Archive for the ‘John Pederson’ Category

Dan Wolgamott’s op-ed in tomorrow’s St. Cloud Times isn’t a portrait in honesty. Then again, that isn’t my expectation from Wolgamott.

It isn’t that Wolgamott told some outright whoppers. It’s that he omitted the most important details from his op-ed. Wolgamott started by criticizing retiring Sen. John Pederson. In the interest of full disclosure, John represents me in the Minnesota Senate. I consider him to be a friend, too. But I digress.

The opening paragraph of Wolgamott’s op-ed says “Once again, Republican Sen. John Pederson has turned his back on our community. He cast the tie-breaking vote last week to defeat the Senate bonding bill, which would’ve created 39,000 jobs across the state and invested more than $24 million locally in job creation, veterans and making our area safer.”

Wolgamott’s missing integrity is exposed by the fact that Wolgamott didn’t mention the fact that the bonding bill that Sen. Pederson voted against was the biggest in Minnesota history at $1,800,000,000. That’s more than $750,000,000 bigger than the biggest bonding bill in state history. It’s bad enough to pass the biggest bonding bill in state history if it’s bigger by $100,000,000. It’s quite another to attempt to pass a bonding bill that’s almost twice the size of the biggest bonding bill in state history.

Then there’s this cheap shot:

Unfortunately, Pederson chose partisanship over progress and voted against $19 million for needed upgrades and safety measures for the St. Cloud correctional facility. He voted against $1.5 million in economic development money for Friedrich Regional Park in St. Cloud. He even said no to veterans, $3.5 million for the St. Cloud Armory.

Let’s turn the tables on Wolgamott. Is he saying that he wouldn’t have hesitated in voting for a bill that’s that big? Would he hesitate in voting for a bill that would tax the ‘state credit card’ to the max?

Those are examples of deception by omission. This is an example of outright BS:

As your next state senator, I will be a tireless advocate for our community, and the priorities we share, over partisan games and gridlock.

Last year, I wrote this post to highlight Wolgamott’s willingness to spend recklessly:

It’s time for us to invest in our roads and bridges, which is why St. Cloud needs better leadership than State Sen. John Pederson. As made clear in two recent articles in the St. Cloud Times, Pederson has some thoughts on the state’s transportation network. As the Republican lead on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, he could play a vital role in providing St. Cloud the comprehensive transportation investment we need.

Instead, Sen. Pederson backs a plan that not only shifts money away from our schools and services for our most vulnerable residents, but relies heavily on borrowing for our roads and bridges, putting the costs on the state’s credit card. This plan depends on action to be taken by future legislatures. However, there is no guarantee future legislatures will make those decisions. Instead of stability, this is another example of politicians promising something in the future to justify ducking their responsibilities now.

Back then, Wolgamott advocated for a middle class tax increase to pay for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. That’s besides Wolgamott’s advocating for additional middle class tax increases to pay for transit projects.

To summarize Wolgamott’s limited history, he’s advocated for middle class tax increases to pay for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Wolgamott has advocated putting nearly $2,000,000,000 on Minnesota’s credit card rather than fixing Minnesota’s economic fundamentals. Those aren’t solutions. They’re gimmicks.

Finally, does Wolgamott really think that Sen. Pederson wouldn’t have voted for a responsible bonding bill that included fixing the St. Cloud Armory and the St. Cloud prison? If Mr. Wolgamott is peddling that BS, then he isn’t honest enough to represent St. Cloud in the State Senate.

Dan Wolgamott’s editorial in this morning’s St. Cloud Times sounds like he’s running against John Pederson, mostly because it sounds like he’s Tom Bakk’s puppet. Check these chanting points out:

Our roads are aging, the congestion is getting worse and our state is falling behind on delivering the vibrant transportation options we need. We feel the bumps in our pothole-filled roads and the hit in our wallets with vehicle repairs.

It’s time for us to invest in our roads and bridges, which is why St. Cloud needs better leadership than State Sen. John Pederson. As made clear in two recent articles in the St. Cloud Times, Pederson has some thoughts on the state’s transportation network. As the Republican lead on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, he could play a vital role in providing St. Cloud the comprehensive transportation investment we need.

