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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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This op-ed, written by Paul Kersey of the Illinois Policy Institute, revisits the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Harris v. Quinn lawsuit. Here’s one of the key parts of Mr. Kersey’s op-ed:

Suburban Chicago mom Pamela Harris, whose youngest child has a rare genetic disorder, was one of the parents targeted for union membership. Because she would rather stay home full-time to care for her son than put him in a state facility or child care center, she qualified for a Medicaid benefit from the state worth about $25,000 per year. But the unions wanted a cut of this money.

Harris didn’t want to join the union, so she joined other families who already paid forced dues in a lawsuit challenging the scheme. In siding with Harris against the state of Illinois and SEIU last month, the high court addressed a point raised by the Illinois Policy Institute in an amicus brief: Paying dues to a union should not be a condition of receiving help from the state to care for a loved one.

I’d love hearing the SEIU or AFSCME explain how the person who a) cares for a person getting a government assistance check, b) is self-employed or c) is the parent of the person getting a government assistance check is a government worker.

Let’s follow this logically. According to SEIU’s thinking, a middle class person who takes care of their child isn’t a government employee but a person who cares for their child who gets an assistance check is a government employee.

Further, again according to SEIU’s thinking, small business owners who provide child care services aren’t government employees but child care providers who care for families that get government assistance are government employees.

That logic is tortured at best.

For instance, when a person works as a PR/communications person in a government department, there’s an organizational chart that shows where in the chain they rank and who they report to. How would an organizational chart look if a small business owner who is hired by a parent who gets government assistance is considered a government employee? Further, why would the small business owner be the government employee subject to paying union dues or a fair share fee but the person getting government assistance be a private citizen who isn’t subject to paying union dues or fair share fees?

This is the key point in Mr. Kersey’s op-ed:

Even if the SEIU wins its election, its new members won’t be forced to pay dues.

That’s the part that gives me the biggest smile. They’re expending all this effort knowing that a huge percentage of PCAs and in-home child care providers will say ‘no thanks’ to paying dues or fair share fees.

One of SEIU’s and AFSCME’s arguments is that they’ll provide training for these workers. As Hollee Saville told me, they already have access to tons of training. Most of these programs are either free or exceptionally inexpensive.

Surely, union operatives will attempt to characterize me as anti-union. Those operatives are wrong. I’m just opposed to unions telling private sector employers that they’re public sector employees.

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It’s bad enough that AFSCME is intent on forcing a unionization vote down child care providers’ throats. What’s worse is that the person overseeing the election is owned by AFSCME:

Governor Dayton appointed Josh Tilsen to be commissioner of the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) in Feburary 2011. As BMS commissioner, Tilsen administers union elections, resolves collective bargaining disputes, and oversees labor mediation and arbitration activities. He is paid more than $95,000 per year by the State of Minnesota for this full-time role.

In addition to Tilsen’s full-time work as BMS commissioner, he also maintains an outside consulting business, acting as an arbitrator for the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). According to the official Iowa PERB website (updated March 25, 2013), Tilsen’s per diem is $1,200. Notably, the office phone and fax number they list are Tilsen’s official BMS numbers in Minnesota. In addition, under “Current Employment/Associations that could cause a conflict,” it lists “None.”

That’s just part of it. There’s more:

Tilsen’s case in particular, though, seems riddled with real or potential conflicts of interest. While Tilsen technically consults for the State of Iowa, he is paid in part by labor unions, as both parties to arbitration cases share the cost of the arbitrator. To that point, according to U.S. Department of Labor records, Tilsen was paid $7,451 last year by AFSCME Council 61. Meanwhile, as Minnesota’s BMS commissioner, Tilsen oversees union elections and helps resolve union disputes involving AFSCME affiliates. As such, one has to ask: How can a fulltime, government official who collects income directly from a labor union be expected to act as an impartial referee of labor disputes?

While this isn’t illegal, it’s more than suspect. Jeff Johnson, the MNGOP-endorsed candidate for governor, made this statement on the matter:

“Mark Dayton uses his office to pay back his union campaign contributors, and apparently his Commissioner in charge of dealing with unions is in their pocket as well,” said Jeff Johnson.

“This is a gross conflict of interest. Commissioners have a full time job and are paid a handsome full-time salary by the taxpayers. They shouldn’t be doing outside work in any case, and certainly shouldn’t be taking paychecks from the people they are supposed to regulate,” Johnson said.

“This is just another example of Dayton’s sacrificing the interests of Minnesotans to those of his campaign contributors,” Johnson concluded.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Democrats side with their special interest allies more frequently than they side with Minnesota’s families. In fact, that’s their identity.

