Archive for the ‘Election 2010’ Category

Sunday morning, I DVR’ed At Issue With Tom Hauser for the first time since the election. I’m glad I did, though not because I agreed with what I heard. The majority of the show was Hauser’s interview of Gov. Dayton on his budget.

The dishonest things that Gov. Dayton said were insulting to thinking people. About 6 minutes into the show, Gov. Dayton said that “The GOP wouldn’t tell me what spending I should cut.”

First, I highlighted here how Gov. Dayton is cutting spending by $225,000,000 but raising taxes by $3,700,000,000. It’s apparent that Gov. Dayton isn’t interested in cutting spending. Neither is the DFL legislature. They can’t afford it because they’ve got too many political allies to repay with taxpayers’ money.

Next, it’s insulting that Gov. Dayton would lie like that. The GOP legislature passed a budget complete with spending cuts and spending priorities. Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t like that budget, which led to Gov. Dayton’s veto of the legislature’s budget.

If Gov. Dayton said that he disagreed with the GOP budget, everyone who paid attention to the budget fight would agree. Saying that Republicans didn’t offer specific cuts in their omnibus bills is exceptionally dishonest.

Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton telling whoppers isn’t surprising. It’s disappointing but it isn’t surprising.

Later in the interview, Hauser asked Gov. Dayton how he’d reconcile his sales tax and cigarette tax proposals with what he said on the campaign trail in 2010. Here’s what Gov. Dayton said:

GOV. DAYTON: Well, if my tax proposal in 2011, which was no tax increase for sales or property or individuals, which would’ve raised taxes on the wealthiest 2% by 2 points, if that would’ve been adopted, we would have no deficit going into the next biennium. We would be able to pay off the school shift entirely.

That’s nonsense. First, Gov. Dayton’s initial tax increase proposal called for creating a top tax bracket of 10.95%, compared with the top tax bracket today of 7.85%. Next, Gov. Dayton’s initial tax increase proposal included a 3% surcharge on income over $1,000,000 a year.

Most importantly, Gov. Dayton didn’t explain why raising the sales and cigarette taxes were taxes against workers in 2010 but it’s ok to raise them now.

The truth is that Gov. Dayton, like DFL legislators, loves all tax increases. He just loves confiscatory income tax increases on “the rich” most of all.

Finally, the GOP legislature passed a bill that would’ve paid off the school shift last year. Gov. Dayton vetoed it. This year, Dr. Cassellius, his Education commissioner, admitted in testimony that Gov. Dayton’s education budget wouldn’t pay off the school shift until 2017.

I repeat. Gov. Dayton will raise the income tax and the cigarette tax while applying the sales tax to dozens of things it doesn’t apply to now but he won’t pay off the school shift until 2017. That’s several political lifetimes from now.

That’s why Gov. Dayton’s policies are totally unacceptable for Main Street Minnesota.

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TakeAction Minnesota, one of the organizations that opposed the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, authorized this report to be published. Here’s a key statistic from the report:

According to recent testimony by the secretary of state’s office, the proposed photo ID amendment could adversely affect more than 700,000 eligible Minnesota voters. This total includes 215,000 registered voters who do not have a Minnesota driver’s license or ID card with a current address on it, and another 500,000 eligible voters who use Election Day registration.

Prior to this article, people have generally accepted the importance of Election Day registration, aka EDR. That’s changing thanks to this information:

Ramsey County 278,821 votes; 279,513 registered voters, 99.75%VPR
Hennepin County: 674,149 votes, 678,074 RVs, 99.4% VPR
Anoka County: 186,461 votes, 195,424 RVs, 95.4% VPR
Benton County: 19,755 votes, 21,051 RVs, 93.8% VPR
Carlton County: 18,545 votes, 19,929 RVs, 93.1% VPR
Carver County: 52,899 votes, 55,366 RVs, 95.5% VPR
Dakota County: 230,992 votes, 240,100 RVs, 96.2% VPR
Morrison County: 16,836 votes, 17,998 RVs, 93.5% VPR
St. Louis County: 115,921 votes, 122,755 RVs, 94.4% VPR
Sherburne County: 46,707 votes, 48,691 RVs, 95.9% VPR
Wright County: 69,861 votes, 70,572 RVs, 99.0% VPR
Washington County: 142,133 votes, 151,803 RVs, 93.6% VPR
Registered Voters at 7AM: 3,085,277, Voting Eligible Population: 3,876,752

In addition to the astonishing participation rates, notice that 3,085,277 people were registered voters in 2012.

