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Tim Pawlenty’s flier is causing quite a stir. It’s definitely gotten under the skin of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The flier “features several uniformed Minneapolis officers standing next to the candidate for governor in front of two squad cars.” Frey “said the mailer may have violated two city policies, calling it an unauthorized use of the Minneapolis police trademark and citing a prohibition on officers other than the union president or a designee appearing in a political advertisement.” That isn’t what’s bothering Frey the most, though.

According to the article, “Tensions are already high among the union, Frey and the City Council. Frey noted that the flier, among other claims, includes Pawlenty’s promise to crack down on so-called “sanctuary” policies meant to separate local police officers from enforcing federal immigration laws.”

“Our policy preventing MPD officers from asking about immigration status is not an advisory guideline that can be selectively ignored,” Frey said. “It is a city law that cannot be reversed by Bob Kroll or any political candidate. They don’t speak for the city. So let me make it clear: Our separation ordinance will be enforced no matter who occupies the office of governor or who is leading the police union.”

Mayor Frey apparently is under the impression that sanctuary city laws are constitutional. If he wants to pick that fight, I’m betting that a Pawlenty administration would be more than happy to have that fight.

Council Member Steve Fletcher said police appearing in the advertisement are “explicitly undermining that separation ordinance,” and questioned whether it would make people less likely to report crimes to police. “We want to preserve the intention that Minneapolis police are acting in accordance with city values,” Fletcher said. “And when they wear the uniform to assert a different set of values, they undermine public trust in their mission.”

The government can’t tell anyone that they can’t express their political opinions. There’s a strong case that can be made that this ordinance violates these officers’ First Amendment rights. Again, I’m betting that a Pawlenty administration would be happy to help with that fight.

In 2006, then-Attorney General Mike Hatch got fined for using official OAG stationery in inviting people to a Hatch for Governor fundraiser. In that case, the candidate used government resources to further his campaign. In this instance, the candidate merely is showing that “Tim Pawlenty is endorsed by the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.”

Politically speaking, this is a win-win situation for Pawlenty. It’s a win in the sense that this police officer federation endorsed him. It’s a win because Mayor Frey’s complaint elevates the profile of that flier. Here’s the flier in question:

This Duluth News Tribune editorial endorses Tim Pawlenty as the Republicans’ best shot at retaking the governorship. Normally, endorsements don’t mean that much but I think this one matters. It isn’t because I think the endorsement itself is that impactful. I think it’s impactful because Tim Pawlenty was given the time and space to explain why he’s running. In my estimation, he made the most of that opportunity.

In the editorial, Gov. Pawlenty said “People criticize me for, ‘You held the line on this’ or, ‘You cut that.’ You bet I did. When you’re in a near depression and government’s budgets have contracted, the answer isn’t to go out to the taxpayers and say, ‘We need to raise your taxes.’ We had to tighten the government’s belt, just like every family did, just like every house did.”

In my estimation, that response was what you’d expect from the adult in the room. It didn’t stop there, though. After that, Gov. Pawlenty stated “I’m 57 years old, I have no other political ambitions. I’m not running for any national office. I’m coming back to try to run for governor not because I need the title; I already have it. And I don’t need to go to sit in the office; I’ve already done that for eight years,” said Pawlenty, governor from 2003 to 2011 and a Republican presidential candidate in 2012. “I’m coming back for one reason, which is to get things done for my state and for the state that I love. And I think that at this point we need somebody who is strong enough and experienced enough and, frankly, willing to embrace enough risk to bridge the (political) divides. I am in the best position in this race to do that.”

The difference between Gov. Pawlenty then and the conditions he’d walk into now are dramatic. When he first won the office, he inherited a $4.2 billion projected deficit from Jesse Ventura and a terrible economy. This time around, he’ll walk in at a time when the US economy is hitting on all cylinders. Thanks to that robust economy, Gov. Pawlenty will have the chance to reform the tax system that Gov. Dayton created.

