have criticized Otto’s use of taxpayer money to fight the law. A tally last year showed her legal bills at over $250,000.

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The DFL’s CD-8 food fight, aka CD-8 DFL Primary, is starting to take shape. The latest news is that “State Rep. Jason Metsa is not done yet in his bid to replace Rep. Rick Nolan in Congress. On Sunday, Metsa said he will continue his campaign, targeting the 8th Congressional District DFL primary election in August.” Sunday morning, Metsa said “With no result from the DFL endorsement process, I have chosen to continue my campaign to be the DFL nominee for Congress in #MN08. The best way to identify the strongest candidate to win in November is through a primary campaign,” Metsa said in his statement. “I look forward to running a robust grassroots campaign focused on our shared values of fairness and responsibility.”

According to the Duluth Tribune, “Metsa joins Phifer, Radinovich and Michelle Lee as candidates vying for the primary.”

Thus far, each of the candidates is staking out their territory:

“We need to make sure that equal access to healthcare, education, the right to put food on your table and a roof over your head is something that all Americans can achieve, not just those who can afford it,” Phifer said.
Radinovich emphasized the importance of education.

“I got myself elected to state legislature where I got myself on the Education Finance Committee and I passed legislation to make sure that there was no gaps between the richest and poorest schools in our state,” Radinovich said.

Phifer said she would fight for sensible gun control, climate change, DACA, protecting treaty rights as the supreme law of the land, and raising minimum wage. “The DFL is the party that fights for our safety and wellbeing. We are the party that believes in economic justice. In congress I will lead the fight for $15 an hour minimum wage,” Phifer said.

Metsa hadn’t jumped into the race at the time of the WDIO article, which was written on Saturday.

Thus far, this is the field for the CD-8 DFL Primary:

Let the food fight begin.

Per tradition, the DFL issued this statement after delegates endorsed Angie Craig to run against Republican incumbent Jason Lewis. The statement was the usual milquetoast boilerplate, saying “Angie Craig embodies the American Dream. She went from a mobile home park to a leader at Minnesota manufacturer St. Jude Medical. She will fight to ensure every Minnesotan has the opportunities she did by fighting for good-paying jobs, affordable healthcare for all, and real middle-class tax reform.”

All the statements in the world, though, won’t take away the major mistake that Ms. Craig made last week. Last week, Ms. Craig bragged that she wants to team up with Keith Ellison on health care. It’s worth noting that Rep. Ellison “took the reins of single-payer healthcare legislation in the House” last month. After making a major mistake on health care the last time she ran, Ms. Craig apparently didn’t learn.

I’m not the expert on CD-2 that others are but it’s difficult to believe that there are many John Kline voters that’d support a candidate that wants to implement a single-payer health care system. This snippet will hurt Ms. Craig this fall:

While I won’t predict a lop-sided victory for Jason Lewis, I can’t picture him winning by less than 6-8 points. The DFL recently has talked about health care being a major issue this fall. To the extent that it’s an issue, it won’t hurt Republicans as much as it’ll hurt the DFL.

Prior to Saturday’s DFL Convention, I thought that the DFL’s best chance to hold a battleground congressional district was the Eighth District. Based on Saturday’s CD-8 DFL convention outcome, I won’t predict that anymore. Based on reports like this article, it sounds like the convention ended in discord.

Sam Brodey reports that “it’ll take an August primary to determine which of these Democrats earns the chance to compete in the general election, and that primary has the potential to showcase the party’s rifts on issues like mining and immigration, which were on full display at Saturday’s convention.”

One of the early casualties was Rep. Jason Metsa. Rep. Metsa got into the race late. Still, he might run in the DFL primary. Others sure to run in the DFL primary are Joe Radinovich, Leah Phifer and Michelle Lee. Each of those candidates have flaws.

For instance, Phifer is an environmentalist who worked for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That put her at odds with “members of the Latino DFL Caucus.” Rep. Radinovich was a one-term wonder from Aitkin before losing to Dale Lueck. After that defeat, Radinovich was Nolan’s campaign manager before becoming Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s chief of staff. When Nolan endorsed Radinovich after the 6th ballot, Frey held up a sign announcing Nolan’s endorsement.

Frey, who traveled to Duluth to work the floor for Radinovich, got on top of a chair with a hand-written sign broadcasting Nolan’s endorsement to the delegates. But ultimately, Nolan’s support was not enough for Radinovich to eclipse Phifer.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin addressed the convention:

Addressing delegates earlier in the afternoon, Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin urged delegates to unite behind a candidate. “If we come out of here divided, we’re not going to win,” he said.

It’s still to be decided whether the primary will split or unite the DFL but it can’t be denied that the DFL isn’t off to a good start of uniting the party. It can’t make Martin feel good that the candidates essentially ignored his exhortation to unite.

