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During Congress’s August recess, congresscritters and senators take the time to catch up with what’s happening with their constituents. In this month’s email newsletter, Sen. Franken wrote about his travels through “Northern Minnesota and the Iron Range.” He talked about stopping at Tobies’ Restaurant in Hinckley for a caramel roll. He talked with Native Americans in Grand Portage and small business owners in Grand Marais, too.

The part that I found interesting is when he wrote “I also met with Iron Range steelworkers in Eveleth during my trip to the Northland. These are the men and women who helped build this country and bring us into the 21st century, and I’m fighting to protect their jobs and keep their local economies vibrant.” With all due respect to Sen. Franken, Iron Range economies aren’t vibrant. They haven’t been in a generation. That’s just the myth that Sen. Franken and the DFL continue peddling.

According to the latest census data, Virginia, aka the heart of the Iron Range, families have a median household income of $34,075. A staggering 23.7% of the people live below the Federal Poverty Level, aka FPL. That’s compared with the statewide averages of $61,492 for median household income and 10.2% living below the FPL.

It’s impossible for thoughtful, honest people to say that people making $27,500 less than the average Minnesota family lives where the economy is vibrant? How can a U.S. senator say that people live where the economy is vibrant when one-fourth of them live in poverty?

Either Sen. Franken is exceptionally dishonest or he’s exceptionally out of touch. Another possibility exists but it won’t flatter Sen. Franken. Perhaps he’s satisfied with that information. Perhaps, he isn’t upset when one-fourth of the people of Virginia live in poverty.

Later in his newsletter, Sen. Franken wrote this:

I want to make sure our unions stay strong and that we’re cracking down on the foreign trade cheats that suppress our domestic steel production and steal jobs in Iron Range communities.

Here’s a question for Sen. Franken: why do you crack down on “foreign trade cheats that suppress … domestic steel production and steal jobs in Iron Range communities” but you haven’t criticized members of your own party for filing one lawsuit after another with the goal of preventing the creation of hundreds of high-paying middle class jobs? If high-paying middle class jobs are the goal, who cares who’s standing in the way of creating those jobs? Shouldn’t those jobs and those people come first?

Sen. Franken, why won’t you fight for those people?

Hearing Angie Craig and Rebecca Otto talked about education should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. First, I have to talk about a statement Ms. Craig made during the event. She said “I’m running for Congress in 2018 and I’m coming back to claim our seat.”

Though she wants to focus on education, Ms. Craig apparently isn’t interested in history. It’s been quite some time since a Democrat represented MN-2 in Congress. According to Wikipedia’s history of CD-2, Republicans have held the seat 66 of the last 74 years. That’s a pretty red district. But I digress.

During her presentation, State Auditor Rebecca Otto sounded like a typical far left liberal, saying “A lot of the politics that end up getting passed by the politics of greed end up running over our interests and the common good. The people’s interest and our values, 2018 will really be defined by the politics of greed versus the politics of people and the common good. The politics of greed say all taxes are bad and need to be slashed. That all regulation is bad and must be repealed. That all government workers are bad and must be privatized – that’s our roads, our airports and our schools. As your governor, no public funds are going to private schools.”

Translation: I’m owned by Education Minnesota. The achievement gap will continue or get worse.

I’d describe Ms. Otto’s messaging as scorched earth messaging. There isn’t a hint of nuance to it. The implied message behind Ms. Otto’s words is simple: Republicans are evil. They only look out for themselves. Initially, I thought that this was her messaging to be the DFL gubernatorial candidate. I’m not certain that’s the case anymore. I think there’s a possibility that that’s just who she is as a candidate.

If Republicans get to run against Ms. Otto, it’ll be a gift. She’s an environmental extremist who voted against mining leases, then tried fundraising off of that vote. She’s suing the legislature for limiting the State Auditor’s responsibilities. That lawsuit is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. What’s worse is that she’s going to lose that case.

Finally, she’s a Metrocrat that hates mining. Considering the fact that Donald Trump thumped HRC on the Iron Range last year, that’s a significant gift to the Republican candidate.

Minnesota is one of several states in the nation leading in education with one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation. As Alpha News reported in 2016, Minnesota led the nation with the highest achievement gap when it came to science scores between white and black eighth grade students.

Ms. Otto needs to work on her presentation skills:

That’s brutal. She won’t get another chance to make a first impression with that audience.