What does Pawlenty want to do if elected again? He wants to slow down health insurance premium increases and maybe even reduce them. He wants to provide tax relief to middle- and modest-income Minnesotans, including by getting rid of Minnesota’s rare tax on Social Security benefits. And he wants to modernize and improve Minnesota schools and the state’s educational system to finally close the achievement gap and to help meet growing workforce needs.

Tim Pawlenty is the best choice to lead the Republican Party of Minnesota. He’s got universal name recognition. He’s got the funding network that’ll be needed to fight off the DFL candidate. Most importantly, he’s got a reform-minded substantive agenda that conservatives can rally around.

Jeff Johnson is touting the issues he wants to run on. That’s admirable. He’d be a fine governor if he got elected. The thing is, though, that he’d have a difficult time getting elected. You can’t govern if you don’t get elected.

Republicans have a fantastic opportunity to reform Minnesota’s economy. To do that, though, we need unified Republican control of St. Paul. We can’t get there with Jeff Johnson. He’s already lost 2 statewide races. I’m not willing to bet that the third time is the charm. There’s too much at stake to entrust to a 2-time loser.

Tim Pawlenty wants to focus on accomplishing sensible things. That’s been out of style the past 8 years in St. Paul. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Tim Pawlenty has started running an ad that takes a shot at Gov. Dayton’s incompetence in administering government assistance programs. Before we watch the ad, though, it’s important to note that Pawlenty has listed this issue as a high priority on his campaign’s issues page.

He wrote “Whether it is a driver’s license renewal system that doesn’t work, broken healthcare websites, or childcare providers allegedly defrauding the state of a massive amount of money and sending some of that money to terrorists overseas, state government needs to be held more accountable. Too often, state government is not held accountable and taxpayers are left to pay the price. As just one example, a recent audit from the Office of the Legislative Auditor found the state is paying hundreds of millions in benefits to people not even eligible because state government fails to verify income eligibility. We will properly verify eligibility and use the hundreds of millions currently being wasted to lower health care costs and provide better care to Minnesotans in need. It’s time to hold state government more accountable and put hardworking Minnesotans first.”

Here’s Pawlenty’s ad:

Rating this ad

I consider this ad to be effective. First, Pawlenty ‘narrates’ the ad, in essence telling people what he thinks is important while highlighting what’s wrong with government. Next, he closes by saying that he’d use those savings to lower health care costs for Minnesotans who work hard and obey the law.

Next up is Karin Housley’s first ad:

Rating this ad

I rate this ad effective, too. First, Sen. Housley speaks for herself, which is always the most effective way of getting the message across. Next, she explains her governing philosophy. Simply put, she wants to ‘drain the swamp’ and get government out of the average citizen’s way. She wants government “working for you, not against you.” Finally, she tells voters that she understands “that the best place for your hard-earned money is in your pocket.”

In both cases, the ads were short, concise and about things that Minnesotans care about.

UPDATE: I saw Jeff Johnson’s first ad tonight:

Rating this ad

Johnson’s ad definitely goes after Tim Pawlenty, which is what I’d expect since Johnson first has to win the primary. I thought it was gratuitous for Johnson to say that Gov. Pawlenty “gave us higher spending.” When Gov. Pawlenty started in office, Jim Knoblach chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. It’s foolish to think that there was a massive spending increase at that time because Gov. Pawlenty inherited a $4.2 billion projected deficit from Jesse Ventura. Pawlenty and Knoblach eliminated that deficit without raising taxes. It’s fair, however, to mention the fee increases.

The ad is a bit misleading in that Pawlenty had to battle DFL supermajorities in the 2007 and 2009 budget sessions. That’s when Republicans relied on Gov. Pawlenty to be our goalie.

Overall, the ad is somewhat effective because it’s somewhat misleading.