Let’s compare those figures with 2008’s participation figures and registered voter numbers:

Ramsey County 278,169 votes; 317,028 RVs, 87.7%
Hennepin County: 665,485 votes, 722,777 RVs, 92.1% VPR
Anoka County: 182,559 votes, 189,349 RVs, 96.4% VPR
Benton County: 19,429 votes, 21,438 RVs, 90.6% VPR
Carlton County: 18,530 votes, 19,942 RVs, 92.9% VPR
Carver County: 49,806 votes, 53,059 RVs, 93.9% VPR
Dakota County: 225,933 votes, 241,276 RVs, 96.2% VPR
Morrison County: 16,850 votes, 18,979 RVs, 93.6% VPR
St. Louis County: 119,435 votes, 134,550 RVs 88.8% VPR
Sherburne County: 45,121 votes, 47,397 RVs, 95.2% VPR
Wright County: 65,479 votes, 67,959 RVs 96.4% VPR
Washington County: 137,323 votes, 147,347 RVs, 93.2% VPR
Registered Voters as of 7AM 11-04-08: 3,199,981

In 2012, there were 1,544,914 registered voters in Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Dakota and Washington counties. According to the Secretary of State’s website, 1,512,556 people voted in those counties. That’s a participation rate of 97.9%.

Let’s compare those statistics with 2008 for those same counties. There were 1,617,777 registered voters in 2008, with 1,489,469 people voting in those counties. That’s a participation rate of 92.1%.

That isn’t the astonishing part, though. In 2008, there were 3,199,981 registered voters in Minnesota, compared with 3,085,277 registered voters in 2012.

If 500,000 people use EDR each presidential election in Minnesota, why were there 114,704 more registered voters in Minnesota in 2008 than in 2008?

That isn’t even the most astonishing statistic, though. Even though there were 114,704 fewer registered voters in Minnesota in 2012 than in 2008, 21,707 more votes were cast in 2012 than in 2008.

In 2008, the participation rate was 90.9%. In 2012, the participation rate was 95.03%, an increase of 4 points from a wave election.

With all due respect, it’s impossible to believe that the voter participation rate was 4 points higher this year than in a wave election. It’s impossible to believe that 500,000 people used EDR in 2008 and another 500,000 people in 2010 but there were 114,704 fewer registered voters in 2012 than in 2008.

Finally, where did those 1,000,000 registered voters disappear to? It isn’t a stretch to think that a significant portion of those voters who used EDR weren’t eligible to vote.

Without Photo ID, though, it’s almost impossible to tell.

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The DFL started setting up a phony storyline to propel them back into the majority in the Minnesota legislature during Gov. Dayton’s State of the State Address in 2011. At a time when nobody was thinking about a possible special session to pass the budget, Gov. Dayton asked the legislature to pledge not to shut government down.

By early May, it was clear that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen were hoping for a government shutdown. At midnight, July 1, 2011, the Dayton/DFL shutdown became reality.

Along the way, the DFL and ABM started talking about the do-nothing legislature. What’s interesting is that the DFL legislature didn’t submit a budget nor did they submit a set of redistricting maps. The DFL won’t talk about that because that cost Minnesota taxpayers $188,000 in exchange for…nothing.

Here in Central Minnesota, the goal is to go 12 for 12 in ’12. The goal is to elect Jeff Howe, Jim Newberger, David Fitzsimmons and Nick Zerwas to their first terms in the House. We expect to re-elect Tim O’Driscoll, Steve Gottwalt, King Banaian and Sondra Erickson to the House. We expect to send Michelle Fischbach, John Pederson and Dave Brown back to the Senate while adding Mary Kiffmeyer to the Senate.

