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This article highlights the thinking of the anti-mining special interests. It also highlights the attempts by the DFL to distance themselves from the dominant wing of the DFL.

First, the article quoted Becky Rom’s and Reid Carron’s disparaging quotes about the mining industry. Carron is quoted as saying “Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here. They are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company. They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.” Meanwhile, Rom is quoted as saying that “Ely council member and mining advocate Dan Forsman ‘drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists,’ referring to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.”

Thanks to social media (and websites like LFR), their comments went viral. One of the first to react was “Jason George, political and special projects director for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, [who] said ‘it disgusts me. There is no other way to put it. In my opinion, and in my experience sitting through public hearing after public hearing listening to environmental activists dismiss and belittle construction jobs, the sentiments expressed by Rom and Carron very accurately reflect the way most anti-mining, anti-pipeline, and anti-development groups really feel about the hardworking people of northern Minnesota. Minnesota’s blue-collar workers, the men and women I am proud to fight for, deserve better.'”

Mike Kinsley once infamously said that a gaffe is when you accidentally tell the truth. That’s what happened here. Carron and Rom made the mistake of saying what they truly felt to a magazine reporter from New York. They never thought Minnesotans would hear their statements. Here’s the guilty (married) couple:

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin, in his attempt to keep the DFL together, embarrassed himself:

Amid an intraparty battle between pro-mining union members and environmental interests that have stepped up opposition to copper-nickel projects, Martin said “These judgmental comments wrongfully disparage thousands of hard-working Minnesotans. There’s no question that the issue of mining in northern Minnesota is a contentious one. But there’s no room in the debate for sharp-tongued attacks on Minnesotans who work hard every day to provide for their families and support our state’s economy. Here in Minnesota, we value civility. We treat each other with respect. We must keep this debate healthy, productive, and focused on the issue at hand. Because at the end of the day, we all want the same thing: a better life for our family and a brighter future for our state.”

That’s outright BS. Mining isn’t a contentious issue. I’ll stipulate that it’s a complicated issue for the DFL but that’s only because they’re too spineless to stand up to the dominant anti-mining wing of the DFL. If Martin had a spine, he would’ve forcefully criticized Rom for saying that “anti-mining forces would gain an advantage ‘one funeral at a time.'”

The Bible says that you “can’t serve two masters.” That’s what Martin is attempting to do. Using a different metaphor, he’s trying to mix oil with water. Good luck with that.

In an apology released to a Duluth television station and later sent to the Echo, Rom and Carron wrote that Carron’s was “disrespectful and untrue.” “First and most important, the statement is untrue with respect to the thousands of people across northeastern Minnesota who work hard every day and who believe that developing copper mines will provide worthwhile economic opportunities for them, for people they care about, and for our communities,” they wrote. “We respect people who get up at 4:30 am to drive to work in Minnesota’s taconite mines. Second, the statement is untrue because it does not reflect what we think. Living in the Ely community, we depend on people all the time who we know hold a different view than we do on whether copper mining would be a good thing. When we do business with them, they are helpful and generous, and we treat each other with mutual respect.

“For Reid to say that people like that are sitting around waiting for a big mining company to give them a job or Becky to question if Dan Forsman has been into the Boundary Waters is disrespectful. We apologize for these statements.”

I don’t trust this apology. Why trust someone that’s lied to newspapers about how they tried to secretly sabotage an entire industry?

Finally, check out this quote:

“Reid Carron’s description of people who support copper-nickel mining is nothing short of disgusting,” said Paul Austin, executive director of Conservation Minnesota. “This is an important conversation that requires each of us to work to understand each other’s perspectives on the issue so we can reach a positive resolution. There is no place for demeaning fellow Minnesotans.”

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To read Politico’s article on the DNC, you’d think they’re in a world of hurt. That’s the only logical conclusion to be reached after reading “The Democratic National Committee is reeling, facing a turnaround that’s proving a much bigger lift than anyone expected as it struggles to raise enough money to cover its basic promises. Many donors are refusing to write checks. And on-the-ground operatives worry they won’t have the resources to build the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in next year’s midterms and in the run-up to 2020.”

