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The first thing I’d like to say to my friends and followers who faithfully read LFR is a simple Thank You. The thought that I’m having a positive impact on the conservative and TEA Party movements is inspiring and humbling to me. Nine years ago today, I created the original LFR via Blogspot. Back then, I chose Common Sense Conservative as the name of the blog.

When the Orange Revolution erupted in the Ukraine, I left a comment on a Ukrainian blog in which I said that “The revolution will be blogged.” I wish I could remember the name of the blog but it escapes me now. I remember that King frequently visited the blog so perhaps he remembers. Minutes after leaving that comment, I decided to change the name of my blog to “Let Freedom Ring Throughout the World”, partially because of the great liberation movement that was afoot at the time, partially because I’m partial to revolutions as a direct result of my being born on the 4th of July.

Speaking of which, I met King as a direct result of the Orange Revolution. Thank God for that. King has been a friend, a mentor in ways he possibly didn’t notice at the time and a fantastic political ally.

King was my first friend in the MOB. Shortly after that, I met Mitch Berg at a MOB event here in St. Cloud. I’m proud to still call Mitch a willing co-conspirator in plotting the restoration of the free world and a true friend.

It wasn’t until that spring that I met Leo Pusateri. The GOP and DFL were doing their end-of-session flyarounds that day. King introduced me to Leo. Minutes later, we decided to form the SCBA, aka the St. Cloud Bloggers Association. Somehow, we lost a member of that elite group along the way.

Throughout the years, LFR has helped the conservative movement by promoting a positive agenda for conservatives to be for. That isn’t to say I haven’t criticized wrong-headed policies. It’s impossible to develop a positive, pro-growth, solutions-oriented agenda until you’ve identified what needs fixing.

I must’ve threatened the progressive powers-that-be because a hacker took LFR down from 2/22/12 through 3/9/12. At the time, I was calling out ABM, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause for their attempt to hijack the redistricting process.

Lately, I’ve written extensively about the corruption, financial mismanagement and enrollment declines at St. Cloud State. In that time, I’ve broken more stories about St. Cloud State than all other news agencies combined. That isn’t bad for a guy who was recently called a “gossip columnist” by a member of the St. Cloud Times. The Times, BTW, is the official stenographer of the Potter administration.

President Potter’s on-campus apologists have called me “an arch-conservative who doesn’t have St. Cloud State’s best interests at heart.” I’ve never hidden my conservatism but I’m a bit confused about the difference between a conservative and an arch-conservative. I’m guessing that arch-conservative sounds more threatening. Oh well.

Be that as it may, much of the information that I’ve written about SCSU is information given to me by a liberal professor who simply got tired of President Potter’s financial mismanagement. President Potter won’t like this but his troubles are far from over.

Another thing I’ve focused on is MnSure, the DFL-created health insurance exchange. Minnesotans should be proud to have the first website that gets weekends and holidays off. With such a target-rich environment surrounding me, there’s little wonder why I write as many posts as I do.

I’ve occasionally stayed up until 6:00 am transcribing testimony from the legislature or reading bills. That’s why I was the first blogger to predict the e-tabs funding mechanism for the Vikings stadium would fail miserably.

Possibly my proudest moment was predicting Chip Cravaack’s victory over Jim Oberstar in 2010, which I did 17 days before the election.

As I enter my 10th year of blogging, I promise to make LFR more prominent, informative and influential than ever before. I hope to do that by doing more first-hand reporting on local and statewide issues. If you see something that doesn’t feel right, feel free to contact me. I’ll gladly help if I’m able.

It’s been a privilege to keep conservatives informed. I’ve covered St. Cloud State, the legislature and the Haditha Marines, almost all of whom were first accused of committing war crimes by Jack Murtha but who eventually had their charges dropped. I’ve been an active participant in the Freedom Movement, starting with the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, then moving onto the Purple Finger Revolution in Iraq, then moving immediately to the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon. Later, I was at the tip of the spear for the start of the TEA Party revolution that led to the biggest landslide in the past century.

What lies ahead is beyond my best guess. I’ll just promise that I’ll continue to make LFR the most informative blog it can be.

Finally, thanks for your support. It’s been a blast.

