Archive for the ‘Iron Range’ Category

This article explains what’s happening in Minnesota. It’s long been known that Minnesota’s political landscape was changing. The last 4 years, though, have shown that the pace of change accelerated.

The article opens by saying “Ask Larry Cuffe why, after decades of voting for Democrats, he voted for Donald Trump four years ago, and he’ll talk about his distrust of Hillary Clinton and the need to get northern Minnesota’s mines back to work. Ask the former police officer why he’s sticking with Trump in 2020 and the list is very much longer.” The simplest way of putting things is by saying that President Trump has kept most of his promises to Blue Collar America. He hasn’t been perfect but he’s worked tirelessly to do what he promised. The political establishment hasn’t worked hard to support the lunchpail crowd.

Andrea Zupancich, a real estate agent and part-time mayor of the small city of Babbitt who also voted for Obama and signed the letter in support of Trump, twice testified to Congress that China dumping cheap steel on the US was killing her community. She said the imports drove down demand for iron ore from the mines around Babbitt which cost jobs, battered the local economy and drove people to leave the city. “We were pleading with Obama to do something about this. He started doing a little bit and then it just kind of fizzled,” she said.

Zupancich credits Trump for standing up to China by imposing tariffs on its steel that she says has injected new life into the industry in the US and the Iron Range. “The tariffs, that is causing an equal playing field for the selling of our steel, so we’ve noticed an increase in the mines’ production. We see that they’re hiring people, they’re putting money back into the mines. They’re planning on mining for a while,” she said.

The next time Joe Biden insists that President Trump took over a booming economy, then ruined it, throw this back in his face. The Obama-Biden administration hurt the Iron Range in northeast Minnesota and steel mill towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

President Trump got rid of the Obama regulations that revitalized the energy industry. Now we’re energy independent and energy dominant. President Trump imposed tariffs on China when they tried cheap steel into the US. It didn’t take long for China to stop dumping steel into the US. When the China steel dumping stopped, the Iron Range’s economy was revitalized. The Obama-Biden administration was mostly about career politicians flapping their gums. The Trump administration specializes in fixing economic problems.

“We are sitting on a half a trillion dollars’ worth of copper and nickel,” said Zupancich. “We import all our nickel whereas we could provide 90% of the world’s nickel and the state would really benefit. The mining taxes pay for our schools for the entire state.”

The plan ran into opposition from Minnesota Democrats over environmental concerns. To Zupancich it didn’t make sense if a ban on mining in northern Minnesota means the minerals then come from countries such as China or Russia with lower environmental and other standards.

After reading this article, I wasn’t surprised to find Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s tweet:


The article that Sen. Gazelka linked to is hostile to the Iron Range way of life. It essentially says that the metro DFL wants Iron Rangers to live in poverty:

Last weekend, the DFL party officially adopted a resolution calling for a moratorium banning copper-nickel mining projects in Minnesota, according to the DFL Environmental Caucus’s Facebook page. The move is the latest sign that the policies endorsed by the party are moving further toward the agenda’s of urban environmentalists and further away from the rural roots of the party that support farmers and laborers.

Democrats insist that they are the party that insists on following the science. That’s a lie. They’ve said that it’s impossible to safely mine precious metals. I wrote this post in 2013. Here’s the major takeaway of the post:

In 1936, Kennecott constructed evaporation ponds to store and evaporate mine water originating from the Bingham Canyon watershed. Over time, additional ponds were constructed to increase capacity, and the area became known as the South Jordan Evaporation Ponds (SJEP). The ponds were used for mine water until 1965 and for periodic storage of runoff water until 1987. SJEP use was discontinued in 1987.

Studies in the early 1990s concluded that there were elevated levels of heavy metals in the soil where the holding ponds had been located. Kennecott took responsibility for the impacts and agreed to reclaim and remediate the SJEP area. The removal work was undertaken pursuant to an EPA Administrative Order on Consent (AOC).

A massive clean-up operation began in 1994 involving the removal of pond sediment and six additional inches of underlying native soil. The material removed from Daybreak was permanently relocated to the Kennecott Blue Water Repository as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) clean up. At this time, some sediment, with a low concentration of lead and arsenic but an elevated sulfate concentration were consolidated onsite and capped with topsoil and re-vegetated. In 2001, the EPA issued a Record of Decision stating that the removal action adequately satisfied the remedial objectives and EPA determined that no further action was required. An Operation and Maintenance Plan (O&M Plan) was established to address
further management of the consolidation site.