Instead, Sen. Pederson backs a plan that not only shifts money away from our schools and services for our most vulnerable residents, but relies heavily on borrowing for our roads and bridges, putting the costs on the state’s credit card. This plan depends on action to be taken by future legislatures. However, there is no guarantee future legislatures will make those decisions. Instead of stability, this is another example of politicians promising something in the future to justify ducking their responsibilities now.

I won’t waste my time refuting the DFL’s chanting points because I’ve already done that. Instead, I’ll pose these simple questions:

  1. Do you want the legislature to raise the gas tax that won’t fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges?
  2. Do you want the DFL to raise the metro sales tax to pay for light rail projects that don’t help fix roads and bridges?
  3. Would you prefer that Republicans create a new fund that focuses exclusively on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges?

I’m betting that the vast majority of people reading this post will pick the option that focuses exclusively on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. I’m betting that because few people care about new light rail projects. I’m betting that because most people care passionately about fixing Minnesota’s potholed roads.

We know that the DFL plan won’t work because it was tried in 2008. The DFL’s transportation plan is the same now as it was then. That plan failed. Why would we repeat that plan and expect different results? Einstein famously said that doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

The GOP plan learned from the DFL’s failed plan of 2008. Shortly after the 2008 tax increase, revenue didn’t come in like it was predicted. The DFL figured it out that more people are buying more fuel efficient vehicles, meaning less gas tax revenue. Then the DFL doubled down on their failed plan of 2008.

Republicans, though, figured it out that a different funding mechanism was needed. That’s why the Republican plan creates a Transportation Stability Fund that “collects existing proceeds from dedicated tax revenues and deposits them into accounts for each of their dedicated purpose.

There are five accounts that would dedicate a combined $3.078 billion over ten years:

  1. Road and Bridge Account: revenue from existing sales tax on auto parts
  2. Metro Capital Improvements Account: revenue from existing sales tax on rental vehicles
  3. Small Cities Account: revenue from existing rental vehicle tax
  4. Greater Minnesota Bus Services Account: revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
  5. Suburban County Highway Account: revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax

In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 uses $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.Mr. Wolgamott’s LTE reads like Move MN’s chanting points. We don’t need another robot supporting the DFL’s failed policies. It also reads like the LTE a candidate seeking Sen. Pederson’s senate seat.

That’s quite a shift considering he ran for Tama Theis’s House seat in 2014.

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House Speaker Kurt Daudt issued this statement after announcing the House GOP transportation proposal:

“Minnesota families rely on our road and bridge infrastructure to get their kids to school and themselves to work. To help them, our goal from the beginning was to refocus transportation dollars on roads and bridges and deliver a real, long-term solution without increasing their tax burden. I’m proud today to unveil our vision for the next decade that achieves our shared goal,” announced Speaker Daudt.

“Republicans have developed a thoughtful solution to adequately maintain and expand our road and bridge infrastructure without raising gas taxes, because Minnesotans can’t afford to pay more at the pump. Our proposal will benefit small cities, rural areas, suburban communities, and elderly and disabled Minnesotans while also making significant commitments to state roads,” said Senate Republican Leader Hann.

“Most Minnesotans count on safe roads and short commutes every day, and our plan focuses on those daily needs. It fills potholes and repairs streets in their neighborhoods and will alleviate congestion on Minnesota roads. Now, Minnesotans have a choice between smart budgeting that dedicates existing transportation taxes to roads and bridges without a tax increase and a plan that raises the gas tax by at least 16 cents per gallon,” added House Majority Leader Peppin.

Predictably, the DFL immediately criticized the plan:

DFLers, in contrast, attacked the Republican plan for shifting money from other sources. “What programs will (Republicans) cut to pay for (money) they are taking from (the) general fund?” Dayton’s deputy chief of staff Linden Zakula wrote on Twitter.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, responded that the GOP plan “irresponsibly raids” the general fund. “Unfortunately, the Republican plan is the same old shifts and gimmicks budgeting we’ve come to expect from them. Siphoning money from schools and hospitals and relying on the state’s credit card is no way to fund Minnesota’s transportation system,” he said in a prepared statement.