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In 2018, expect the DFL to experience a difficult election season. For years, the DFL, led by Gov. Dayton, has patted themselves on the back profusely for how strong the economy was and how their policies were working, etc. Those days, like Gov. Dayton’s time in office, are slipping away. Last week, I cited this article as showing the DFL’s economic policies aren’t that great.

The article starts by saying “New data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that Minnesota was one of only seven states in the country to experience a shrink in its gross domestic product (GDP).” In the next paragraph, it states “In the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, Minnesota’s GDP shrank 0.3 percent. This is the seventh worst mark in the United States, ahead of only Montana, Kansas, Hawaii, Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska.” While Minnesota’s GDP shrinks, consumer confidence in President Trump’s policies keeps growing.

As of July 25, 2017, consumer confidence was recorded at 121.1. It was projected to be a still-healthy 116.5.

What’s worse for the DFL’s election chances is that “North Dakota’s GDP increased by 1.6 percent, while Wisconsin’s increased by 2.1 percent in the past quarter. This was the fifth best mark of any state.” Gov. Dayton has frequently talked about how much better Minnesota’s economy was doing than North Dakota’s or Wisconsin’s.

By the time that the conventions end next spring, it’s a distinct possibility that the DFL’s talking point of having a stronger economy than North Dakota or Wisconsin won’t be true anymore. Likewise, it’s possible that Republicans will be able to say that Minnesota’s economy is underperforming compared to the national economy. Consumer confidence was at 98.6 as of Oct. 25, 2016. Since then, consumer confidence has been 15-25 points higher.

Considering the DFL’s difficulties in rural Minnesota, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL and their special interest allies will sink their money into holding the governor’s mansion. If the US economy is doing well and Minnesota’s economy is faltering, it isn’t a stretch to think that the DFL might have their worst election cycle in a generation.

Tim Walz’s seat in Congress is likely to flip into the GOP column. It’s difficult to picture the DFL defeating Paulsen, Emmer or Lewis in their races. If Minnesota is underperforming the US economy, it’ll be virtually impossible to pin that on Republicans. That makes things plenty difficult for the DFL gubernatorial candidate, especially if their candidate is Tim Walz.

Let’s be blunt about something right upfront. Tim Walz is probably the DFL’s best candidate in a lackluster field of candidates. He isn’t charismatic. He won’t drive turnout. In 2010, Democrats were thirsty because President Obama had just led them to their holy grail of universal health care and because they’d been shut out of the governor’s mansion since 1991.

By contrast, Minnesota Republicans are hungry this cycle. They want unified Republican state government. They don’t just want to hold their majority in the Minnesota House. (The Minnesota Senate isn’t up for re-election.) They’d love to take over control of the congressional delegation, too.

Barry Casselman’s article said that “Trump’s strong showing came in the rural and blue-collar exurban areas, which responded to his antiestablishment message, and in the northeastern Range area, usually a DFL stronghold, where the vote was as much anti-Clinton as it was pro-Trump.” That’s actually wrong. President Trump’s message was a perfect fit for the Iron Range, just like it was in other parts of blue collar America. That President Trump won the Iron Range by 12 points isn’t surprising. Further, the Range was littered with Trump lawn signs all summer long.

Simply put, you can’t explain that away as simply rejecting Hillary.

First-term GOP congressman Jason Lewis in the 2nd District could be vulnerable next year. He represents a swing exurban district.

Jason Lewis will win re-election. Angie Craig has announced that she wants a rematch. The NRCC put together this devastating ad late in the campaign:

After that ran morning, noon and night, Angie Craig became synonymous with ‘toxic waste’. To be fair, the DCCC will dump tons of money into this race. The good news for the good guys is that she’s a bad fit for the district. She’s a crony capitalist who fought for special exemptions for her company while pushing unpopular policies on Minnesota.

Divided state government has produced some epic clashes, the most recent being Governor Dayton’s line-item veto of the entire budget passed by the legislature for the next two years. Republicans have sued the governor over what they assert was his unconstitutional use of the veto. The state supreme court will hear arguments later this month. Voters next year will try to resolve this stalemate.

That’s perplexing. The Minnesota Supreme Court will settle this soon. It won’t turn out well for Gov. Dayton or the DFL.

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There’s been lots of celebrating on the Range after Resolution 54 got defeated Saturday. This article said that Jason Metsa thinks that the vote is “a clear indication of where the party is at.” Then Metsa admitted that “the issue will be coming up again.”

First, the Range DFL survived Saturday, partially because all parts of the state were represented at the meeting. Anyone that thinks that John Marty will give up his anti-mining crusade anytime soon is kidding themselves. New incoming House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman hasn’t announce that she’ll take a more centrist, pro-mining position now that she’s the top-ranking Democrat in the House.

