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This morning, Torrey Westrom announced that he’s running to unseat Collin Peterson. Here’s Westrom’s statement accompanying his announcement:

TORREY WESTROM ANNOUNCES 7TH DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL BID

Elbow Lake, MN – Today, State Senator Torrey Westrom will announce his plans to run for Congress in Minnesota’s 7th district.

“As Minnesota families are crushed by burdensome regulations and overreaching government policies like ObamaCare, it’s time Minnesotans had someone they could count on to be part of the solution in Washington, DC,” said Westrom. “Washington politicians are out of step with the priorities of Minnesotans and I’m running for Congress because I understand how that disconnect is bankrupting our future.”

Torrey Westrom was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1997. Westrom is a conservative with a record of creating rural jobs and ensuring that the government operates within its means. Westrom is a strong supporter of smaller government and supports the need for a balanced budget amendment.

After losing his sight at the age of 14 in a farm-related accident, Westrom is a strong advocate for people with disabilities and eliminating barriers to help them become more independent in their living and employment opportunities. As a child, Westrom’s family dairy farmed in Wilmer, Minnesota, and later on the family farm in Elbow Lake. Now, Torrey and his wife, Anna, are small business owners, have three children and reside in Elbow Lake, Minnesota.

To learn more about Torrey Westrom, or to contribute, please visit: www.TorreyWestrom2014.com.

Each election cycle brings out the rumors that Rep. Peterson is thinking about retiring. Each time, those rumors turn out not to be true. This year, Torrey Westrom didn’t wait for Peterson to retire. That’s why he jumped in. Westrom represents a strong candidate who will get substantial financial backing from the NRCC in addition to his own fundraising abilities.

Though I don’t have a read on whether Peterson is perceived to be vulnerable, there’s no doubt that Sen. Westrom is a candidate they’ll have to take seriously.

In 2008, Peterson won overwhelmingly. In 2010, Peterson’s share of the vote dropped from 72.2% to 55.2%. Last year, Peterson won by 26 points. The bad news for him is that his percentage of the vote only rose 5 points. Without an Obama wave to ride, Peterson has shown he’s vulnerable. In the past, he’s faced underwhelming opponents. That won’t be the case this year.

Whether this is the year that Peterson retires or the people fire him is still in doubt. What isn’t in doubt is that he’ll face an appealing, well-funded opponent. Also, there’s no doubt that Democrats will be running into strong headwinds like the economy and the Affordable Care Act.

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Moments ago, I received an email telling me that Sen. Rick Santorum endorsed Lee Byberg in his race against 11-term Congressman Collin Peterson:

“Lee Byberg is a passionate conservative and Patriot Voices looks forward to supporting his race for Congress. He is a committed fighter for life at every stage, supports free enterprise, will repeal ObamaCare, and believes we must change our burdensome tax structure.”

I’m asking readers of this blog that have time or treasure to consider helping Lee Byberg defeat Collin Peterson. I haven’t seen any polls of the district but I know people in CD-7 aren’t thrilled with a number of Collin Peterson’s votes.

To those readers of LFR living in CD-7, keep working hard. Expend as much energy on this great cause as is physically possible. Eliminating Oberstar in 2010 was a great victory for conservatives. Defeating Peterson in 2012 would definitely be a highlight for conservatives, whether they’re in Minnesota or across the nation.

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Wednesday afternoon, the House voted to approve Chip Cravaack’s land swap bill that had solid bipartisan support in the Minnesota legislature. The Mesabi Daily News is reporting that, despite the fact that this bill has the support of political opposites like Chip Cravaack and Tommie Ruckavina, the DFL members of the Minnesota delegation voted against it.

Rep. McCollum took a particularly harsh beating during the debate:

When McCollum said it was “completely unnecessary” because the state law had already set the process in motion, Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah said: “The state wants to do it quickly, the federal Forest Service does not. It helps the kids of Minnesota to take it away from an agency that moves at glacial speed.”