It’s tough to read quotes that attempt to paint over the DNC’s difficulties. According to the article, “Donors, small and large, are so over the party,’ said Nebraska party chair Jane Kleeb, summing up the problem facing DNC chairman Tom Perez and his counterparts in the states. Kleeb, who is working on grassroots fundraising efforts for the committee, said she believes the money will come eventually.” That sounds like spin to me. What has Kleeb seen that makes her think that donor enthusiasm will increase? Or is that statement wishful thinking? It’s most likely wishful thinking.

Much of the immediate anxiety centers on the State Party Innovation Fund, a planned $10.5 million competitive grant program that DNC leadership has made available to interested state parties over the next year. The money is meant to pay for organizing, ground operations and other mechanics seen as essential to countering Republican National Committee investments that helped elect Donald Trump and a slew of other Republican candidates in 2016, leapfrogging Democrats in the process.

Desperation is setting in. This video highlights the outlandish statements Perez is becoming famous for:

In Las Vegas, Minnesota party chairman Ken Martin, the president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, went out of his way while speaking to a gathering of state party executive directors to assure them the grant program was on schedule, since the money will be doled out over the course of a year and so doesn’t have to be raised yet, said one Democrat in the room.

All the wishful thinking in the world won’t solve the DNC’s problems. While it’s a stretch to think the DNC is listening to its death knell, it isn’t a stretch to think that they’re in trouble.

It isn’t a secret that I don’t buy into the Twin Cities media’s depiction of the DFL as one big happy family but with a couple minor differences that aren’t worth talking about. Frankly, I think that storyline is about as dishonest as Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.

If I got $10 for every person that’s read one of my ‘the DFL is totally nuts’ posts, I’d own an island in the Caribbean. I’ve written how the DFL has essentially rejected blue collar Minnesota. If I can highlight anything or re-inforce anything, that’s what I’d highlight or re-inforce. The differences are real and growing.

I think I’m the only Minnesota journalist that predicted that Republicans would flip the Minnesota Senate to a GOP majority. The reason I made that prediction is because the DFL rift between white collar Minnesota and blue collar Minnesota is getting bigger. Attitudes are getting more hostile towards each other, too.

Harold Hamilton has his finger on Minnesota’s pulse. Each Friday, Harold writes a commentary. This week’s commentary is on this exact subject. What’s most entertaining about Harold’s commentary is when he wrote “The arrogance of the urban liberal is a sight to behold. It’s also been somewhat amusing to watch DFL leaders dance on the head of a pin trying to explain away the civil war as a mere squabble between two key constituencies of the DFL. More importantly, it’s more than presumptuous to call the construction trades a ‘DFL constituency.'”

The thought that the DFL isn’t fighting a civil war is laughable. Harold highlights it with DFL activists’ quotes:

“Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here – they are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company. They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.” – Reid Carron, Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters

“Danny Forsman drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and he doesn’t know this world exists.” – Becky Rom, Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, speaking of pro-mining Ely city councilman Dan Forsman

“I’m not saying we are writing off the Iron Range. But you don’t need the Iron Range to win statewide.” – DFL Chairman Ken Martin

[Editor’s note: Reid Carron is married to Becky Rom.] Ken Martin isn’t trying to hide the fact that he knows the DFL can all but officially write off the Range. There’s a reason why President Trump defeated Hillary by 15 points on the Range. This is my favorite part of Harold’s commentary:

DFL happy talk of “uniting” around common issues in 2018 is fantasy. And just what are those “unifying” issues, pray tell? Mining? Pipelines? Transgender bathrooms? Gun grabbing? Abortion on demand? Banning menthol cigarettes? Banning plastic bags? Trigger words? Safe spaces? Sanctuary cities? Re-naming Asian Carp so as not to offend?

Does this hearing look like a search for common ground?

Let’s get serious. That looks like the undercard for a mixed martial arts championship fight.