That’s before talking about whether organizations like the Sierra Club, MCEA or Conservation Minnesota (which gets significant funding from Alida Messenger) will stop bringing lawsuits against PolyMet. MCEA’s mission is to file lawsuit after lawsuit against mining companies or utilities. Winning the lawsuits isn’t MCEA’s goal. Their goal is to wear down the investors until those investors quit. I wrote about that tactic in this post, which I titled Attrition, not litigation.

Third, defeating Resolution 54 isn’t a victory because it didn’t approve a single permit for PolyMet or Twin Metals. The last I looked, Gov. Dayton hasn’t relented in saying no to the initial permits for the Twin Metals mining project.

Fourth, the DFL hasn’t lifted a finger to streamline the permitting process. I won’t trust them until they support permitting reform and regulatory relief. Even then, I’ll remain skeptical because these guys won’t permit the DFL to do real reforms:

When I wrote this post, titled The DFL’s blue collar civil war, I focused my attention on tomorrow morning’s DFL State Central meeting and something titled Resolution 54. The language for Resolution 54 states “Oppose sulfide ore mining, which is significantly different from taconite mining, poses unacceptable environmental risks, threatens multiple watersheds (Lake Superior, BWCA/VNP, Mississippi) and should not be allowed in the sulfur-bearing rock of Minnesota.”

Harold Hamilton’s Friday commentary focused on those subjects, too. Hamilton wrote “The Watchdog has spoken with a number of DFL opinion leaders from greater Minnesota who have noted that the passage of this resolution means their permanent split from the DFL.”

The next paragraph after that commentary contained an update, which said “The Watchdog has learned that there will be a motion to ‘table’ the resolution until 2018. So what. Kicking the can down the road won’t paper over this schism. DFL candidates are already announcing for governor. You can bet that various DFL constituencies will be working hard to pin down the candidates regarding mining. There will be no place to hide.”

A loyal reader of LFR said that it’s unlikely that the motion to table Resolution 54 will pass. Further, this supporter of LFR thinks it likely that Resolution 54 will pass, though that isn’t guaranteed. Another loyal supporter of LFR sent me this Twitter picture:

I don’t know if these things are tied together or if they’re entirely random. Either situation is possible at this point. What’s certain is that tomorrow morning’s meeting has the potential for blowing up in the DFL’s face. The other thing that’s certain is that DFL State Party Chair Martin can’t be blamed if he’s drinking Maalox by the bottle tonight.

According to Mr. Hamilton, if tomorrow morning’s DFL meeting blows up, Republicans will have gotten a fantastic opportunity if they play it right:

On the Republican side, leadership must grasp the opportunity, which means making some tough choices. It’s easy to support mining and pipelines. It’s easy to support guns. But it isn’t as easy to support other issues like prevailing wage laws.

Internal polling from some construction trade union showed that over 50% of their membership voted for Donald Trump and other Republicans down ticket. Maintaining those numbers will be very, very difficult if the GOP pushes for prevailing wage repeal bills, for example. Regardless of where one stands on this issue, members of the skilled construction trades see prevailing wage laws as a protection against low-cost, low-skill (sometimes illegal) labor undercutting Minnesota’s high-skill higher-cost model.

In short, when you tell a man or woman who has put in many thousands of hours to learn and perfect a trade that they should make less money in order to be on par with crews of unskilled, illegal workers from Alabama and Mississippi, it’s not a winning message. Telling rural Minnesota that blue collar people in their communities make too much money is about as popular as telling them that mining should be illegal.

Here’s hoping that Republicans a) get this opportunity and b) make the most of this opportunity.

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The man that wrote this LTE, Brian Marsh, gives idiots a bad reputation. It’s stunning to think that Democrats think people are that stupid.

Marsh started his LTE by saying “Stewart Mills III, in talking about the Second Amendment, was quoted in the Dispatch as proclaiming: ‘It is an inalienable right given to us by God.'” Marsh then follows that up by saying “Nowhere in the Bible I read is there any mention of God addressing the topic of a right to gun ownership, and, the last time I checked, God did not write our Constitution or its amendments.”

First, Mills is right. The right to defend ourselves is as old as the Bible. The Declaration of Independence introduces the concept that our rights come from “Nature’s God”, not governments. It’s stunning that Marsh finds this concept radical. It’s been part of our nation’s foundation since 1776.
Then Marsh said this:

It’s sad to see someone so desperate for power that he will resort to fabricating his own “facts” in order to achieve it.