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During the last couple of weeks, I’ve highlighted how the St. Cloud Times editorial staff gone overboard. I’d hoped they’d gotten it out of their system. Unfortunately, this editorial proves that the Times isn’t just occasionally foolish. It’s more a way of life. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Though Republicans have generally represented the St. Cloud area, this race may serve as a reality check for the party.

That statement is factually inaccurate. The seat currently held by Tama Theis is definitely a GOP seat. By contrast, the seat now held by Zach Dorholt, who isn’t anything close to a moderate, has been represented by Democrats, with King Banaian the sole exception for the past 20 years. Sauk Rapids and Sartell are pretty reliably liberal at the local level. Ditto with Waite Park.

This statement deserves additional scrutiny, too:

Can it find a moderate candidate, or will it resort to another flamethrower backed by the big money of special interest groups? We can cross our fingers for the former.

Talk to King Banaian about the special interest money the DFL spent to defeat him. The DFL’s attack/smear operation spent tens of thousands of dollars last year to defeat King. I haven’t seen the Times editorial page utter a thing about the tons of DFL special interest money spent to defeat King.

Further, this obsession with moderates is overrated. This past election, the DFL legislative candidates ran as moderates. Then the DFL legislature passed the biggest budget in state history. Then the DFL legislature passed the biggest tax increase in state history, too. In addition to those things, the DFL legislature ignored federal labor law, specifically the NLRA, when it passed a bill that seeks to turn private sector employers into public employees.

It’s worth noting that Michele Bachmann is an expert on regulations, banking procedures, taxes, health care and national security. The Times won’t admit that because of their outright hatred of her.

The reality is that people want politicians who either stop bad things from happening or politicians who gets positive things accomplished. In Michele’s 8 years in Congress, she’s either been in the minority or she’s had to deal with a corrupt, inept Democrat president. It’s difficult getting positive things done in that environment.

Finally, there’s this laugher:

Unlike Democrats, the Republican Party has everything to lose in this election.

I have a simple question for the Times. What are they smoking?

This Strib op-ed is about as whiny as I’ve read in recent years. It also isn’t credible. Here’s a sample from the op-ed:

The recent exchange between Gov. Mark Dayton and some community members in a discussion about increases in legislative pay (“Dayton says forum crowd in Shakopee was ‘juvenile,’?” May 1) illustrates a common problem.

In Minnesota and across the United States, government is continuously cited as something terrible, and members of an opposing party are fair game for insults and ridicule.

First, the treatment Gov. Dayton received was mild. I’ve watched the video. The crowd didn’t erupt. They mildly expressed their displeasure with Gov. Dayton’s policies. Second, government is immoral, not evil, when they spend money foolishly. Like when a city spends $50,000 each for 10 artistic drinking fountains, rather than $60,000 total for the drinking fountains. It’s worth noting that, after spending $500,000 on the artistic drinking fountains, R.T. Rybak had to lay off police officers.

In short, elected officials will get respected when they don’t spend the taxpayers’ money foolishly or make decisions that are counterproductive.

This won’t happen:

So disrespect of government officials seems to be at an all-time high. Perhaps it is time to lower the level of our rhetoric and raise the level of respect for our democratic government by acknowledging that those elected to office were supported by a majority of voters.

If this were put into practice, union stewards’ heads would explode. Their thugs’ tactics would have to stop. In 2011, I covered several townhall meetings hosted by Sen. John Pederson, Reps. King Banaian and Steve Gottwalt, including one at the Haven Township town hall. Public employee union member after public union member berated these elected officials. They were treated like human piñatas. In my opinion, Sen. Pederson, Rep. Banaian and Rep. Gottwalt had earned the right to respond in kind. They didn’t.

A month later, prior to the shutdown but after the session, Sen. Pederson and Rep. Banaian were invited to a union event to explain their votes on the budget. It’s important to note that the unions contacted them the afternoon of the event. It’s important to note that neither legislator attended the ambush (my words). It’s noteworthy that the unions had 2 empty chairs on the stage of the Atwood Theater. The event organizers then told the audience (the theater was less than one-third full) that Sen. Pederson and Rep. Banaian couldn’t be bothered to attend, omitting the part about them not getting the invitation to the event until that afternoon.