It’s apparent that Erin Murphy hasn’t thought about crime from a police officer’s perspective. That’s totally apparent after reading this article. First, Jeff Johnson said “I watched the body camera footage from the Thurman Blevins shooting today. It shows clearly that Blevins was carrying a gun and that the Minneapolis officer involved did everything he could to convince Blevins to surrender before firing his weapon. Serving our communities as a police officer is one of the hardest jobs in America today and we shouldn’t second-guess the very difficult decisions they make until we have all of the facts.”

Gov. Pawlenty issued a statement, saying “The actions of the Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting of Thurman Blevins were clearly appropriate. Police officers protect our communities at extreme risk to themselves every day. We support and appreciate them. Those who claimed Blevins did not have a weapon or that officers acted improperly owe the officers an apology.”

Next, compare those statements with what Erin Murphy said:

As I watched the body camera footage of Thurman Blevins death, I was struck not only by the end of his life and the hard questions it raises, but by the beginning of the video. From the first moment officers are on scene they are loudly swearing, and threatening a man who appears to be sitting on a curb with a woman and child. From the first moment the police are shouting, scaring him, pushing him, and engaging in a way that led to the awful ending of his life.

He ran, yes. He was armed, yes. He reportedly was drunk and had fired shots, yes. All of those things might have led to his death, but none of them had to. I don’t understand why calmly starting a conversation wasn’t an option or wouldn’t have been a better course.

I don’t know much about Thurman Blevins. Had the officers approached the situation differently he might be in jail right now for firing his weapon into the sky and ground, or could be sitting on that curb with his family enjoying a morning off. I don’t know.

When a man (or woman) wields a gun, that officer has a responsibility to protect himself/herself and their partner. That isn’t a situation where the officers have a ton of options. It’s literally a kill-or-be-killed situation.

Notice how Rep. Murphy blames the officers, not Mr. Blevins. Rep. Murphy, if you were faced with this life-or-death situation, would you take a pacifist’s approach? Would you let a person who has a gun wave it around? If that’s truly what you’d do, there’s a high probability that you’d be shot. Further, by taking the pacifist’s approach, you’d put your partner’s life in jeopardy, too.

This story is troubling:

More protests are expected in Minneapolis over the decision not to charge officers involved in the June 23 deadly shooting of Thurman Blevins. The two Minneapolis officers involved say he pointed a gun at them during a short chase. CBS News’ Dean Reynolds spoke to Blevins’ sister and cousin who dispute the officers’ version of events. Blevins’ sister Darlynn and cousin Sydnee Brown admitted he had a gun on him but say he was scared for his life when he ran from police.

“It was the way that they approached him when they came out of the vehicle,” Darlynn said. “I mean, who else is not going to run if somebody is behind me telling me ‘I’m going to shoot you. I’m going to kill you.'”

First, here’s the police body cam video:

Then there’s this interview of Blevins’ family:

Let’s state something here emphatically. Gov. Dayton’s reckless statements after the Philando Castile shooting contribute each day to the tension between minority communities and police officers. Gov. Dayton said that “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver were white? I don’t think it would have.” Since that day, tensions have escalated. Rep. Murphy’s statements just further escalate the tensions.

That’s inexcusable.

Saying that Gov. Pawlenty beat Tim Walz like a bongo drum over taxes is understatement. Walz has said that he’ll raise taxes, starting with raising the gas tax, then moving onto raising other taxes to fund “other priorities.”

The article opens by saying “Rep. Tim Walz says he’d push to raise the state’s gasoline tax if elected governor to pay for infrastructure improvements.” After that, the article says “Walz says he couldn’t rule out other tax increases to pay for priorities like broadband internet grants and local government aid increases. He says policymakers should start by addressing needs and then discuss how to pay.”

What that means is that Tim Walz supports tax increases for everyone. Gov. Pawlenty didn’t wait long to respond. He didn’t mince words, either. Here’s what Gov. Pawlenty said:

Here’s what Gov. Pawlenty said:

Here they go again – Democrats teeing up massive tax increases on hardworking Minnesotans. It’s telling when they say that a big tax hike is only a ‘starting point.’ Tim Walz and the Democrats want as much money as they can take from your pocket.