After that specious argument failed, Ms. McCollum tried a different argument, only to be shot down again:

When Rep. McCollum said repeatedly that there was not a map related to the issue, Rep. Cravaack responded with a map of the area in question alongside him. “Well, here’s the map,” he said, pointing out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service have the map and it’s also available to the public online.

It’s pretty obvious that Rep. McCollum either doesn’t know what she’s talking about or she’s willing to shaft students to prevent Chip’s bill from passing.

What’s disgusting is that DFL Reps. Ellison, McCollum, Peterson and Walz voted against a significant funding source for K-12 students. So much for the DFL being the party that’s “for the children.”

That isn’t the only disgraceful behavior on behalf of the DFL members of the Minnesota delegation:

Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken would not answer directly a question of whether they support the House measure passed on Wednesday, but did endorse a land swap in some form yet to be spelled out. And, they said, they are collaborating on legislation.

“I understand how important this is for our schools and local economies in northern Minnesota, and that’s why I continue to support a land exchange and am working with similar legislation with Senator Franken to get it done,” Sen. Klobuchar said in an e-mailed statement to the Mesabi Daily News following a call to her Washington office.

A statement from Sen. Franken mirrored Klobuchar’s.

Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken would not answer directly a question of whether they support the House measure passed on Wednesday, but did endorse a land swap in some form yet to be spelled out. And, they said, they are collaborating on legislation.

That’s code for saying they’re killing Chip’s bill. Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar know that their “similar legislation” would require a conference committee, which wastes valuable time during a lame duck session.

That’s a best case scenario with Harry Reid running the Senate and Sens. Franken and Klobuchar doing their best to sabotage the bill that Chip, Mark Dayton and Tommie Ruckavina support.

This vote proves that Tim Walz and Collin Peterson aren’t moderates. Voting with Raul Grijalva, Betty McCollum, Emanuel Cleaver, John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott and Keith Ellison won’t improve Peterson’s or Walz’s moderate ratings.

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The political party that Hubert Humphrey formed back in the late 1940′s doesn’t exist anymore. Back then, Humphrey convinced farmers and unions that his fledgling party was their home.

For some time, the DFL really did represent those interests pretty well. Then came the 1970′s. That’s when the DFL started drifting away from its founding principles.

Nationally, the anti-war movement caused it to drift away from its belief that America is the greatest force for good in the world. Significant-sized parts of the Democratic Party, both nationally and in Minnesota, got the title of being the ‘blame America first’ crowd that former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick talked about.

The Sierra Club and other environmentalist organizations caused the DFL to become more of a metrocentric party. That’s when the biggest drift from supporting miners and farmers happened.

These days, the DFL is essentially a metrocentric party. Miners’ input isn’t welcomed in the party. In fact, they’ve lost their seat at the table to the environmentalists.

Proof of that is supplied by Gov. Dayton’s delaying the mineral rights auction for a year. When the Executive Council finally approved the mineral rights auction, an organization tied to Gov. Dayton’s first ex-wife announced that they’d do everything possible to prevent PolyMet Mining from becoming reality:

Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy are targeting the proposed PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes and the proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely.

The campaign includes the web site MiningTruth.org, a 40-page report examining mining in detail, a Facebook community, and four billboards along Interstate 35 between the Twin Cities and Duluth to reach summer travelers.

Environmental groups call it sulfide mining because the copper, nickel, gold and other metals are locked up in minerals that contain sulfur and can produce sulfuric acid and other contaminants when exposed to the elements. They fear toxic runoff would threaten Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. And they say the environmental record of such mining elsewhere is poor.

“These are not our grandfather’s iron ore mines,” said Molly Pederson, government affairs director for Conservation Minnesota. “This is a completely different kind of mining.”

The unmistakable message to mining unions is that their industry isn’t welcome in the DFL anymore.

Environmentalists 1, unions 0.

Sens. Franken and Klobuchar told the unions that they weren’t welcome when they voted to keep construction unions unemployed. That happened when they voted to prevent the Keystone XL Pipeline from becoming reality. That’s unforgivable considering the fact that unemployment in the construction industry is 14.7% nationally.

