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This article highlights a DFL ‘tradition’ of taking credit for cleaning up a mess that they created. When DFL Gov. Walz started filling out his cabinet, he picked Mark Phillips to be the Commissioner of the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Then Phillips hired Joe Radinovich, the DFL congressional candidate for CD-8 in 2018, to a cushy political patronage job on the IRRRB that would’ve paid Radinovich a $100,000 annual salary.

Enter our fearless hero, Gov. Walz, to deliver a tongue-lashing for the ages. Gov. Walz said “I expect you to model openness, transparency, inclusivity and servant leadership. In this situation, you fell far short of my expectations.”

Gov. Walz, you fell far short of our expectations. How dare you appoint a commissioner that’s that corrupt. How dare you not do your due diligence before picking a commissioner to lead a board known for its corruption. This article highlights one instance of IRRRB corruption:

It’s an issue we’ve raised before, as recently as last year. The principle of the separation of powers that guides our government at both the state and federal levels, would appear to prohibit the structure now in place at the IRRRB, where a board comprised primarily of sitting legislators has authority over an executive branch agency. The legislative auditor, in his report this past week, agreed that the current makeup of the board leaves the agency vulnerable to a court challenge on constitutional grounds.

But the makeup of the current board raises other concerns beyond a simple legal dispute. By giving local legislators control of the purse strings for millions of dollars in funding for community and economic development projects within the Taconite Relief Area, the IRRRB helps to cement the status quo rather than encourage new ideas and leadership at a time when alternative visions are definitely needed. As we’ve noted before, giving Iron Range legislators outsized political clout tends to stifle dissenting voices from other elected officials in our region for fear that projects in their communities will be denied funds. There are reasons why the political class on the Iron Range marches in virtual lockstep to the agenda of the region’s legislators, and their control over IRRRB funds is certainly one of the most powerful.

This ‘arrangement’ put legislators in charge of both the appropriations process in the legislature and the handing out of loans from the IRRRB. It’s unconstitutional to be a member of the executive branch and the legislative branch.

Had Gov. Walz paid attention to details like that, we wouldn’t have had these problems. Gov. Walz, this is as much your fault for not paying attention to the people you hired as it is Commissioner Phillips’ fault for not prioritizing integrity in the hiring process.

Salena Zito’s column does a great job highlighting the advantages that Joe Biden has in winning the Democrats’ nomination, then the general election. Personally, I don’t think that Biden’s got any chance in the general election but that’s just my opinion.

Ms. Zito starts by writing “Joe Biden joined the 2020 race for president last week by declaring that the next election will be ‘a battle for the soul of this nation.’ But his decision to make a Western Pennsylvania Teamster hall his first campaign stop on Tuesday shows he truly understands the heart of it.”

I don’t doubt that Biden identifies with western Pennsylvania. It’s just that I think he starts with an albatross around his neck. The name of that particular albatross is President Obama. During their 8 years in office together, the Obama-Biden team tried to demolish the coal industry, the manufacturing industry and the steel industry.

In his announcement video, Biden said that “I believe that history will look back on 4 years of this president and all that he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump 8 years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation.”

That’s odd considering the fact that the president he served said “We are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming America.”

Sleepy Joe, along with his other Democrat presidential aspirants, sat idly by while President Obama tried destroying steel mill towns, the coal-mining industry and the manufacturing industry. That isn’t the only disturbing thing Obama said. This statement is something else that will live in infamy:

They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

He was talking specifically about Pennsylvania. Why hasn’t Vice President Biden stepped forward and criticized President Obama for essentially saying that voters in rural Pennsylvania, Ohio and other midwestern states were racists? This might be Biden’s biggest mistake of the campaign.

I don’t doubt that Democrats will let him off the hook for not criticizing President Obama but I’m betting blue-collar Trump voters who felt forgotten under President Obama don’t feel forgotten with President Trump. A major part of President Trump’s accomplishments have benefitted these voters. What reason would they have for leaving the guy whose policies have helped restore their towns and their industries?

I don’t disagree that Biden has some strengths that will help him. It’s just that I think he’s got a ton of liabilities that will hurt him as much as his strengths will help him.

This pdf article should cause the DFL tons of heartburn. It isn’t a secret that a high percentage of DFL activists are anti-mining. That’s been documented repeatedly on LFR throughout the years. This article, though, is different in that it highlights what’s getting lost in the discussion.

Early in the article, it’s reported that “the state’s mineral resources are largely untouched: the Duluth Complex, a massive rock formation in northeast Minnesota stretching from Duluth to Pigeon Point, holds some of the
world’s largest undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel, platinum group elements (PGE), and ilmenite (the most important ore for titanium). It also contains elements such as cobalt, gold, and silver. If Minnesota had been able to mine these resources in 2017, it would have regained its position as America’s third largest producer of minerals by dollar amount—a position it has not held since 2012. On top of that, these numbers could increase significantly if gold and silver are discovered in mineable quantities in the areas currently being explored in northern Minnesota.”