With the DFL, Minnesotans get Bernie Sanders’ failed economics, Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism and Mark Dayton’s incompetence. Trust me when I say that isn’t the trifecta you’d be proud of hitting.

There’s a word for that type of trifecta. That word is failure.

Deep inside this article are 2 paragraphs that makes me wonder about Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

In them, he says “Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, also running for the Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 14 primary, said Pawlenty’s immigration emphasis is a poll-tested play for the GOP electorate. ‘If [Pawlenty] is talking about it, that means it’s polling well,’ Johnson said, citing $96,000 the Pawlenty campaign spent on polls in recent months, according to state campaign filings. Johnson said in a news conference last week that one of his first actions as governor would be to fly to Washington to tell the Trump administration that Minnesota is no longer accepting refugees.”

One of the first official communications, if not the first, from the Pawlenty campaign was a criticism of Tim Walz, who wants to turn Minnesota into a sanctuary state. This statement was published on May 2. It’s difficult to think that Gov. Pawlenty is simply pandering to primary voters.

I don’t make much of Commissioner Johnson finally addressing the issue until 2 months later. I don’t think Johnson is weak on immigration. What I think is that Johnson is employing a double standard. Apparently, when Jeff Johnson talks about refugee resettlement or immigration, it’s done for the purest of reasons. Apparently, he thinks that when Tim Pawlenty talks about immigration, it’s because it’s polling well, nothing more.

This might be news to Commissioner Johnson:

But in response to e-mailed questions from the Star Tribune, Pawlenty said it’s not a new issue for him. “I have traveled around Minnesota and addressed many issues and immigration is one of those issues,” wrote Pawlenty, who declined an interview request for this story. “This is not a change in focus. In fact, cracking down on illegal immigration was a key priority when I ran in 2002, 2006 and during my time as governor. Illegal immigration is a big problem and it needs to be strongly addressed.”

I don’t recall immigration being a top priority while Pawlenty was governor but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a priority for him. Whatever the case, it’s clearly a problem this time. One thing that’s always been true of Gov. Pawlenty is that he’s a pragmatic, problem-solving politician.

It’s apparent that he’s recognized immigration/refugee resettlement as top issues this cycle. There’s little doubt that he’ll address those issues. Of course, Gov. Pawlenty’s enemies are critical:

DFL critics say Pawlenty’s focus on immigration, then and now, are attempts to distract voters from his record on issues like education, health care and the $6 billion budget deficit that existed when he left office. “This is the Pawlenty playbook,” said Javier Morillo, the president of Service Employees International Union Local 26. Morillo supports U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in the DFL race for governor. “Whenever his poll numbers would go down, he would come up with something divisive,” Morillo said. In the Trump era, Morillo said, Pawlenty is using the same approach “on steroids.”

One thing about Javier is that you’ll never hear him say that a Republican has done anything right, except if it’s to make another Republican look terrible. It’s part of his playbook. With the DFL as with the SEIU, enforcing the law is a divisive topic. (This is also the case with Keith Ellison, who is now running to be Minnesota’s top law enforcement officer.)

At the end of the day, Jeff Johnson’s complaining comes across as whining. It diminishes him. That’s a shame because he’s actually a pretty good guy.

Pawlenty tweaks Johnson

The Republican nomination race for Minnesota governor took a contentious turn Thursday with a hard-hitting TV ad from former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

After months of Pawlenty ignoring his primary rival, he unloaded on Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson as part of a six-figure ad campaign, the first commercials he has run during the race. Johnson responded with his own swipes but probably won’t be able to match Pawlenty’s reach, given the relative cash positions of their campaigns.

Johnson is the tiresome gnat in the race. He tried firing back but this is the best he could do:

Johnson took the sudden attention as a sign “that the race is close. It was a good day in the campaign. I said the day that he attacks is a day he knows he might lose. Obviously, we got there earlier than I thought we would,” he said.

