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Jenny Berg’s article about Dr. John Palmer’s decision to run for the St. Cloud City Council highlights something important. It is best highlighted when Dr. Palmer is quoted as saying “I’ve chosen consciously to talk about ‘we the people’ because I really think the current council and the person I’m running against has forgotten that they are servants to the people. In our republican form of government, it’s the people who are in charge.”

What Dr. Palmer implied, I’ll state explicitly. The men who represent the citizens of Wards 1, 2 and 3 don’t listen to the people of their wards. Jeff Johnson, who isn’t seeking re-election, is the only member of the City Council that consistently listens to his constituents and who sees what’s happening in this city.

Of the candidates running for the City Council, I’m confident that Dr. Palmer, Liz Baklaich, Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway will listen to the people. I’m confident of that because I know each of them and I’ve seen how good of listeners they are. It’s possible that the other candidates are decent listeners. I just can’t vouch for their listening skills.

Nobody should like the direction that St. Cloud is heading. The Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Kleis and the incumbents have told us that the city is heading in the right direction. Unemployment is low but Electrolux is moving. Herbergers is closing. Our airport is on life support. What part of that sounds like we’re heading in the right direction?

Palmer said his goals, if elected, are to grow the economy of St. Cloud and ensure citizens’ voices are heard. “We can no longer rely on simply increasing fees and sales taxes, increasing hotel and motel taxes and increasing property taxes. What we need to do is grow the economy in able to have sufficient revenue,” he said. “What you want more of, you certainly don’t tax.”

Palmer said the council needs to be open to differing opinions. “My main goal is to reform the council in such a way that the primary orientation is to listen to the people and to conduct the affairs of the council in such a way so that the people’s voice is not stifled,” he said.

“Let me give a concrete example — by having a public hearing two weeks before they are going to have a vote, and by excluding the public from participating in the debate at the time they are going to vote, you stifle public input. You stifle the quality of the debate.”

That’s what principled leadership sounds like.

In her speech during the open forum portion of the City Council meeting, Liz Baklaich said that the Council is irreparably damaged and couldn’t be fixed. In my opinion, she’s right. Dave Masters, Steve Laraway and John Libert aren’t suddenly going to start listening to the people. That isn’t who they are. I don’t often agree with Vice President Biden but he once said something that’s inescapably true. He said “A leader without followers is just a man out for a walk.” Masters, Laraway and Libert are just people out for a walk.

Frankly, Masters is a disgrace. When Dr. Palmer tried making a point at last Monday’s meeting, the Council President told Dr. Palmer to sit down. When he refused to sit because sitting would’ve violated a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, Masters said “Personally, I take offense with Dr. Palmer not following the rules and standing before the Council after being asked numerous times to sit down please. You have your time when you can speak during the Open Forum.”

I have a problem when elected officials ignore state Supreme Court rulings:

I feel like justice was finally served,” said Robin Hensel, whose refusal to move her chair at a 2013 Little Falls City Council meeting was at the heart of the court’s decision. Hensel, a grandmother and peace activist who frequently protests at Camp Ripley, said she never thought she would actually get charged when she moved a folding chair to the open space between the public galley and the City Council’s dais.

In its ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with Hensel, saying: “The statute is broad and ambiguous, prohibiting any conduct or speech that ‘disturbs an assembly or meeting,’ whether expressive or not. An individual could violate the statute by, for example, wearing an offensive t-shirt, using harsh words in addressing another person, or even raising one’s voice in a speech.”

Masters is part of the problem. In my opinion, Dr. Palmer is part of the solution because he’s a principled leader.

The thing that’s getting more play at the DFL convention than expected is that Erin Murphy’s momentum is real and that she might win the DFL endorsement. Tonight, Murphy announced that she’d been endorsed by OutfrontAction via this tweet:


A quick glimpse at OutFrontAction’s about us webpage identifies which identity group OutfrontAction represents:

OutFront Minnesota’s mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. We envision a state where LGBTQ individuals have equal opportunities, protection and rights. We are working toward the day when all Minnesotans have the freedom, power and confidence to make the best choices for their own lives.

