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Friday night, Collin Peterson collided with Torrey Westrom in a debate. Here’s the video for the entire debate:

Saying that it was contentious is understatement. It was also inspirational and infuriating. This clip fits into the infuriating category:

Here’s what Collin Peterson said in defending his decision not to vote for Obamacare:

PETERSON: I didn’t vote for this bill. The reason I didn’t vote for it — the reason I didn’t vote for it is because I actually read the bill, which a lot of people didn’t.

That’s the first time Peterson said he’d read the bill prior to passing it. That runs contrary to what then-Speaker Pelosi said:

Here are her infamous words:

But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.

The key point in all this is that, if it’s true, Collin Peterson knew what was in the bill but didn’t criticize the ACA. It’s one thing to stay silent on a bill you mildly disagree with. It’s almost justifiable if you think it might work. There was nothing in the ACA that suggested it would work.

For instance, if Peterson actually read the bill, he would’ve known that people couldn’t keep the plans they liked. Sitting silent while that abomination hits the American people is despicable. Edmund Burke got it right with this famous quote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Collin Peterson did nothing. As a result, people in the Seventh District are getting bad news. Torrey Westrom is definitely speaking up about it:

“All you need to do is travel the district and talk to the small business owners that are getting renewal notices from their employees,” Westrom responded. “They’re seeing 40, 50, 60, 80% increases. I just talked to a person in my home county two weeks ago at the coffee shop, and they said they’re seeing a 100 percent increase because of Obamacare. That is a critical, a big concern, and why I am pushing that we need to repeal Obamacare, different from the congressman.”

Torrey Westrom’s closing statement was inspirational. Here’s that closing statement:

Saying that he returned to bailing hay on the family farm just a year after permanently losing his sight is inspirational. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I appreciated Westrom’s statement that “even I can see that Washington is broken.”

Torrey’s sense of humor, combined with Torrey’s can-do attitude speak to one thing: that Torrey will be a positive, powerful force in Washington, DC.

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Collin Peterson’s calling card throughout the years has been that he’s an influential member on the Agriculture Committee. He’s still running on that calling card, though it’s fair to question how potent it is this time. Torrey Westrom is reminding people Peterson isn’t the only candidate in the race who knows agriculture issues:

Agriculture is another major issue for Westrom, who currently serves on the state legislative agriculture committee. He said that serving on the agriculture committee in Washington, like his opponent currently does, “sure would be” a priority for him.

“I grew up on a dairy farm, I have an agricultural background,” Westrom said. “I have been a strong proponent for agriculture and farmers in the state Legislature, and I will continue to be a strong ardent voice for agriculture in Washington.”

Torrey Westrom knows agriculture issues. Here’s an important difference between Westrom and Peterson:

Peterson has said that he supports the pipeline, but Westrom urged that his support of the project is not enough.

“We have rail car shortages because of this Obama administration’s policy supported by the Democratic leadership,” Westrom said. “You support the pipeline and then you go support leadership that’s gonna oppose it? That doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s a decision I have to make as a new congressman,” Westrom said. “Will I support Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the U.S. Congress or not? I am here to tell you I will not unlike my opponent who has.”

In prior elections, Peterson neutralized the ‘Nancy Pelosi card.’ Apparently, that streak has met its match. Westrom isn’t just mentioning Pelosi’s name. He’s tying Pelosi to Peterson on the biggest issue in the district. Westrom has done a nice job of highlighting the House Democratic leadership’s environmental fanaticism.

That won’t sit well in the 7th District.

Finally, people apparently are responding to Torrey’s positive message:

“We have been running a positive campaign, a positive message, and voters have been responding very favorably to what they see and hear coming out of our campaign,” Westrom said. “We are going to continue pushing a positive message of change.”

The thing that I’ve heard is that people appreciate Torrey Westrom’s demeanor and discipline. He isn’t afraid to highlight differences like he did in this interview. Still, he’s been respectful while highlighting policy differences he has with his opponent. That’s an admirable trait, one which says he’ll fight for his policies and principles without vilifying people he’ll need to work with.

Minnesota’s 7th District needs that type of leadership and character. A vote for Westrom is a vote for principled leadership.

