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One of the things that I can’t shake in reading this article is whether the Public Utilities Commission will destroy the DFL for the 2018 election. Bear with me while I make the case for why I think it hurts the DFL.

Right now, the Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings on whether to approve the replacement of Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline. The reason why this is potentially devastating is because “the state Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide whether to approve the Line 3 project next spring.” The only thing that might derail the building of the replacement pipeline is the Dayton administration. If this pipeline isn’t built soon, farmers, construction workers and small towns will be upset with the Dayton administration.

Farmers will be especially upset because rejecting this pipeline project will trigger more oil to be transported via oil trains. That limits rail capacity for getting farmers’ crops to market. Whoever the DFL candidate for governor is, they’ll be pressed on whether they’ll support building the pipeline. Anything except enthusiastically supporting the building of the pipeline will be greeted with anger by rural Minnesota.

That, in turn, will spike turnout in rural Minnesota because they can’t afford to have environmental do-gooders destroying farmers’ operations. Based on the information on the PUC’s commissioners page, it’s virtually certain that the PUC will vote against replacing the pipeline. Three of the commissioners are DFL environmental activists. The lone Republican is a former DFL politician who worked as a lobbyist for Conservation Minnesota.

Republican gubernatorial candidates should lay this situation out in rural Minnesota. When they’re campaigning, they should ask farmers if they can afford 4 more years of DFL environmental policies. I’m betting the response will be an overwhelming no!

Look at the results from rural Minnesota the last 2 elections. In 2014, Minnesota Republicans rode a wave from rural Minnesota to recapture the Minnesota House. In 2016, Minnesota Republicans rode anti-DFL sentiment in rural Minnesota to flip the Minnesota Senate.

As I wrote at the time, many of those races were blowouts. In northern Minnesota, Paul Utke defeated DFL Sen. Rod Skoe by a 57%-43% margin. Many of the races weren’t particularly close, in fact. I’d recommend GOP gubernatorial candidates highlight this graphic when campaigning in rural Minnesota:

That graphic will get everyone’s attention because it’s a display of how dysfunctional Minnesota’s permitting process is under DFL control. That won’t get better if Erin Murphy, Tim Walz or Paul Thissen gets elected governor.

Last week, Tim Walz was a moderate with a sterling rating from the NRA. This week, he’s a candidate who can’t run fast enough from the NRA. Preya Samsundar’s article shows how far Rep. Walz has travelled this past week.

Ms. Samsundar reported “On WCCO’s Sunday show with Esme Murphy, Walz recanted his prior support for the NRA and announced that he would donate money given to him by the pro-Second Amendment group to a charity helping veterans and their families. ‘The politics is secondary,’ Walz told Murphy on Sunday. ‘I have got friends who have been, had gun violence in their family and like so many responsible gun owners, it’s what I grew up on.'”

Walz lied when he said that “the politics is secondary.” This time, the politics are primary. Specifically, identity politics if front and center. In this instance, while the DFL and the Democratic Party are whining about the NRA, the NRA has acted quite moderately:

The National Rifle Association said Sunday it opposes any legislation to ban the use of “bump stocks” on semi-automatic weapons, even as it has said some regulation may be necessary. “It’s illegal to convert a semi-automatic to a fully automatic. The ATF ought to look at this, do its job and draw a bright line,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said on Face the Nation.

The truth is that Walz is doing everything he can to prove to Metrocrats that he’s just like them. While he’s doing that, he’s also proving that he’ll say anything to get elected.

There was a time when Rep. Walz proudly touted his A rating from the NRA:

Rest assured, if he’s the DFL gubernatorial candidate next fall, the NRA and like-minded organizations will be working their butts off to defeat him. If that’s the case, Walz better pray the Twin Cities turns out big for him because his NRA flip-flop will hurt him in southern Minnesota.

Let’s remember that Walz’s base in southern Minnesota is slipping. Last year, Walz defeated his virtually unknown GOP opponent by 2,548 votes. Now that he’s sold his soul to the Metrocrats, aka the devil, expect his support in southern Minnesota to slip further.