Environmentalists 2, unions still nothing.

When Hubert Humphrey started the DFL, public employee unions didn’t exist. Today, they’ve achieved sacred cow status. Whatever Tom Dooher, Javier Morillo-Alicea and Eliot Seide says they want, Gov. Dayton and the legislature do without question or hesitation.

The DFL is so endebted to these unions that Gov. Dayton signed an unconstitutional executive order in an attempt to unionize child care small businesses.

It’s time that the DFL admitted that it isn’t interested in supporting the Steelworkers Union or the United Mineworkers. Jim Oberstar’s vote for Cap and Trade was seen by the mineworkers rank-and-file as a vote to destroy the mining industry in Minnesota.

Similarly, Collin Peterson’s vote for Cap and Trade was potentially damaging to farmers. Throughout that fight, Rep. Peterson insisted that he wouldn’t hold hearings on Cap and Trade. Then Queen Nancy came calling for his vote, at which point his vote flipped. That’s when Rep. Peterson threw farmers under the bus.

Today, the Democrat-Farmer-Laborer Party doesn’t exist. It’s transitioned into the Democrat-Public Employee Unions-Environmentalist Party.

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During Bill Clinton’s time in office, Blue Dog Democrats were integral parts of the Democratic Party. Since the Soros-engineered progressive takeover, they’ve played a significantly less important role.

Thanks to then-Speaker Pelosi’s pushing them into voting for Cap and Trade, the stimulus and Obamacare, Blue Dog numbers are shrinking. According to this article, things might get worse for Blue Dogs:

Two years after the 2010 midterm elections decimated their ranks, the coalition of conservative Democrats is poised to get pummeled again in November, moving the Blue Dogs dangerously close to extinction.

Of the 24 remaining Blue Dogs, five are not seeking re-election. More than a half-dozen others are facing treacherous contests in which their re-election hopes are in jeopardy.

It’s a rough time to occupy the right wing of the Democratic Party.

“It’s a tough environment out there,” said former Alabama Rep. Bud Cramer, a longtime member of the House Blue Dog Coalition. “Their numbers are down. Redistricting has not been kind to them.”

While there’s no doubt that redistricting didn’t help Blue Dog Democrats, it’s true that their refusal to fight against the stimulus, Obamacare and Cap and Trade hasn’t helped either.

When Collin Peterson switched from opposing Cap and Trade to supporting it because he’d received some meaningless tradeoffs, the Blue Dog brand was tarnished.

When Bart Stupak switched his support for Obamacare after holding out against Obamacare because it contained government funding for abortions, the Blue Dog brand took a hit.

After the Obamacare votes, the joke was that the Stupaks and Petersons were Blue Dogs “until Pelosi told them they couldn’t be” for a bill. While that might sound logical in DC, people in the real world demand that their representatives be principled people, not politicians with their hands out waiting for the next deal.

Blue Dog Democrats voted for too many far left pieces of legislation to pass themselves off as centrists. Far too often, they’ve let Ms. Pelosi push them around.

Ironically, GOP majorities in the House and Senate, coupled with a Romney administration, might invigorate the Blue Dog brand. This isn’t good news for Blue Dogs:

Boswell, meanwhile, is competing against GOP Rep. Tom Latham in a new southwestern Iowa-based district. While Boswell at first appeared to be the early front-runner, Democrats now worry about his slow fundraising pace compared with Latham’s ever-ballooning war chest. Latham has also received air support from American Crossroads, a deep-pocketed third-party group that has crowded the airwaves with TV ads taking aim at Boswell.

If Rep. Latham keeps raising money at a fast clip, that could lead to November difficulties for Boswell. The fact that Boswell’s fundraising totals are worrying Democrats says that he isn’t getting the voter support he’ll need this cycle.

That isn’t good news going against a polished incumbent.