At this point, it’s reasonable to question the upcoming election’s integrity.

First, Tilsen needs to recuse himself. Second, Gov. Dayton needs to put back in place Gov. Pawlenty’s policy of prohibiting commissioners from having a side job. Third, the legislature should look into whether other commissioners in the Dayton administration are consultants. If other commissioners are consulting, they need to quit ASAP.

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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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When Dave Brat defeated Eric Cantor last night, it was the stunner of news stories this year. Here’s Brat’s explanation to Sean Hannity on what he did:

Here’s the partial transcript of Hannity’s interview with Brat:

BRAT: I ran on Republican principles. We have this Republican creed in Virginia and the only problem with the Republican principles is no one is following them.

The first one is commitment to free markets. We don’t have any free markets in this country any more. Then equal treatment under the law, fiscal responsibility, constitutional adherence, peace through strong defense and faith in god and strong moral fiber. That’s what I ran on: The Republican creed. But the press is just always out there to have these exciting stories to sell papers, and the people actually do care about policy. When you’re serious… I give 30 minute stump speeches on policy, and the press made fun of me. They said ‘these aren’t good stump speeches. You’re talking serious issues.’ Well, the American people are ready for serious issues.

People bought into Brat’s message because he won by 7,000 votes. Cantor lost because Cantor didn’t take Brat or his district seriously.

One disturbing thing that came out of last night’s coverage is that the celebrity TEA Party organizations didn’t lift a finger to help Brat. Laura Ingraham told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that Jenny Beth Martin of the TEA Party Patriots, “much to my consternation”, didn’t take Brat’s calls.

The reality is that too many of these ‘official’ TEA Party organizations have drifted from the TEA Party’s principles. Martin didn’t respond to a true TEA Party activist.

I attribute that to a steady drift from TEA Party celebrities from TEA Party principles. Celebrities like Sarah Palin and others endorsed candidates who wouldn’t know the first thing about TEA Party principles. I know because I criticized them months ago when Palin endorsed Julianne Ortman.

I’ve had my own fight with a different TEA Party organization. Specifically, I had a fight with TEA Party Nation. I wrote this post about TPN’s endorsement. Here’s what they said about Sen. Ortman in their endorsement:

She is running and has racked up an impressive series of endorsements. She has been endorsed by our friends at Tea Party Express, the Conservative Campaign Committee, Citizens United and most recently she was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

She is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-low taxes and perhaps most importantly in favor of a complete repeal of Obamacare.

When I criticized them for not doing their homework, TPN attacked me, saying:

@LFRGary If I had a nickel for every time a liberal told us we were losing credibility, we’d be rich.

I don’t know who’s runnning communications for TPN but they’re overpaid if they’re getting paid. First, they support a liberal candidate, saying that she’s conservative. When I criticized them for supporting a liberal, they criticized me by calling me a liberal.

Frankly, it’s time to start holding these celebrities’ feet to the fire. They’re celebrities who don’t think they have to do their research. I shot TPN’s, Sarah Palin’s and Citizens United’s endorsements down in less than 15 minutes each.

Eric Cantor lost because voters perceived him as thinking he was too important to worry about his constituents. Celebrity TEA Party organizations lost because they didn’t support Brat.

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Ken Martin didn’t hide the fact that he didn’t want a pro-mining resolution brought to the convention floor at last weekend’s DFL state convention. According to this article, he got what he wanted:

Ken Martin got what he had hoped for at the DFL State Convention last weekend regarding the copper/nickel/precious metals mining issue on the Range: Nothing — no resolution for or against debated on the floor.

The state DFL Party chairman had said for a couple months in interviews and conversations with the Mesabi Daily News that his goal was to not have the controversial issue turn into a convention firefight. He succeeded, despite passionate feelings on both sides.

A floor fight would’ve been big news that the media would’ve splashed on their front pages or led their broadcasts with. Martin definitely didn’t want that. He settled for a artificial show of party unity.

The question going forward will be whether pro-mining and pro-union people will settle for that. This is just a hunch but I don’t think they will, especially considering the number of “Dump Otto” lawn signs that’ve popped up on the Range.

After the Minnesota Executive Council met last year, Rebecca Otto sent out a fundraising email saying that she was the only vote against mining exploration leases. At the time, she thought this would help raise lots of money. It might well have helped with that. Unfortunately for her, that email fell into the right hands.