Pursuant to agreements between the EPA, UDEQ and Kennecott, Kennecott began removing the remaining sediments at the consolidation site under the guideline of the O&M Plan. In 2006, Kennecott, the EPA and the UDEQ entered into an agreement solidifying the unrestricted residential and commercial use clean-up standards for the entire site.

In early 2007, the consolidated pond sediment removal project was completed. In 2008, the EPA and UDEQ issued a Consent Decree for the ground water cleanup efforts.

In other words, the DFL is the party of science except if it gets in the way of their political agenda. That isn’t intellectually consistent. The DFL knows about this. Kennecott’s example has been thrown in their face multiple times.

Not only does the party platform now officially oppose copper-nickel mining, something mining supporters have long suspected, but it also calls for increasing the use of wind and solar, which require enormous amounts of copper, nickel, and cobalt. The platform also opposes nuclear power, which along with hydroelectric power are the only sources of reliable carbon-free electricity.

How do you rely on wind and solar energy without the raw materials to make wind turbines or solar panels? Does the DFL think that these materials just miraculously appear at the manufacturing plant when they’re needed?

Iron Rangers appear to be figuring things out. They’re realizing that this is what’s happening:

It’s time for Tom Bakk and the rest of the Iron Range DFL delegation to flip the metro DFL the bird. The metro DFL doesn’t care about Iron Rangers’ families. Republicans share their priorities. Susan Kent and Ryan Winkler don’t.

Last week, 6 DFL mayors issued a statement that they were endorsing President Trump’s re-election. This week, 3 of those mayors officially endorsed Jason Lewis’s US Senate campaign. While both gentlemen still face uphill fights to win a statewide election in Minnesota, the odds keep improving.

One of the mayors that’s endorsed both the Trump-Pence ticket and Jason Lewis is Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich. She joined with Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe and Eveleth Mayor Robert Vlaisavljevich in a roundtable discussion with Lewis. After the event, Lewis said “I’ve been on the Iron Range countless times since launching our campaign a year ago and I’m proud to be back today chatting with outstanding leaders like these Mayors. I am humbled to have the support of Larry, Bob, and Andrea in my campaign to represent Minnesotans and the Iron Range in the United States Senate. It speaks volumes about how radical Democrats in D.C. and St. Paul have become when even lifelong Democrats here on the Iron Range are willing to stand up and endorse Republicans for federal offices.”

Mayor Zupancich was interviewed by Tammy Bruce Thursday night. Bruce was filling in for Laura Ingraham. Here’s that interview:

It’s long past time for the Iron Range to flip from bright blue to red. The DFL is controlled by the Metro DFL, which means anti-mining environmental activists. The DFL’s anti-mining activist wing of the party hate Iron Rangers. They tolerate Iron Rangers only to have a chance of holding House or Senate gavels.

This article highlights part of the letter endorsing President Trump:

“Today, we don’t recognize the Democratic Party. It has been moved so far to the left, it can no longer claim to be advocates of the working class. The hard-working Minnesotans that built their lives and supported their families here on the Range have been abandoned by radical Democrats. We didn’t choose to leave the Democratic Party, the party left us.”

President Reagan once historically said that he didn’t leave the Democrats, that they’d left him. The DFL isn’t the party representing farmers and laborers. The DFL has become the party that’s dominated by environmental activists and white collar elitists. Republicans now represent farmers and laborers.

I wrote here that President Trump won the 4 rural congressional districts by comfortable margins:

In 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 54%-38% margin in Minnesota’s Eighth District. That year, In 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 61%-31% margin in Minnesota’s 7th District. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 52%-38% margin in Minnesota’s First District. Finally, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 59%-38% margin in Minnesota’s Sixth District.

It’s time to recognize the GOP as the Blue Collar Party. These Iron Range mayors reflect that change.

This Politico article is what happens when outsiders write about Minnesota in the context of this year’s presidential election. The first tip-off that the reporter is either ill-informed or dishonest comes when he says “Interviews with more than a dozen officials and strategists from both parties in recent days depict a state in which Joe Biden is leading, but where the president is making inroads in rural Minnesota.” That’s BS.

In 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 54%-38% margin in Minnesota’s Eighth District. That year, In 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 61%-31% margin in Minnesota’s 7th District. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 52%-38% margin in Minnesota’s First District. Finally, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a 59%-38% margin in Minnesota’s Sixth District.

The point is that President Trump already dominates rural Minnesota. When you dominate each of the rural districts, you’re past the “making inroads” stage. I agree with the writer on this:

He’s still preoccupied with his near-miss four years later. “One more speech, I would have won,” Trump told a crowd recently in Mankato, a small college town in southern Minnesota. “It was so close.”

