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Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer promised to raise $100,000,000 for Democratic candidates who pledged to implement his climate change agenda. Apparently, he’s falling miles short of hitting that pledge:

Billionaire Tom Steyer pledged to raise $50 million to make climate change and opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline a 2014 campaign headache for the GOP.

It’s not going very well.

“[Steyer's] super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, has raised just $1.2 million from other donors toward that goal, according to still-unreleased figures that his aides shared with Politico,” wrote Politico’s Andrew Restuccia and Kenneth P. Vogel. “And he appears to be struggling to woo wealthy allies in his effort to compete with big-money conservative donors – leading some supporters to question whether his fundraising goal is realistic.”

“So far, the only really big donor to the Steyer cause is Steyer himself,” they added.

Apparently, Steyer’s agenda isn’t popular with Democrats. Apparently, Steyer’s agenda is about as popular with Democrats as cockroaches are with the public.

What this means is that Steyer is getting humiliated on the national stage. He deserves it. The environmental movement isn’t about saving the environment. It’s about controlling people’s lives. It isn’t a centrist movement. It’s a far left movement if it can be properly characterized as a movement.

At this point, I’d say that’s questionable.

Raising donations to oppose Keystone XL is especially difficult, considering only hardcore leftists oppose its construction, according to a Pew poll from June 26. Further, combating climate change consistently ranks pretty low on the list of Americans’ top priorities.

The question that hasn’t been determined is whether union rank-and-file will vote Republican this November. Democrats like Al Franken have voted against the Keystone XL Pipeline project, which means he’s voting against unions. The public chatter is that they’re upset with the environmentalists and Democrats who side with the environmental activists. We’ll see whether that’s chatter or if they’ll vote their wallets.

The bottom line is that Democrats should ignore Steyer. The oil companies are doing a great job of keeping people on their side. The environment isn’t a winning issue that’ll put them over the top this election. It’s a drag on Democrats’ electoral chances. The environment might help legislative candidates in a few states but it isn’t a winning issue in Senate races. It’s that simple.

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Bill Hanna’s article apparently touched a nerve with Ken Martin, the chair of the DFL. Check out Martin’s testiness:

Martin, in a telephone interview on Saturday that got testy at times, said the issue has nothing to do with PolyMet or investments.

“It’s about transparency in politics and government. And I don’t begrudge anyone for investments. I don’t care if it would be a DFLer, a Republican or someone with the Green Party … she was late in filing her disclosure statement and should not have been,” Martin said.

Of the 42 candidates who have filed for the state’s constitutional offices, only Housley and Sharon Anderson, who is seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general, missed the filing deadline.

Housley has since made her disclosure filing and said missing the deadline was just an honest oversight. “It was in my outbox and never went out. It’s there now,” she said in the PIM story. Housley said her stake in PolyMet is only about $300.

But Martin said emphatically the amount is not the issue. “It doesn’t matter how much. What matters is she didn’t have full disclosure as required on time,” he said in the MDN interview.

So why was PolyMet the only business Martin mentioned in the news release regarding Housley? “Again, this has nothing to do with PolyMet,” he said emphatically.

Then why was PolyMet cited in his news release? “I don’t care what company it was or what industry. What matters is the company is regulated by the State of Minnesota and she had not disclosed her investments.”

But why PolyMet? What about other companies? “I don’t know if she has investments in any other companies regulated by Minnesota. Researchers went through her last statement (filed as a state senator) and PolyMet popped out to them,” Martin said.

Martin’s diatribe was triggered by his getting trapped talking about a subject he wishes would disappear entirely. Further, this isn’t about transparency. If transparency mattered to the DFL, DFL legislators wouldn’t have coordinated campaign expenditures with the DFL in 2012:

The Minnesota campaign finance agency on Tuesday slapped the Minnesota DFL Senate campaign with a $100,000 fine improperly coordinating 2012 campaign mailings with candidates.

The result of investigation and settlement talks that lasted more than a year, the fine is one of the largest ever levied in Minnesota for campaign violations. The penalty stems from candidates and the party committee violating rules that ban coordination between independent spending and what is controlled by a candidate.

