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I first wrote about Dan Wolgamott’s LTE in this post. I noted at the time that Wolgamott whined that “our current elected officials aren’t making our kids a priority. We’ve seen the same story play out too many times in our schools: budget deficits that lead to increased class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids than we had, and when budget deficits get too large, a referendum for a higher local levy. Lily and all of her classmates deserve an outstanding education and a chance to succeed! If we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.”

The problem with that statement is that it’s rubbish. It was a prediction based on Wolgamott’s partisan bias. The truth is that Republicans stepped up and funded education. The bill they passed and sent to Gov. Dayton’s desk would’ve spent $90,000,000 more than Gov. Dayton requested.

The problem? In another of Gov. Dayton’s infamous temper tantrums, Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill. In his LTE, Wolgamott said that if “we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.” Actually, what’s needed is to elect a Republican as governor and never let another spoiled brat DFL politician in as governor. Gov. Dayton was a 2-term failure. He fought with the DFL Senate Leader in 2014. He shut down government in 2011 because he didn’t get everything he wanted. That sounds familiar:

In 2015, Speaker Daudt and Sen. Bakk tried negotiating a bipartisan budget bill. After a week of negotiating, they still hadn’t reached an agreement with Gov. Dayton so they decided to negotiate between themselves. An hour later, they’d reached an agreement. Once again, Gov. Dayton was the impediment.

During his watch, Gov. Dayton watched the MNLARS project fail repeatedly. Further, Gov. Dayton didn’t catch the child care fraud even though a whistleblower told them about it in 2014. Finally, Gov. Dayton didn’t notice the elder abuse scandal. That didn’t get his attention until Republican Sen. Karin Housley started investigating.

In summation, Wolgamott is a blowhard. He accused Republicans of not stepping up for ‘the children’, only to watch Gov. Dayton not step up for the children. We don’t need partisans like Wolgamott in the legislature. We need solutions-oriented men like Jim Knoblach in there. Chairman Knoblach has a history of putting solid, bipartisan budgets together.

We haven’t gotten to the campaign yet and I’m already tired of his whining. In this LTE, Wolgamott essentially whines about the tough job of governing, saying “But unfortunately, our current elected officials aren’t making our kids a priority. We’ve seen the same story play out too many times in our schools: budget deficits that lead to increased class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids than we had, and when budget deficits get too large, a referendum for a higher local levy. Lily and all of her classmates deserve an outstanding education and a chance to succeed! If we want Minnesota to continue to be a leader, we have to do better, and the Republican-led Legislature needs to step up and adequately fund our schools.”

First, the only thing that Minnesota is a leader in is having people leave the state for other destinations. The state demographer verifies that. So does the IRS. Next, liberal-infested school boards are to blame for this manufactured crisis. We’re told that 59 school districts are running deficits. Then we’re told that 10 percent per biennium spending increases aren’t enough. When’s the last time you got a 10% increase in your wage over 2 years and it wasn’t enough? Third, Mr. Wolgamott, what’s your definition of ‘adequately funding our schools’? Is there a definition? I suspect there isn’t.

But even with a budget surplus, Republicans in the legislature, including Rep. Jim Knoblach, are refusing to support the Emergency School Aid proposal. Some even questioned whether there is an emergency or need for the funding. Politicians are continuing to shortchange our schools just to put corporations and the wealthy first. That’s just not right, and it’s not fair to our children.

I’m tired of the DFL’s lying about Republicans shortchanging kids so they can “put corporations and the wealthy first.” It’s an outright lie. First, Republicans are willing to work with Gov. Dayton on addressing the needs of the 59 districts. They just aren’t willing to add 2% to the K-12 spending formula, which helps schools running surpluses and those running deficits. Instead, Gov. Dayton is insisting on his way only. That isn’t negotiating. That’s what autocrats do.

Next, it’s worth noting that Mr. Wolgamott intentionally omitted the part about a GOP counteroffer. Why? It’s impossible to climb inside a mind like Wolgamott’s but I suspect it’s because he wants to create the impression that Republicans simply don’t care about education. Anyone that works that hard at creating the impression that Republicans don’t care isn’t the type of guy that’d bring people together. I don’t have to question whether Jim Knoblach can bring people together. I’ve seen him do it. I must question Wolgamott on bringing people together because all I’ve got to go on is his claim that he’ll bring people together. That isn’t much to go on with someone as deceptive as he is.

Ensuring all of our children have access to a great education is critical for the future of our state. It’s the key to good jobs and a great economy, and making sure our kids can live a better life than their parents. It’s time for leaders from both parties to work together and pass this Emergency School Aid. And if they won’t, let’s replace them with people who will put our kids first.