It’s getting tiresome to have people who want to grow the private sector economy while limiting government to the things it’s supposed to do per the Constitution are vilified while people who want government to do everything are applauded for their compassion.

Gov. Dayton, the DFL legislature and the DFL’s special interest allies haven’t hesitated in vilifying conservatives at every opportunity. They’ve gotten personal, too. They’ve accused Republicans of being racists because Republicans disagreed with President Obama’s policies.

Suggesting that conservatives hate government and think it’s evil is spin. It’s also highly inaccurate. Conservatives just want government to live within its means. Conservatives want to know that the taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely. They don’t want to hear about drinking fountains that cost $50,000 each. They don’t want to hear about universities spending taxpayers’ money on events that teach women how to have better orgasms.

The people attending the Shakopee town hall are tired of DFL politicians taking their taxes for granted. They expressed that frustration loudly because their other attempts went unnoticed. If politicians ignore the people, it’s only natural that the people will use whatever way works to get heard.

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True to their waste-aholic history, the DFL legislature voted against government accountability:

A commission designed to judge whether state agencies, councils or boards have outlived their usefulness may itself cease to exist.

The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have voted to abolish the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member commission championed by Republicans as offering greater accountability and efficiency in state government.

“I think they’re (Democrats) scared,” Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said of taking tough votes on the commission.

A product of 2011 legislation, the Sunset Advisory Commission is patterned after a 30-year-old commission in Texas, one billed as having saved the Lone Star State almost $1 billion at a cost of about $33 million.

Minnesota’s Sunset Commission reviews state agencies and recommends whether a given agency should continue to exist.

Rep. Peppin is right. DFL legislators don’t want to vote on wasteful spending. DFL legislators don’t want to admit that their pet agencies, councils and panels are actually patronage positions.

The DFL is spinning their vote:

The idea of duplication was voiced by another commission member, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “One of the tasks of the sunset commission is to get rid of duplicative government functions,” he said. There’s already the Office of the Legislative Auditor.

Why have both? Nelson asks.

Rep. Nelson, we need both because it’s apparent that there’s a ton of bloat in state government, things that the OLA hasn’t discussed.

As for Rep. Nelson’s assertion of duplication, I’d love hearing his explanation on what it’s duplicating. I’d love hearing him cite the times when the OLA has recommended the sunsetting of a commission, panel or council.

Sen. Bonoff’s statement needs ridiculing:

Bonoff, like other Democrats, argues the commission is itself duplicative. “If committee chairs are doing their jobs, they should be doing this kind of detailed oversight,” she said.

There’s a simple explanation for Sen. Bonoff: the chairs have never gotten into this type of detailed oversight. The Sunset Advisory Commission would’ve been a great tool that forced the legislature to deal with commissions, councils and panels that outlived their usefulness.

Furthermore, does any thinking person think that the DFL would investigate the importance or relevance of these hideouts for their political cronies? Let’s get serious. When Keith Downey proposed reducing the state workforce by 15% by not replacing retiring workers, Eliot Seide accused him of waging war “against working families.” What DFL legislator will vote for sunsetting these commissions, councils or panels knowing that they’ll get primaried by an AFSCME-endorsed candidate?

That’s why the Commission is essential.

Finally, this DFL legislature has repeatedly proven that they oppose accountability. The GOP legislature passed a bill that required teachers to pass a basic skills test, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL wants to repeal that law. The GOP legislature passed the Sunset Advisory Commission, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL legislature just voted to repeal that essential accountability legislation. Will Gov. Dayton reverse himself & say no to government accountability? If he does, he should prepare for getting labeled as a) a hypocrite, b) a cheap politician who does what’s popular, not what’s right and c) the unions’ puppet, not the public’s servant leader.

This week, the DFL legislature voted for higher pay for themselves, higher taxes on the middle class and less accountability within government. I don’t think that’s the bumper sticker they’ll want to deal with in 2014.

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Each week, different proof appears that the DFL is intent on eliminating the GOP’s reforms. Months ago, I wrote about the DFL’s attack on teacher accountability, aka HF0171. HF0171 would repeal the basic skills test for teachers that Gov. Dayton signed last year. This week, I wrote about the DFL’s attempt to eliminate the Sunset Advisory Commission.