Apparently, Chairman Martin didn’t think transparency was important then:

“Ultimately, it is best to set this distraction aside and allow our members to focus on governing,” Martin said.

Karin Housley omitting a $300 invenstment got Martin’s attention but the DFL getting hammered with one of the biggest campaign fines in Minnesota history is “a distraction”? But I digress.

Notice Martin’s evasiveness when Hanna asked why he singled out PolyMet. Here’s a revealing insight into Martin’s behavior:

Martin made it clear in the MDN interview he has grown increasingly “fed up” with both sides of the issue.

Martin’s wish is that he didn’t have to ever deal with this issue because it’s a can’t-win issue for the DFL. It’s something Hanna notes in his article:

PolyMet is a controversial and touchy subject politically for the DFL Party on the Range, which has been a traditional bastion of Democratic support in elections. But there is a widening political chasm on the issue this election year.

The extreme environmental wing of the party both on the Range and in the Twin Cities, which has great influence among activists, is strongly against PolyMet and other copper/nickel/precious metals venture in the works, such as Twin Metals Minnesota near Ely and Babbitt. And some are against all mining or even exploration drilling.

Martin knows that Rick Nolan will likely lose his congressional seat if the Iron Range doesn’t overwhelmingly and enthusiastically support Nolan. Further, he knows that Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken will be in the fight of their political lives if they aren’ enthusiastically supported by the Iron Range.

The truth is that this issue might split the DFL into tiny pieces. That’s the best explanation of what triggered Chairman Martin’s diatribe. He got testy with Bill Hanna because he’s seeing a brewing crisis for the DFL on the Range. The other explanation for Martin’s diatribe is because he isn’t used to reporters questioning the DFL. He’s gotten used to getting the red carpet treatment.

That won’t work this time because people on the Range are tired with the DFL’s ‘lip service support’ of the Range. They’re demanding authentic support, not just lip service support.

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If there’s anything that Sen. Franken and Gov. Dayton can’t defend, it’s the inevitable health insurance premium increase waiting for Minnesotans. Here’s what Sen. Franken said about the ACA on the one-year anniversary of the signing:

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) “In Its First Year, The Affordable Care Act Has Made It Easier And Cheaper For People All Over The Country To Get Quality Health Care.” Franken: “In its first year, the Affordable Care Act has made it easier and cheaper for people all over the country to get quality health care … I’m particularly proud to say that a provision I fought successfully to include in the law is already reining in health care costs for working families.”

(Press Release, Sen. Franken’s Statement On One-Year Anniversary Of Health Reform, Sen. Al Franken (https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1403), March 22, 2011)

Here’s what Gov. Dayton said while signing MNsure into law:

Gov. Mark Dayton: “Today we are taking a major step forward to improve the quality and affordability of health care for the people of Minnesota.” (Press Release, 1.3 Million Minnesotans to Benefit from New Health Insurance Marketplace, Gov. Mark Dayton (http://mn.gov/governor/newsroom/pressreleasedetail.jsp?id=102-56566), March 20, 2013)

Here’s what I reported about health insurance premium increases:

This morning, in an exclusive interview with Examiner.com, Plombon went into detail about what’s happening with insurance premiums. What Mr. Plombon said is that some people who get their insurance through the small group market are renewing their policies. Thus far, Advantage 1 has seen these clients’ premiums increase from as ‘little’ as 30% to as much as 106%.

Gov. Dayton’s and Sen. Franken’s statements are wildly out of touch with reality. This statement is particularly out of touch with reality:

In its first year, the Affordable Care Act has made it easier and cheaper for people all over the country to get quality health care.

First, HealthCare.gov and MNsure still aren’t working. That’s before talking about all the people whose policies were canceled. The ACA didn’t make it easier to buy health insurance. Further, the ACA didn’t make health insurance cheaper. The ACA, aka Obamacare, caused health insurance premiums to spike. In light of these facts, it’s difficult to believe that the bill’s name is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The stats show that health insurance isn’t less expensive with Obamacare. The report commissioned by the MNsure Board of Trustees proves that the website is still dysfunctional.