There’s little question whether this is an important endorsement the night before the DFL endorses a gubernatorial candidate. That isn’t the same as saying this is a winning issue in a general election. It isn’t. Compare that with the top contenders’ issue pages. Check out how substantive Jeff Johnson’s issues page is. Then compare the DFL candidates’ pages with Tim Pawlenty’s issues page.

The difference between the Republicans’ issues pages and the DFL candidates’ issues pages isn’t a fair fight. Murphy doesn’t have an issues page. Instead, she calls her page her Vision page. On that page, she talks about single-payer “health care, equity & justice, economic justice, reproductive justice, immigration and mining.”

On immigration, Murphy says this:

Minnesota must be a state where all of our neighbors are treated with respect and dignity. It’s also critical for our future; we need the hard work and bright ideas of people all over the world to build our economy. That’s why, as a state, we must unite against efforts by the federal government to attack immigrants living in Minnesota. Our communities must be strong, safe, and welcoming.

  • I support drivers licenses for all, an initiative that keeps our roads safe while ensuring that people are able to get to work or take their child to the doctor and school.
  • Our state and law enforcement must not serve as an extension of ICE, nor should Minnesota prisons be used as detention centers.

In other words, Murphy supports Minnesota becoming a sanctuary state. In terms of mining, here’s part of what Murphy says:

I’ll protect our state from corporate interests that seek to weaken our permitting process for their financial gain. We see these efforts both at the state and federal level. I’ve voted against them repeatedly, and would continue to oppose them if the science is not sound.

Although we often focus on mining, in Minnesota, we are hard on our water – with agriculture, with overdevelopment, with road salt, and with manufacturing. So it’s imperative we invest in the research already taking place at the Natural Resources and Research Institute at UMD around advanced filtration, reverse osmosis, and other ways to clean impaired waters. As governor I would ensure that we invest in that research more heavily to protect and repair water, regardless of the project.

In short, Murphy will be a friend of environmental activists. This has long-reaching effects. It affects farmers, miners, construction workers and cities building wastewater treatment plants. It isn’t a stretch to say that environmental activists would have too much influence in our lives if Murphy was elected.

Dave Kleis’s argument in this article is particularly flimsy. First, let’s start with what started the fight. It starts in the opening paragraph by saying a “group of St. Cloud residents is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a refugee resettlement resolution on the November ballot. But some city officials say that would be illegal.”

Later, the article states “Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.”

Actually, this initiative is the direct result of the city council’s mishandling of Councilman Johnson’s resolution and the disrespect shown to the people by Councilman Goerger. The night that Councilman Goerger presented his resolution, the City Council intended to ambush Councilman Johnson and the people. Councilman Goerger’s resolution was given to the Council literally minutes before the vote. Discussion was limited at best. Later, Councilman Laraway called the question in an attempt to stop debate. The vote was taken on whether to end debate.

In her confusion, Council President Lewis adjourned the meeting without voting on the resolution. Councilman Johnson’s resolution wasn’t seriously debated. Further, people supporting Councilman Johnson’s resolution never got the chance to testify.

It was the most disgusting, chaotic City Council meeting I’ve ever watched. Council President Lewis looked as confused as Speaker Kelliher did on the final night of the 2007 legislative session. That night, Kelliher looked dazed and confused. But I digress.

Finally, Kleis’s argument is flimsy. Here’s what he said:

“To me, the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It gives only Congress that authority. It’s not the state. It’s certainly not the county or the city,” he said.

What Mayor Kleis is ignoring is 8 U.S. Code 1522(b), which states quite clearly that “The director shall develop and implement in consultation with representatives of voluntary agencies and state and local governments policies and strategies for the placement and resettlement of refugees within the United States.”

Without question, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to work with local units of government. In fact, without that ability, it’d be impossible to smoothly administer the laws Congress enacts. Mayor Kleis knows this.

Then there’s this:

Furthermore, the resolution itself troubles Kleis because it’s similar to a resolution proposed by City Council member Jeff Johnson last fall to pause refugee resettlement here until a study determined the costs associated with it. Last fall, Kleis said immigration and refugee resettlement are not city issues. He shared the same sentiment Wednesday.