This time, his campaign has poured staff into the state, creating an operational footprint that Democrats only recently eclipsed. He reserved millions of dollars in TV time for a fall ad blitz, and seized on protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the state’s liberal stronghold, as a springboard for his broader law-and-order campaign.

President Trump won’t win the Twin Cities vote. He doesn’t need to, though he needs to do well in the suburbs. President Trump’s law-and-order message will play well in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the suburbs. School choice is shaping up to be the sleeper issue in the Twin Cities. If President Trump pounds that message, he’ll have a strong shot at winning Minnesota.

Vice President Mike Pence’s rally in Duluth was really about consolidating Republican gains on the Iron Range. When Chip Cravaack defeated Jim Oberstar in 2010, a light started shining in Minnesota’s Eighth District. After Rick Nolan retook the seat, questions were raised about whether the Cravaack victory was a fluke. (I knew it wasn’t.)

Fast forward to 2020. Republican Pete Stauber represents the district. Additionally, he looks poised to win re-election. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Minnesota looks like it might give its 10 electoral votes to a Republican for the first time since 1972, when Richard Nixon obliterated George McGovern.

If President Trump wins Minnesota’s electoral votes, he’ll have 6 DFL mayors from the Iron Range to thank. They’re the ones that wrote this letter endorsing the Trump-Pence ticket. Here’s the heart of the letter:

Like many in our region, we have voted for Democrats over many decades. We have watched as our constituents’ jobs left not only the Iron Range, but our country. By putting tariffs on our products and supporting bad trade deals, politicians like Joe Biden did nothing to help the working class. We lost thousands of jobs, and generations of young people have left the Iron Range in order to provide for their families with good paying jobs elsewhere. Today, we don’t recognize the Democratic Party. It has been moved so far to the left it can no longer claim to be advocates of the working class. The hard-working Minnesotans that built their lives and supported their families here on the Range have been abandoned by radical Democrats. We didn’t choose to leave the Democratic Party, the party left us.

I’ve been writing that for 5 years. The DFL can’t pretend to represent miners, especially after defeating pro-mining DFL incumbent Erik Simonson in last month’s DFL primary. Democrats are on the defensive because they chose to become the metro party.

DFL Chairman Ken Martin issued a statement before the rally, calling the Trump administration “a complete disaster for Minnesota families — from its attacks on Social Security to trade wars that hurt our farmers to attempted rollbacks of the [Affordable Care Act] that would take away people’s health insurance.”

Martin hasn’t sounded like his old self lately. This statement is another example of this.

If you haven’t noticed, the Iron Range is changing. When Vice President Pence visited Duluth Friday, he took the stage with 6 Iron Range mayors. That would’ve been unthinkable in 2008.

It’s taken time to transition from DFL domination to where we’re at today but it’s worth it. It’s just a matter of time before the Iron Range delegation to the state legislature changes. When that happens, Republicans will cement their majorities in the Minnesota legislature.

“There’s many people in northern Minnesota who truly are Republicans,” Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson said, describing a blurring of what had once been solid Democrat country. “They truly understand what’s going on.” Swanson joined five other Range mayors in timing their Trump endorsement with Pence’s arrival at the Clure Public Marine Terminal.

This is telling:

Former Duluth Mayor Gary Doty was also pointed out of the crowd by Pence, for being another Democrat who has swung in favor of Trump. Afterward, Doty explained he was a Democratic-Farmer-Labor office-holder in the state Legislature in the 1970s, but held a series of nonpartisan offices after that. He’s always prided himself on being independent, he said.

“I come from a DFL family and many of them still are,” Doty said. “My dad was the head of the Teamsters and the things he fought for, jobs, benefits and working men and women, the Democratic party has lost that. They’ve gone so far left I can’t support the Democratic ticket this year.”

Environmental activists run the Metro DFL. The Metro DFL runs the DFL — for the time being. When Susan Kent defeated Tom Bakk to become the Senate Minority Leader, it signalled that the Metro DFL was asserting control. When Jen McEwen humiliated Erik Simonson in the SD-7 primary, the DFL sent the unmistakable message that support for mining in the DFL had finally evaporated.

Support for the Democrats is shrinking in Minneapolis, thanks to the Minneapolis City Council, which is 100% DFL, voting to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department. Republicans already dominate rural/exurban Minnesota. With President Trump emphasizing school choice, the Trump-Pence ticket has a legitimate shot at flipping Minnesota into the red column.