Looming large over the convention was a candidate who wasn’t even in the room: Republican Pete Stauber, who is a lock to earn the CD8 Republican Party endorsement. Democrats are concerned that a bitter and drawn-out primary will give Stauber time to raise money and consolidate support, boosting his campaign to win this seat in November.

National Republicans like Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner who formerly served with the Duluth Police Department, and they view CD8 as one of their best pick-up opportunities in the entire country. President Donald Trump won here by 15 points in 2016, and Republican candidates are making inroads in places like the Iron Range, which has been a DFL stronghold for the better part of the century. Nolan’s retirement, in the eyes of the GOP, only increased their chances of flipping CD8.

The biggest advantages of not getting primaried is that the opposition doesn’t get additional ammunition against the candidate, in this case, Mr. Stauber. The other advantage is the opportunity to open some deep philosophical differences. Mining is something that the DFL, especially Chairman Martin and Congressman Nolan, have worked hard at avoiding.

That’ll be difficult in the primary since Radinovich is from the ‘other’ Range, aka the Cuyuna Range. Meanwhile, Phifer is a diehard environmental activist. Those wings of the DFL mix together like the DLC wing and the MoveOn.org wing of the DNC.

At minimum, the DFL will spend this summer fighting and burning through cash while possibly dividing the party for both the congressional candidate and the gubernatorial candidate. If the DFL isn’t united this time, it will be a tough year for them up-and-down the ballot.

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The DFL has kept saying that Angie Craig is a top-tier candidate. For the sake of this article, let’s stipulate that that’s true. Let’s further stipulate that, for being a top-tier candidate, she isn’t too bright. In 2016, Ms. Craig told KSTP’s Tom Hauser that, if elected, she’d “fight” to expand Obamacare. From that point forward, Ms. Craig’s support dropped like a lead balloon.

In 2018, Ms. Craig has shown that she still hasn’t learned her lesson. The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that “Minnesota Democrat Angie Craig bragged during a weekend candidate forum that she has been working on a way to move healthcare forward with Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), who last month took the reins of single-payer healthcare legislation in the House.”

Why would a supposed top-tier candidate in a supposedly swing district essentially admit that she’s working with the most radical progressive in the Minnesota delegation on single-payer health care? That isn’t just foolish. That’s downright stupid:

“We are going to have to figure out how we move our healthcare system forward,” Craig said. “I’ve talked to a lot of members of Congress who have a lot of bills—I’ve talked to Keith Ellison who’s got a particular bill he just took over.”
“I just left Keith a little bit ago and I told him, ‘Let’s figure out how we move forward with healthcare.’ ‘And he said to me, ‘I want you at the table when we’re figuring this out.'”

Don’t be surprised if the NRCC highlights this in an ad this October. Ms. Craig can prepare her spin now but it won’t matter. That’s one of those things that you just can’t spin.

The latest Cook Report rated this race as a toss-up. That might be right but Jason Lewis is perfectly positioned to win. I wouldn’t want to be Angie Craig’s campaign manager.

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The thieves in the DFL got embarrassed this week when Rob Undersander testified in front of a House committee. Specifically, he testified that “he received food stamps for 19 months to prove a point: Not everyone who gets the aid needs it.” The DFL, meanwhile, was livid. Here’s what happened.

During his testimony, the “Waite Park resident did it to call attention to a bill from Rep. Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, that would require personal assets to be included in the government’s formula for food stamp recipients. Undersander legally collected food stamps during a period in which he had little income, the key criteria for receiving the benefit.” The article states that Undersander is a millionaire.

That made DFL heads explode. “Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, joined others in her party to criticize Undersander. ‘I am finding it incredibly offensive that $6,000 in benefits were taken,’ Halvorson said. Added Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth: ‘I think it is inappropriate to apply for these benefits.'” Meanwhile, “Rep. John Considine, DFL-Mankato, said ‘You knew this was wrong and you did it anyway. I find it pretty despicable. … I am just sorry there is no way we can prosecute you.'”

Undersander isn’t the thief in this instance. As far as we know, he didn’t lie on his application. If he had, they’d prosecute him.

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, praised the Waite Park man. “I am really sorry about the line of questioning that has been put forth, and the accusations,” she said. “You should be able to come to a committee without being accused of being a thief.”

If the legislature is going to write sloppy bills, people will take advantage of the loopholes. If the DFL wants to complain, they’re best off complaining to the person in the mirror. They wrote the bill, then voted for it, too.

The DFL owns this problem. As usual, Republicans have submitted a bill to clean up the DFL’s mess.