What a pile of BS. Shame on Mayor Kleis for making that flimsy argument. First, I won’t dispute the fact that immigration and refugee resettlement policy is set by the federal government. What I’ll passionately dispute is Mayor Kleis’s statement that this isn’t a city issue. It’s costing city taxpayers money. If Mayor Kleis wants to argue that there isn’t a cost to the city budget, I’ll passionately dispute that, too. Does he really want to argue that there isn’t a cost to the City for health inspections of refugee-owned restaurants? Will he argue that there aren’t any law enforcement costs related to refugees?

Just because there isn’t a line item that’s titled ‘Health Inspections — Refugees’ doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost associated with it.

Further, saying that there isn’t a cost with educating refugees, while not officially on the City’s operating budget, is foolish. How much property taxes do city residents pay to ISD 742 to pay for translators and English learning for refugees?

Mayor Kleis, why shouldn’t citizens have a say in such matters? It isn’t like you’re opposed to taking federal money for other things. Why are you opposed to telling the federal government that it has to pay for the people it dumps in our laps? It’s that or they reform the law so that it requires Volags to pick up the entire cost associated with resettled refugees.

If taxpayers pay taxes that support refugees, then we damn well better have the right to air our grievances. In fact, the Constitution gives us that exact right. It’s called the First Amendment, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Mayor Kleis, you should ask one of your legal eagles whether it’s legal to restrict the people’s ability to address the city government in terms of their grievances. If they’re honest with you, they’ll tell you that restricting the petition process to only ordinances is unenforceable because it violates the First Amendment.

We The People retain that right. That right isn’t given to us by the government. It’s given to us by “Nature’s God.”

This evening, I received this email from Councilman Jeff Johnson:

I’m sure some of the city council members will enjoy not having to deal with Jeff Johnson. Unfortunately, the city of St. Cloud lost a true leader and a man of impeccable integrity. In the interest of full disclosure, Jeff has been my friend for 12+ years. I doubt that that’s a surprise to those who’ve read LFR throughout the years.

The thing Councilman Johnson’s supporters, myself included, appreciated most about him was his willingness to listen to opposing points of view. If you were his constituent (and sometimes if you weren’t), he made time to listen. That’s something that most of the council doesn’t do.

Another thing that people appreciated about Councilman Johnson was his insistence on following City Council rules consistently. That’s another thing that isn’t a priority for Council President Carol Lewis and councilmembers like Steve Laraway, John Libert, Dave Masters and Jeff Goerger.

The St. Cloud Times has written some unfair things about Councilman Jeff Johnson, especially in their Our View editorials. This article, written by Jenny Berg, at least gives Johnson’s side of the story.

It isn’t overstating things to say that Councilman Johnson has been vilified by the others on the City Council. In this article, they’re still vilifying him. In some instances, they’re lying about him. John Libert is a perfect example of this. According to Ms. Berg’s article, Councilman Libert said “Johnson is surrounding himself by a reasonably small group of people, the anti-immigration people, so that’s all he’s listening to. He’s not listening to the public.”

First of all, I don’t think a man who just silenced a citizen who wanted to speak should be taken seriously. This past Monday, that’s what Libert did when he objected to Johnson recognizing John Palmer to speak. That’s something a tyrant does. There’s few things more disgusting in a constitutional republic than having a member of government silence a citizen. That’s what Libert did. But I digress.

Libert continued:

The people that are pushing this thing are anti-immigration people,” he said. “They want numbers, they want something to show them that we shouldn’t have immigrants here.” Libert said he is also disappointed Johnson used his title as City Council member at the Washington, D.C., panel, because Libert said it “gave the impression that the city council is supporting his actions, which we aren’t.”

I know many of the people that Libert is referring to. He couldn’t be more wrong than when he calls them “anti-immigration people.” The people that disagree with Libert just believe strongly that Gasp! the laws on the books should enforced.

Right now, the federal government isn’t enforcing its laws. What’s worse is that the city that’s getting trampled by this unfunded mandate won’t push the federal government to live up to its obligations. When the Refugee Act of 1980 was first passed, the federal government paid the cities and school boards enough money to cover the refugees’ expenses. A short 38 years later, the federal government pays a Volag $1,000 per person to find that family a home, then essentially tells the city and the school board ‘from this point forward, you’re on your own.’