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A faithful reader of this blog emailed me copies of Common Cause Minnesota’s redistricting maps. As you’ll see, Common Cause Minnesota’s maps expose them as political hatchetmen doing the DFL’s bidding. Here’s Common Cause Minnesota’s statewide redistricting map:

Here’s a tighter shot of Common Cause Minnesota’s map. It focuses on the southern half of the state:

It’s apparent that Common Cause MN isn’t nonpartisan or transparent. The fact that Common Cause Minnesota didn’t publish these maps and displayed prominently on their website says everything that needs be said.

Even if Common Cause MN denies ownership of these maps, the truth is that the maps didn’t create themselves. Common Cause Minnesota’s maps fits with their goals:

The campaign seeks to create a better redistricting process in Minnesota that uses the following principles:

1. The redistricting process should be independent and nonpartisan, to minimize the influence of elected officials and political parties in creating districts to their own political advantage.
2. The redistricting process should be transparent to the public.
3. The redistricting body should provide data, tools, and opportunities for the public to have direct input into the specific plans under consideration.
4. The redistricting process must be reflective of the diversity of the state, especially racial and ethnic diversity.
5. Redistricting plan should preserve communities of interest wherever possible, where communities of interest are groups of people concentrated in a geographic area that share similar interests and priorities, whether social, cultural, ethnic, racial, economic, or religious.

The maps attempt to protect DFL incumbents while pitting John Kline and Michele Bachmann against each other. That isn’t a serious map. That’s an insult to Minnesota’s voters. They left Keith Ellison’s, Betty McCollum’s, Tim Walz’s and Colin Peterson’s districts in droves. Isn’t it interesting that Keith Ellison’s, Betty McCollum’s, Tim Walz’s and Colin Peterson’s districts are the districts are the ones that Common Cause Minnesota’s map protects?

Isn’t it interesting that Common Cause Minnesota’s map pits John Kline and Michele Bachmann against each other while creating an open seat to the west of the Twin Cities metro?

What’s even more interesting is that Common Cause Minnesota’s map draws 2 of Tim Walz’s likeliest challengers into the same district as John Kline and Michele Bachmann.

Study these maps. Memorize them. They’re what political hatchet jobs look like.

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This weekend, news broke that Tarryl and Doug Clark had purchased a condominium in Duluth specifically to run against Chip Cravaack in CD-8. This morning, the new district map was released by the House Redistricting Committee.

I personally wish Tarryl nothing but the best in running against Collin Peterson in the DFL primary in the new Eighth District. Thanks to the new map, St. Cloud fits into the new 7th District with at least 2-3 miles to spare. In fact, the home that Tarryl and Doug have lived in might be within whispering distance, aka with a couple blocks, of the new 6th District.

With the help of a good realtor, it wouldn’t take much for Doug and Tarryl to relocate to the 6th District either. I’ve heard that condos are pretty cheap in Elk River. Personally, though, I’d personally recommend her relocating down I-94 to Clearwater to be near Clearwater Travel Plaza. Their fritter french toast is fantastic and their steaks are pretty good, too.

In all seriousness, if the courts redraw the district differently, they could give Tarryl a nervous breakdown. I doubt that they’ll redraw it to the point that St. Cloud would fit into the 2012 Sixth District.

Rumor has it that TPT is thinking about producing a new TV documentary on Tarryl. The tentantive title is said to be ‘Have Open Seat, Will Relocate.” At this point, though, that’s purely speculation. Check back to LFR in the days ahead for more juicy Tarryl gossip.

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The Hill is reporting that Tarryl is gearing up for another run at Congress. They’re asking whether it’ll be a rematch against Michele Bachmann:

Minnesota Democrat Tarryl Clark is showing signs of preparing for another challenge to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

The state senator sent an e-mail to her supporters Thursday urging them to donate to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). The team-player move; Ellison won reelection by some 40 points, might be aimed at shoring up her party support ahead of 2012.

“As we regroup and recommit ourselves to organizing for victories in 2012, I would like to take a moment to ask you to join me in thanking my friend, and one of our campaign’s greatest supporters, Congressman Keith Ellison,” she wrote. “Keith has been a progressive voice not just for Minnesota families but for the millions across the country, and the globe, who are without a voice in Washington.”