This race isn’t close. The Outstate.US poll shows Pawlenty leading by 34 points. Even if the margin of error was high, Johnson would still be miles behind.

The Pawlenty campaign replied:

Pawlenty’s campaign said Johnson threw the first punches months ago and they’re ready to respond in kind. “The Pawlenty campaign is not going to take anything for granted, and we want to ensure that Republican primary voters know exactly where Jeff Johnson has been on these important issues,” said Pawlenty adviser Brian McClung.

It isn’t that Johnson is being competitive. It’s more likely that Pawlenty has decided it’s time to all-but-officially end the primary.

Housley’s impressive fundraising quarter

Karin Housley’s campaign just reported “In Minnesota’s special election for U.S. Senate, the campaign of Republican-endorsed candidate Karin Housley announced a fundraising total of just over $1 million during the second quarter of 2018. Of the 6,209 total campaign donors to date, nearly 73 percent gave donations of $50 or less.” While it’s likely that Tina Smith has raised more, that’s irrelevant because Tina’s message is essentially Obstruct and Resist. Meanwhile, Karin’s message is “Minnesotans want a senator who will fight for them – but Tina Smith has shown us again and again that her marching orders come from the radical left, not the people she represents. Over the next four months, we’re going to work as hard as we can traveling the state, hearing Minnesotans’ stories, and making a case for why I’ll be a new voice in the U.S. Senate for the people of our state. Minnesotans want a senator who will fight for them – but Tina Smith has shown us again and again that her marching orders come from the radical left, not the people she represents. Over the next four months, we’re going to work as hard as we can traveling the state, hearing Minnesotans’ stories, and making a case for why I’ll be a new voice in the U.S. Senate for the people of our state.”

At this press conference, Sen. Smith sounded like a past president of Planned Parenthood, which she is:

The difference between Tina Smith and Karin Housley is that Tina Smith serves the special interests. Karin Housley serves people. Sen. Housley proved that by vigorously attempting to fix the elder abuse scandal in Minnesota. Rather than just hold a press conference, Sen. Housley put together legislation that would’ve fixed many of the problems. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton, who Tina Smith served with for 3+ years, vetoed the bill.

Sorry for not writing about this earlier but it’s still important to highlight the fact that the Minnesota College Republicans endorsed Gov. Tim Pawlenty. In his announcement, Pawlenty noted that “The Minnesota College Republicans today endorsed Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Fischbach for Governor and Lt. Governor in the August 14 Republican primary.” Later, Gov. Pawlenty said “As a former member of the Minnesota College Republicans, I’m honored to have their endorsement,” said Pawlenty. “This is a critical moment for our state and I appreciate the grassroots support of college students across our state adding even more momentum to our campaign. I have the strength and experience to solve problems and bring Minnesotans together and look forward to working with the College Republicans to win on August 14 and November 6.”

In the MNCR’s statement, written by Minnesota College Republicans Chair Kathryn Hinderaker, they said “Minnesota needs a governor who will actively increase and improve our educational opportunities and Tim Pawlenty is the only candidate ready to do that. Tim has made it clear he will work with us from day one to identify and attack the unique challenges college students face today. Tim is also fearless in his defense of our national security and the rule of law. He is the common-sense conservative leader we need to move Minnesota forward.”

Yes, Miss Hinderaker has a famous dad who happens to be a pretty good blogger. But I digress.

Let’s be blunt about this. Couple the MNCRs’ endorsement with the Outstate.us poll and it’s pretty apparent that the chances of Tim Pawlenty being the Republican candidate in November’s general election are pretty high. Here’s Q9 of the Outstate poll:

This isn’t that tight of a race. Further, I’ve gotten word that Johnson isn’t connecting with voters in the Seventh and Eighth districts because he isn’t working with the grass roots up there. If the Johnson campaign isn’t reaching out to the grass roots activists, then he deserves to lose.

Compare that with TPaw’s interactions with the grass roots after the State Convention. To quote Yogi Berra, “It gets late here pretty early.”