Minnesota can’t afford clowns like Al Franken and Mark Dayton. Their policies have cost Minnesota families millions of dollars.

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Most of the political handicappers think Mike McFadden faces an uphill fight against Al Franken. That’s a fair opinion. McFadden doesn’t have the name recognition that Franken does. On the positive side, he doesn’t have Al Franken’s record of voting with President Obama 100% of the time.

This Bloomberg article isn’t an in-depth article on the race but it’s worth reading. Here’s what they think Franken’s strategy will be:

Franken, 63, already is drawing a contrast between himself and McFadden’s financial ties. He released an ad last week touting his “fight against Wall Street” that highlighted his 2010 effort to create an independent board to oversee the credit rating of financial products. “Wall Street wasn’t happy about that, but I don’t work for them, I work for you,’ Franken says in the ad.

Most Minnesotans think that Franken was talking to them when he said “I work for you.” He wasn’t. He’s always worked for the special interests that fund Democrats. Franken’s campaign website doesn’t mention the environment or mining. That’s more than a little interesting.

Franken’s silence is fueled by his hope that Iron Range voters don’t notice that he isn’t fighting for them. He’s hoping that they don’t notice that he’s repeatedly and steadfastly supported the environmentalists’ agenda. He’s hoping they won’t notice that he hasn’t lifted a finger to make the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects a reality.

“The Democrats are going to try and nail McFadden as the incarnation of a Wall Street fat cat, as they did with Mitt Romney,” Jacobs said.

Republicans, he added, “are going to paint Al Franken as President Obama’s handmaiden in passing Obamacare,” referring to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the senator supported.

There’s no question but that Sen. Franken staunchly supports the ACA, aka Obamacare. On his campaign website, he says more needs to be done “to bring Minnesota’s tradition of quality, affordable care to the rest of the country.” The ACA isn’t a step towards bringing Minnesota’s health care innovation to the nation. It’s a step in the opposite direction of it. I wrote this article to highlight MNsure’s failings:

This morning, in an exclusive interview with Examiner.com, Plombon went into detail about what’s happening with insurance premiums. What Mr. Plombon said is that some people who get their insurance through the small group market are renewing their policies. Thus far, Advantage 1 has seen these clients’ premiums increase from as ‘little’ as 30% to as much as 106%.

Sen. Franken can’t afford to have statistics like this getting out because they’re proof that the ACA is a total failure. MNsure is Obamacare in Minnesota. If McFadden repeatedl highlights these statistics this fall, Franken will have some explaining to do.

This strategy might bite Franken:

Franken declined to be interviewed, both in person and through a spokeswoman.

Why didn’t Franken grant the interview? Wasn’t he confident enough to face some simple questions? Is he trying to run out the clock without saying something stupid? Candidates that hide don’t often win. It isn’t like Franken’s got a commanding lead in this fight. According to the KSTP-SurveyUSA poll, Franken only has a 48%-42% lead over McFadden. That’s tight, especially considering the fact that Republicans haven’t hit him hard with anything yet.

This race will tighten. It will be competitive. Franken has plenty to worry about. More on that later today.

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President Obama is still convinced that he can bamboozle the American people. To a certain extent, he’s right. What’s discouraging, though, is that he still thinks he’s America’s king, not America’s president. President Obama’s press team is doing its best to sell him as a man who cares about the middle class. Meanwhile, Al Franken didn’t want anything to do with President Obama’s visit to Minnesota.

I can’t blame Sen. Franken for not associating with President Obama, especially a day after the Commerce Department admitted that the Obama-Franken economy shrunk by 2.9% in Q1 of 2014. If I were Sen. Franken’s campaign manager, I’d tell him to distance myself from President Obama, especially after the Supreme Court issued its 13th straight 9-0 rebuke of an unconstitutional presidential power grab.