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To hear DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin tell it, Gov. Dayton was the victim of dishonest Republican legislative leadership. Appearing on TPTAlmanac, Martin said that “Kurt Daudt put a poison pill” that would have “defunded the Department of Revenue” if he didn’t sign the GOP Tax Relief Bill. Later, Martin insisted that Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka lied to the Supreme Court with their representation of cash reserves. (Of course, Martin has to say that because Gov. Dayton said it first.)

Chairman Martin pretended that Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka pointed a gun at Gov. Dayton’s head and forced him to call the special session even though he didn’t like the GOP Tax Relief Bill. That’s utter foolishness. Only the governor can call a special session. It’s been Gov. Dayton’s tradition that he hasn’t called a special session until all of the bills were worked out and agreed upon. Why shouldn’t we think that he’d initially agreed to the Tax Bill, then got discreet criticism from the hard-line activist left? After all, there were a bunch of them running for governor who weren’t going to vote for the tax bill.

Here’s the question that Chairman Martin didn’t want to answer: if Gov. Dayton didn’t like the GOP Tax Relief Bill, why did he call a special session without negotiating a bill more to his liking? Before the session starts, Gov. Dayton had leverage. Why didn’t he use it? There’s other questions worth asking, too. First, did Gov. Dayton initially agree to the bill, then ‘change’ his mind when the hardliners got to him? Next, would the Department of Revenue provision be a poison pill if he planned on signing the GOP Tax Relief Bill as previously agreed to?

The other thing that hasn’t been questioned is why Gov. Dayton has consistently opposed tax relief. Feeding government has been his top priority. Opposing tax relief has been his next highest priority, with raising taxes a close third.

It isn’t like wages have increased dramatically during his administration. It isn’t like he’s fought for projects that would’ve benefitted blue collar workers. The truth is that Gov. Dayton has fought against those projects each time he’s had the opportunity. He sat like an innocent bystander while the Sandpiper Pipeline project got killed. Gov. Dayton hasn’t lifted a finger to make PolyMet a reality. In fact, his legacy on mining is that he’s the most anti-mining governor in recent Minnesota history. Finally, Gov. Dayton has acted like an innocent bystander while his anti-commerce Commerce Department testified against an important pipeline infrastructure project.

Chairman Martin’s job would be so much easier if he didn’t have to defend Gov. Dayton’s indefensible decisions. Still, I don’t feel sorry for him. He knew the job going in.

Harold Hamilton has an interesting read in this week’s commentary. Each Friday, Hamilton provides a weekly commentary on what’s happening politically in Minnesota. This week’s commentary is about Minnesota’s political alignment.

In the commentary, Hamilton wrote “The first glimmers of realignment began in the 1980s as the DFL became an abortion-on-demand party, causing many lifelong Democrats to migrate to the GOP because of deep seated beliefs regarding the sanctity of life. Next came gun control, as Democrats in the urban core became avowed enemies of law-abiding gun owners. The latest split on social issues has occurred in recent times over the gay marriage issue.”

In his abridged version of Minnesota’s transformation, Hamilton continued, saying “After Minnesota Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) legalized gay marriage in 2013, many rural Democrats lost their legislative seats in the 2014 election. The GOP held these seats in 2016, despite claims by the DFL that the seats were merely “rented.” If those seats are rentals, they are surely long-term leases. After the schism caused by social issues, the DFL suffered a catastrophic breakdown of their coalition over economic the economic issues that have become preeminent in recent elections. Strident DFL objections to mining, pipelines and oil extraction have proven to be the final straw for legions of erstwhile rural DFL voters.”

I’ve written extensively that the DFL has turned into the urban party that’s out-of-touch with rural Minnesota. If the truth is told, the DFL isn’t pro-farmer or pro-labor. They’re pro-hardline environmentalists and pro-government unions. Every 2 years, they make a pitch for the Iron Range but they’re losing their grip on that.

Ken Martin is the state DFL state party chair. When I did a search of YouTube’s videos with Martin in them over the past month, it came back with nothing. That’s understandable since the DFL doesn’t have a message and Martin’s DFL has been on a sustained losing streak. If I was in Chairman Martin’s situation, I’d hide, too.

If the DFL keeps urbanizing, they’ll soon be Minnesota’s minority party for a generation. That’s the trajectory they’re on.