It’s easy to see that Walz is tracking left to win the DFL primary. I’m betting that he’ll try moving to the center if he wins that primary. Finally, I’m betting that he’ll have a difficult time getting to the middle, though, considering the fact that there’s now video of him trying to have it both ways.

Politicians have tried pretending that video doesn’t exist. Voters won’t pretend that they haven’t seen him trying to have it both ways.

The more I think about it, the more I think Walz won’t be Minnesota’s next governor. That’s because DFL activists are looking for a true believer this time. Settling for Walz, I suspect, is like being told that Hillary’s the candidate and that Bernie supporters better get in line.

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Tim Walz didn’t waste time in picking his running mate. In picking Peggy Flanagan, Walz proverbially killed 2 birds with one stone.

First, DFL activists weren’t comfortable with the NRA’s past support of Walz. The fact that “he was called out for receiving donations from the NRA” forced him to “donate the money to charity and support gun background checks if he became governor.” There’s little doubt that Walz wanted to get that off the front page ASAP.

Next, Walz is a moderate from southern Minnesota, hardly the place where DFL gubernatorial candidates usually come from. Picking a progressive firebrand like Rep. Flanagan sends the message that Walz is as lefty as candidates like Paul Thissen, Rebecca Otto and Erin Murphy.

What Walz hasn’t figured out yet is that the DFL powers-that-be will insist that he move left — way further left. Support for mining will be forbidden. Support for building pipelines will be forbidden, too. Walz is intent on relying heavily on identity politics, too. That’s what this is about:

Flanagan, of St. Louis Park, is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and helped form the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus this year. The Walz campaign said she would be the first person of color to hold a constitutional office in Minnesota and the highest ranking Native American state office holder ever in the country.

This official statement indicates that Rep. Flanagan won’t give pipelines a fair shake:

ST. PAUL, MINN – Today, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released the final Environmental Impact Statement for Enbridge Energy’s proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement in northern Minnesota. Members of the Minnesota House Native American Caucus – Rep. Peggy Flanagan, DFL – St. Louis Park (White Earth Nation), Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL – Roseville (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe), Susan Allen, DFL – Minneapolis (Rosebud Sioux) and Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL – New Brighton (Standing Rock Sioux) – jointly released the following statement:

“The EIS released today makes only nominal mention of this pipeline’s impact on Native American lands and the irreparable harm it could cause to the traditions and way of life for Native people. With the potential for a spill, Line 3 presents a catastrophic threat to the continued vitality of wild rice and fish habitats and once again dismisses the cultural relevance of the lands this new pipeline would violate. Enbridge has failed to adequately address this, and it’s disappointing the EIS has as well.

“With so much at stake for indigenous communities, this is unacceptable. The Public Utilities Commission will next look ahead to determine adequacy of the EIS. With such minimal attention provided to Native people, we fail to see how this document can be considered anything but inadequate.”

Construction workers need to ask themselves if they want another anti-pipeline, anti-mining Metrocrat governor. Electing Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan will produce another 8 years of shafting blue collar workers. Consider the fact that he’s from academia and that she’s an environmental activist. What part of that sounds like they’re pro-blue collar worker? Hint: nothing.

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Anyone thinking that this isn’t proof that politics doesn’t make for strange bedfellows doesn’t have much of an imagination. Tom Steward reports that “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council joined forces to make the case for the vital Enbridge infrastructure and thousands of well-paying jobs to build it.” Steward quotes this Minneapolis Star-Tribune op-ed, written by Harry Melander and Bill Blazar.

Steward quotes Melander and Blazar as saying “But in Minnesota we’re fortunate to have a well-advanced alternative, an entirely private infrastructure project that would put 6,500 Minnesotans to work over two years, with an economic impact of more than $2 billion for the state, including outstate areas that sorely need it. We’re talking about Enbridge Energy’s 1,097-mile, Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement from Alberta stretching southeast across central Minnesota from the North Dakota border near Hallock to a terminal in Superior, Wis.”