To: Iron Range DFL
From: Gary Gross, uppity peasant, patriot & 2A advocate
Subject: Guilt by party affiliation

The blue collar workers that populate the Iron Range DFL have a question that can’t be avoided anymore. In the past, it wasn’t that difficult to justify staying affiliated with the metro DFL. They didn’t like mining, you said, but they tossed the Iron Range DFL delegation a few scraps at the end of the session each year. It’s true that the Metrocrats hated the Second Amendment but they weren’t fanatics about it.

The thinking was that, for the most part, the Metro DFL supported the police. Those rationalizations have disappeared entirely. While there’s still some common sense still found in the Iron Range DFL, that can’t be said of Metro DFL. The Metro DFL is largely represented by people like John Thompson. “John Thompson is running for Minnesota State House District 67A.” This is John Thompson in action:


The lunatic in that video doesn’t resemble the man in this video:

They’re both the same guy. The man in the second video is the fake face of a man who will say anything to win a seat in the Minnesota House. The man in the first video is the real face of the man. The point is that the lunatic that was unleashed in the first tape belongs to the same DFL that the Iron Range DFL belong to.

The Iron Range DFL needs to make a decision fast. When Erik Simonson got thrashed in his SD-7 DFL primary, he didn’t just lose every precinct in his district. He was told by the lunatic fringe of the DFL that blue collar workers weren’t welcome in the DFL anymore.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re ok being treated like dirt by the Metro DFL simply because you want to make living and provide for your family. The Metro DFL have made it exceptionally clear that they have a problem with you making a living. Isn’t it time you flipped the Metro DFL the bird and told them to eff off and die?

Harold Hamilton’s weekly commentary contains some bad news for the DFL. This past Tuesday, while I was paying attention to the national news, DFL primary voters delivered a harsh message to the DFL. First, Hamilton highlights the fact that the “labor wing” of the DFL is persona non grata within the DFL. Hamilton wrote “Start with State Senate District 7, where incumbent Erik Simonson suffered a savage beatdown at the hands of newcomer Jen McEwen. Simonson, a moderate, supported mining and pipelines and frequently crossed party lines. In short, he was an old-school blue-collar Democrat.”

Hamilton continued, writing “Simonson had the backing of nearly the entire constellation of DFL opinion leaders, including Governor Walz and a raft of independent spending on his behalf from unions and other special interest groups. Despite this dynamic, Simonson was crushed 74-23%, losing every single precinct in the district.”

Couple this thorough thrashing with Susan Kent’s defeat of Tom Bakk to become the Senate DFL Leader and it’s exceptionally clear that the Iron Range DFL delegation are welcome only to maintain the chance of putting together a majority. The DFL doesn’t want the Iron Range delegation’s mining agenda.

In House District 59B, Rep. Raymond Dehn was beaten by newcomer Esther Agbaje. Let’s be clear about Rep. Dehn’s liberal, woke street cred. Dehn is a proud ex-con, having done time for a 1976 felony burglary, presumably to feed an admitted cocaine addiction. More importantly, Dehn can rightly proclaim that he was for defunding the police before “defunding the police” became a cause célèbre. Dehn was excoriated for his suggestion to disarm the Minneapolis Police Department, even though he was more than prescient as a liberal standard-bearer. The problem for Ray Dehn, clearly, was that he was the wrong race and color for the Group Identity Mob.

Then there’s this:

In another section of Minneapolis, Senator Jeff Hayden lost his primary to Omar Fateh, a Democrat of a different stripe. Fateh proudly ran against Hayden as a Democrat Socialist. Again, Jeff Hayden wouldn’t be mistaken for a moderate anywhere. He has earned high marks from progressive groups everywhere.

Finally, over in Saint Paul, longtime legislative fixture John Lesch was unceremoniously dumped in the most surprising result of the night, save for Simonson’s beat down.

The thought that Jeff Hayden. Ray Dehn and John Lesch aren’t sufficiently leftist enough in this DFL says everything. When Jeff Hayden isn’t sufficiently left for the activists, that means that major changes are about to happen.

I’m sticking with my prediction that Jeremiah Ellison will be the next mayor of Minneapolis. I’ll further predict that he’ll run the city into the ground. The DFL is at a tipping point. If they don’t return to their blue collar roots, they’ll essentially be an urban party for a generation.