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In this article, Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin said “That sense of inevitability led to complacency, which led to our defeat in 2016. We need to not get too in front of this election and do the hard work that we need to do. We can never assume that we are ahead.” That’s the wrong analysis. In fact, looking at the election results for the Minnesota House and the Minnesota Senate, lots of DFL incumbents got defeated by substantial margins.

Chairman Martin is kidding himself if he thinks that complacency cost the DFL their majority in the Minnesota Senate. Then-Senate Tax Committee Chair Rod Skoe lost by 5,200+ votes. Lyle Koenen lost by 5,700+ votes. Those aren’t examples of DFL complacency. They’re proof that the DFL was utterly rejected by Minnesotans and that the DFL was rejected pretty much statewide.

I understand that the DFL chair has to put the best spin on things but there’s a limit to that. The truth is that the DFL brand is toxic beyond the Twin Cities, Duluth and the Arrowhead. It isn’t that the DFL got complacent in 2016. It’s that the people rejected the DFL’s agenda.

It’s time for the DFL to stop acting like they hate the blue collar workers that the mines employed. It’s time for the DFL to stop letting the environmentalists get everything they want while ignoring the blue collar miners.

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This article highlights the fact that money isn’t everything in politics. According to statistics reported by Minnesota’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Board, “party groups and political action committees supporting DFL candidates outspent their Republican opponents in 2016, according to end-of-year finance statements that were due Tuesday with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board from every candidate, party and committee. Despite totals that far exceed recent elections and sometimes massive imbalances in spending, both seats went to Republicans on election night.”

In fact, the article said “Outside groups spent more than $588,000 in 2016 to support Jensen or bash Jasinski through TV, radio, print and online advertising and other support. The Minnesota DFL Central Committee alone spent $330,000 on pro-Jensen advertisements and another $105,000 against Jasinski. Despite such heavy spending, Jasinski won the vote 59 percent to Jensen’s 41 percent. Of course, Jasinski was not without his own third-party support. The Minnesota Action Network PAC and Freedom Club State PAC together spent almost $23,000 in his support and $128,400 against Jensen. Even so, the combined $150,700 spent on his behalf was barely a quarter of what was spent by Jensen supporters.”

This is proof that terrible candidates with a terrible message don’t automatically win. Apparently, that principle applies equally to national and local races. Hillary had tons of money and lost to President Trump. The point is that Democrats don’t have an appealing message. They have an organization that’s shrinking and some wealthy donors but that’s it. That’s as true in Minnesota as it is nationally.

Not far behind Senate District 24 in independent expenditures was House District 24B, in which Republican Rep. Brian Daniels faced a rematch with former Rep. Patti Fritz, both of Faribault, whom he had defeated two years before. On Election Day, he retained his seat by a margin of 58 percent to 41 percent.

Then there’s this:

All told, independent expenditures from Fritz allies came to almost $388,000, with another $299,000 spent on behalf of Daniels. Combined, the district drew about $687,000, a 916 percent increase from two years before.

Republicans and the DFL found a way to compromise this week. Republicans accepted Gov. Dayton’s plan to provide premium relief for people buying health insurance on the individual market but made too much to qualify for federal premium support. Gov. Dayton accepted the Republicans’ reforms. In the end, neither side got everything they wanted, which was anticipated, but everyone got something that they wanted.

Shortly after the House passed the conference committee report by a vote of 108-19, Republicans issued a statement, saying that their bill allowed “for-profit HMOs to operate in Minnesota (like most states) which will increase options for consumers, modifying stop loss coverage to make it easier for more small businesses to offer affordable insurance to their employees, providing greater transparency for proposed insurance premium changes by requiring earlier disclosure of proposed rates, allowing Agricultural Cooperatives to offer group health insurance to their members so farmers and their families can get better access to care and more affordable coverage, ensuring Minnesota employees can benefit from the recently passed federal 21st Century Cures Act which allows employers to make pre-tax contributions toward employee health insurance costs, network adequacy reform that will assist in ensuring more options for residents in rural Minnesota while prohibiting surprise billing to protect consumers from previously undisclosed costs.”