Later in their op-ed, Melander and Blazar write “Contrary to recent testimony from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the project is necessary and prudent. Last month, the American Petroleum Institute reported that total domestic petroleum deliveries, a measure of U.S. petroleum demand, showed the highest July demand since 2007. Enbridge says its project is the safest alternative for replacing the 50-year-old existing line that operates at approximately 50 percent capacity and faces increasing maintenance requirements.”

This isn’t a fight the DFL wants to fight. Even if they win, they’ll lose, meaning the DFL loses more rural voters in 2018 to the GOP. That virtually guarantees Republicans maintaining or increasing their majority in the House in 2018. It puts pressure on the DFL to pick a moderate for their gubernatorial candidate that their base won’t be excited about, too. If they pick a Metrocrat (think Paul Thissen or Erin Murphy), they’ll lose the governor’s mansion, too.

Bit by bit, the DFL is losing unions and farmers, the F and L in DFL, because the DFL consistently sides with environmental activists. If that continues, Minnesota’s chances of becoming a red state get better.

DFL pundits generally think that Tim Walz is the frontrunner to become their party’s endorsed candidate for governor. I’m not connected well enough to know whether that’s true or not but I know this: it’s difficult to picture a candidate with a more cookie-cutter mindset than Rep. Walz.

In his email fundraising appeal, Walz said:

John,

Let me be blunt with you: This election will determine the direction of Minnesota for a generation.

If Republicans control both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office, they will roll back our state’s progressive policies. Everything from women’s reproductive rights, to workers’ rights, to affordable health care and our environment will be at risk.

That’s why we have to do everything we can to make sure we win — starting with hitting our fundraising goals. We can’t afford to fall behind, especially with the Kochs and their allies attacking us through two super PACs already.

If you haven’t yet, could you donate before midnight tonight?

Thank you,

Tim

Wow. Where do I start? I guess I’ll start with the thought that Rep. Walz sounds like — well, a Washington insider. Governors and legislators generally don’t deal with “women’s reproductive rights.” Depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Janus v. AFSCME, states won’t have that much say left on unions’ rights. The DFL’s argument on “affordable health care” just disappeared thanks to this news:

After two years of steep increases, premiums for Minnesotans who buy health coverage outside of their employers will either rise modestly or drop. Average rate changes for the major insurers in the individual market range from a 13 percent cut to a less than 3 percent increase for next year, the Minnesota Commerce Department said Monday as it unveiled rates for health insurance plans Minnesotans buy through insurance agents, directly from insurance companies or through MNsure, the state-sponsored health insurance exchange.

This kills the DFL’s attempt to stir up their base who want single-payer. With premiums either shrinking or growing modestly, it’s difficult to paint things as being a crisis. Without a crisis, health care reform dies. Whether you like the reinsurance bill or hate it, at least it kills single-payer for the near future. But I digress.

If Tim Walz is the DFL frontrunner to be the DFL’s gubernatorial primary winner, which I think he is, then there’s no disputing this is a great opportunity to flip Minnesota back into the red column.

I remember the good old days when Tim Walz stood up to President Obama for violating reporters’ civil rights. When President Obama spied on the AP reporters and James Rosen of Fox News, Rep. Walz tore into President Obama out of principle. Oh wait. That’s right. Walz was silent throughout. Apparently, being a civil rights violator wasn’t that big a deal when the Leader of the Free World had a D behind his name.

Now that the leader of the free world is a Republican, Walz is faking as much outrage as possible. It’s faked outrage because Walz didn’t speak out immediately. Instead, he waited a week before speaking out.

According to this tweet, Walz said “Rep. Jerry Nadler, House Democrats & I are introducing a resolution to censure Donald Trump for his complete failure in moral leadership.” In this tweet, Walz said “I call on @SpeakerRyan, @SenateMajLdr and all Republicans in Congress to join us and #CensureTrump. We have a moral obligation to do so.”

Talk about laying it on thick. This might help clarify things:

The United States Constitution, while specifically granting impeachment powers to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and also granting both congressional bodies the power to expel their own members, does not mention censure. Congress adopted a resolution allowing censure, which is “stronger than a simple rebuke, but not as strong as expulsion.”