Here’s my response to Mssrs. Zakula and Thissen: What corrupt programs will the DFL fund with the money that the GOP proposes to fix roads and bridges with? Does the DFL plan to finance more trips for Sen. Hayden? Or would they rather direct money to Community Action? Would the DFL rather funnel more money to MnSCU to sign contracts with their friends to do ‘consulting’ work ?

Actually, Rep. Thissen, putting some things on the state’s credit card is the right thing to do. Why should this generation pay the entire cost for fixing bridges? Shouldn’t subsequent generations pay for their fair share of the cost since they’re going to get a substantial benefit from new bridges? Why shouldn’t younger generations pay for some of the cost of lane expansions?

There’s nothing wrong with paying for road repairs with current money. Maintenance is a short-term proposition. Fixing potholes is something that’s done annually. Widening State Trunk Highway 23 to 4 lanes from St. Cloud to Foley is a one-time thing. That’s something that should be paid for by multiple generations.

Finally, it’s interesting to watch the DFL immediately insinuate that Republicans want to “siphon money from schools and hospitals.” It didn’t matter to Rep. Thissen that there’s literally no proof that Republicans want to do that. In fact, there’s proof that Republicans don’t want to do that.

That’s irrelevant to Rep. Thissen. The truth isn’t relevant to him because it’s about frightening people with baseless allegations. It isn’t about having an honest debate based on reality. Simply put, the DFL is the Fearmongering Party.

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I’ve written 3 posts about Move MN, the DFL front group on transportation issues since the start of the year. See here, here, and here for those posts. My state senator, John Pederson, recently got a bunch of letters regarding transportation. That’s understandable because Sen. Pederson is the ranking member on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Budget Division. Here’s why Sen. Pederson is in the news:

Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, knows it’s important to a lot of his constituents. But he wonders if all of the people whose names are listed on postcards recently delivered to him by Move MN, a transportation lobbying group, really filled out the information in an effort to sway his opinion on funding solutions.

Pederson says of more than 100 postcards he received, the handwriting on 27 of them appears to be identical and most did not list an email address or phone number.

Pederson is the GOP lead on the Senate transportation committee, and a policy bill is deadline looming Friday. “We wrote a letter back to every one and I got a response from someone I know who said ‘Thanks for the letter, but I didn’t send anything to you,'” Pederson said. “We forwarded a copy of what we received and they said it wasn’t their handwriting and they didn’t recall anyone asking their support of the cause. It appears there are a sizable number of postcards that weren’t legit.”

Move MN isn’t honest in the sense that they frequently talk about transportation but their stated goal is to increase funding for transit. That’s given away by the fact that lots of environmental organizations are part of Move MN’s partners:

Look at the list of organizations running Move MN:

Move MN is governed by an 11-person steering committee made up of representatives from AFSCME Minnesota Council 5, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Heart Association – Minnesota, Associated General Contractors of Minnesota, Association of Minnesota Counties, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, Laborers District Council of MN & ND, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Community Foundation, Summit Academy, Transit for Livable Communities and The Transportation Alliance.

The organizations that are italicized don’t care about fixing roads and bridges. They’re advocates for transit and bike paths. Since they’re the organizations behind Move MN, there isn’t any doubt that they’re the people pushing for the DFL’s massive middle class tax increase.

More importantly, though, Move MN was just exposed as corrupt. Filling out petition cards in other people’s names isn’t the picture of integrity. Couple that corruption with the corruption in this post and it’s pretty obvious that the DFL won’t hesitate to lie to push a tax increase across the line.

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Contrary to what this SC Times editorial says, St. Cloud legislators should vote against the DFL’s pork-filled bonding bill. When you factor this information into the equation, it’s the right thing to do:

Not quite so clear-cut are a mix of additional projects statewide proposed to be paid for with cash lawmakers want to pull from the state’s projected budget surplus.

Unlike the bonding bill, any negotiated bonding deal using this money requires majority votes only, meaning the DFL controls the outcome.

Dayton’s surplus-funded list totals about $126 million. The Senate plan pushes $200 million. And the House plan sits at $125 million, although House DFL leaders have talked of increasing that amount.

If the DFL insists on spending $200,000,000 of one-time surplus money in addition to the $850,000,000 bonding bill, then Republicans should vote no without hesitating. If the DFL wants to be that fiscally reckless, let them explain their actions. Republicans shouldn’t provide political cover for DFL legislators.