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, though. The important information is found a few paragraphs later:

The chart below shows the average annual wage for jobs in Hennepin, Itasca, and St. Louis counties, along with the average of all Minnesota counties. The average annual wage in Hennepin County is approximately $66,600, far larger than the average income for non-mining jobs in northern Minnesota, where wages are $12,000 lower than the state average. Residents of the Twin Cities metropolitan area often take their relatively high wages for granted, but jobs paying more than $66,000 per year are difficult to come by in northern counties. The average income in St. Louis County, for example, is approximately $42,000—and average mining jobs pay $83,235, nearly twice that amount.

Here’s the graph:

The anti-mining wing of the DFL is standing in the way of mining families making a more-than-middle class wage of $80,000+. That’s immoral. That’s before taking into consideration how much these communities need those incomes to rebuild those communities, those neighborhoods, those families, those lives.

Instead of living in poverty, these communities could live in prosperity. Think of the economic growth that’d happen if PolyMet and Twin Metals opened. Then think of how much better off we’d be if we built pipelines and other types of energy infrastructure. Instead of balancing budgets by raising taxes, Minnesota could do something that’s entirely foreign to the DFL. Minnesota could balance budgets through robust economic growth. That’s what it did during the Perpich years. Now, the DFL, the party that gave us Gov. Perpich, hates the people that Gov. Perpich loved.

Richard Painter’s views on copper-nickel mining are pretty typical of the anti-mining wing of the DFL:

The Flambeau Mine, a 35-acre surface mine located just south of Ladysmith in northern Wisconsin, illustrates how the environment and groundwater quality can be protected at an acid-generating mine. Over four years (1993-1997), the Flambeau Mine produced 181,000 tons of copper, 334 ounces of gold, and 3.3 million ounces of silver. At its peak, the mine provided nearly 100 family supporting jobs and paid more than $27.7 million in taxes into a state fund that was returned to the community to promote long-term business development.

Today the closed and restored mine site is an interpretive nature center, a recreation area, and a business park. Reclamation took about two years to complete and cost $20 million, and produced a 150-acre site that includes four miles of nature trails and five miles of equestrian paths that wind their way through a beautifully restored open space.

The anti-mining wing of the DFL says this mining can’t be done safely. Mr. Painter said that in the video. They’re either both wrong or they’re both intentionally lying. Both things seem possible.

It’s rather sad that the DFL has become consumed by anti-mining environmental activists. Thanks to them and their wholly-owned junior senator, PolyMet faces still more hurdles. The woman running to replace DFL appeaser Tina Smith isn’t too happy with the gamesmanship that the DFL is playing.

Karin Housley issued this statement, which says “I’m extremely disappointed the PolyMet land swap agreement was not included in the final defense spending bill. With the economic viability of real communities and the livelihoods of real people on the line, Tina Smith simply could not deliver. After years of obstructing the process as lieutenant governor and chief of staff, Tina Smith brought a sense of false hope to the region that she could get this done – despite her Democratic leadership never being on board. These thinly-veiled attempts at political pandering ended in failure, and it’s the people of northern Minnesota who will pay the price. I’ve supported PolyMet from the beginning, and as a U.S. Senator, it will be my top priority to get it across the finish line.”

Let’s be honest. Tina Smith did just enough so she couldn’t get accused of doing nothing. Smith knows that she’ll need to do well in Minnesota’s Eighth District because she won’t run away with things in the Metro because Karin Housley was born in South St. Paul and represents Forest Lake, Lake Elmo and Stillwater in the Minnesota Legislature. Tina Smith wasn’t committed to fighting the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, aka MCEA. Smith wasn’t committed to fighting Becky Rom of Save the Boundary Waters.

Becky Rom
She couldn’t afford to. Those people and organizations control too many votes that Tina Smith will need. Trust me when I say that Becky Rom and Tina Smith understand that. That’s why this act is more theater than substance. It’s time for people to stop pretending that Tina Smith cares about anything outside the Twin Cities metro.

By all accounts, Wednesday night’s Trump rally was a major success for Pete Stauber. First, President Trump is wildly popular in the Eighth District. Next, Stauber got a ton of positive attention during the campaign rally. Third and perhaps most importantly, President Trump drew a ton of people to the rally. Check out the people gathered at a parking ramp near the arena:


Stauber’s campaign manager must’ve smiled after seeing that picture. Stauber’s campaign manager must’ve been pleased to see Pete handle the big spotlight this beautifully, too:

That doesn’t guarantee a Stauber victory this fall but it’ll guarantee him tons of favorable press. This report noted something incredible:

At least 25 percent of the audience was under the age of 30, and around 40 percent were women. The senior citizen percentage was less than 10 percent — the lowest I’ve ever seen at a Republican event. Other than the hundred or so party leaders, this was a vastly different crowd from the Minnesota Republican Convention that I attended in Duluth three weeks ago. None of the attendees I spoke with in the concession line at the rally were politically active (other than voting) and none were born-and-bred Republicans.