Members of Congress who have been censured are required to give up any committee chairs they hold, but are not removed from office. In general, each house of Congress is responsible for invoking censure against its own members; censure against other government officials is not common. Because censure is not specifically mentioned as the accepted form of reprimand, many censure actions against members of Congress may be listed officially as rebuke, condemnation, or denouncement.

I’d love to hear Rep. Walz explain what censuring a president means. Is it strictly a political stunt? With a censure of a member of congress, it’s spelled out that the congressman or senator “are required to give up any committee chairs they hold.”

By comparison, Congress can’t take away the president’s responsibilities without the House impeaching him, then having the Senate convicting him of at least one article of impeachment. Simply put, this is a political PR stunt. Congress doesn’t have the authority to take this step. The Constitution is exceptionally clear on this. Further, this is the reason why Congress is calling for President Trump’s censure:

House Democrats maintain Trump’s initial response to the violence in Charlottesville was “inadequate.”

Seriously? It’s impossible to take politicians seriously when they’re nothing but a bunch of wimpy whiners. Minnesota, take a long look at Rep. Walz. He doesn’t respect the Constitution. He’s a partisan hack. There’s nothing serious about him. Finally, he’s Nancy Pelosi’s lap dog, which is what he’s always been.

This just proves my point:

A censure, as defined by Cornell Law School, is a Congressional reprimand of a president. It is described as the “political equivalent of a strongly-worded letter” and the resolution, if passed, would have no legal effect.

In other words, it’s a political stunt.

According to this video, Walz wasn’t even honest about introducing a resolution to censure President Trump:

That’s pretty pathetic.
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Erin Murphy was one of the first declared DFL candidates. Based on this article, it appears as though she’s all but officially dead in the water.

First, it’s worth noting that “Murphy criticizes capitalist models of health care, saying that a for-profit model of any part of the health care system is bad for Americans.” It isn’t surprising to read that “Murphy also supports Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) plan for Medicare for all across the United States.” From a DFL primary convention perspective, this isn’t a foolish strategy. She’s essentially just rolled out the red carpet for Bernie Sanders’ voters. Let’s remember that Sen. Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton by a 61%-38% margin in Minnesota’s caucuses.

This tends to support the belief that DFL voters are further left than a decade ago and significantly further left than during the Perpich era. But I digress.

Later in the article, it quotes her as saying “Let’s start by making MinnesotaCare an option available to everyone. Like Medicare, it’s tested, trusted, and affordable coverage, available everywhere in Minnesota.” The bad news for Murphy is that she’d be history if she made it to a general election. Here’s why:

NPR reported in May 2016 that expanding Medicare coverage to cover everyone in the United States would add $18 trillion to the national debt in just the next ten years. The current national debt is just under $20 trillion.

Murphy’s strategy appears to be to win the endorsement by winning over Sen. Sanders’ supporters. It likely also means she’s going hard left in the general election, too. Here’s what she said on her campaign website:

But for too many that’s not their reality. Too many of our neighbors are feeling forgotten, working harder than ever just to survive. Too many are at risk of falling further behind, and too many are not getting the opportunities they need to make progress.

That sounds like a repeat of Bernie Sanders’ or Elizabeth Warren’s stump speech.

Potentially, this sets up an interesting fight for the DFL endorsement for governor. Tim Walz appears to be running as a Blue Dog Democrat. That’s probably wise because I don’t think he can convince Sanders voters that he’s one of them. Murphy, however, appears to be running as the Bernie Sanders candidate. Here’s the question that we don’t have the answer to: will this split the DFL? Here’s another question: will the Iron Range finally reject a DFL gubernatorial candidate? At this point, that’s a distinct possibility if Rep. Murphy is the DFL’s candidate.

Ed Morrissey is the latest Minnesotan to ask the question about whether Minnesota is turning red. Prior to Ed asking that timeless question, Barry Casselman asked that question in his Weekly Standard article.