Masters and Goerger both said they stand by the “welcoming” resolution. “The support I got from that resolution that I brought forward outweighed the negative comments probably 10 to one,” Goerger said. “I’m still confident I did the right thing there. As far as where we are today, well there is still that opposition,” Goerger added. “They show up at our council meetings every Monday night. They do come. It’s generally the same four or five people. They wait patiently until the end of the meeting and then they spew their hate.”

Jeff Goerger is a spit-for-brains lefty. What’s worse is that he doesn’t like listening to people he disagrees with. That’s something he has in common with Libert and Lewis. This line is telling:

Libert agreed Johnson’s proposed refugee moratorium has fostered an “atmosphere of hate and bigotry” that works against the city. “I think as a council member our job is to promote St. Cloud as a very viable, living, healthy community. If you Google St. Cloud and all that comes up is immigrants and hate and bigotry, it’s not good,” he said.

Here’s a bit of advice for Mr. Libert. The job of city council members is to put in place smart policies to make the community attractive and to put in place a budget that funds public safety, transportation and other important core functions.

St. Cloud is heading in the wrong direction. Businesspeople know this. They won’t admit it in public but they know it’s heading in the wrong direction. Businesses are shutting down or leaving. Unemployment is solid but wealth keeps leaving. Crime is rising.

Mr. Libert, how can you promote a city with those problems festering? If you’re saying ‘things are wonderful’ while these other things are falling apart, people will eventually conclude that you aren’t honest. That’s the point at which they tune you out, then vote you out.

Councilman Johnson doesn’t sweep St. Cloud’s problems under the rug. He tries solving them. I can’t say that about Goerger, Masters, Laraway, Lewis or Libert. As problem solvers, they’re next-to-worthless. Finally, this statement is telling:

Laraway, who is a member of the CentraCare Health Board of Directors, said the company has more than 700 open positions and that he’s worried the negativity surrounding immigration issues could hamper attempts for companies such as CentraCare to attract workers.

Hint to Laraway: pretending that everything is fine won’t fix the refugee problem. People aren’t moving to St. Cloud because they don’t picture it as a nice place to live. If you continue burying your head in the sand on these issues, CentraCare’s problem will only get worse. If you won’t fix these problems, step aside and let someone who’s serious be part of the solution.

During the Open Discussion & Announcements section of tonight’s St. Cloud City Council meeting, Councilman Johnson rose to speak about the petition I wrote about in this post. After a few introductory comments, Councilman Johnson recognized Dr. Palmer for the purposes of letting him speak on the petition. Before Dr. Palmer was allowed to speak, Councilman Libert objected.

What happened next was nothing short of befuddling. First, the rule cited by Council President Lewis and Councilman Libert is unconstitutional on its face. Government can’t make rules that silence citizens. Period. That’s what this means:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By objecting, Libert prohibited a citizen from speaking. The Supreme Court has held that political speech is the most protected speech of all. This isn’t the first time that the City Council has silenced Dr. Palmer. But I digress.

After Libert’s objection, Councilman Johnson reasserted his right to recognize a citizen to speak. Matt Staehling then ruled that Libert was within his rights in preventing Dr. Palmer from speaking. Johnson and Palmer both immediately demanded that the specific Council rule be posted on the overhead screen rather than accepting Staehling’s ruling. How stupid is a rule that lets a councilman recognize a citizen but another councilman can essentially exercise a one-person veto that prohibits that citizen from speaking?

Putting things impolitely, these liberals on the Council aren’t intellectual giants. I’ve met kids in high school that have more intellectual heft than some of these councilmembers.