If Clark does decide to run again, she’ll definitely need all the fundraising help she can get. Bachmann raised $13.2 million in the 2010 cycle and has $1.97 million in the bank, according to Minneapolis Star Tribune, citing her latest Federal Election Commission filing.

Clark raised about $4.5 million for the cycle, according to her pre-election FEC filing.

Bachmann defeated Clark by about 13 points last cycle.

First, it isn’t foolish for Tarryl to maintain her visibility. The reality is, though, that she’s been exposed as a liberal this past election. Though she tried portraying herself as the true conservative in the race, the results speak for themselve.

If the district doesn’t change fairly dramatically, Tarryl will face a stiff, uphill fight against Michele. If the district changes substantially, Tarryl might find herself pitted against Chip Cravaack. Another possibility is that we’re put into the 7th District, where she’d either have to challenge Collin Peterson, which isn’t likely, or she’d be pitted against Lee Byberg.

I wouldn’t rate Tarryl as the favorite against Michele, Chip Cravaack or Lee Byberg. Michele would beat Tarryl like a drum because Tarryl was exposed as a tax-hiking liberal. That isn’t a good position to be in.

Tarryl wouldn’t be the favorite against Chip Cravaack either because the 8th District is largely exurban or rural, with lots of pro-life and 2nd Amendment voters in the district. That isn’t the type of demographic group Tarryl does well with.

Finally, Lee Byberg ran a strong campaign against Collin Peterson. Last year, people didn’t think he stood a chance against Peterson. Now they know different. In 2008, Peterson won by a 72-28 percent margin. It was understandable why people viewed him as unbeatable.

Things changed significantly in 2010, when Peterson defeated Byberg by a 55-38 margin.

Frankly, Tarryl wouldn’t do well in CD-7 because she’s significantly to the left of Collin Peterson. That won’t play well in CD-7.

The bottom line is this: Tarryl fared much better playing in the relatively small pond of the state legislature. I won’t say that her running for Congress is out of Tarryl’s league but it’s definitely a major step up, one she didn’t show well in this time.

Let’s remember that Tarryl got alot of contributions simply because she was opposing Michele. I heard more than a few pieces of scuttlebutt how Pelosi and the DCCC wanted to defeat Michele so badly that they were directing contributions in Tarryl’s direction moreso than she might otherwise have gotten.

Whoever the opponent, Tarryl’s facing an uphill fight.

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Earlier this week, I wrote a post about AUFC’s ad buy against Michele Bachmann. After reading this article from WCCO’s Pat Kessler, though, I need to write more about it. Here’s the most important part of Pat Kessler’s article:

Here’s one passage:

“Finally. Congress passed the health reform bill to rein in the power of the big insurance companies and guarantee that all Minnesotans can get the same kind of health insurance as members of Congress. But our Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann voted against that? Michelle Bachmann voted against giving you the same choices she gets.”

This is a major DISTORTION of Bachmann’s position.

I’m betting that less than 5 ads each election cycle get characterized as major distortions. Each election cycle, WCCO characterizes a fair amount of ads as misleading. In this instance, WCCO not only labels the ad as having a major distortion in it, WCCO said this, too:

IN FACT, Bachmann said she favors that part of the bill.

But she says she voted no because she opposes new taxes on businesses, fines on individuals, and a federal mandate to buy insurance.

But that’s NOT THE WHOLE STORY.

Members of Congress, including Bachmann, DO have government subsidized health plans not available to the public.

The new health care law does, in fact, include a section requiring them to use health care plans created by this bill.

If you’re thinking that WCCO is coming down hard on AUFC, you’re right. They are. As harsh as they’ve treated AUFC, here’s the piece that hits them the hardest:

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW.

Americans United for Change is a liberal group funded by labor organizations.

It is targeting 14 House Republicans nationwide who voted no on health care, including Bachmann.

But it’s not targeting any of the 34 Democrats who voted no, including Minnesota Congressman Colin Peterson.