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After last night’s bombshell polling data from Minnesota’s Eighth District, the next questions are quite logical. First, when will the DCCC and Nancy Pelosi’s PAC pull their money from the Mills-Nolan race? Second, when that money is pulled, where will it be spent?

The conventional wisdom is that the money pulled from Nolan’s race would be spent on Collin Peterson’s race. I don’t think that’s what they’ll decide. They’ve already pumped millions of dollars into the Westrom-Peterson race. It hasn’t hurt Westrom a bit. Next, they’ve thrown everything at Torrey, including the proverbial kitchen sink. Torrey Westrom keeps gaining. In fact, Torrey will campaign tomorrow with Mike McFadden:

McFadden knows that his message sells in the Seventh. He’s campaigned with Torrey before, too. It’s obvious that they feed off each other and complement each other nicely. Why would Pelosi’s superPAC or the DCCC shift money into that situation?

Finally and most importantly, a little money pays for tons of ads in the 7th. How much more money does Collin Peterson need to win that race? People know Peterson because he’s finishing his twelfth term. If the first and second ad buys didn’t put Peterson over the top, why would the DCCC think that the third and fourth ad buys will? Known commodities are known commodities. If they don’t sell right away, they won’t jump off the shelf later.

Pelosi’s superPAC and the DCCC have other seats that need propping up. Nolan’s seat is history. He’s an ancient candidate whose policies are from the 1970s. There’s nothing that indicates he’ll catch fire in the last 2 weeks.

Peterson has a better shot at winning but that’s because he’s frequently won with over 60% of the vote. He’s either popular and heading for victory or people have tired of him and he’s heading for defeat. There isn’t a middle ground with him.

Ken Martin, the DFL, Steve Simon, Gov. Dayton and Sen. Franken are watching these races. That’s because they know their races are based, at least partially, on doing well in these districts. If Nolan and Peterson lose, Gov. Dayton’s, Sen. Franken’s and the DFL’s path to victory gets complicated fast.

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Friends, this is as close to a GOP trifecta as we’ve seen in quite some time:

Stewart Mills leads Rick Nolan
Minnesota’s Secretary of State race heats up
Westrom leads Peterson in private polling

If the MNGOP wins these three races, it’ll be a big night for Minnesota Republicans. It’s still too early to predict victories in these races but I’d rather be the Republican in each of these races than be the Democrat.

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The Tarrance Group’s latest polling on the Westrom-Peterson race isn’t good news for Collin Peterson:

The Tarrance Group is pleased to present the following findings from our recently completed telephone survey of N=300 registered “likely” voters in Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District. The Tarrance Group was commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to conduct a telephone survey in this district. A random sample of this type is likely to yield a margin of error of +5.8% in 95 out of 100 cases. Responses to the survey were gathered October 12-14, 2014.

Torrey Westrom has pulled ahead in the race for the congressional seat long held by DFL incumbent Collin Peterson. Westrom has made steady improvement throughout the campaign and now eclipses the incumbent. Turnout modeling puts the race at 48% Westrom and 46% Peterson, with only 6% undecided. Those undecided voters do not seem likely to break toward an incumbent they know so well.

With a margin of error of 5.8% and with the race being this close, this race is anything but settled. Also, it’s always wise to question private partisan polls. Still, this can’t give the Peterson campaign comfort.

It’s noteworthy that the KSTP-SurveyUSA poll showed Peterson leading 50%-41%, with a distinct oversampling of Democrats:

Sen. Westrom has fought a great campaign. He’s raised the money to be competitive. He’s travelled the district to increase his name recognition. He’s enunciated a message that’s resonating with voters. In short, he’s given Peterson a legitimate reason to worry.

It isn’t accidental that the DCCC has spent a few fists full of money on advertising. That advertising has mostly focused on criticizing Sen. Westrom for his alleged role in the Dayton government shutdown. Prior to this partisan private polling, this already figured to be Peterson’s toughest re-election fight yet.

That fight just gained in intensity. The thing is that the DCCC has already thrown the kitchen sink at Torrey. They don’t have many bullets left in the clip.