I’d especially want to distance myself from the arrogant man that insisted that the IRS scandal is just Washington being Washington. How dare that arrogant SOB tell us that Lois Lerner’s targeting of TEA Party organizations is just Washington being Washington. How dare that arrogant SOB tell us that Lois Lerner’s targeting of a sitting US senator is Washington being Washington.

President Obama is the most corrupt president in US history. Whereas President Nixon told the FBI that they didn’t need search warrants, President Obama thinks that obeying the Constitution is optional. Further, President Obama thinks he’s king of the United States, rewriting the law he signed over 30 times.

That isn’t a public servant. That’s the profile of a narcissist. If I had a $10 bill for every time President Obama said that he had a pen and he had a phone and that that’s all he needed to govern, I’d be wealthy. That’s what autocrats say, not presidents. At least, presidents prior to President Obama never said they’d ignore the legislative branch.

President Obama’s arrogance is displayed another way. RNC spokesman Michael Short issued this statement criticizing President Obama and Sen. Franken:

“While President Obama is out surveying the economy his policies have failed to rejuvenate, hopefully he will take the opportunity to consider a different approach. Instead of pushing for more policies that make it even harder to create jobs, the President ought to call on Harry Reid and Al Franken to take up the dozens of House-passed jobs bills languishing in the Democrat-controlled Senate. As we saw with yesterday’s news that the economy shrank more than originally thought during the first three months of 2014, it’s clear President Obama’s policies still aren’t working and the country needs a new direction.”

President Obama has made it clear that he thinks his failed policies will provide the solutions families need. He couldn’t be more wrong about that. The sooner his policies are repealed, the sooner the economy will start doing what it’s always done, which is grow at incredible rates.

I’ll borrow a Reagan line to illustrate my perspective. A recession is when your neighbor is unemployed. A depression is when you’re unemployed. The recovery will start when President Obama is unemployed and his policies are dismantled.

It isn’t surprising that Sen. Franken hid during President Obama’s visit. I’d hide from President Obama’s track record of lawlessness, corruption and incompetence, too. That’s the last thing I’d want to be associated with.

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Bill Hanna, the editor for the Mesabi Daily News, is one of the most fair-minded people I’ve found in media these days. The thing that sets him apart is that he consistently sides with the people who read his newspaper. That sets him apart, in my opinion.

Each week, the MDN awards verbal orchids to people who did the right thing and onions to those who didn’t. This week, Hanna ‘awarded’ some onions to Sen. Franken for voting against the Keystone XL Pipeline project:

Onions: To Al Franken for voting “NO” to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. The vote came in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee meeting. The measure passed 12-10 with Franken voting against. It just goes to show how out of touch Franken is with people in his state, especially those in rural areas and small towns where the cost of gasoline and fuel oil are killing people in the pocketbook.

Sen. Franken is doing everything possible to not say anything to upset Iron Rangers on the PolyMet mining project issue. In his acceptance speech at the DFL State Convention in Duluth, Sen. Franken spoke for 26:39. He didn’t mention mining or the environment a single time during that speech.

Speaking in the shadow of the Iron Range, Sen. Franken didn’t utter a peep about mining. That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, though. The issues page for Sen. Franken’s campaign website doesn’t talk about the environment or mining.

Clearly, though, Sen. Franken still supports the environmental activists. Sen. Franken’s vote against the Keystone XL Pipeline project is proof of that. Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline has bipartisan support. Sen. Franken sided with the environmental activists.

That’s disgusting because Sen. Franken’s vote hurts people in rural Minnesota through higher gas prices. With the median household income, aka MHI, in Eveleth being a paltry $35,500, every dollar counts. Minnesota’s MHI is $59,126. That’s a difference of $23,626. That’s a difference of 40%.

Theoretically, US senators serve the entire state. In Minnesota, that isn’t reality. Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar essentially represent the Twin Cities and Duluth while periodically representing St. Cloud and Rochester. Based on their actions, the rest of Minnesota might as well be located in North Dakota.