There’s no question that her email played well with the Metrocrat environmental activist wing of the DFL. Unfortunately for her, there’s no question that it doesn’t play well at all on the Range. That’s why the “Dump Otto” signs popped up. That’s why Matt Entenza filed a primary challenge against her.

Entenza knows she’s vulnerable.

Politically speaking, not talking about mining at the DFL convention was smart. Unfortunately for Chairman Martin and the DFL, that’s just a temporary fix. The discontent is still boiling. The biggest dynamics change is that Republicans running for statewide office are highlighting their support for mining.

Meanwhile, the DFL’s support for mining is, putting this charitably, tepid. They’re walking a political tightrope without a safety net underneath. The DFL’s margin for error doesn’t exist. A mistake might cost their statewide candidates their races.

The tightrope act worked during the convention. That doesn’t mean, however, that things won’t boil over before Election Day. Chairman Martin better say his prayers and eat his vitamins. If he doesn’t, this could be a tough year for the DFL.

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According to Matt Entenza’s website, Entenza graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Environmental Studies:

Matt graduated from Worthington Senior High School and won a scholarship to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., with an eye toward eventually going to law school. After his sophomore year, he transferred to Macalester College in St. Paul and was elected student body president. He received a degree in environmental studies with honors.

The environment isn’t a passing fancy with Rep. Entenza. One of the organizations who has honored him is the League of Conservation Voters. Here’s what LCV’s mission is in their own words:

LCV runs tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America.

Simply put, LCV supports candidates that are anti-mining. That means both DFL candidates for State Auditor are anti-mining. The biggest difference between him and Rebecca Otto is that she’s campaigned as anti-mining. Thus far, Entenza hasn’t. That said, it isn’t like he’s supported precious metals mining projects like PolyMet and Twin Metals-Minnesota.

In the end, Entenza’s candidacy should be seen for what it is — an attempt to stay relevant in Minnesota politics until a congressional seat opens up.

Finally, this shows that he thinks Otto is vulnerable.

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This weekend’s Republican Convention was a study in how 2 candidates handled things differently. Mike McFadden and Marty Seifert both said that they were keeping their options open on going to the primary if they weren’t endorsed at the convention. That’s where the similarity ends.

Friday’s first ballot in the senatorial campaign produced 2 stunners. Julianne Ortman finished in third. Meanwhile Chris Dahlberg came in first. While Dahlberg might’ve hoped for that, there’s no way he should’ve expected that. That result established him as a serious candidate.

It also hurt Sen. Ortman’s standing with the delegates. Had she finished with 35% and in first place, she might’ve played it positive the rest of the way. Instead, they went negative. That hurt her with the delegates.

Through it all, Team McFadden kept grinding away, staying in close contention on each ballot. Then they caught a break after the 7th ballot. The next morning, they were back at it with renewed confidence. They won it before the results of the 10th ballot were announced whe Dahlberg graciously conceded.

Contrast that with Team Seifert. They didn’t lead at any point. When the outcome became clear, Dave Thompson conceded while giving a gracious concession speech. Seifert approached the podium while Sen. Thompson spoke. It was thought that he’d concede, too.

Instead, he released his delegates publicly while telling them to leave the convention so there wouldn’t be a quorum. Without a quorum, there couldn’t be an endorsement. Activists on Twitter didn’t take that well. The convention video shows some people booing while others applauded.

This statement sums things up pretty nicely:

Delegate and Minnesota Tea Party Alliance chair Jack Rogers was blunter. “Marty [Seifert] has just galvanized every faction in this party to work for the endorsed candidate,” he said.

That can’t be what Team Seifert was hoping for. I’d think the fundraising doors slammed shut during Seifert’s speech, too.

Had Seifert accepted defeat or announced outside that he was going to the primary, he wouldn’t have upset the delegates. Instead, he essentially said that if he couldn’t win the endorsement, he’d do whatever he could to make sure nobody was endorsed.

That selfish act won’t play well with people. There’s no question that Seifert has loyal supporters. There’s no question that he’s alienated those who aren’t already his supporters.

McFadden earned a ton of political capital this weekend because he didn’t disrespect the delegates. Seifert lost whatever political capital he had by disrespecting the delegates.

As a result, McFadden’s stock is on the upswing while Seifert’s has ebbed.

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This week, I’ve spent a ton of time focusing on the DFL’s hostility towards the Iron Range’s problems. The truth is that a prominent part of the DFL is interested in preventing another mining project from starting. That’s what’s really behind the PEIS that Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, aka NEMW, asked the US Forest Service to put together.