Entering this summer, conventional wisdom was that Stewart Mills had a better shot at defeating Rick Nolan than Torrey Westrom had of defeating Collin Peterson. That’s mostly due to the fact that Rick Nolan wasn’t the top-tier candidate that Peterson was. Apparently, Peterson isn’t as popular in the district as his recent election numbers indicated.

Going into this summer, I thought Republicans would win either defeat Peterson or Nolan. I didn’t think they’d defeat both of them. I still have trouble believing that they’ll accomplish that feat but it’s definitely a better possibility today than a month ago.

If Republicans flip both seats, it’ll be bad night for the DFL and for Nancy Pelosi.

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Stewart Mills nailed it in this article about the impact outside money has on races:

Every day of his 8th Congressional District campaign, he said, he hears evidence of a backlash of reaction from viewers to independent expenditure messages made by outsiders. “They know nothing about this district and they certainly know nothing about me,” Mills said earlier this month at the Crow Wing County Republican Victory Office in Baxter.

The DCCC’s ads sound like Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC ads, which sound almost identical to the ads Rick Nolan is running.

Just off the top of my head, I’ll come pretty close to the script. “Stewart Mills inherited his money. He opposed middle class tax cuts so that wealthy billionaires and multinational corporations could keep their tax breaks.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s only slightly different than the cookie cutter ad the DCCC is running against Torrey Westrom. The only difference between the two ads is that the DCCC’s ad against Torrey Westrom accuses Westrom of essentially masterminding the state government shutdown in 2011 while the DCCC’s ad against Stewart Mills is that he’s a rich and out of touch and that he that wants to go to Washington to protect his rich friends’ tax breaks.

He said his own message of a consumer based health insurance solution and a reining in of regulatory overreach is resonating with Republicans and independents alike. “I endeavor to run a very issues focused campaign,” Mills said. “Our message agrees with them.”

Despite the Democrats’ claim that people like the ACA, Mills is using the Affordable Care Act effectively to his advantage. Running against the EPA is another winner in the Eighth, too. Miners know that the federal government, especially the EPA and the US Forest Service, are preventing PolyMet from getting built. That’s a hot button issue if ever I heard of one for the Eighth District.

He wants a health care insurance solution that’s comprehensive. He said he favors the aspect of the Affordable Care Act in which people can’t be rejected for insurance because of pre-existing conditions. He rejects his opponent’s call for a single payer health care system.

“Consumerism works,” Mills said. “Socialism doesn’t.”

Because Mills has run Mills Fleet Farm’s health insurance program, he’s got instant credibility on the issue. Nolan didn’t try challenging him on health care during last week’s debate because he knows Mills is loaded with ammunition to blister Nolan on Nolan’s health care policies.

If the DCCC and Pelosi’s superPAC continue with the ads they’re currently running, there will be an anti-Nolan backlash. That wouldn’t be pretty for Nolan.

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According to this editorial, Marty Seifert has endorsed Torrey Westrom’s run for the US congressional seat held by Collin Peterson:

“Many of you in western Minnesota know me, know my family, and know what I’m about. I’m not someone who entered political office for personal gain, but to help build a better state for my children and yours.

“My former colleague in the Legislature, Torrey Westrom, also believes that politics should be about service, not about individuals.

“That’s why I am asking you to join me in supporting Torrey as he runs for Congress here in Minnesota’s 7th District.

“Torrey is a man of integrity, wisdom, and most of all courage. He lost his eyesight at the age of 14 in a farm-related accident, but in the years that I’ve known him, I have never seen him let that slow him down. Now, with determination and drive, he is taking on liberal big-spenders in Washington.

“He is on the verge of winning, and making rural Minnesota proud, but he needs our support. I know he is the right choice for southwestern Minnesota, and I know he will represent us well.

“Please join me in choosing Torrey Westrom for Congress on Nov. 4.”

Marty Seifert
Former State Representative
Marshall

I’d love seeing Collin Peterson making a concession speech on Tuesday, Nov. 4. It’s long past time to retire that dinosaur.

I just published this post to highlight the DCCC’s campaign ad smearing Stewart Mills. Here’s the centerpiece of the DCCC’s smear campaign against Mills:

“Stewart Mills III caught a big inheritance and a job at the family business that pay half-a-million year. But in Congress, Mills will leave you on the hook for higher taxes because Mills opposed tax cuts for the middle class – even as he wants to give another huge tax break to millionaires like himself.”