If the DFL would put forward a good faith effort on reforming government, the Commission would be a great tool for increasing government accountability. In some instances, the Commission would force agencies to justify their existence. In other cases, it would force the agency to justify their staffing and funding levels.

First, why won’t the DFL explain who wrote the bill that would eliminate the basic skills test for teachers? Requiring teachers and applicants to pass such a test isn’t revolutionary. It’s sensible. Why, then, did the DFL write legislation that would eliminate that requirement? They aren’t doing it “for the children” because they’re the first people it’d shortchange. Their parents and other taxpayers are the next people this legislation would shortchange.

It isn’t a stretch to think that EdMinn wrote this legislation because it’s their job to protect union members. If EdMinn wrote that legislation, why isn’t Rep. Ward representing his constituents, not EdMinn? Perhaps Rep. Ward thinks that EdMinn is his constituent and that he doesn’t have to represent the people living in his district.

Second, why is the DFL insisting on eliminating a great tool for increasing government accountability and transparency? Without the Sunset Commission, government oversight doesn’t exist. As recently as last year, the DFL threw a hissy fit when Republicans sought to make government more efficient. They accused the GOP of “waging war against working families.” Eliot Seide held a press availability in which he got exceptionally agitated.

He talked about how Republicans hated “working families” because they questioned whether state agencies, commissions, councils and panels had outlived their usefulness or had expanded themselves beyond their original charter. The Commission’s purpose was to examine these entities, then tell the legislature whether they were still doing what they were created to do and whether that mission was still important.

We know that the DFL doesn’t believe in oversight because they rejected that notion in 2007. That’s when they insisted that spending should be adjusted for inflation. In the DFL’s thinking, once an appropriation is made, it should increase by the rate of inflation in the future.

Another GOP reform required the Minnesota Department of Revenue to factor federal taxes into their annual tax incidence report. Minnesota is one of a tiny handful of states that didn’t do that. Gov. Dayton signed that legislation into law. Now he’s signed it out of existence after the DFL legislature voted to repeal that requirement.

This year’s report had been prepared but it hadn’t been released. That report included federal taxes. The DFL moved quickly, eliminating the federal taxes requirement. The new tax incidence report doesn’t include federal taxes. First, the new report doesn’t give an accurate picture of Minnesota’s taxes. Second, it means that all the time that went into preparing the first report was for nothing.

Is that the type of government efficiency Minnesotans deserve? I’d argue it isn’t. I’d argue that that’s the type of waste that must be eliminated.

While we’re on the subject of taxes, let’s talk about the fact that the DFL isn’t committed to a progressive tax system. I’ll stipulate that they’re great advocates of progressive taxation during campaigns. That’s as far as it goes, though. Then-Candidate Dayton argued passionately for a more progressive taxation system during his campaign. In 2010, he criticized Tom Horner for supporting increases to the alcohol and cigarette taxes:

you’re in favor of raising taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, another regressive tax. So the difference between us is I want to raise taxes on the rich, and you want to raise taxes on sportsmen and women and and middle income working families.

This year, Gov. Dayton’s objections to increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes disappeared, most likely because he needs the revenues to increase the size and intrusiveness of state government.

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It isn’t shocking to think that DFL politicians love overbloated government. Annually, they reflexively propose raising taxes. They love spending the taxpayers’ money on their political allies, too. Protecting union employees is one of their specialties. Two years ago, Gov. Dayton and the DFL threw a collective hissy fit when Keith Downey introduced his 15 by 2015 legislation. From that point forward, every union official seemingly started their sentences with “the Republicans’ war on working families.”

The first bill King Banaian submitted as a legislator was a bill that created the Sunset Advisory Commission. A miracle happened when Phyllis Kahn announced her support for King’s bill. After ending the government shutdown he created, Gov. Dayton signed King’s bill into law.

With the DFL back controlling the legislature and with Gov. Dayton still in office, they’re thinking about eliminating the Sunset Advisory Commission:

A budget bill in the Democratic-led House would get rid of the Minnesota Sunset Advisory Commission. The panel was created two years ago when Republicans were in charge. They touted it as a way to weed out government offices some people deem ineffective.