While that was going on, Council President Lewis announced that she was going to look for the rule on her brand new iPad. Councilman Johnson predicted that she wouldn’t find it. Dr. Palmer quipped that his older iPad must be defective because that rule wasn’t on his iPad. Watch this all play out in this video:
After much arguing, Council President Lewis moved onto the final portion of the meeting. Once again, the St. Cloud City Council attempted to silence Dr. Palmer. The question must be asked why the City Council is intimidated by Dr. Palmer. Further, what gives them the right to stifle the speech of its citizens? Let’s remember that if this petition is put on the ballot, it isn’t binding. Dr. Palmer simply wants to bring up the subject because the City Council has attempted to silence discussion on the issue.

Meanwhile, the citizens are infuriated that their representatives on the City Council won’t talk about what’s important to their constituents. In St. Cloud, we don’t have a government of, by and for the people. Instead, we have a government of people who see themselves as imperialists. They aren’t there to serve the people. To people like Laraway, Lewis, Libert, Masters and Goerger, citizens are essentially a nuisance.

One of the things that people don’t get about the Trump phenomenon is why his followers are steadfastly loyal. The answer is simple. They’ve been complaining for years, decades sometimes, without getting the politicians’ attention. The thing that Trump’s done that’s built his unwavering support is that he’s listened.

Here in St. Cloud, the 5 ostriches aren’t interested in listening. Because they haven’t been interested in listening, a small but principled group of determined citizens is about to get the ostriches’ attention. Their petition states “A Citizen Committee for an Initiative and Referendum Regarding a Call for Action by Elected O?cials Representing the City of St. Cloud Presented to the City Clerk on May 14th, 2018 Under the provisions of the Home Rule Charter of the City of St. Cloud, MN under the Comprehensive Revision Adopted March 18, 1952 and it’s Amendments Through the Period of Time Ending July 10th, 2017 (Home Rule Charter), we the undersigned residents and registered voters in the City of St. Cloud acting as a Citizen Committee, as de?ne by the Home Rule Charter, are exercising the Powers Reserved by the People under Article V of the Home Rule Charter, do hereby petition for a proposed resolution of the City of St. Cloud addressing actions to be taken by elected o?cials of the City of St. Cloud regarding the federal government’s Refugee Act of 1980 and it’s amendments. Said resolution shall be placed before the voters of the City of St. Cloud at the next General Election. (Provisions of the Home Rule Charter are o?ered for information purposes following the signatures of the Citizen Committee).”

The citizens of St. Cloud have said that they’re worried about the expenses attached to the Refugee Act of 1980. The ostriches have declared that the city can handle the additional burdens or they’ve denied outright that the financial burdens exist. The citizens that signed this notice of petition steadfastly disagree with the ostriches, aka Jeff Goerger, Dave Masters, John Libert, Carol Lewis and Steve Laraway.

At tonight’s city council meeting, Councilman Johnson will speak to this issue at tonight’s City Council meeting. Expect lots of eyerolls and looks of total disinterest on the ostriches’ faces. When they decide to ignore something, they set their heart, mind, soul and strength to it.

Ed Morrissey’s post illustrates the strength of Tim Pawlenty’s position, both going into the August primary and potentially the general election. First, Ed cites this article:

“The 1,300 delegates, or so, that you need to get endorsed may already be pledged to other candidates,” Pawlenty said on WCCO Sunday Morning. “If that is the case, the cake may already be baked, but either way our campaign is not stopping with the endorsing convention. You get on the ballot in Minnesota by running and winning a primary, and that is what we intend to do.”

Ed then highlights the DFL’s difficulties:

Walz has other worries than just fundraising. It’s taken him more than a year to get to $1.6 million, which means that Pawlenty may soon surpass him. Meanwhile, his nearest two Democratic opponents (Erin Murphy and Rebecca Otto) have raised almost a million dollars between them. Furthermore, the fight in the DFL has burned through much of that fundraising; Walz has spent just over a million dollars from his coffers, while Murphy and Otto have run through most of their funds (Murphy appears to be $30,000 or so in the hole). Otto, whose campaign will challenge Walz from his left, also pledges to run in the primary, which will force Walz to either move in a more progressive direction or lose ground in the Twin Cities.

Ed’s observations are certainly accurate but they don’t tell the entire story. It’s my contention that Tim Walz sold his soul while pandering to the anti-gun left. I think that Rep. Walz did that because he needs to win tons of votes in the Twin Cities.