Next, let’s compare that DCCC lie against Stewart Mills with the lie the DCCC is telling about Torrey Westrom:

“Westrom led the charge to shutdown Minnesota’s government. Why? Because he wouldn’t let go of tax breaks for millionaires.

Here’s Poligraph’s verdict against the DCCC’s lie against Torrey Westrom:

The 2011 government shutdown happened because Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican controlled Legislature could not agree on a budget to close the state’s $5 billion deficit. Dayton wanted to raise taxes on Minnesota’s top earners (which he did in the last legislative session), but Republicans objected.

That’s true but incomplete. Poligraph’s verdict left out the fact that Republicans were prepared to pass a lights-on bill that would’ve avoided a shutdown while Republicans negotiated a budget solution with Gov. Dayton. Poligraph’s verdict also left out the fact that the budget Gov. Dayton signed after the longest shutdown in state history was the budget he could’ve signed at the end of the regular legislative session.

Further, the budget that the GOP legislature passed never, at any point, included tax cuts for any income group. PERIOD.

The DCCC’s ad is a lie. They’ve done the research on the 2011 budget that Gov. Dayton signed. Their researchers kept track of the bills and amendments that Republicans offered. I triple-dog dare the DCCC to cite the HF/SF number or the amendment offered by Torrey Westrom or anyone in the House or Senate that would’ve cut millionaire’s taxes.

They won’t accept that offer because they know a ‘millionaire’s tax cut’ bill doesn’t exist, especially in Minnesota.

Whether it’s the DCCC, ABM or another of the DFL ‘alphabets’, the script remains the same. The script isn’t the script if it doesn’t lie in accusing Republicans of wanting to cut millionaires’ taxes. I can’t say that that accusation is fictional because the definition of fiction is “something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story.” The DCCC doesn’t engage in fiction. It just lies through its teeth. Here’s the definition of lies:

a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

That’s what the DCCC and ABM do with frightening regularity.

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Just minutes ago, I received this email announcement from the Westrom for Congress campaign:

Westrom Announces Endorsement from Ambassador John Bolton

(ALEXANDRIA, Minn.) – Torrey Westrom, the Republican nominee for Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, today announced the endorsement of former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton.

“I am honored to have Ambassador Bolton’s endorsement and I share his commitment to strengthening America’s national security,” Westrom said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that we maintain a strong national defense and sophisticated military in the face of growing international threats from groups like ISIS. When in Congress, I will fight tirelessly on behalf of western Minnesota for strong national defense and American leadership abroad.”

In his endorsing statement, Ambassador Bolton said, “Torrey has fought for what’s right his whole life and I am confident he will take this commitment to Washington, and lead on conservative policies that impact Minnesota, America, and our concerns overseas.”

Ambassador Bolton served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations from 2005-2006, and served as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from 2001-2005.

This is a little different than other endorsements because Ambassador Bolton isn’t a politician. It’ll be interesting to see what impact this will have but it’s interesting from this standpoint: Politicians aren’t held in high regard. People have much more respect for diplomats than they have for politicians.

Further, Ambassador Bolton is a straight-talking diplomat, which is definitely a rarity. That’s definitely something we haven’t seen from the Obama administration. It’s important to couple Ambassador Bolton’s endorsement with this news:

The Westrom campaign has released new internal polling numbers that report Republican Torrey Westrom is essentially tied within the margin of error, with 12-term incumbent Democrat Congressman Collin Peterson. Attached is a memorandum from our pollster, Brian Tringali of The Tarrance Group, that underlines key figures and points to an extremely favorable environment for Westrom, the challenger.

The ballot score reports an incredibly close race. 12-term incumbent Congressman Collin Peterson sits well below the majority threshold with just 45% of the ballot share, while Westrom is just 5-points behind with 40% support. Fully 15% are still undecided.

Important to note, the Westrom camp has yet to air a single television ad. Peterson has been on the air for two weeks running positive spots, while in contrast the DCCC is airing negative attack ads against Westrom.