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ISD 742 was one of the 43 school districts that received a letter that “for suspension and expulsion disparities that the department claims violate the state Human Rights Act ‘because they deny students of color and students with disabilities educational access and negatively impact academic achievement.’ The human rights department offered the district two agreements to consider as a way to eliminate those disparities. A lawyer offered the district a modified agreement.”

Unfortunately, the District has already bought into this liberal ideology. According to the article, “the board voted Wednesday to offer the human rights department a fourth option, a version that highlights the work the district is already doing to eliminate suspension disparities and to change the focus of the agreement to keeping all students in school by using nonexclusionary practices.”

Discipline in the district was effectively nonexistent already. Commissioner Lindsey’s Department will make things worse.

The ‘remedy’ is worse than the disease:

The agreement the board approved submitting to the human rights department lists policies implemented by the district to reduce instances where student behaviors result in exclusionary discipline. Those include:

  1. Eliminating zero tolerance policies except where required by law,
  2. Having an in-school suspension policy designed to result in less adverse effects on minorities while still allowing disciplined students to be separated from the student body when necessary,
  3. Having a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program,
  4. Practicing restorative justice,
  5. Implementing culturally responsive instructional practices,
  6. Implementing social and emotional learning initiatives,
  7. Providing additional staff training in classroom management, conflict resolution and ways to deescalate classroom disruption and misconduct,
  8. Providing programs to engage families,
  9. Educating students on conflict resolution skills, and
  10. Providing district resources to provide in-school alternatives to suspension.

Setting discipline based on racial quotas rather than behavior is counterproductive. This isn’t discipline. Potentially, it’s a protection racket. Don’t think that gangs won’t keep track of this. Thanks to ‘quota-based discipline’, gangs will know when disciplining them is off-limits.

Further, there’s no proof that restorative justice leads to better educational outcomes. After reading this article, I’m more than skeptical of restorative justice’s viability. That term is similar to strategic patience or leading from behind, which are different ways of saying doing nothing.

The MDHR is an activist position that pays a person a bloated salary. Further, the threats MDHR extends aren’t based on actual complaints but from statistics. Quota-based discipline is a collectivist’s system of discipline. That sounds more like a system based on implicit bias than on what’s actually happening.

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Unlike the DFL governor, Republicans haven’t turned a blind eye towards the nursing home crisis. For 7 years, DFL Gov. Dayton hasn’t paid attention to the nursing home crisis. After the Strib published a multi-part series on nursing home abuse, in which some people literally died of neglect, Gov. Dayton appointed a task force to look into the abuse.

Before that panel was appointed, the Strib examined state records. One of the appalling pieces of information was that there were “25,226 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injuries and thefts last year in state-licensed senior facilities” and that “97 percent were never investigated.” When I wrote this post, I noted something in State Sen. Karin Housley’s statement. In her statement, she said “Instead of taking responsibility for the shortcomings and negligence of his own state agencies, one of the main drivers of this issue, the governor placed the blame wholly on the care providers. Despite a well-documented culture of intimidation and neglect that prevented the governor’s Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) from serving its function, the governor refuses to accept accountability for the failings of the executive branch.”

Despite the DFL owning this crisis, the House DFL campaign committee, tasked with getting DFL legislators elected, issued this propaganda:

The bill fixing this DFL crisis was chief authored by Sen. Housley. The DFL knows that it’s being run through the Senate first. (PS- the bill # is SF3437.) The bill will be passed in the Senate first, then sent to the House, where it will be passed, then sent to Gov. Dayton.

This BS fundraising appeal reveals the DFL’s (lack of) character. The DFL knows that their governor ignored the problem. The DFL knows that Republicans are cleaning up the DFL’s mess. Still, the DFL is pretending like it’s the Republicans’ fault if the DFL’s problems aren’t fixed. Fortunately, Republicans are in the habit of doing the right thing. They’re fixing the DFL’s problem.

This is entirely on Gov. Dayton:

When investigations did happen, often they were essentially botched, with evidence destroyed or tampered with, interviews not conducted, and sometimes police or prosecutors not contacted as required by state law. Sometimes investigations were done by public employees or nursing home employees not trained in criminal investigations.

The legislative branch has nothing to do with the actual investigations. That’s exclusively the executive branch’s responsibility. Period.

This highlights the fact that the Dayton administration, aka Minnesota’s executive branch the past 7+ years, was incompetent. The DFL’s investigations were botched, which placed additional seniors in harm’s way. Now the DFL is attempting to blame Republicans for the DFL’s incompetence!

Finally, it’s important to remember this November that the DFL was both dishonest and incompetent in dealing with this crisis. The DFL will campaign on creating a “Better Minnesota.” That’s BS. If the DFL thinks that this is a picture of “a Better Minnesota”, then it’s obvious that the DFL sees things through rose-colored glasses.

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