The commission met about a dozen times over the last couple of years and didn’t recommend cutting any government entities altogether. It did press for further reviews of some boards, including one that regulates combative sports like boxing and mixed martial arts.

The push to eliminate the Sunset Advisory Commission is in a broad budget bill that funds core government agencies.

It isn’t irony. It’s predictable. The DFL legislature, both Sen. Bakk and then-Minority Leader Thissen, used their picks to load up the panel with politicians like Matt Entenza. In short, their picks were people who wanted to undermine the law rather than work in good faith on protecting Minnesota’s taxpayers.

Here’s language from King’s bill:

Sunset Commission. Provides that the Sunset Commission consists of 12 members appointed as follows:
(1) four senators appointed according to the rules of the senate, with no more than three senators from the majority caucus;
(2) four members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker, with no more than three of the house members from the majority caucus;
(3) four members appointed by the governor.
All members serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. With respect to governor appointees, provides two-year terms expiring in January of each odd-numbered year. Provides term limits for service on the commission.

Staff. Requires the Legislative Coordinating Commission to provide staff and administrative services for the commission.

Rules. Authorizes the commission to adopt rules to carry out this chapter.

Agency report to commission. Provides that before September 1 of the odd-numbered year in which a state agency is subject to sunset review, the agency commissioner shall report specified information to the commission. The September 1 deadline does not apply in 2011.

Commission duties. Requires that before January 1 of the year in which a state agency is subject to sunset review, the commission must review the agency based on criteria specified in section 3D.10.

Public hearings. Requires that before February 1 of the year an agency is subject to sunset review, the commission must conduct public hearings regarding the agency, including the criteria specified in section 3D.10.

Commission report. Requires that by February 1 of each even-numbered year, the commission shall report on agencies subject to review, including findings on criteria specified in section 3D.10.

Criteria for review. Specifies criteria for the commission to consider in determining whether a public need exists for the continuation of a state agency or for performance of the agency’s functions.

Recommendations. Requires the commission’s report to make recommendations on the abolition, continuation, or reorganization of agencies, on the need for performance of the functions of the agency; on consolidation, transfer, or reorganization of programs within agencies not under review when programs duplicate functions of agencies under review; and for improvement of operations.

Requires the commission to submit draft legislation to carry out its recommendations, including legislation necessary to continue the existence of agencies that would otherwise sunset, if the commission recommends continuation of an agency.

Simply put, the bill requires the Commission to review whether the agency is performing an essential function, whether it’s doing what it was originally created to do or whether it’s ‘evolved’ into just another bloated part of state government.

The DFL’s disgust with governmental accountability is showing its ugly face. Taxpayers should be outraged that the DFL is thinking about eliminating a tool that’s designed to increase governmental accountability. If the DFL eliminates this commission, Republicans should make this one of their campaign themes in 2014. Hold every DFL legislator’s feet to the fire for voting against governmental accountability and thriftiness.

If they’re eliminating sensible laws like this, then they’re undoubtedly voting for creating more unaccountable agencies, boards, commissions and panels.

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The sun rising in the east. Bill Gates making money. The government collecting taxes. These are among the most predictable things in the news. It’s time to add another thing to that list: the DFL sending out a misleading mailer the last Friday before an election.

This time, DFL candidate Joanne Dorsher is featured on mailer with a firefighter. The implication is that she’s been endorsed by the firefighters’ union. According to a firefighter to received the mailer, they haven’t endorsed anyone in the special election for HD-14A to replace Steve Gottwalt in the state legislature.

A quick review of history shows that the DFL is famous for these types of last-minute stunts. I wrote about their dirty tricks in this post. In 2010, the DFL sent out a mailer with a picture of King Banaian with a picture of him that made him look like a Middle East terrorist. The front of the mailer said “King Banaian: More Interested in Egypt and Macedonia than St. Cloud”; the back of the mailer said “St. Cloud needs a leader, not a King. King Banaian certainly has a resume- jetting across the globe to consult the governments of Egypt, Macedonia, Armenia, Ukraine and Indonesia.” In another mailer that the DFL sent out, it said that pro-choice DFL candidate Carol Lewis was the “true pro-life candidate” in the race.