For someone who supposedly supports “working families” throughout the state, Sen. Franken doesn’t have much proof of supporting the industries that employ union workers. That isn’t surprising because Sen. Franken’s support of actual miners is theoretical. It isn’t actual. That’s because Sen. Franken supports the environmental activists’ agenda, not the miners’ agenda.

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I wrote this post about the shock Sen. Franken and Gov. Dayton got from the first KSTP-SurveyUSA poll of the election season. At the time, I didn’t notice the results of some other polling questions. For instance, this question was asked: All 134 members of the Minnesota House of Representatives are up for re-election this November. If the election were held today, would you most likely vote for a Republican or a Democrat in your local House of Representatives race? Or would you vote for a member of another party? Here’s the result of that poll:

According to the poll, 36% of likely voters this November will be Democrats, 32% will be Republicans while 29% will be independents. Also, party solidarity is exceptional for both parties, with 95% of Republicans saying that they’ll vote for a Republican legislator and 92% of Democrats saying that they’ll vote for a DFL legislator.

The key stat for this question is that 40% of independents say that they’re likely to vote for a Republican while only 28% of independents say that they’re likely to vote for the DFL. First, that’s well outside the margin of error. Next, that’s a gigantic gap, especially in light of the solidarity of the partisan numbers.

If 95% of self-identified Republicans vote for a Republican and 92% of Democrats vote for a DFL candidate, independent voters will tip the scales. At this point, that means that they’ll tip the scales in the Republicans’ favor. With Republicans only needing a net gain of 7 sets to retake control of the House of Representatives, I suspect that they’ll retake the majority.

Another interesting statistic from the polling relates to the McFadden-Franken race. First, here’s the horserace results:

Other than the tight race, what’s interesting is that McFadden leads Franken amongst young voters (age 18-34) by a 43%-39% margin. Franken still leading but he’s got to be worried about the tightness of the race and how he’s underperforming with millenials. Couple that with his PolyMet problems and his turnout worries and he’s got a right to sound frantic with his fundraising emails.

The KSTP-SurveyUSA poll isn’t good news for Gov. Dayton, Sen. Franken or the DFL. They’ve got lots of problems to solve. Republicans are fired up. They aren’t worried about voter intensity. If they work hard to turn out their voters, they’ll do well, including in areas that they haven’t traditionally done well in.

The DFL, however, is rightfully worried about voter turnout. They admitted that at their state convention in Duluth a couple weeks ago. Couple that with a tight race at the start of summer and the fact that Republicans will get tons of attention because they’ve got a competitive primary for governor.

The DFL’s divisions are real. They sidestepped them at the convention but they didn’t resolve them. What’s worse is that they can’t resolve them between now and Election Day.

The further you dig into the KSTP-SurveyUSA poll, the more bad news you find for the DFL. How bad that news is this November remains to be determined but it’s bad news nonetheless.

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I’ve written before that reading Salena Zito’s Sunday columns is one of my favorite things to do, mostly because she ventures into flyover country. Salena’s columns are more likely to quote people we’ve never heard of than people we’ve heard of altogether too often. Thank goodness for that. We need that realism. This morning’s column touches on something that Washington hasn’t seen coming:

PLEASANTVILLE, Pa. – The homemade sign along state Route 96 in Bedford County could easily be missed if a driver is distracted by the winding curves at the base of the Allegheny Mountains.

“Our country is dying. Please pray for all of us,” it says in blue letters on a white board. A bouquet of slightly wilted wildflowers is tied to it with a blue bow.

The sign doesn’t blame anyone in particular; no political brand or elected official is named, no familiar tagline from social media or cable news is part of the message. In fact, its poignant words (all lower-case, no wild-hare punctuation) and slightly hidden position in some ways reflect the underground populist movement that this column has warned about for months, moderate in tone, big in impact.

It’s undeniable that people of all political stripes want government to work. It’s also true that they want government to listen to them. DC has stopped doing that:

When Eric Cantor lost his primary race Tuesday, it wasn’t because he wasn’t conservative enough for his base.

