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President Trump didn’t officially endorse Tim Pawlenty during his rally in Duluth this week but he helped Pawlenty’s campaign by mentioning his running mate in the opening minutes of the rally:

Trump said “I also want to thank Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach for being here. She has been so great. Got a big race coming along. She’s gonna do great. The Johnson campaign tried downplaying the mention:

Johnson campaign manager Justin Arnold dismissed the significance of Trump’s mention of Fischbach. “She’s the sitting Lt. Governor of Minnesota and was there in that capacity,” Arnold said in an email. “It’s not surprising at all that she would be mentioned.”

With all due respect, President Trump didn’t just mention Fischbach as the sitting lt. gov. of Minnesota. President Trump also mentioned that she’s “got a big race” and that “she’s gonna do great” in that upcoming race.

The bigger point is that Jeff Johnson travelled to Duluth in the hopes of getting Trump’s endorsement and came away without getting mentioned. That’s noteworthy considering the fact that he’s the Republicans’ endorsed candidate for governor.

I don’t dislike Jeff Johnson. I think he’s a good man who’s solid on policy. It’s that I like Tim Pawlenty more. Pawlenty has clearly had a better run of things in terms of fundraising than Johnson. President Trump’s mention of Lt. Gov. Fischbach won’t help Johnson’s fundraising.

On the DFL side, Erin-Squared will likely win the DFL Primary because Lori Swanson and Tim Walz will likely split the rural vote while E-Squared will feast on urban votes thanks to the DFL primary in the Fifth District. That primary will be way in the rear-view mirror by the time November rolls around.

While my constitutional position on Lt. Gov. Fischbach hasn’t changed, Don Davis’ article reminded me why I despise Sen. Bakk’s political tactics. It’s why Gov. Dayton didn’t trust Bakk. According to Davis’ article, Bakk said “he wants to time a lawsuit so the court can remove Fischbach as senator when Democrats can best elect a replacement for her in the central Minnesota district. If that happened, Democrats would take control. Fischbach said she is confident she can win her district again, if a court orders he removed from the Senate. But Bakk said Democrats have a candidate waiting who is ‘a good fit for the district.'”

That good fit must be Larry Hosch. He’s the only candidate who’d have a prayer in that district. If Hosch isn’t the candidate, then Sen. Bakk is just blowing smoke. The DFL’s bench in that district is virtually nonexistent. From what I’ve been told, Hosch’s wife is from Paynesville, which would be important to winning a special election.

That being said, Hosch announce his retirement from the House the minute that Rockville was added to his House district in 2012. Rockville consistently gives the GOP House candidate 80% of their votes. The minute the redistricting map was announced, Hosch essentially admitted that he’d get his butt kicked if he ran for re-election. What part of that sounds like Rep. Hosch is “a good fit for the district”? What part of this looks competitive?

FYI- HD-13A used to be Hosch’s district. He would’ve been lucky to lose by only 15 points if he’d chosen to run. Sen. Bakk can yap all he wants about good fits for the district but the numbers tell a different story. Whoever the DFL would run would get annihilated.

The point is that Sen. Bakk is either incredibly stupid or he’s playing a game. I don’t think he’s that stupid but I might be wrong.

Ramsey County Judge John Guthmann dismissed Destiny Dusosky’s lawsuit, saying that ‘the suit lacks ripeness,’ adding that her claim ‘is premature and based on speculation.'” Judge Guthmann then wrote that “Dusosky, a Sauk Rapids resident, ‘failed to demonstrate that she was injured in a way that is any different than all residents of Senate District 13.'”

Sen. Fischbach’s best argument might be that “past court cases say she can hold down both offices if the lieutenant governor job is ‘temporary.’ She said that since the job would end early next year, it must be considered temporary.” The counter-argument to that is that the job isn’t temporary in that it’s for the rest of the term.

The bad news for Sen. Fischbach is that “the judge dismissed the case in a way that a new one may be filed. His decision also may be appealed. The judge made it clear a new case could be accepted. ‘However, this is not the right case, the right plaintiff, the right time or the right legal context. …'”

In other words, a new lawsuit will be filed soon. Either that or this ruling will be appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which Gov. Dayton packed with DFL activists. If I was a betting man, I’d bet that the Minnesota Supreme Court will rule against Sen. Fischbach. By that time, most of this session will have been wasted.