After reading this article, I’m certain that the DFL doesn’t have any visionaries running for governor. In fact, I’ll say one more thing. It’s clear to me that the DFL candidates aren’t top tier candidates.

I started wondering if the DFL had any top tier candidates when I read “Erin Murphy, who’s represented her St. Paul state House district since 2007, said she grew up around politics “that were about improving people’s lives” and said she wants to return to that if elected. ‘We should be doing all that we can to make sure that we’re building a future for the people of Minnesota,’ she said. But lately, ‘I see us moving in a direction more toward a Washington, D.C.-style of politics where we’re thinking too much about how to beat the other side, how to get to the next election and the things we need to do together are falling behind.'”

This was confirmed when I read this:

Walz too talked about changing political culture. And just as Murphy often references her nursing profession, Walz often cites his time as a social studies teacher. “We believe in education and we do it in that classroom because it doesn’t have to be a pejorative to talk about government,” said the six-term member of Congress from Mankato. “It’s us. It’s the people who make decisions in communities. But we have to make sure those most impacted by decisions are at the table.

“The behind-closed-doors thing is undermining our basic faith…we’re a very polarized nation and that is holding us back,” he said.

Perhaps Walz is complaining about what happens behind closed doors because he’s never been invited to closed-door negotiations. That’s because he’s never been a committee chairman. That’s because, for 12 years, he’s been a nobody in Congress.

Quick rule of thumb: Nobodies in Congress aren’t visionaries.

Thankfully, there was a visionary at the debate:

Johnson complained of “arrogance” in state agencies and said he seeks to change “the very culture in St. Paul. I got into this race almost 14 months ago and I got in for a very simple reason: to give people more control over their own money and over their own businesses and over their own kids’ education and over their own health care and, frankly, over their own lives,” Johnson said.

With Johnson, at least you know there’s something substantive that he wants to accomplish. There’s no question that he has a number of goals in mind.

This video is worth watching:

It’s worth watching even though they don’t poll the match-up between Erin Murphy and Tim Pawlenty, which is the likely match-up this November. Murphy is the DFL favorite because, in my opinion, she’ll dominate the Twin Cities vote while Lori Swanson and Tim Walz split the rural vote.

The poll shows that Tim Pawlenty leading Jeff Johnson 54%-20%. That isn’t a position Johnson is likely to rebound from.

President Trump didn’t officially endorse Tim Pawlenty during his rally in Duluth this week but he helped Pawlenty’s campaign by mentioning his running mate in the opening minutes of the rally:

Trump said “I also want to thank Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach for being here. She has been so great. Got a big race coming along. She’s gonna do great. The Johnson campaign tried downplaying the mention:

Johnson campaign manager Justin Arnold dismissed the significance of Trump’s mention of Fischbach. “She’s the sitting Lt. Governor of Minnesota and was there in that capacity,” Arnold said in an email. “It’s not surprising at all that she would be mentioned.”

With all due respect, President Trump didn’t just mention Fischbach as the sitting lt. gov. of Minnesota. President Trump also mentioned that she’s “got a big race” and that “she’s gonna do great” in that upcoming race.

The bigger point is that Jeff Johnson travelled to Duluth in the hopes of getting Trump’s endorsement and came away without getting mentioned. That’s noteworthy considering the fact that he’s the Republicans’ endorsed candidate for governor.

I don’t dislike Jeff Johnson. I think he’s a good man who’s solid on policy. It’s that I like Tim Pawlenty more. Pawlenty has clearly had a better run of things in terms of fundraising than Johnson. President Trump’s mention of Lt. Gov. Fischbach won’t help Johnson’s fundraising.

On the DFL side, Erin-Squared will likely win the DFL Primary because Lori Swanson and Tim Walz will likely split the rural vote while E-Squared will feast on urban votes thanks to the DFL primary in the Fifth District. That primary will be way in the rear-view mirror by the time November rolls around.