It wasn’t because of the Republicans’ tea party element. It had nothing to do with immigration reform, or some Democrat conspiracy to flood the polls. And it was not driven by right-wing talk-radio hosts or operatives from Heritage Action, Club for Growth, Citizens United or ForAmerica (which claimed Cantor’s defeat was an “apocalyptic moment for the GOP establishment”).

This was a complicated recipe, according to Republican strategist Bruce Haynes.

“There were more than four-and-twenty blackbirds baked into this pie,” Haynes said, adding that ultimately the loss had everything to do with Cantor: He lost touch with his constituency; he became too Washington, too associated with the D.C.-bubble brand; he forgot how to relate and to be that guy from his district.

Something like that is happening in Minnesota, where the DFL is just waking up to the fact that Iron Rangers are upset that they’re being ignored. They’re being ignored because environmental activists are essentially telling the DFL to ignore the Iron Range.

There’s no question but that these Rangers want a new influx of mining jobs and upper middle class incomes. There’s no question that professional environmental activists hate mining, especially precious metals mining. The DFL is taking the Iron Range vote for granted. That’s the first step in activating populism.

One thing that hurt Eric Cantor the most was that people thought he talked out of both sides of his mouth. He told his constituents that he opposed amnesty, then he supported the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. Technically, Mark Dayton issn’t talking out of both sides of his mouth. He’s just doing whatever he can to not get either side upset.

Al Franken is even more ‘cautious.’ He isn’t saying anything on the subject. Sen. Franken didn’t mention mining during his 26-minute-long acceptance speech. Mining isn’t mentioned on his campaign website, either.

If there’s anything that Eric Cantor’s loss tells us, it’s that ignoring major constituency groups is potentially disastrous politically.

If the “homemade sign along state Route 96 in Bedford County” was found alongside Highway 53 near Eveleth or Virginia, it would read ‘Our way of life is dying an nobody’s listening. Please pray for us.’

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Whatever the outcome of Novembers’s election, KSTP’s poll has stripped away the BS from DFL pundits:

Franken clings to a six-point lead over his closest Republican challenger Mike McFadden, 48 percent to 42 percent. The poll has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.1 percent.

“This poll is a cannon burst into the Minnesota U.S. Senate race,” says political science professor Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute.

It isn’t just that McFadden is close. It’s that Sen. Franken has a microscopic lead over Jim Abeler:

Franken has a larger lead over another potential challenger, state Representative Jim Abeler. Franken leads Abeler by nine points, 48 percent to 39 percent. “The fact that even Jim Abeler is only nine points behind Al Franken indicates there appears to be a solid base of opposition to Al Franken,” says Jacobs.

Let’s put this more succinctly. It isn’t just that there’s a “solid base of opposition to Al Franken.” It’s that lots of people haven’t seen Franken make a difference in Washington, DC. It’s like they know he’s there but the average Minnesotan, not the political activists, couldn’t make a list of Franken’s accomplishments.

The news is worse for Gov. Dayton:

The GOP-endorsed candidate for governor, Jeff Johnson, trails Dayton 46% to 40%. Dayton leads former House Speaker Kurt Zellers by seven points, 46 percent to 39 percent. Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert is eight points back (46 percent-38 percent) and businessman Scott Honour is ten points back (47 percent-37 percent).

This time, Dayton doesn’t have a third party candidate to put him over the top. This time, Gov. Dayton can’t take the Iron Range for granted, especially after he picked Tina Smith of Minneapolis to be his Lt. Gov. running mate. This time, the DFL’s smear campaign will be responded to.

At this point, it’s difficult to tell the impact of the DFL’s tepid support for PolyMet will have on the election because that will affect both turnout and voting habits. If the DFL doesn’t get a huge turnout on the Range, Gov.-Elect Johnson and Senator-Elect McFadden are a distinct possibility.