If that’s the case, then I’m inclined to move this race from the toss-up category to the slightly leans GOP category. That isn’t good news for the DFL because they’ve got 3 top-tier candidates who are beating the daylights out of each other through the mid-August primary.

According to this article, President Trump will make a campaign appearance in Duluth. Also, “the rally will be at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.” Pete Stauber plans on attending the event. Stauber is the GOP-endorsed candidate for the Eighth Congressional District. Stauber hopes to replace Rick Nolan.

It’s worth noting that “Trump carried [the district] by nearly 16 percentage points in 2016.” Further, “the race for the open 8th District seat is considered a tossup.” Unlike the races in CD-2 and CD-3, this race is an actual toss-up. Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan is getting excited:

“The importance of Minnesota this election cycle — in influencing the balance of power in Washington D.C. for the next two years and ensuring we send the President conservative reinforcements — depends on our ability to Make Minnesota Red,” Carnahan said. “We look forward to the momentum and positive energy his visit will bring to Minnesota Republicans and our opportunities this election cycle.”

President Trump will increase turnout in the Eighth District. His appearance might help cause voters to switch allegiances.

This shouldn’t be seen in a vacuum. Remember that the DFL primaries (gubernatorial and congressional) both pit an environmentalist against a pro-mining candidate. Don’t think that President Trump won’t mention that in his speech.

The last time Trump was in Minnesota was right before the 2016 election. Back then, they said stopping in Minnesota and Wisconsin was “campaign malpractice.” I guess the pundits were wrong that time, too.

I’m semi-stunned with the first polling for the DFL primary in Minnesota’s Eighth District. First, the polling company was “conducted by Victoria Research and Consulting for the Radinovich campaign. The firm, based in Maryland, has worked in Minnesota’s Eighth District since first hired by the late Jim Oberstar in 1992.” Next, “the company interviewed 400 likely DFL primary voters in the Eighth District from May 12-17. Of the five DFLers in the race, Lee had the highest name recognition at 39 percent, while Radinovich was second at 30 percent. Fewer than one-in-four likely primary voters had heard of state Rep. Jason Metsa or North Branch Mayor Kristen Hagen Kennedy.”

That few people had heard of Kristen Hagen-Kennedy isn’t surprising. That few people have heard of Jason Metsa is stunning. He’s a state legislator. He’s been re-elected, too. That isn’t the only bad news for Metsa, though. Here’s more:

The survey considered the candidates support within the district’s two major media markets, Duluth and the Twin Cities. Lee had a clear lead in the Duluth market, with 24 percent support, while Radinovich was second at 18 percent. Metsa finished third with 15 percent support while Kennedy had the backing of just four percent of those polled.

Radinovich holds a clear lead, however, in the southern part of the district, with 17 percent support. Kennedy was in second place at nine percent, while Lee finished third at seven percent. Metsa came in at just two percent support.

In other words, Metsa is tanking outside of his back yard.

Lee represents an interesting dilemma for the DFL. She’s well-known, popular and she opposes copper-nickel mining:

The last thing the DFL needs is for there to be a tough fight between the pro-mining people and the anti-mining activists as their 2 finalists duke it out. That’s what this is shaping up to be at this point. It’s impossible to forget, too, that Leah Phifer won all 10 of the ballots at the DFL CD-8 Convention, though she didn’t win the endorsement. Let’s remember, too, that Rebecca Otto’s only win in the Precinct Caucus straw poll was in CD-8. They might’ve gotten rid of Phifer but they haven’t gotten rid of the environmental activists.

I expect Radinovich to win the primary because there will a significant turnout for the pro-mining Swanson-Nolan gubernatorial ticket in the primary in the Eighth. That shouldn’t be underestimated. However, it wouldn’t be wise to predict a Radinovich victory in November if the Erin-Squared ticket wins the gubernatorial primary. An Erin-Squared victory will likely have a negative effect on turnout in the Eighth District.

With the DFL primaries likely to be contentious, some major rifts have gotten exposed. In his weekly commentary, Harold Hamilton noted that “the DFL is wholly funded, owned, and operated by the wealthy urban elites who hail from about three zip codes in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. These king makers are extremely liberal in their world view and thus support candidates who are extremely liberal in their world view. In short, the DFL establishment these days favors extreme liberals who hail from the urban core.” (Hamilton predicts that Erin Murphy and Keith Ellison will win their primaries and be the DFL’s general election candidates for governor and AG respectively.)