While I haven’t studied the entire state, a couple of races caught my attention. John Carlson is matched against Tom Saxhaug in SD-5. I’m picking Sen. Carlson to win by 8-10 points. Carolyn McElfatrick is paired against Tom Anzelc in HD-5B with Larry Howes matched against John Persell in HD-5A. I expect McElfatrick to win by 4-6 points. I expect Howes to squeak out a victory against Persell.

When the dust settles, I expect Republicans to keep control of the Legislature, mostly on the strength of their recent candidates. The fire-breathing zealots that Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen whined about will be returned to torture Mssrs. Bakk and Thissen. Republicans will have a 71-63 majority in the House and a 38-29 majority in the Senate.

As for the congressional races, John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Michele Bachmann and Chip Cravaack will win re-election. Rumors from Tuesday night that Alida Rockefeller-Dayton-Messinger is demanding Ken Martin’s head on a platter shouldn’t be taken seriously, though understanding why nobody’s heard of his whereabouts should be taken seriously.

The quality of the GOP legislative candidates will be a major reason why Republicans did so well. The leadership at the BPOU and congressional district levels, with a couple exceptions, will be a GOP strength, too.

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Charlie Crist used to be known as a rising star in the GOP. When he endorsed Sen. McCain right before the Florida Primary, it essentially doomed the GOP to Sen. McCain being their nominee. Just 9 months later, the United States was shackled with President-Elect Obama’s disastrous economic policies.

Crist’s stock has fallen mightily since then. The minute he announced his intention to run for the open Florida Senate seat, John Cornyn and the NRSC endorsed him, expecting him to be the presumptive next senator from Florida.

Instead, Crist ran into a genuine rising star in the GOP in Marco Rubio. Despite his massive advantages in fundraising capabilities and statewide name recognition, Sen. Rubio crushed Crist.

Pretending to still be a national leader, Crist penned this op-ed to endorse President Obama:

We often remind ourselves to learn the lessons of the past, lest we risk repeating its mistakes. Yet nearly as often, our short-term memory fails us. Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation’s calm through a historically turbulent storm.

The president’s response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.

He knew we had to get people back to work as quickly as possible — but he also knew that the value of a recovery lies in its durability. Short-term healing had to be paired with an economy that would stay healthy over the long run. And he knew that happens best by investing in the right places.

President Obama’s stimulus was directed at his biggest political allies, his campaign’s most prolific bundlers. The result was the worst economic recovery since FDR’s, the biggest annual deficits in our nation’s history and the worst economic future since the Great Depression.

President Obama owns the worst economic trifecta in US history: the biggest deficits, the worst regulatory overload and the bleakest economic outlook.

Economic growth in a second Obama term will be as dismal as they are now. Businesses won’t invest their capital because of this administration’s hostility towards capitalists. The ACA will continue to depress job creation. President Obama’s EPA will continue their attempt to kill the coal and natural gas industries.

The PEU bailouts included in the stimulus didn’t create jobs. The loans to President Obama’s most prolific bundlers didn’t create jobs at Solyndra. They just created the environment for the greatest electoral rebellion in recent history.

On Nov. 2, 2010, the American people booted the people out because they’d had enough of politics as usual.

Thanks to President Obama’s deficits, we can’t afford ‘cronyism as usual.’ Charlie Crist’s always been an unprincipled politician. Thanks to Sen. Rubio’s victory, he’ll be remembered as an unprincipled politician.

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This week, the DFL launched a mini-PR offensive about the Dayton shutdown. People paying attention will recognize the talking points. If Paul Thissen is complaining about the shutdown, he’ll whine that we need DFL majorities to avoid another government shutdown. If Zach Dorholt talks about the shutdown, the message is that we just need more cooperation and compromise:

I am running for the Minnesota House because Minnesota can do better than political posturing and ideological obstructionism. When I am out talking with folks, they often cite partisan bickering as their top frustration. Regrettably, the shutdown exposed the harm of legislators who put rigid ideology and wealthy special interests above the needs of Minnesota.

Last summer, about 19,000 Minnesotans were laid off, state parks were closed, road construction was delayed, small businesses were unable to get permits…all resulting in the state losing millions of dollars, including lost revenue from lottery sales, tax audits and state fees and concessions.