Years ago, I coined a phrase about Democrats. In that phrase, I said that “Democrats always do the right thing — when it’s the only option left.” That cliché rang true to me when I saw Jason Lewis’s statement calling on Tina Smith “to do right thing for a change and acquit President Trump.” There’s a better chance of the Devil handing out figure skates in Hell this weekend than there is of Tina Smith doing the right thing.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying. It’s important (and right) for Jason to call Tina Smith out on this. Several times this past week, she’s stood right behind Sen. Schumer at his press conferences. How appropriate for Sen. Schumer’s shill. Sen. Smith is Sen. Schumer’s shill. She’s never voted against Sen. Schumer on anything. Why think that she’ll suddenly do the right thing? That’s as foolish as thinking that you’ll be ok taunting a cobra with quick movements.

It’s just the nature of the beast that Democrats won’t do the right thing. Tina Smith is a creature of the Resistance. She doesn’t dare cross Resistance activists. The Resist Movement activists are absolutists and anarchists. Here’s Jason Lewis’s statement in full:

The question facing Minnesota’s voters is whether they way to waste their vote on a do-nothing placeholder Democrat or whether they’d prefer a get-big-things-done senator with a history of tackling problems while protecting our constitutional rights. I’ve watched Jason Lewis in action. From a policy standpoint, he’s a man of stature while Tina Smith is a lightweight who does as she’s told by Sen. Schumer.

Electing Jason Lewis would mean having a senator who is part of the majority getting important things done. Re-electing Tina Smith means having a senator who will be in the minority for the next term while getting nothing done. Jason Lewis already voted for the Trump-GOP tax cuts that’ve lifted the economy, made the US energy independent while rebuilding the military.

In her time in office, Tina Smith voted against highly qualified judges and justices, voted against energy independence and wasn’t impartial as she claimed:

“Even in the Clinton impeachment, which was a pretty partisan time, the Democrats and the Republicans came together to agree on rules that were bipartisan, nonpartisan, and that is not happening here, which I think is a detriment to the overall fairness of the trial,” Smith said.

It’s obvious that Tina Smith wasn’t impartial before the trial started. She voted for each one of Sen. Schumer’s amendments the first Tuesday night of the impeachment trial. Each of those amendments was designed to force vulnerable Republicans to cast difficult votes.

After that night of voting, there’s no question whether Tina Smith is a partisan hack. That night of voting was about tipping control of the Senate to a Democrat majority and nothing more. That isn’t the definition of “overall fairness.”

On a totally different front, Tina Smith apparently won’t stand with the hard-working people of the Iron Range. Apparently, she’d rather team with Betty McCollum in preventing prosperity on the Iron Range:

According to this article, the DFL’s leadership might become further metrocentric. To those that think that wasn’t possible, that’s understandable. Of the 7-person DFL Senate leadership team, 1 person is from northwest Minnesota (Kent Eken) and another person (Tom Bakk) is from northeast Minnesota. The other 5 people (Susan Kent, who is challenging Bakk for Minority Leader, Jeffrey Hayden, Carolyn Laine, John Hoffman and Ann Rest) are from the Twin Cities. By comparison, the 9-person GOP leadership team represents the entire state.

In particular, Bakk’s positions on northeastern Minnesota mining issues have run afoul of environmentalists who are an important part of the DFL coalition. Kent’s challenge came to light days after Bakk came under fire from environmentalists for telling a group of business and political leaders in Ely that the controversial Twin Metals copper-nickel mine proposal on the Iron Range will not be stopped by a state environmental review. “Now it might take a decade or more,” Bakk said, “but the process isn’t intended to stop projects.”

Bakk’s opposition to stronger gun laws also put him at odds with colleagues from Minneapolis, St. Paul and their suburbs, deepening a long-simmering intraparty rift. Bakk has long been a fixture in the politics of northern Minnesota, a region that was once a DFL stronghold and which has drifted increasingly toward the Republican Party in recent elections.

In other words, Sen. Bakk is too moderate for DFL Metrocrats. DFL Metrocrats passionately hate mining. In fact, the only thing that DFL Metrocrats hate more than mining is the Second Amendment. Apparently, Tom Bakk isn’t leftist enough for the DFL Metrocrats’ liking.

The brewing leadership fight has played out largely out of public view, with several DFL senators declining to comment publicly for this story. It comes as Senate Democrats prepare for a 2020 election cycle in which they will attempt to overturn Republicans’ current 35-32 majority.

With the DFL’s divisions, the DFL should be worried in 2020. DFL turnout in 2018 was almost as high as it is for a presidential election. In 2020, Republican turnout will be higher than it was in 2018. It’ll be difficult for the DFL turnout to be much higher.

This begs the question of whether the DFL can gain seats in either the House or Senate. I wouldn’t bet on it, especially if the DFL essentially tells the Iron Range that they aren’t welcome in the DFL anymore.