It’s up to the citizens of HD-14A to punish Joanne Dorsher and the DFL for their last minute dirty tricks. The only way to do that is by voting for Tama Theis this Tuesday. If they don’t do that, the DFL and Dorsher will be rewarded for their dirty tricks.

It was 8 years ago today that I started blogging. Rathergate caught my attention but it was the freedom movement that inspired me. The first big subject that I wrote about was the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. That’s how I first learned of a certain economics professor at St. Cloud State. I’ve been privileged to call King Banaian my friend since then.

I wrote about the massive protests that gathered in Independance Square, the Purple Thumb elections in Iraq, followed by Hezbollah’s assassination of Rafiq Harriri in Lebanon. Harriri’s assassination triggered the Cedar Revolution.

It’s been fun writing about the TEA Party movement. I’ve even helped put a couple of them together with the help of Leo Pusateri, another important conservative ally in the fight against progressives. As helpful as Leo has been in the fight for conservative principles, I appreciate his friendship the most.

I’ve learned from some outstanding bloggers along the way. Captain Ed’s (that’s what he was called in his pre-HotAir days) posts from CQ were awesome reads. When Ed published his lengthy posts, the thing that stood out for me was the depth and detail of his research.

Mitch Berg’s literary skills still continue to amaze me. Mitch isn’t just a talented writer, either. He’s a topnotch reporter, too.

Early in my blogging career, I learned about the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers. Today, many MOBsters are friends of mine. If you aren’t a MOBster, you should join ASAP. The comradery is great.

Finally, I’d like to thank the people who faithfully read my blog. Over the years, I’ve been amazed at who reads my blog. Sitemeter statistics have shown lots of state legislators read LFR. That’s why I’m proud to say LFR has had a serious impact on the policy debates in St. Paul.

With the DFL now in control, temporarily, of the Legislature and with a DFL governor, I pledge to step up my reporting.

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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I didn’t see this coming. I’m totally surprised that the St. Cloud Times endorsed all 3 GOP legislators from SD-14:

Three-term Republican Rep. Steve Gottwalt is the best fit for this solid conservative district.

In his six years in the House, Gottwalt has developed a keen grasp of the state’s health and human services programs, which is why he chairs the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee. He has helped lead substantial reforms despite his penchant for divisive rhetoric. His social conservatism also fits the district well.

District 14B is likely a toss-up as evidenced by incumbent GOP Rep. King Banaian’s 10-vote victory over DFLer Carol Lewis in 2010.

Given an effective first term, Banaian deserves re-election. He authored the Sunset Commission law and helped college students with textbook prices. His expertise in economics also is a strength.

Voters have a tough choice between incumbent Republican Sen. John Pederson and DFL challenger Jerry McCarter. Both are well-intended but both are too tightly bound to partisan ideologies in an obviously moderate district.

Pederson, an ardent voice for business, developed a reputation as a good listener and advocate for regional trails in his first term so he gets a very slight edge.

It isn’t that I disagree with the Times’ endorsement of John, Steve and King. It’s that I didn’t see this coming.

It’s worth pointing out that John Pederson, Steve Gottwalt and King Banaian have lengthy lists of accomplishments. They accomplished these things without sacrificing their conservative principles.

The bigger point to these endorsements and the endorsement of the GOP candidates in SD-13, is that the GOP is well-positioned to win all 6 seats. Couple that with a likely sweep of seats in SD-15 and Central Minnesota is well-positioned to look dramatically different than it did going into the 2010 election.

Back then, Michele Fischbach, Dan Severson, Steve Gottwalt and Mary Kiffmeyer were the Republicans representing SD-14, SD-15 and SD-16. DFL legislators representing those districts were Larry Hosch, Tarryl Clark, Larry Haws, Lisa Fobbe and Gail Kulick-Jackson.

If the dust settles the way I think it will, Michelle Fischbach, Jerry O’Driscoll and Jeff Howe will represent SD-13, John Pederson, Steve Gottwalt and King Banaian will represent SD-14 and Dave Brown, Sondra Erickson and Jim Newberger will represent SD-15.

That’s quite a dramatic change from 4 years ago.

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