The Senate plan provides $11 million for a parking ramp near the center. Plans released earlier from the House and Gov. Mark Dayton both provided $11.56 million, which equates to full funding for the ramp. Obviously, full funding is preferred. Regardless, inclusion in all three plans is the best sign yet that the state will finally contribute to this vital regional project.

There’s no question that the St. Cloud business community and St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis want this project. Similarly, there’s no question whether the DFL’s additional nonbonding spending is a deal breaker, especially in light of the fact that none of the bonding bills includes much money for filling Minnesota’s potholes or fixing Minnesota’s bridges.

A bonding bill that prioritized fixing Minnesota’s potholes and bridges would be a worthwhile investment. It’s impossible to sell Minnesotans that a bill that’s mostly about funding convention centers and renovating the Ordway isn’t a Minnesota priority.

That’s why voting no on the current proposal is imperative.

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Tuesday morning, GOP legislators, led by House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and Senate Minority Leader David Hann, visited the St. Cloud Regional Airport to discuss the just-ended session. After brief presentations by Daudt and Hann, they opened things up for questions.

Rep. Daudt first noted that the DFL legislature raised taxes by “$2.1 billion” and fees by another $300,000,000. Sen. Hann and Rep. Daudt both talked about not needing that tax increase to solve a $627,000,000 deficit. Both legislators spoke about the need to spend money more wisely, with Sen. Hann noting that the DFL didn’t include any reforms in their budget or policy bills.

When asked about the $400,000,000 in property tax relief, Rep. Jennifer Loon verified that most of the relief came in the form of increased payments to cities and counties. When asked if LGA payment increases helped cities like Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis just spend more rather than provide property tax relief, Sen. Hann and Rep. Daudt said that there’s a history of that. Adding to that, Sen. John Pederson said that, while the DFL was screaming about people’s property taxes going up, St. Cloud’s property taxes were actually going down.

Another piece of legislation that was brought up was the energy bill. The bill passed in the House but, ultimately, it didn’t pass in the Senate. Still, it’s almost a guarantee that the DFL will bring it up early in 2014. Sen. Pederson said that one of the Senate DFL’s selling points for the legislation was that it would lower electric rates. Republicans questioned that talking point by asking why northern Minnesota needed the carve-out if their rates were dropping.

The most chilling part of the press conference was hearing Teresa Bohnen, the president of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce talk about how businesses are hurting and that the tax bill won’t help with that. Afterwards, Rep. Daudt said that businesses are planning ahead for the tax increases. He then said that that’s why job growth is slowing down. Rep. Daudt said that we won’t see a spike in unemployment but that we’re likely to see job creation stagnate.

The other point they made was that, while the middle class won’t get directly hit with tax increases, the middle class will get hit with higher priced products as a result of the tax increases on “the rich.” Rep. Jeff Howe said that the warehousing tax will trigger higher prices, adding that that tax increase “wasn’t well thought out.”

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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When Gov. Dayton visited St. Cloud Tuesday night, he said that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class. That’s a verifiable lie. His budget includes increases in the metro sales tax and the cigarette tax. Both taxes are regressive taxes, meaning they’ll hit the middle class and the working poor harder than they’ll hit 1-percenters.

Appearing on Ox in the Afternoon, Sen. John Pederson said that he’s the ranking minority member on the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee. He’s also the ranking minority member on the Finance- Transportation and Public Safety Committee. As a member of the Senate Transportation Finance Division, he got a fiscal note on the Senate’s proposed .75% metro sales tax increase. That fiscal note said that it would raise $300,000,000 a year, all of it dedicated to metro transit projects.

That tax will hit the middle class and the working poor the hardest.

That’s before talking about Gov. Dayton’s 94-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase, which hurts convenience store operators:

Convenience store owners challenged a cigarette tax hike proposal by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at a town hall meeting earlier this week, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The retailers said that the governor’s plan to raise the cigarette tax by 94 cents a pack will send their customers to bordering North Dakota.