The Senate voted 46-19 in favor of the bill.

DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin issued this statement:

Today, we saw compromise prevail. After working with Gov. Dayton, the House and Senate passed a bipartisan solution to the current health insurance premium crisis. Although the bill is nowhere near perfect, this compromise helps Minnesotans now and keeps the door open for Minnesotans’ input on further health care reforms in the future.

Minnesotans could have seen relief 3 months ago but Republicans in the legislature wanted to get something out of the deal for themselves. Instead of working to get more to help Minnesota’s families, they showed their true colors and prioritized big corporations and big profits.

While I am pleased that our legislature was able to pass this relief that so many Minnesotans are counting on, I hope that for the rest of the legislative session, Republicans remember that Minnesotans are expecting their legislature to work for them, not against them.

Earlier this week, Gov. Dayton proposed a ‘reform’ that would inflict single-payer health care on Minnesotans. That bill is all but officially dead despite Martin’s statement that this compromise “keeps the door open for Minnesotans’ input on further health care reforms in the future.”

As for Martin’s whining statement that “Minnesotans could have seen relief 3 months ago but Republicans in the legislature wanted to get something out of the deal for themselves”, the truth is that Gov. Dayton insisted that the bill not include any reforms. Gov. Dayton insisted that it just provide premium relief. Republicans insisted that there be substantive reforms because, without them, they’d be right back here next year with another bailout.

Today’s bill is a first step in a session-long effort to address the problems created by Obamacare and MNsure,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “As the first month of session comes to a close, Republican majorities have shown an ability to get things done for Minnesotans and to work productively with the governor.”

Gov. Dayton will sign the bill.

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In this article, DFL State Party Chair Ken Martin says that “Democrats will focus more on policy as they try to hold Lewis to just one term. ‘It certainly will be a huge target for national Democrats and, of course, for us here at the DFL. It’s still on paper a 50-50 district.'”

That’s a point of contention. Technically speaking, CD-2 should be a 50-50 district in normal times, it isn’t a 50-50 district operationally because the Democratic Party has gone nuts. The DFL isn’t a centrist party anymore. They’ve abandoned blue collar workers and farmers. They’ve gravitated toward top-down-government-knows-best policies like Obamacare. They’re trying to kill the fossil fuel industry. Angie Craig raised lots of money. She ran an aggressive campaign. What happened is that she wasn’t a good fit for the district.

In CD-2, the DFL’s standard-bearer, Angie Craig, promised to expand Obamacare. As a result, she lost after leading going into the final month.

Once Rep. Lewis starts voting for welcome reforms and the results start coming in, he’ll be in a stronger position for re-election. Now that Lewis has gotten sworn in, he’s rolling up his sleeves and getting to work. There’s no reason to think he won’t represent the district well.

That should make Ken Martin plenty sad.

It isn’t a secret that Hillary Clinton made a mistake by not campaigning in Wisconsin. People of all political persuasions have criticized her. IMO, those criticisms are justified … to a point. Let’s first stipulate that Hillary campaigning there would’ve helped. The question remaining is how much it would’ve helped. After spending this past weekend in the hospital thinking about that question, I’m not certain it would’ve put her over the top.

Here’s why I think that: Hillary outspent Trump by a wide margin but still lost by a wide margin. It isn’t that Hillary’s message didn’t get out. It’s that Hillary’s message got out and voters utterly rejected it. It’s that some voters simply were tired of the Clintons so they rejected her. It’s that Hillary tried cozying up to the construction unions while pandering to the environmental activists.

My theory is that it’s impossible to satisfy both constituencies. It’s like trying to date 2 jealous one-man women and not hiding that fact. The simple truth is that construction workers and environmental activists fit together like oil and water.

I know that because I’ve watched Ken Martin, Rick Nolan and the DFL try walking that tightrope the past few years. While Nolan has survived, barely, the DFL has suffered, losing the House and Senate in the last 2 elections.

Democrats, whether we’re talking nationally or here in Minnesota, face some difficult questions. They shouldn’t assume that they can successfully court both constituencies. They’ll have to pick and choose.

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