Mr. Dorholt’s opponent is King Banaian. In his first term, King got an important reform passed that was part of the budget agreement that Gov. Dayton signed into law. The Sunset Advisory Commission will review all of the commissions, panels and other parts of Minnesota’s bureaucracy.

Not only did King get that important reform passed but he got substantial bipartisan support from a legislator who is miles apart from King ideologically. That legislator is Phyllis Kahn. In fact, that reform passed with 10 DFL legislators supporting the bill.

King has built up a bunch of goodwill because he’s kept his promises. When King announced that he was running, he said that the first bill he’d submit would create the sunset commission. Unlike other politicians, King’s kept his promises.

People respect that whether they agree with him (they should) or not.

Zach Dorholt’s LTE appears to be straight from the DFL’s Chanting Points hymnal. The budget gospel of the DFL is that Republicans were rigid ideologues while Gov. Dayton was the picture of diplomacy and graciousness. These documents provide a timeline through the final negotiations prior to the Dayton Shutdown.

Q: Why didn’t Mr. Dorholt mention the fact that Gov. Dayton, Sen. Koch and Speaker Zellers reached an agreement on June 29, 2011 that didn’t include tax increases?
A: Because then he’d have to admit that Gov. Dayton later went back on his word thanks to the $1,400,000,000 in tax increases that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen insisted on.

Q: Why didn’t Mr. Dorholt mention that Gov. Dayton let the state government to be shut down 21 days before agreeing to the budget that he’d first accepted, then rejected, back on June 29, 2011?
A: Because that’d demolish Mr. Dorholt’s storyline that Republicans were rigid ideologues and that Gov. Dayton was the picture of diplomacy and graciousness. It also would’ve forced him to admit that Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen were the rigid ideologues in this fight.

Here is a timeline of the pre-shutdown negotiations:

  • June 29: Governor Dayton drops push for tax increases but keeps spending demands.
  • June 29: Republicans offer to accept higher spending in exchange for government reforms.
  • June 30: Governor Dayton offer goes back on his word, asks for tax increases.
  • June 30: Governor Dayton makes a second offer, without tax increases, asking instead for a 50/50 school funding delay.
  • June 30: Republicans respond with a proposal for a 60/40 school shift and proceeds from the sale of tobacco settlement bonds. No policy included. This was the GOP’s final offer.
  • June 30: For the second time, Governor Dayton goes back on his word and brings back his demand for tax increases. This was the governor’s final offer.
  • June 30: GOP leaders deliver a proposed lights-on bill to Governor Dayton.
  • June 30: Governor Dayton rejects lights-on bill, announces there will be a government shutdown.

It’s stunning that Gov. Dayton twice dropped his demands for tax increases only to rescind those agreements at Sen. Bakk’s and Rep. Thissen’s insistence. What’s more stunning is Gov. Dayton’s rejection of a light’s on bill that would’ve funded state government while he, Sen. Koch and Speaker Zellers negotiated a final budget settlement. This puts the final blame for the shutdown squarely on Gov. Dayton’s, Sen. Bakk’s and Rep. Thissen’s shoulders.

Ultimately, Gov. Dayton alone is to blame for rejecting a lights-on funding bill that would’ve prevented 20,000 state employees from getting laid off for 3 weeks.

Mr. Dorholt is right that “Minnesota can do better than political posturing and ideological obstructionism.” They did exactly that the first Tuesday of November, 2010 when they threw out the obstructionist DFL majorities in the House and Senate. The GOP promised that they wouldn’t raise taxes if they won the majority. Prior to the 2010 midterm election, the DFL went had a 46-21 veto-proof majority in the Senate and an 87-47 seat supermajority in the House.

When the dust settled early on Wednesday morning, the GOP held a 37-30 majority in the Senate and a 72-62 seat majority in the House. Of the 201 races settled in 2010, Republicans flipped 41 DFL seats in the House and Senate.

The GOP House and Senate majorities kept their promises to the people of Minnesota. They didn’t raise taxes. They balanced the budget. They reformed government. I’d submit that that’s the reason why the DFL is whining. Gov. Dayton twice went back on his promises to the GOP leadership in negotiations. It’s only logical that the DFL would frown upon people who kept their word.