“When you lose those tobacco customers, those guys and gals that come in every single morning and get their coffee, their pop, they buy their gas, they buy their car washes…we’re all of a sudden looking at running our business on 75%-60% of our customer base. And that’s pretty tough to do,” said Frank Orton, owner of 15 convenience stores.

Dayton said the tax is designed to deter smoking, though he told Orton that he is willing to consider adding tobacco products to legislation that equalizes taxes for businesses located along state borders.

“If people can go across the river and buy their cigarettes in Fargo for whatever less the tax difference is it’s obviously undermining the intent of our raising the tax at all because they can just go over there and not be affected by it,” Dayton said.

Gov. Dayton is utterly clueless. People driving across the Red River to North Dakota or crossing into Wisconsin or Iowa is the totally predictable outcome to his proposal. Though this wasn’t the intent of the legislation, that’s the predictable outcome of raising taxes.

In that article, Gov. Dayton admitted that people change their behavior when taxes get raised. What’s galling about that is that he apparently thinks that businesses that can relocate to other states won’t move if he raises income taxes. According to this article, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohnen has proof he’s wrong:

St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce President Teresa Bohen says she’s recently talked with four local companies who say they may have to transfer their investments to other states, if the Governor’s plan goes through.

That’s a polite way of saying they’ll move if their taxes get raised.

One thing that came through clearly from Tuesday’s meeting was that Gov. Dayton and his supporters think of businesses as second class citizens. That attitude was clear this week. It was clear when Gov. Dayton addressed the State Chamber of Commerce gathering in St. Paul 2 weeks ago.

That’s after they applauded Gov. Dayton for pulling his sales tax increase from his budget proposal. Gov. Dayton then went on a hissy fit tirade, saying that businesses weren’t paying their fair share, that they were essentially getting a free ride.

In addition to being dishonest, Gov. Dayton apparently isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL chandelier. If Minnesota’s businesses start expanding in other states as a direct result of Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s tax policies, their move will undercut whatever growth is happening right now.

Gov. Dayton hasn’t made economic growth his highest priority. Apparently, tax fairness is Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s guiding principle. They apparently haven’t learned that a rising tide lifts all ships and that a growing economy benefits everyone.

That’s a sad day in Minnesota.

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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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Monday night, Michele Bachmann celebrated the grand opening of her St. Cloud Victory Office with 75-100 of her most passionate supporters. After Rep. Bachmann’s brief speech, several veteran activists were asked about the growing storyline that Rep. Bachmann is losing support.

The Bachmann supporters unanimously said that they haven’t seen proof that that’s happened. They did say, though, that they’ve seen the stories. One supporter said that he enthusiastically supported Rep. Bachmann because “she’s never abandoned her principles.” Another supporter said that it wouldn’t surprise anyone if this was part of a DFL whispering campaign.

Another supporter identified himself as a local businessman. He said Mr. Graves hurt himself badly by attending a fundraiser hosted by Barney Frank. This businessman said that that event would probably cost Graves 5 points of support with Sixth District voters.

The businessman said that Graves’ biggest selling points prior to the Frank fundraiser were his claim that he isn’t a cookie-cutter Democrat and his business background. Those vanished when he attended Frank’s fundraiser because Franks, in the minds of most businessmen, is the man who caused the credit crisis that’s still hurting the housing market.

He’s also seen as one of the most liberal congressmen in DC.

Neither of those things will help Graves with Sixth District voters. Bachmann defeated a liberal Tarryl Clark in 2010 by a 53%-40% margin. This year, Jim Graves is portraying himself as a moderate, just like Sen. Clark did. This year, the Sixth District is more conservative than in 2010, keeping this an uphill climb for Michele Bachmann’s opponent.

That was a plausible argument prior to his fundraiser with Frank. Now that argument isn’t plausible.

During her brief rally speech, Bachmann touted the campaigns of local legislators like Sen. John Pederson, Rep. King Banaian and House District candidates Jim Newberger and Jeff Howe. Howe is a retired military veteran running in an open seat created by Rep. Larry Hosch’s retirement. Newberger is running in a new district created by this year’s redistricting.

Rep. Bachmann wasn’t bashful about her goal of making the Sixth District a “DFL legislator-free district.”

Newberger and Howe are expected to help with making Rep. Bachmann’s goal a reality.

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