Sen. Fischbach could’ve avoided all this by simply resigning her Senate seat, taking the oath of office for Lt. Gov., then resigning the minute Gov. Dayton announced the date for the special election to fill the SD-13 seat. Had Sen. Fischbach done that right away, she’d be Senator-Elect Fischbach. That would let her vote for a weak DFL senator in a swing district to be the next Lt. Gov.

Republican friends in SD-54, today’s the day we can elect Denny McNamara. Today’s the day Republicans can solidify their Senate majority. In fact, a McNamara victory gives Republicans a chance to hand Gov. Dayton and the DFL a major defeat.

First, McNamara is excellent on environmental issues. He isn’t a squish on these issues. He’d bring lots of grit to those issues, which is a big deal considering how many jobs-related issues are tied by the DFL to the issue. In Minnesota, the biggest jobs fights are tied directly to the environment. Electing McNamara will give Republicans a better chance of winning those fights.

Next, Jason Lewis supports McNamara. Jason even campaigned with him:


Sen. Dan Hall wants Denny McNamara as a colleague:


Finally, a McNamara victory gives Republicans at least 34 senators regardless of the outcome of the Fischbach fiasco. Think about this possibility: The court rules that Sen. Fischbach can’t keep her Senate seat. Gov. Dayton sets the date for the Fischbach special election. Fischbach resigns as Lt. Gov. With McNamara in place, Republicans elect a DFL senator from a swing district, perhaps from David Hann’s or Dave Thompson’s former districts. That gives Republicans a great shot at recapturing another seat in the Senate. After Fischbach wins her special election, combined with a McNamara victory and another victory from Hann’s or Thompson’s district, Republicans would have a 36-31 majority instead of the 34-33 majority they had last year.

That’s a long way of saying it’s important (imperative?) to get out and vote for Denny McNamara today.

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It’s difficult to defend Michelle Fischbach’s decision to attempt to serve as both Gov. Dayton’s Lieutenant Governor and the state senator representing SD-13. How can a supposedly educated woman think that the DFL operatives on the Minnesota Supreme Court will side with her, not with the man who appointed them?

Republicans point to a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling from 1898. At that time, the lieutenant governor was elected apart from the governor. Further, why would anyone think that it’s possible to serve simultaneously in the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch? In March, 2016, I wrote a post titled Is the IRRRB unconstitutional? In that post, I cited an audit report from Jim Nobles, who wrote that “State statutes on IRRRB’s governance structure are vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.”

That’s because the IRRRB’s board is composed of Iron Range legislators who have the authority to appropriate money to specific projects. The IRRRB also is an executive branch agency whose commissioner is appointed by the governor. Simply put, you can’t serve in 2 different branches of government.

Sen. Fischbach should know this. She’s fighting a fight she can’t win. Apparently, she hasn’t figured that out yet. Here’s what she said:

I was elected by the constituents of Senate District 13, and I have a commitment to represent them in the senate.

She ran for and got elected to be the Senate President. Anyone with a bit of understanding of Minnesota’s constitution knows that the Senate President is part of the line of succession to the governorship. If Sen. Fischbach wanted to guarantee that she represent the citizens of SD-13 for the full 4-year term, then she shouldn’t have run for Senate President.

If Lt. Gov. Fischbach cares about the Constitution, she should resign from the Senate this afternoon. The minute Gov. Dayton announces the date for the special election for filling her empty Senate seat in SD-13, she should then resign as Lt. Gov., then immediately start campaigning to regain her Senate seat.

By attempting to wear both hats, she’s causing a constitutional crisis that might hurt Republicans this session and that will cost taxpayers tons of money to pay for the lawsuit that she’ll lose. Apparently, Sen. Fischbach thinks that the Constitution doesn’t apply to her. She’s wrong. She should resign before she hurts her constituents.