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This morning, Denise Cardinal debated Brian McClung during the Face-Off segment of @Issue. During the introduction, host Tom Hauser said that Denise has a new title, that of executive director of ProgressNow:

ProgressNow operates under the direction and leadership of Executive Director Denise Cardinal. Denise is also executive director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM), ProgressNow State Partner in the North Star state. Before moving back to her home state of Minnesota in 2006 to be Communications Director for America Votes Minnesota and then start ABM, Denise served for five years as senior press officer for the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. She also spent time in our nations capitol as the Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). She has worked at newspapers in Nevada, Idaho, and Iowa and earned a degree in journalism from Drake University in 1995. She is the first in her family to attend and graduate from college.

As ProgressNow’s Executive Director, Denise Cardinal manages operations and leads the network’s online strategy and technology development.

This is the logical next step in building the progressives’ network. It started with local organizations with innocent-sounding names. For instance, the League of Rural Voters sounds innocent enough. The key is in looking beneath the organization’s title. The LRV’s About Us page says alot about them:

We work together to increase participation and demand accountability in all levels of government by:

Creating public service and earned media campaigns: to help raise awareness of the policies that have led to current rural economic challenges.

Providing online advocacy tools: to help turn up the volume on rural issues for the media and our elected officials.

Compare that with ProgressNow’s about us page:

ProgressNow is a year-round, never-ending progressive campaign.

Political campaigns are relatively short-lived; they come and they go, leaving little behind of lasting value. ProgressNow’s presence in our states never ends. There are hundreds of local and state issues that we can organize and communicate effectively literally year-round. Day in and day out, we’re working in our states to counter the right wing and create a perpetual issue advocacy culture.

We’ve developed a niche by focusing on earned media, online communications and organizing.

Many state-based traditional, single-issue advocacy groups lack the internal capacity to execute communications effectively; ProgressNow State Partners excel in this area. Each ProgressNow State Partner organization has full-time staff who are experts in media communications, online campaigns, earned media and new media. We mobilize citizens through our extensive email lists, media events, and through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. We quickly produce and publish hot topic videos on YouTube. We even developed new social networking and organizing tools that have been used successfully not only by our State Partner organizations, but by other progressive organizations, including Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign.

ProgressNow is a nationwide umbrella organization. According to their website, there are state chapters in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The Minnesota chapter of ProgressNow is the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, aka ABM, aka Dayton Family Politics Inc. ABM is itself an umbrella organization. A key organization within ABM is TakeAction Minnesota. TakeAction Minnesota is itself an umbrella organization. Public employee unions are well-represented in TakeAction Minnesota, as are environmental organizations and faith-based organizations.

Let’s remember who ABM is. ABM is a propaganda machine that got failing grades from, the gold standard in factchecking:

A False Claim About the Deficit

The ad also claims that the “Emmer-Pawlenty plan created a huge deficit.” That’s false as well.

The bill was an attempt to close an existing $3 billion deficit without making all of the unilateral budget cuts that Pawlenty had tried to impose, but which were overturned by the courts. To claim that the bill’s defeat “created” the deficit it was intended to close is pure nonsense.

The ad complains that the so-called Emmer-Pawlenty plan “cut things that Minnesotans rely on.” That much is true. The budget measure Pawlenty eventually signed did make deep spending cuts. But the bill the Democrats proposed, and Emmer voted against, wasn’t much better in that regard. The Democrats’ proposed income tax increase would have brought in an estimated $430 million in added taxes, but their budget bill still would have made $2.5 billion in spending cuts.

For the record, in a “truth test” of the ad, the Minneapolis-St. Paul station KSTP-TV awarded the spot a failing grade of “F” for accuracy.

ABM wouldn’t get paid if they were paid for telling the truth. ProgressNow is the national tip of the progressives’ propaganda network. Whether ABM is doing the messaging or ProgressNow or TakeAction Minnesota, the end result is the same: progressive propaganda that’s devoid of the truth.

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According to this article, Anne Nolan has stepped forward to be this year’s sacrificial lamb against Michele Bachmann:

Anne Nolan says she’s looking to unseat 6th Congressional District Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann this fall.

Nolan, who previously ran for the state House against Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, plans to make her plans official at 2 p.m. Friday at the St. Cloud Library, according to her Facebook page.