As I wrote here, Becky Rom, the vice-chair of NEMW, lied about whether NEMW had requested the PEIS. Here’s the proof that the Ely Echo cited:

Then, late Thursday a Freedom of Information Act request by Twin Metals-Minnesota was granted. Upon request, they shared those documents with us. If anyone would like a copy, just send us an email.

In the documents provided by the Bureau of Land Management was a letter asking for the PEIS. The agency requesting the PEIS? Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. And who is the vice-chair of NEMW? Becky Rom.

We also have copies of emails sent by Rom outlining a meeting with the BLM where the agenda included: “The BLM, together with the Forest Service, should undertake a programmatic environmental impact statement.”

I’ve written extensively about which DFL politicians have tried tiptoeing that tightrope. Every DFL politician elected to statewide office has tried tiptoeing the tightrope. One day, they’re artificially supporting the miners. The next day (or next event), they’re enthusiastically, albeit quietly, supporting environmental activists like Becky Rom and Alida Messinger.

Rom doesn’t want another mining project to start. Enough, though, of the DFL’s negativity. If I just wanted to write about the DFL’s hostility towards mining, I’d need a staff of writers and tons more bandwidth.

There’s a simple solution to the miners’ crisis. And yes, it’s a crisis. The solution is voting for Republicans. They’re staunchly pro-mining. Better yet, they don’t answer to dishonest environmental activists like Becky Rom and dishonest environmental philanthropists like Alida Messinger.

If elected to statewide offices, Republicans will fight for the PolyMet and Twin Metals-Minnesota mining projects. It’s that simple. It’s that uncomplicated because Republicans don’t rely on campaign contributions from environmental activists like Becky Rom.

If the RPM wanted to run a clever campaign against the DFL, they could start a ‘What have they done for the Range lately’ campaign. Even when the DFL-filled Executive Council approves mining exploration leases, it’s torture for them. It’s like they’d rather have a root canal without anesthesia than voting to approve mining exploration leases.

It’s been 9 years since the PolyMet permitting process started. In that time, PolyMet has spent more than $150,000,000 in their attempt to comply with Minnesota’s stringent environmental regulations. They’ve shown that they’re solid corporate citizens.

If Iron Range communities like Chisholm, Eveleth, Hibbing and Virginia vote for the candidates who will fight for these mining projects, it’ll be a tough night for the DFL, from State Rep. David Dill to State Auditor Rebecca Otto to the DFL’s Secretary of State candidate to Congressman Rick Nolan to Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken.

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Thankfully, the GOP primary in Kentucky is history. I’m thankful because I won’t have to hear that Matt Bevin is the TEA Party-backed candidate. Articles like this one will disappear, which, by the way, is terrible news for Alison Lundergan-Grimes. More on Lundergan-Grimes in a minute.

The truth is that, altogether too often, TEA Party-endorsed candidates are terrible candidates who shouldn’t be allowed near a general election ballot. While Bevin wasn’t as terrible as Todd Akin, he wasn’t a top-tier candidate:

They pointed to an exaggeration of his educational credentials on his LinkedIn page and apparent previous support for the financial bailout as evidence.

And Bevin wasn’t helped by a series of high-profile unforced errors, at one point suggesting that legalizing gay marriage could lead to parents being able to marry their children and speaking at a pro-cockfighting rally that he said he was unaware was related to cockfighting, and then later backtracked on that statement.

Simply put, TEA Party organizations haven’t done a good job vetting candidates before supporting them. Candidates that think gay marriage will lead to wierd marital relationships isn’t qualified to run for the state legislature, much less run for the US Senate.

That isn’t to say I’ve suddenly ‘gone establishment’. I still passionately believe in the founding principles of the TEA Party movement. I believe as strongly today that TEA Party principles are the remedy for this nation’s ills as when I was organizing TEA Party rallies.

This year especially, I’ve been disappointed with some of the TEA Party’s endorsements. I didn’t hesitate in criticizing Sarah Palin for saying that Julianne Ortman was “a conservative champion” at a time when Ortman was enthusiastically telling Minnesota media outlets that she opposed full repeal of Obamacare.

It’s time that the so-called TEA Party leaders did their research before shooting their mouths off. It’s time they started picking candidates that don’t tie themselves into knots on the most basic of questions. The point I’m making is that the TEA Party shouldn’t feel obligated to run a candidate in each of the races. If the so-called TEA Party candidate is a terrible candidate, the TEA Party shouldn’t endorse a candidate in that race.

It’s time for the TEA Party to take that next step. It’s time they started picking top-tier candidates who won’t fall apart like Mr. Bevin did. Until they do a better job of candidate screening, they’ll continue losing races they could’ve won.

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