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Thanks to a little research help from some loyal readers of LFR and thanks to some clever thinking of my own, I’ve figured out a way to turn the tables on Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk. First, Sen. Fischbach needs to get sworn in as lieutenant governor the minute Tina Smith is sworn in as Minnesota’s U.S. senator. Next, Fischbach needs to resign as lieutenant governor by the end of this week.

Thanks to some research from a loyal reader of LFR, I’m able to publish as fact that state statute 204D.19 subd. 2 says “The special election shall be held as soon as possible, consistent with the notice requirements of section 204D.22, subdivision 3(The county auditor of a county in which a special election is to be held shall direct the clerk of each municipality in which the election is to be held to post a notice of the special primary and special election at least seven days before the special primary and at least 14 days before the special election in the manner provided in sections 204B.33 and 204B.34.), but in no event more than 35 days after the issuance of the writ. A special election must not be held during the four days before or the four days after a holiday as defined in section 645.44, subdivision 5 (Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday(2/19/18), the third Monday in February).”

Notice that the statute says the special election shall be held as soon as possible. It doesn’t say that it should be held as soon as possible. The instant that Fischbach resigns as senator, Gov. Dayton is obligated to call a special election “as soon as possible.”

At that point, the Senate will have 33 Republicans and 32 Democrats. It will stay that way until the special election is held to replace Sen. Schoen in the Senate. If Karla Bigham wins, the Senate is tied with 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats. It’s worth noting that this is the best the DFL can hope for. Things would get much worse for the DFL if Denny McNamara wins. That would give Republicans a 34-32 majority. When the special election is held to replace Sen. Fischbach, Republicans will win that seat handily. At that point, Republicans would either have a 35-32 majority or a 34-33 majority.

Either way, Republicans would have a majority going into the start of the 2018 session. At that point, Republicans could elect any DFL senator to be the President of the Senate. Presumably, Republicans could elect the most vulnerable DFL senator as the President of the Senate. At that point, the DFL wouldn’t have a say in the matter. There’s nothing to prevent Republicans from naming someone like Matt Little to be the President of the Senate. That means Little would assume the responsibility of being Gov. Dayton’s lieutenant governor. Remember that this used to be Dave Thompson’s seat. I’d think that’d give Republicans a fantastic opportunity of flipping that seat.

The DFL is intent on flipping the Senate from a Republican majority to a DFL majority. They’ve made that perfectly clear. Why shouldn’t Republicans use this opportunity to their political advantage? That was the DFL’s intent. If Republicans beat the DFL at their own game, that’s the DFL’s fault.

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The DFL has made it clear that they hope to retake the majority in the Minnesota Senate by ‘capitalizing’ on Sen. Franken’s impending resignation. The bad news for them is that their too-clever-by-half strategy is destined for failure.

The Minnesota Constitution states quite clearly that the president of the Senate will replace the lieutenant governor if there’s a vacancy. In this instance, Sen. Fischbach would replace Tina Smith as lieutenant governor. Here’s where things start getting complicated. The minute Sen. Fischbach becomes Lt. Gov. Fischbach, Gov. Dayton has to call a special election to fill Fischbach’s seat. The minute that special election is announced, Fischbach has announced that she’ll resign as Lt. Gov., then file to run for the seat she still holds.

Thanks to Sen. Franken’s disgusting behavior, the next step potentially gets messy. With a 33-33 tie in the Senate, the DFL has made clear that they wouldn’t vote for a DFL politician to become the Senate President. Their goal is to become the majority party. Period. They won’t achieve that goal. Period. That’s my prediction and I’d bet the proverbial ranch on it. The DFL doesn’t stand a snowball’s prayer in hell of flipping Sen. Fischbach’s seat:

But their hopes for a majority would then depend on winning a special election for Fischbach’s seat — something Republicans scoff at. She won the conservative district by more than 37 percentage points in 2016. And Fischbach told KSTP-TV she’ll run for her seat in another special election if she’s forced out of office.

This would become moot, however, if Republicans flip Sen. Schoen’s seat in a Feb. 12 special election:

The Feb. 12 special election in Cottage Grove is to replace Democratic Sen. Dan Schoen, who resigned last month after sexual harassment allegations. The district has been in Democratic hands for more than a decade, but Republicans have made inroads in the area and recruited a longtime former House member to run.