According to her old campaign website, Nolan works for WFC Resources, which trains employers on how to adopt flexible schedules for their employees. On the website, Nolan also wrote that she is a long-time community activist on workplace and economic development issues.

Nolan says she will abide by the DFL endorsement.

If Anne Nolan is the DFL candidate, this will be a major bloodbath for the DFL. I suspect Ms. Nolan won’t be the DFLer facing Michele in the general election, though I don’t know who will be the sacrificial lamb. Whoever the DFL’s candidate is will get crushed. It isn’t difficult to picture another 15-point defeat for the DFL.

Tarryl got thumped so badly by Michele last time, Tarryl’s GPS was broke to the point that she’s running in the Eighth District.

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Tuesday afternoon, Chip Cravaack’s office issued this statement on the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act:

“After a five-year delay and 23 temporary extensions, this FAA compromise is critical to advancing the nearly eight percent of our nation’s economy impacted by the aviation industry. I commend my colleagues in the House and Senate for working toward a middle-ground solution in the best interest of American workers and their families.”

“While I have always said that EAS needs to be reformed, I’ve worked hard to ensure this long-term funding bill protects Minnesota aviation and construction workers, and finally provides much needed certainty for family budgets.”

Jim Oberstar was the House Transportation Committee chair for 4 of those 5 years. Oberstar’s leadership produced the “five-year delay and 23 temporary extensions.”

Combine that with the likelihood that PolyMet Mining will become reality this year, another thing Rep. Oberstar didn’t get done, and you’ve got the picture that Chip is a problem-solver. Rep. Oberstar’s reputation is that of being a porkmeister.

It isn’t surprising that the DCCC is targeting Chip this year. Before the 2010 midterms, Democrats had held Oberstar’s seat for over 60 years. They aren’t likely to just give up on Chip’s seat.

It isn’t likely that they’ll retake Oberstar’s seat, either. Chip’s accomplishments are substantial. Chip’s accomplishments include creating great paying new jobs on the Range.

The legislation, now prepared for passage, ensures long-term aviation safety and infrastructure funding for the next four years. Importantly, the legislation will not terminate existing Essential Air Service (EAS) programs in Minnesota. Conference reports cannot be amended.

Rep. Oberstar’s recent history shows that he didn’t come close to settling this budget. That’s a committee chair’s first responsibility. If that’s the criteria, Rep. Oberstar’s grade couldn’t top a C, with a C- a distinct possibility.

By comparison, Chip’s grade in helping Minnesota and MN-8 has to be at least a B, with a B+ a definite possibility.

That’s the difference between Beltway leadership and real leadership.

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One of last night’s moments that people will notice more now than then was Brian Williams’ question about what the candidates had done for conservatism. Mitt’s reply was pathetic.

When asked that question, Mitt replied that he’d raised a family, that he’d worked in the private sector, blah, blah, blah. It might’ve been the most pathetic reply I’ve heard during these debates. Don’ get me wrong. Raising a strong family and creating wealth in the private sector are positive things.

That doesn’t identify a person as a conservative.

This plays into Mitt’s image of not being a conservative. Here’s another thing that’ll play into Mitt being a moderate/liberal:

Romney’s “Charlie Crist” problem is this: Romney’s chief campaign strategist and several of his most senior campaign staff were Crist’s top political advisers, the same ones who crafted Crist’s moderate, ignore-the-tea-party strategy epitomized in Crist’s famous “hug” of President Barack Obama. That strategy led Crist, once the most popular Republican governor in the nation, to defeat.

Crist’s erstwhile political team was led by controversial GOP strategist Stuart Stevens. Stevens and partner Russ Schriefer are the principals in the high-profile Stevens & Schriefer Group consultant firm and are playing the lead role in crafting Romney’s primary and national campaign strategy.

According to the Stevens & Schriefer website, the firm had a long history with Crist, serving as chief strategists for his bids for education commissioner, attorney general, governor, and later for the U.S. Senate.

Mitt’s strategic mistake from the outset has been that he’s run a general election campaign. Pundits talk about Mitt’s staying above the fray and looking presidential. Meanwhile, the voters in the Rust Belt and in the Heartland were looking for someone who identified the fight they were in and was willing to fight the ideological fight with them.