I don’t think Rep. Walz will like that trade-off. First, I don’t think that Walz will be that competitive against Otto in the Twin Cities. Next, by pandering to the anti-gun left, Rep. Walz likely undercut his support in rural Minnesota and Southern Minnesota. If I’m right, that foolish pandering has left Walz as a candidate without a sturdy base of support.

Outstate Minnesotans won’t like Walz’s pandering. It isn’t likely that they’ll appreciate his flip-flop on the Second Amendment, either, though the pandering is the bigger sticking point.

The other problem facing whoever the DFL candidate is in the general election is that they’re all virtual unknowns. That means the DFL’s candidate will need to spend tons of cash. Apparently, they’re already doing that:

Meanwhile, how much of Pawlenty’s funds have gotten spent? Er … $40,000 as of last Tuesday, a mere 4% of his revenue, which means that Pawlenty already has an advantage of nearly $400,000 over Walz. Compare that burn rate to Johnson (~50%), Walz (62%), Otto (74%), and Murphy (105%), and it’s not looking bad for Pawlenty in either the primary or general election.

With or without a DFL primary, the DFL candidate faces a steep uphill fight to raise enough money to compete. While Pawlenty an Johnson duke it out in the GOP primary, the DFL candidate will need to spend tons of money just to gain name recognition. Considering the amount of money that the DFL candidates have spent, they’ll need to raise literally millions of dollars for the general election.

Whether you agree or disagree with Tim Pawlenty, he’s a good debater:

Here’s something worth thinking about. Pawlenty is prepared to defend his record and tout his accomplishments. The DFL candidate, whoever it is, won’t have many accomplishments to highlight. Jeff Johnson is kinda stuck in the same situation as Walz. The activists know him but he isn’t well-known beyond that. His fundraising hasn’t inspired much confidence either.

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A loyal reader of LFR just sent me a notice that the SD-14 GOP is hosting a gubernatorial debate next Wednesday, April 18. Here’s the details of the event:

All of the GOP candidates will participate in this debate so it’s people’s chance to gauge the candidates’ command of the issues and their poise without having to deal with the Twin Cities’ Media filter. See you there.

After watching the interview (see video below) and reading this article, it’s obvious that Prof. Larry Jacobs isn’t an objective observer in the Minnesota governor’s race in 2018.

Speaking about the GOP race, Jacobs said “It’s quite possible that Jeff Johnson, who has been in the race and winning a lot of these delegates, could win that endorsement headed into the primary as the party’s endorsed candidate against Tim Pawlenty. Everything is up in the air.”

First, I don’t have a dog in this fight beyond wanting the strongest candidate possible. I’m tired of candidates that can’t raise money and don’t excite the base. At this point, I’ll support the strongest candidate but only if they can raise money and get elected. Right now, I don’t see Jeff Johnson being able to raise the money it’ll take to be competitive. We’ve seen this episode before. (See 2014 vs. Gov. Dayton.)

Let’s admit something else right now. Both candidates are establishment candidates. They aren’t Trumpists, which is fine. They’re both excellent on policy. They’ve both proven that they aren’t inept like Gov. Dayton. When it comes to major projects like MNLARS, MNsure and the elder care crisis, Gov. Dayton has been terrible.

What’s telling from Prof. Jacobs’ interview with WCCO’s Esme Murphy is that Prof. Jacobs’ statement that “Tim Pawlenty has got all sorts of great things going for him — name recognition and a gold-plated Rolodex to raise money from and he’s a fabulous communicator to the point that both Republican and DFL leaders say that he’s probably the best candidate but he’s also the guy that came out against Donald Trump.”

Let’s be clear about this. When your potential opponents from across the aisle say that you’re likely the best candidate, that’s going to open fundraising doors, both in Minnesota and with the RGA. If Pawlenty’s the GOP candidate, the RGA will dump lots of money into the race. If Jeff Johnson is the GOP candidate, that isn’t likely.

Those are definite starting structural advantages in Gov. Pawlenty’s favor. They aren’t impossible to overcome but it’s daunting nonetheless. Things might be “up in the air” but I’d rather start in Pawlenty’s position.

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