What’s sad is seeing how little Democrats know about the Constitution. Stewart Mills understands the Constitution. He isn’t making things up.

It’s also apparent that Marsh’s goal is to deflect attention away from Rick Nolan. Nolan wants this race to be about ‘Mills the One-Percenter’. Nolan doesn’t want this election to highlight Nolan’s time as a career politician. Nolan doesn’t want voters in the Eighth District to notice that he supports Resolution 54, the DFL’s anti-mining resolution, which I wrote about here:

Specifically, Resolution 54 says “Oppose sulfide ore mining, which is significantly different from taconite mining, poses unacceptable environmental risks, threatens multiple watersheds (Lake Superior, BWCA/VNP, Mississippi) and should not be allowed in the sulfur-bearing rock of Minnesota.”

Rick Nolan is a career politician who will say anything to stay in power. He isn’t about solving problems. He’ll say anything that will keep him in DC.

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It’s amazing that the Duluth News Tribune, aka the DNT, endorsed Republican Rob Farnsworth to replace Carly Melin to represent the people of Nashwauk, Keewatin, Chisholm and Buhl in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

DNT’s endorsement wasn’t tepid, either, stating “he’s also the best bet for effective, strong leadership in St. Paul. Far from an ideologue, he’s an independent thinker with clear goals and specific priorities who’d work for all, not just a party.”

Farnsworth talked about the thing that Ken Martin, Rick Nolan and the DFL don’t want to talk about, saying “The DFL that most Iron Rangers are voting for hasn’t existed for 20 years. The DFL in the Twin Cities that has taken over the DFL in Minnesota, wants to end mining. At their convention and then again at their executive board meeting in the Twin Cities, they tried to pass an anti-mining resolution that I believe will be passed in November because they just pushed it down (the road). This is not a group that is in favor of mining.”

This is the strongest statement by the DNT Editorial Board in the endorsement article:

No matter what political affiliation, Farnsworth rises to the top of this three-way race with a stronger grasp of the issues facing Minnesotans and our Legislature and with his clearly stated and specific goals. They include improving the Iron Range and Minnesota economies by growing jobs; educational plans that make sense for all students; and transportation projects that benefit the greatest number of Minnesotans, meaning more bridge and highway work instead of massive light-rail projects in the Twin Cities that don’t even promise to take cars off the congested roads.

Farnsworth made a ton of sense when he said this:

“With the metro DFL attacking mining, attacking our way of life on the Iron Range, I’m not sure that my kids are going to be able to stay here and raise their family here if that’s what they want to do,” Farnsworth said. “That’s why I’m running for this seat.”

It’s time for the Range to reject the DFL. The metro DFL’s priorities aren’t the Range’s priorities.

Technorati: Rob Farnsworth, Duluth News Tribune, Endorsement, Mining, Iron Range, Transportation, MNGOP, Rick Nolan, Metrocrats, Environmental Activists, DFL, Election 2016

If there’s something that’s mind-boggling, it’s how steelworkers still praise the man who isn’t consistently fighting for them. What’s important to understand is that this isn’t about mining. It’s about the liberal agenda, at least with the union leadership.

Picture the union president saying “Because of his unabashed and outspoken support for our members, we are proud to stand with our congressman and present him with an award to recognize his commitment to our community, not only because of his work on trade, but for leading the fight to equalize pay for women, among other important issues.”

If I’m a miner who’s unemployed, and there are lots of people that fit that description, my first priority wouldn’t be to praise a politician “for leading the fight to equalize pay for women.” Further, I wouldn’t praise a guy who’s fought for high tariffs on countries that illegally dumped steel, then quietly supported Resolution 54, which would shut down mining.

People will take exception with that last statement. I’m perfectly prepared to defend it. It’s been reported that Rep. Nolan worked hard to not have the DFL Central Committee vote on Resolution 54. It’s been reported that “delegates voted unanimously to form an ad hoc committee comprised of the Iron Range Legislative Delegation and representatives of labor, the environmental caucus of the DFL Central Committee, and the Native American tribes to work out compromise wording on a mining resolution to be presented at the committee’s December meeting.”

Nolan knows there won’t be a compromise between the miners and environmental activists. Those groups mix together like oil and water. At the DFL State Central Committee meeting, the environmental activists will propose an anti-mining resolution and it will have the votes to pass. It’ll pass because the environmental activists have the vote to pass it.