Mitt’s never identified with that, which is why he’s the weakest frontrunner in my lifetime.

By comparison, Newt’s destruction of Juan Williams articulated conservatism with a Jack Kemp-like reply of ‘A rising tide lifts all ships’ conservatism. It wasn’t just that Newt slapped the media. It’s that he identified with main street conservatives.

I don’t think that Mitt can bridge the gap with movement conservatives. I do think that Newt can identify, and win over, moderates because Newt’s policies make sense to the vast majority of Americans, regardless of political stripes.

Campaigns still matter. Few of the delegates have been picked. Debates have fueled Newt’s campaign thus far but February will be relatively devoid of debates.

Still, Mitt has some rather major adjustments to make, adjustments I’m not sure he’ll make. If he can’t make that adjustment, he’s in deep trouble.

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Minnesota Majority, Minnesota’s premier election watchdog organization, has issued a scathing indictment against Minnesota’s election integrity. There isn’t any question but that Minnesota’s election integrity has been compromised:

Minnesota Majority today released a report on voters flagged for challenge in the statewide voter registration system (SVRS) because of official election mailings to their listed addresses being returned as undeliverable by the United States Postal Service. The mailings, commonly known as postal verification cards (PVCs) are sent to newly registered voters as a means of confirming their provided address and residence at that address. Thousands of voters were flagged for challenge following the 2008 and 2010 general election in Minnesota.

“The PVC is the only real test we have for confirming a voter’s residence, and we often don’t perform that verification until after a person has voted,” said Minnesota Majority president Jeff Davis. “After the 2008 election, over 6,000 Election Day registrants were found to have provided addresses that were undeliverable and after 2010 there were over 1,200 more that remain unexplained even after accounting for voters who moved shortly after voting. This is a strong indicator of the possibility of voter fraud.”

Not only does this call Minnesota’s election integrity into question but it questions the advisability of same day registration. It’s troubling that the USPS returned thousands of PVCs as undeliverable. At minimum, same day registrants shouldn’t be given a standard ballot; they should be given a provisional ballot.

It’s preferable though, that Minnesota ends the practices of vouching and same day registration. Similarly, Minnesota voters need to pass a Photo ID constitutional amendment next November. The DFL’s declarations that Minnesota’s recounts prove that Minnesota’s election system is airtight doesn’t make it fact.

All that a recount proves is that the people can add and subtract. It can’t prove that the person who filled out the ballots were eligible to vote. Minnesota Majority’s PVC report verifies that plenty of people, perhaps in the thousands of people, weren’t eligible to vote.

If they were eligible to vote, 6,000 PVCs wouldn’t have gotten returned in 2008. It’s one thing if a dozen PVCs got returned. It’s another thing if 6,000 PVCs got returned. A dozen might be explained away. 6,000 can’t be lightly explained away.

This needs to be addressed, too:

Minnesota law requires voters to register at least 20 days before an election so that the information they provide and their eligibility to vote can be verified by election workers before they vote on Election Day. However, Election Day registration creates an exception. People who register at the polling place are given a ballot without first being subject to the same scrutiny.

Election Day registrants can account for as many as 25% of all votes cast in a typical election. For those voters, the postal verification card isn’t mailed until after their ballots have been accepted and counted. Voters whose PVCs are returned as undeliverable will be flagged for challenge if they show up at the next election, but meanwhile, their ballots have already been accepted.

“This is an example of why creating two classes of voters is unacceptable,” said Davis. “You shouldn’t be subject to less scrutiny than everyone else, just because you waited until the last minute to register. Less responsible voters are allowed to cut in line and cast a ballot without being validated and this is what happens.

That’s creating a system where voter fraud can run rampant. Hypothetically speaking, there isn’t a way of stopping a union thug from Wisconsin from creating a fictitious identity and address, then registering to vote on Election Day. There’s virtually no way that the criminal could be caught and punished.

Minnesota can’t ignore voter fraud after this report. It’s obvious that it’s happening. This is what happens when a political party puts a high priority on ballot access while ignoring election integrity.

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