That necessarily means some awfully hurt feelings. As Hamilton said, “Lori Swanson specifically pointed out in her announcement that she was running for governor that she is in favor of gun rights, a hot button topic. Erin Murphy, on the other hand, is a gun grabber and has no regard for the Second Amendment, as does her running mate.”

Anyone that thinks rural DFLers and metro DFLers won’t duke it out over the Second Amendment is kidding themselves. This is one of the existential fights that DFL Chair Ken Martin has tried avoiding for 5+ years. Hamilton noted that “there is a growing schism between the party’s urban, liberal faction and its rural ‘Reagan Democrat’ pragmatic faction.” Here at LFR, I’ve been chronicling that schism for years. It’s inevitable that the divorce happen.

Mitch Berg correctly notes that “It’s pretty clear the DFL is sliding toward Metro-only status. If they lose CD8 and possibly CD1 this year (both are more possible than at any time in years), and with the knowledge that Colin Peterson’s Potemkin seat in CD7 will never be replaced by a Democrat again when he retires), it’ll really be official, even if they someday flip CD3.”

Tonight on Almanac, the 3 DFL gubernatorial candidates did their best to spin the differences between rural issues and metro issues. They failed. Each played nice to a certain degree, though Erin Murphy definitely attacked Walz on the NRA. When rural voters hear that, it’s inevitable that they think the DFL is the party of gun grabbers. What’s clear is that these candidates either don’t understand rural voters or are too busy pandering to city voters.

Murphy and Maye Quade have opposed pipelines and mining. They voted for the buffer strips, too. These positions will alienate rural voters. Amy Koch nails it during the roundtable:

During the Roundtable, Eric Eskola mentioned the Eighth District DFL Primary. They’d run out the environmentalist in that race. Now, 2 more environmentalists have filed to run in the primary. These candidates won’t win but they will keep that fight fresh through August. That isn’t just a disagreement. Potentially, it might turn into a civil war.

If the DFL can’t resolve these major differences, a divorce is inevitable. It’s just a matter of when.

Lori Swanson’s run as Minnesota’s attorney general is all but officially over. According to this article, she’s about to announce that she’s running for governor. According to the article, “Attorney General Lori Swanson, who was rebuffed by party delegates in her bid for reelection at last weekend’s nominating convention, will instead run for governor, Minnesota Lawyer has learned. U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, the 8th District congressman who announced in February that he will retire from that seat, will be Swanson’s running mate, according to sources. Swanson will officially make the announcement Monday afternoon. Minnesota Lawyer will attend the announcement and update this report later.”

If you’re in the Twin Cities and you hear 2 women crying uncontrollably, it’s likely Erin-Squared crying because their chances of winning the primary just got vaporized. If you hear shouts of joy, it’s likely Ken Martin rejoicing after begging and pleading all night with them to come to his rescue. I wonder how big the bribe was to pull this ticket together.

I just got off the phone with Mitch Berg, who told me that Erin Murphy has picked Erin Maye Quade to be the Lt. Gov. candidate on her ticket. I told Mitch that nothing says geographical and ideological balance like a pair of gun-grabbing Metrocrats that hate mining. BTW, you’ll want to read Mitch’s upcoming post to hear his perspective on this. Trust me when I tell you that he’s got a perspective that you won’t hear from the Twin Cities media.

Here’s a little background on EMQ: “Quade first rose to prominence in speaking out on sexual harassment at the State Capitol — a #MeToo movement that ultimately led to the resignation of two prominent state legislators. Quade also led a 24-hour sit-in on the floor of the State Capitol in April, calling for a vote on several gun control bills before the session’s end. Quade is the first openly LGBT candidate for statewide office on a ticket endorsed by a major party. At 32, she would also be one of the youngest people to serve in the office.”

In her first gubernatorial-level decision, Murphy failed miserably. The Lt. Gov. must be able to step in as governor if, God forbid, something happens to the governor. Erin Maye Quade fails that test:

Maye Quade is serving her first term in the House and previously worked for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison doing constituent services and organizing for DFL campaigns. She is a lifelong resident of Apple Valley, where she lives with her wife, Alyse, who also organizes for the DFL Party.

Basically, she’s a high profile activist. What’s funny is that Murphy doesn’t admit that this ticket won’t be well-received outside the Twin Cities metro:


Here’s the thing: Erin Murphy hates farmers almost as much as she hates miners, loggers and gun owners. The thought that Murphy and Quade will appeal to more than 12% of rural voters statewide is ridiculous. I’ve got to think that the NRA is chomping at the bit to go after this ticket. In the Eighth, I’m betting that there are tons of DFLers that can’t wait to vote against this ticket. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they vote for one of the GOP tickets.

Ken Martin won’t admit it but he’s got to be afraid of what this ticket would do to the DFL this November.