It’s clear that the DFL’s leadership sides consistently with the environmental activists. Rep. Nolan knows this. If Range workers are satisfied with inconsistent representation that occasionally sides with them but sides with the environmental activists most of the time, then they deserve representation like Nolan.

If they want someone that’ll consistently fight for them, though, then Stewart Mills is their only option this November.

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While I wrote this post, I couldn’t stop thinking that the Iron Range would benefit if DFL activists from the Range started thinking like the Democrats who filed into Lee Supply’s training room in Charleroi, PA, which is in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Democrats in southwestern Pennsylvania that filed into that training room entered as Democrats but left as Trump voters. Angela LeJohn isn’t just voting for Donald Trump but for Pat Toomey, too. That’s because, in her opinion, “voting to preserve their industry means voting for Trump and Toomey.” Ms. LeJohn is employed by Lee Supply, which specializes in “pipe and pumping systems used in everything from traditional applications, such as water distribution and sewage treatment, to highly specialized applications such as horizontal directional drilling, slip lining, leachate and methane collection, gas extraction and water transport.”

If the Iron Range got smart, they’d vote Republican for a few cycles. A few weeks ago, Rick Nolan and Ken Martin postponed a vote on something known on the Range as Resolution 54. The text of Resolution 54 reads “Oppose sulfide ore mining, which is significantly different from taconite mining, poses unacceptable environmental risks, threatens multiple watersheds (Lake Superior, BWCA/VNP, Mississippi) and should not be allowed in the sulfur-bearing rock of Minnesota.”

Bill Hanna, the executive editor of the Mesabi Daily News, notes that “while mining opponents, most notably the DFL Environmental Caucus, are targeting nonferrous projects, they either fail to realize, or don’t care, that all rock mined on the Range is ‘sulfur-bearing rock,’ including in taconite production. So Resolution 54 would put the DFL Party squarely against a 135-year history of mining in Minnesota and opposed to a proud traditional way of life for more than a century on the Iron Range.”

As the people of Charleroi, PA have figured out, it’s more important to vote for people you don’t always agree with but who’ll always “have your back” than it is to always vote for Democrats just because that’s what you’ve always done. If the Range doesn’t figure this out, they’ll soon realize that they’ll have to vote Republican to protect their livelihoods.

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If anyone needs proof that the DFL hates laborers (the L in DFL supposedly stands for Laborer), they should look at this map of the new alternative route that Enbridge will use to get their Bakken oil to market:

I wrote this post to highlight the DFL’s indifference to pipefitters and other blue collar workers. The metro DFL environmental activists threw up hurdle after hurdle to prevent the Sandpiper Pipeline. The DFL won. The Sandpiper Pipeline won’t be built. Enbridge decided to avoid Minnesota and route their pipeline through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

The oil will flow. The commodity will still make it to market. The DFL ‘won’, if you consider losing hundreds of high-paying heavy equipment jobs to other states winning. (HINT: The Metro DFL thinks this is a victory. Since the Metro DFL runs the party, the DFL considers this a victory.)

The DFL isn’t the party of the blue collar workers. This is who they are:

Today’s DFL is led by a trust fund governor who’s lived a life of carefree luxury. It’s led by a House Minority Leader who lives in a tony Minneapolis enclave and pays more in property taxes than some people make in a year. It’s led by a clownish U.S. Senator who made a fortune playing the fool in Hollywood, writing vacuous trash while doing dope. All three live in Minneapolis and consider walking down to the farmer’s market to pick up some kale to be “farming.”

That isn’t all. Think of this:

Of course, the antidote for this malaise would be to get more mining jobs up and running, especially for those minerals, ferrous and non-ferrous, that have recovered in price point. But the urban elites who run the DFL won’t allow it. Instead, they engage in a cynical game of stringing people along, claiming that there’s just “one more” environmental regulation to clear.

Years later, miners are still waiting for good jobs. They won’t be coming, at least so long as Mark Dayton is governor. You see, there is no intention to allow this mining to start up. It’s all a smoke screen to cop some more votes out of Iron Rangers for the next election.

It’s about the false hope. The DFL party has delayed considering a resolution to oppose mining. It wasn’t defeated. Only delayed until after the election.

The DFL abandoned farmers, the F in the DFL, when Gov. Dayton vetoed a tax relief bill that would’ve provided hundreds of farmers property tax relief. Gov. Dayton didn’t fight for farmers. Instead, Gov. Dayton fought for the SWLRT project.

When it was decision time, Gov. Dayton and the DFL fought farmers, laborers and other blue collar workers. They fought for environmental activists and the metro.

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