That longtime House member is Denny McNamara and he’s a great fit for the district. Republicans should get behind McNamara for a couple reasons. First, flipping that seat guarantees that Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate at least until 2020. Further, while McNamara isn’t a hardline conservative, he’s a reliable vote on the important issues. I’ll take a reliable majority over a purist minority 100% of the time. In fact, that isn’t a difficult decision. But I digress.

If Republicans suddenly gain a 34-32 majority, Gov. Dayton’s and Sen. Bakk’s plans immediately get thwarted. There’s nothing I’d enjoy better than seeing their too-clever-by-half strategy fail miserably. Any Republican that doesn’t appreciate that needs to rethink their priorities and motivations.

In November, let’s topple the DFL’s sick plans by defeating Tina Smith, flipping Tim Walz’s seat, replacing Gov. Dayton with a Republican, re-electing Jason Lewis and maintaining a Republican majority in the Minnesota House.

According to this article, Sen. Michelle Fischbach, (R-Paynesville), “has been told by Senate Counsel that the state Constitution allows the Senate president to hold both jobs.” That’s her plan. The article then states “That plan would likely be challenged by Minnesota Democrats, since it puts a Republican a heartbeat away from the governorship and also allows the GOP to retain a Senate seat.”

The DFL might want to cool their jets before filing that lawsuit. There’s actually case law on this situation, which Scott Johnson wrote about in this post. Included in Johnson’s post is a link to this tweet. According to the tweet, “There is no language in the Constitution requiring or justifying the conclusion that the Senate office of the president pro tempore becomes vacant when he becomes Lieutenant Governor, by reason of, and during, a vacancy in the office of the Governor” and that “there is no escape from the conclusion that the president pro tempore does not cease to be a senator when he becomes Lieutenant Governor by reason of a vacancy in the Governor’s office.”

This article, however, reaches a different conclusion:

A memo from the Senate’s top lawyer backing up her position cites an 1898 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that decided the same question. In 1898, the lieutenant governor presided over the Senate. A 1971 constitutional amendment separated the two jobs.

A 1968 amendment prohibited senators or representatives from holding “any other office” but the Senate lawyer contends the “core reasoning” of the earlier court decision still applies. He did, however, warn Fischbach that her plan to hold two offices at once could be challenged in court.

With Minnesota’s Supreme Court stacked with DFL operatives, I’d expect the Court to rule in the DFL’s favor.

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Now that people are questisoning some of Chancellor Rosenstone’s decisions, like his decision to pay a consulting firm $2,000,000 or the Trustees’ decision to extend Chancellor Rosenstone’s contract before giving him a performance review, perhaps it’s time to ask what his qualifications were. This chart shows that Rosenstone wasn’t as qualified as the other finalist:

It’s too late to void Chancellor Rosenstone’s sweetheart deal but it isn’t too late to question whether the Trustees serve a useful purpose. Based on this side-by-side comparison and their decision to hire a less qualified candidate, I’d argue that their decisionmaking abilitie are questionable at best.

Further, it’s time to admit that Gene Pelowski, Bud Nornes, Michelle Fischbach and Terry Bonoff haven’t done the job Minnesotans needed them to do. Their refusal to conduct oversight hearings is an indictment against their chairmanships.
What Minnesota needs is for the Trustees to disappear and for the legislature to play a more hands-on role in MnSCU, especially with regards to hiring chancellors and negotiating the chancellor’s contracts. I don’t want people who can’t be held accountable to make these important decisions. I expect people who can be held accountable at election time to make these decisions.

The best way to produce terrible results is to look the other way and not demand explanations for important decisions. Part of why Chancellor Rosenstone is making questionable decisions is because he wasn’t qualified. Another reason why he’s making questionable decisions is because he isn’t disciplined when he makes decisions like hiring a do-nothing consulting firm for $2,000,000.

I can’t say that Minnesota’s higher ed system is worthless. I can say, however, that MnSCU has made lots of foolish spending decisions that shouldn’t have gotten made.

That’s why MnSCU reform should be a high priority for the next legislature.

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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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