This video provides a good perspective on the races:

Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken are in the fight for their political lives. Whether they survive depends partly on the quality of their campaigns and partly on the amount of outside money spent. In 2010, ABM spent tons of money smearing Tom Emmer. This time, they’ll have to decide which races to spend money on. It’ll be difficult for them to help Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken while trying to hold onto the majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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Allison Sherry’s article in the Strib is yet another article highlighting the tensions within the DFL. While things look normal on the outside:

things are anything but normal on the inside:

That has DFL state Chair Ken Martin fretting.

“I’m worried about the Eighth,” Martin said. “The rank-and-file union members showing up and supporting the Democratic candidates, I’m worried about environmentalists in Duluth showing up and supporting our candidates. I’m worried about college students throughout this district and young people showing up. We have to win big. We have to run up the score here.”

Here’s why Martin’s worries are legitimate:

Increasingly, the Eighth is cleaved by forces difficult for any one party to address. PolyMet Mining Corp.’s plan to extract copper and nickel from the long-closed LTV mine in Hoyt Lakes has pitted out-of-work but union-loyal miners desperate for decent wages against preservationists, who say the mine could damage the watershed and poison the landscape.

Even after loyal DFLer and Aurora City Council Member David Lislegard lost his job at the mine in 2000, he canvassed for DFL candidates, fighting to get fellow miners to the polls.

No more. “The party is starting to change in direction to the point where I don’t know if it necessarily aligns itself with northeast Minnesota anymore,” said Lislegard, 41. “I’m going to support those who support our way of life.”

Former state Rep. Tom Rukavina, who lives here, was more brusque.

“I just wish one day that our good DFL senators, both of them, you know, would tell the environmentalists to quit crying wolf, you can’t be against everything,” he said. “You can’t want a broadband if there is no copper. You can’t want windmills if there is no nickel. You can’t want a medical device industry if there aren’t stents made of copper, nickel and stainless steel. So cut the crap and grow up.”

There’ve been tons of times I’ve disagreed with ‘Tommie the Commie’ when he was in the legislature. This time, I wholeheartedly agree with him. In the aftermath of the DFL State Convention, a DFL activist made a similar statement, saying that environmental activists walked the convention floor with cell phones and iPads. This DFL activist then asked “do they think that the minerals in those phones and iPads magically drop out of the sky”?

Both nationally and here in Minnesota, Democrats are at a tipping point. Will environmental activists continue to dictate their agenda or will they be abrupt like Tom Rukavina and tell these environmental activists to “grow up”?

Lislegard still favors Nolan in the upcoming election, but he is wavering on whether to support Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken’s re-election bids. He senses that the DFL has taken his and other blue-collar votes for granted, and he is particularly disgusted with the carefully parsed answers he hears about the idled mine that once was his livelihood.

Mindful of the different factions, both politicians are careful when talking about PolyMet.

“What they [miners] want is sustainable mining, that’s what they always wanted,” Franken said. “That’s what we’re doing with the process, and I think the process has improved the project considerably. … There is never anything without risk, but we have to make sure the risk is as minimal as possible.”

That’s slippery language from Sen. Franken, which isn’t surprising. The mining issue wasn’t controversial because of what the miners wanted. It was controversial because environmental activists were steadfastly opposed to precious metals mining. In fact, Alida Messinger, who has written some of the biggest checks to the DFL, vehemently opposes precious metals mining.

Dayton makes no apologies for staying neutral until more is known about one of the most environmentally sensitive projects the state has embarked upon.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say again, my position is I’m not going to take a position,” Dayton said. “I’m going to remain intentionally neutral until all the reports are done, all the comments have been made and filed and responded to, until there is final information. When that will be, I’m not entirely certain. Some people jumped in already pandering to one group or another … before the final analysis came in. I think that’s irresponsible.”

Gov. Dayton, it’s time you stopped walking the tightrope. Tons of information is already known about PolyMet. Alida Messinger and Becky Rom won’t support PolyMet. Get over it. No amount of information will change their minds.

If the DFL won’t tell the environmental activists to sit down and shut up, lots of Rangers will vote for the MNGOP’s pro-mining candidates. It’s that simple.

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