Ed and Barry both note that Tim Pawlenty is the last Republican to win statewide office in Minnesota, with Ed noting that Hillary’s near-defeat shouldn’t be attributed to Trump’s strong performance as much as it should be attributed to Hillary’s poor performance. Ed highlighted the fact that “Trump did manage to outscore Mitt Romney’s 2012 results, but only by 2,000 votes. Clinton, on the other hand, dropped nearly 180,000 votes from Barack Obama’s 2012 total. That lack of enthusiasm for Clinton, and the poor GOTV effort on the ground in the state, is what nearly cost her the election.”

What neither gentleman wrote about was the strength of the Republicans’ legislative victories in 2016. In my opinion, that’s missing a key data point. Just look through the margins in the State Senate races. Republicans flipped SD-1 and SD-2 in northwestern Minnesota, SD-5 on the Iron Range, SD-17 near Willmar, SD-20 in south central Minnesota. Most of those seats were won by double-digit margins. Of the Republicans winning re-election, most won by high double-digit margins. On the House side, Republicans won by impressive margins.

The point isn’t that President Trump didn’t win. It’s that legislative candidates outperformed President Trump by a significant margin throughout the state. Further, DFL incumbent Tim Walz almost got defeated in CD-1. The race was so close that Walz opted to run for governor rather than accept a rematch with Republican Jim Hagedorn.

Walz is considered the DFL frontrunner for governor. Speculation is that the DFL might not endorse a candidate this year. If there’s a 3-, 4- or 5-way primary, which is a distinct possibility, the winner will limp out of the primary to face a hungry Republican Party and a well-rested, respected candidate.

Ed ends his post by saying “Before we get around to declaring the state ready to go red, perhaps the GOP can win one statewide office first. Casselman suggests that Pawlenty might be enticed to run again for his old office. That would be good news for the GOP, but we should wait to see whether any other Republican can crack that code — for the Senate, for secretary of state, auditor, etc. Until then … stay skeptical.”

That’s a fair point but I’m getting more confident that something historic is getting ready to happen with each passing election cycle. Don’t forget that I was the only journalist that predicted Chip Cravaack’s victory in 2010 and I’m the only journalist that predicted that Republicans would flip the Minnesota Senate.

In my opinion, Gov. Pawlenty’s time has come and gone. There’s little doubt that he’d do well in the suburbs but there’s equally little doubt that he’d struggle in rural Minnesota. The traditional pick, if he runs, would be Kurt Daudt. The dark horse candidate I’d pick would be Amy Koch. They’re both urban enough and well-known to win in the suburbs. They’re both rural enough to win rural Minnesota by a big enough margin.

In 2018, expect the DFL to experience a difficult election season. For years, the DFL, led by Gov. Dayton, has patted themselves on the back profusely for how strong the economy was and how their policies were working, etc. Those days, like Gov. Dayton’s time in office, are slipping away. Last week, I cited this article as showing the DFL’s economic policies aren’t that great.

The article starts by saying “New data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that Minnesota was one of only seven states in the country to experience a shrink in its gross domestic product (GDP).” In the next paragraph, it states “In the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, Minnesota’s GDP shrank 0.3 percent. This is the seventh worst mark in the United States, ahead of only Montana, Kansas, Hawaii, Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska.” While Minnesota’s GDP shrinks, consumer confidence in President Trump’s policies keeps growing.

As of July 25, 2017, consumer confidence was recorded at 121.1. It was projected to be a still-healthy 116.5.

What’s worse for the DFL’s election chances is that “North Dakota’s GDP increased by 1.6 percent, while Wisconsin’s increased by 2.1 percent in the past quarter. This was the fifth best mark of any state.” Gov. Dayton has frequently talked about how much better Minnesota’s economy was doing than North Dakota’s or Wisconsin’s.

By the time that the conventions end next spring, it’s a distinct possibility that the DFL’s talking point of having a stronger economy than North Dakota or Wisconsin won’t be true anymore. Likewise, it’s possible that Republicans will be able to say that Minnesota’s economy is underperforming compared to the national economy. Consumer confidence was at 98.6 as of Oct. 25, 2016. Since then, consumer confidence has been 15-25 points higher.