The Tarrance Group is a well-respected Republican polling organization. When I first heard about them, Ed Goeas was the chief pollster. If this poll is accurate, then Collin Peterson is in trouble. The fact that Peterson is well below 50% even though Sen. Westrom hasn’t run a single TV ad isn’t good news for Peterson. It’s bad news for Peterson that 2 weeks of DCCC attack ads haven’t stopped Torrey’s momentum.

There’s no question that it’ll be a tight race to the finish. Still, Peterson’s campaign can’t be happy at this point.

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This video should worry Democrats:

The Democrats think they’ve caught Sen. Torrey Westrom in a ‘Mitt Romney moment’. In reality, they’ve shown 7th District voters that their activists aren’t the brightest people around. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Man: [During] the Eisenhower Administration, we built our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our schools, our fire halls, we built that during that era and the tax rate on the wealthiest people was 60 percent, and it was an honor for them, and society looked up to them, they were pillars in their community and respected, and we appreciated them. And now all I see is scapegoating on the poor, blaming people on food assistance when they can’t even get a part-time job… I’m saying that [rich people] pay less in income tax than poor people do.

Westrom: Even though 48 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes?

The first indication that this activist isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier is his implication that high income taxes in the 1950s paid for the interstate highway system. Income taxes didn’t have a thing to do with building and maintaining the interstate highway system:

About 70 percent of the construction and maintenance costs of Interstate Highways in the United States have been paid through user fees, primarily the fuel taxes collected by the federal, state, and local governments. To a much lesser extent they have been paid for by tolls collected on toll highways and bridges. The Highway Trust Fund, established by the Highway Revenue Act in 1956, prescribed a three-cent-per-gallon fuel tax, soon increased to 4.5 cents per gallon. In 1993 the tax was increased to 18.4 cents per gallon, where it remains as of 2012.

The next indicator that this activist isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier is that he thinks “poor people” pay more income taxes than “the rich.” Sen. Westrom dispatched that argument by telling the activist that “48 percent of Americans” don’t pay income taxes.

This wasn’t a vilification of “poor people.” It was simply a statement of statistical fact. It’s interesting that the DFL activist thinks stating a statistical fact is an act of vilification. Sen. Westrom finally had enough of the activist’s rantings:

Man: The Bible says, ‘To whom much has been given, much shall be required.’ Now [the wealthy] built that infrastructure and they did that out of the goodness of their hearts in the ’50s and now it’s like pulling teeth to get an extra dime out of the wealthiest people in this society, and I’m tired of it.

Westrom: Let me tell you, versus your philosophy, my philosophy is, don’t overtax the citizens, let them keep their hard-earned wealth [and] take care of themselves as much as they can and we do for the communities that individually they can’t do for themselves. You would rather tax everybody’s income, take it away from them, redistribute it, government knows best…

Before getting into Sen. Westrom’s reply, let’s focus on the activist’s statement that “the wealthy built that infrastructure…out of the goodness of their hearts…” That’s the picture of delusion. The truth is that “the wealthy” built much of this nation’s infrastructure to create bigger profits for their companies.

As for Sen. Westrom’s statement, he’s right in his philosophy of letting the people keep their money. The thought that the federal government knows best is intellectually laughable. For instance, Minnesota had a great health insurance system that featured one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the nation. In 2011, 93% of Minnesotans were insured. In 2013, thanks directly to the Affordable Care Act, that rate of insured ‘jumped’ to 95%. It just cost Minnesotans the paltry amount of $160,000,000 and counting.

The MNsure website still isn’t working. In fact, it won’t be working correctly until after this fall’s open enrollment. Thank God for the federal government’s intervention. I don’t know what we would’ve done without their assistance, though I’d love to find out.

This video should dispel the notion of government being benevolent:

Simply put, Sen. Westrom is right in ridiculing this activist. In fact, it’s best for him to just put this behind him so he can highlight his positive agenda and Collin Peterson’s history of Nancy Pelosi pushing him around. (Think voting for Cap and Trade after promising his constituents he wouldn’t vote for it.)

Sen. Westrom won’t take the 7th District for granted like Collin Peterson has for the last 20 years. Sen. Westrom has a history of getting things done. That’s the type of congressman Minnesota’s 7th District needs.

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