This Reality check exposes AUFC as intellectually dishonest. They’ve also been exposed as a tool of the left. While rank-and-file union members come from all political persuasions, there’s no arguing that union leadership is fiercely progressive.

This doesn’t help Tarryl Clark either. I’m not suggesting that she put them up to running these ads. I’m just suggesting that getting linked to the unions that fund these ads isn’t the best way to create a positive image.

Americans United for Change isn’t doing their candidates any favors by publishing this type of dishonest trash. Based on this information, I strongly suggest that we highlight any dishonesty we find in AUFC’s ads while referring back to this scathing review.

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A year ago, Democrats were jubilant after watching President Obama’s inauguration. A year, and many failures later, the Democrats’ attitude has changed dramatically. The Democrats’ unity vanished with Scott Brown’s campaign and improbable victory. Saying that Minnesota’s congressional delegation isn’t united in direction is understatement. The man left most vulnerable by his votes is Tim Walz. Despite what his spokesperson says, he’s in trouble:

Sara Severs, a spokeswoman for Walz, said he has championed pay-for-value provisions in the health care bill that would help the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and make health care more affordable in the region. “Rep. Walz has been focused on stabilizing our economy and making it work for middle-class Americans since first taking office,” she said.

Ms. Severs, was Rep. Walz working for middle class families when he voted for the failed stimulus bill? Was Rep. Walz working for middle class families when he voted for the Waxman-Markey legislation that would’ve increased their energy bills and gas prices? Was Rep. Walz working for middle class families when he voted for the middle class tax increases contained in the Pelosicare legislation.

The other Minnesota legislator hurt by this past year’s votes is Sen. Klobuchar. She voted for the failed stimulus bill and the Obamacare bill. Had it passed, Obamacare would’ve penalized people who did the right thing. That isn’t conjecture. That’s fact. It’s fact because the bill Sen. Klobuchar voted for contained a penalty for people who didn’t purchase an insurance policy that met the federal government’s dictates. People who have HSAs would’ve gotten fined because HSAs didn’t meet the federal government’s dictates.

Check out Sen. Klobuchar’s statement:

Klobuchar, citing the new political reality of a weakened Democratic majority, called Tuesday for a scaled-down health care bill that would focus on Medicare cost reforms, insurance regulations and prescription drug coverage.

Then compare it with Sen. Franken’s statement:

By contrast, Sen. Al Franken wants to “go full bore” with legislation similar to the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Fiscal changes would be worked out in a budget “reconciliation” process that needs only a simple majority. “I’m not interested in scaling back the health care agenda,” Franken said.

I’d be surprised if Sen. Franken showed any moderation. That would’ve been totally out of character for him.

What’s most disturbing is Sen. Klobuchar’s lack of understanding of what’s happening outside Washington:

That’s largely what Democrats expect to hear. But somewhere in the mix, they also will be looking for some sign to a bridge that will cross the gap in health care, which many see as an economic initiative as well. “It’s not just Washington that’s so divided,” Klobuchar said. “It’s the country that’s divided, and it’s looking for some common ground on how to move the country forward.”

I’d agree with Sen. Klobuchar that the nation is divided if her definition of divided is that there isn’t unanimous agreement on what they want. If, however, she means that there isn’t a solid consensus against Obamacare, then I’m forced to disagree with Sen. Klobuchar.

I’d also disagree with Sen. Klobuchar if she meant that people living in the Heartland don’t want the federal government to stay within the Constitution’s boundaries, especially as it pertains to the Tenth Amendment.

Thanks to the TEA Party movement, there’s alot of uniting going on out here in the Heartland. These principles are uniting independents to the tune of independents voting 2:1 for Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie in Virginia and New Jersey respectively. It’s led Massachusetts independents to vote for Scott Brown by a 3:1 margin.

The TEA Parties have helped unify Republicans, too. These events have reminded some Republican lawmakers what principles they’ve stood for in the past.

There’s no such clarion call on the left. That’s why they’re as disorganized as they are. How’s that Hopey Changey thing working now?

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