Considering the DFL’s difficulties in rural Minnesota, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL and their special interest allies will sink their money into holding the governor’s mansion. If the US economy is doing well and Minnesota’s economy is faltering, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL might have their worst election cycle in a generation.

Tim Walz’s seat in Congress is likely to flip into the GOP column. It’s difficult to picture the DFL defeating Paulsen, Emmer or Lewis in their races. If Minnesota is underperforming the US economy, it’ll be virtually impossible to pin that on Republicans. That makes things plenty difficult for the DFL gubernatorial candidate, especially if their candidate is Tim Walz.

Let’s be blunt about something right upfront. Tim Walz is probably the DFL’s best candidate in a lackluster field of candidates. He isn’t charismatic. He won’t drive turnout. In 2010, Democrats were thirsty because President Obama had just led them to their holy grail of universal health care and because they’d been shut out of the governor’s mansion since 1991.

By contrast, Minnesota Republicans are hungry this cycle. They want unified Republican state government. They don’t just want to hold their majority in the Minnesota House. (The Minnesota Senate isn’t up for re-election.) They’d love to take over control of the congressional delegation, too.

Barry Casselman’s article said that “Trump’s strong showing came in the rural and blue-collar exurban areas, which responded to his antiestablishment message, and in the northeastern Range area, usually a DFL stronghold, where the vote was as much anti-Clinton as it was pro-Trump.” That’s actually wrong. President Trump’s message was a perfect fit for the Iron Range, just like it was in other parts of blue collar America. That President Trump won the Iron Range by 12 points isn’t surprising. Further, the Range was littered with Trump lawn signs all summer long.

Simply put, you can’t explain that away as simply rejecting Hillary.

First-term GOP congressman Jason Lewis in the 2nd District could be vulnerable next year. He represents a swing exurban district.

Jason Lewis will win re-election. Angie Craig has announced that she wants a rematch. The NRCC put together this devastating ad late in the campaign:

After that ran morning, noon and night, Angie Craig became synonymous with ‘toxic waste’. To be fair, the DCCC will dump tons of money into this race. The good news for the good guys is that she’s a bad fit for the district. She’s a crony capitalist who fought for special exemptions for her company while pushing unpopular policies on Minnesota.

Divided state government has produced some epic clashes, the most recent being Governor Dayton’s line-item veto of the entire budget passed by the legislature for the next two years. Republicans have sued the governor over what they assert was his unconstitutional use of the veto. The state supreme court will hear arguments later this month. Voters next year will try to resolve this stalemate.

That’s perplexing. The Minnesota Supreme Court will settle this soon. It won’t turn out well for Gov. Dayton or the DFL.

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If ever there was a sign that Tim Walz’s seat was in play, this article provides proof that Rep. Walz’s seat is in danger of flipping into Republicans’ hands.

The paragraph that’s killing the DFL says “That’s still better than any of Hagedorn’s potential DFL opponents. Former state lawmaker Vicki Jensen raised just $17,000. Four other Democrats have filed as candidates but none reported raising any money by Saturday’s deadline.”

When the DFL fundraising leader for the First District has raised $17,000, that’s a terrible sign. What’s worse is that Sen. Jensen lost that race by a 58.5%-41.5% margin. What’s worst for the DFL is that the other 4 candidates haven’t raised any money yet. That’s the definition of a weak DFL field.

There’s more than just that, though. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, Tim Walz, the incumbent in 2016, defeated Jim Hagedorn by a 50.3%-49.6% margin. Now Walz is running for governor, most likely because he thought he’d lose the rematch against Hagedorn.

If Vicki Jensen is the DFL-endorsed candidate to replace Walz, they’ll be fighting an uphill fight. At this point, though, I don’t think we know who the DFL-endorsed candidate will be because none of the candidates have raised much money. Hint: there are legislative candidates that’ve raised as much money as Jensen has.