What Mr. Wolgamott didn’t say in that paragraph is that Minnesota also needs competitive tax rates and fewer regulations to create jobs and a bright future. Apparently, Wolgamott hasn’t figured it out that people from each age group and each income group are leaving Minnesota because Minnesota just isn’t the desirable state to live in anymore thanks to the DFL’s policies.

We’ve had divided government, in which case the DFL won the budget fight. We’ve had unified DFL government, which resulted in the DFL winning the budget fight. What we haven’t had is unified Republican government. What we know is that Gov. Dayton and the Metrocrats have spent tons of money on Twin Cities things while ignoring rural Minnesota. That’s why voters threw out DFL legislators and gave the legislative keys to Republicans.

That’s pretty astonishing considering the fact that Gov. Dayton repeatedly told voters that he wanted DFL majorities in the House and Senate in 2017. Instead, voters gave him Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2017. They know the Dayton plan isn’t working. What’s most needed is competence, something that’s been lacking in the governor’s mansion the past 8 years. Think MNLARS, MNsure, the nursing home crisis and the child care fraud scandal.

Last night, Melissa Hortman retweeted something titled a “comprehensive list of DFL candidates running for the House of Representatives.” One of the candidates listed in the link is Dan Wolgamott. It’s difficult to picture him as a serious candidate, mostly because he’s run for 3 different legislative seats in the last 3 election cycles. If Mr. Wolgamott keeps up this pace, he’ll make Tarryl Clark look like homebody. This year, Wolgamott is running for Jim Knoblach’s seat in HD-14B. In 2016, Wolgamott ran for the SD-14 senate seat. In 2014, Wolgamott ran for Tama Theis’s seat in HD-14A. But I digress.

Mr. Wolgamott’s campaign website is nothing but mush. Wolgamott’s priorities page is entirely devoid of substance. What it’s missing in substance, though, it more than makes up for in platitudes and feel-goodisms. For instance, on the subject of higher education, Wolgamott wants to “lower tuition and administrative costs, fully support our state colleges and universities and allow students to refinance school loans.”

St. Cloud State is located entirely in HD-14B. Its enrollment has been declining since 2011. Retrenchment (a fancy term for firing faculty and administration) looks likely in FY2019. Rather than fixing the SCSU crisis, Mr. Wolgamott offers platitudes but no specifics? Where’s Mr. Wolgamott’s solutions to the district’s biggest problem?

On the subject of “Jobs and Economic Development”, Mr. Wolgamott “supports job training and placement programs, expanding start-up business grants, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship” while streamlining the “permitting process.”

Again, businesses are leaving St. Cloud (Electrolux) for other states or they’re going bankrupt (Herbergers). People are leaving St. Cloud proper. Despite these things, the best Mr. Wolgamott can do is offer generic-sounding platitudes without offering specific solutions. On Mr. Wolgamott’s priorities page, he asks this rhetorical question:

Who cares if something is a Republican idea, a Democrat idea or an Independent idea?

Based on this picture, I’d bet that it matters to Mr. Wolgamott:

Mr. Wolgamott insists that he’ll bring people together. That might be true. It might not. There’s no question whether Jim Knoblach will bring people together. He’s already done that. Do voters want a wannabe career politician who spews platitudes? Or do St. Cloud voters want an experienced policy maker?

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If there’s anything certain in life, the saying goes, it’s death and taxes. In St. Cloud, we can apparently add Dan Wolgamott running for political office as a certainty. According to this article, Wolgamott, who has run for Tama Theis’s house seat in HD-14A in 2014, then ran for the open senate seat vacated when John Pederson retired, is now interested in Jim Knoblach’s seat.

Wolgamott issued a statement announcing his candidacy, saying “Career politician Jim Knoblach currently represents the district and is serving his eighth term (15th year) in the state House. Under Knoblach’s watch, the Legislature has failed to get its work done on time for six of those years, each time resulting in a costly special session.”

The perpetual campaigner is denouncing career politicians. That’s rich. Here’s what you need to know about Wolgamott. First, he’s a Democrat first. His constituents come second. He said as much a few years ago when he wrote an op-ed, saying that he’d vote to raise the gas tax if that’s what his caucus approved. Next, Wolgamott’s talk about bringing people together is just that — talk. I don’t doubt that Wolgamott brings Democrats together. I’m totally skeptical, though, that he’d lift a finger to bring Republicans and Democrats together.

I don’t have to speculate whether Jim Knoblach would bring Republicans and Democrats together. I have verifiable proof that he’s frequently brought Republicans and Democrats together. The most recent example that I wrote about was in 2015, when he was part of Speaker Daudt’s budget team that put together a bipartisan budget agreement with then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. Of course, Gov. Dayton and other high-profile liberals sabotaged the agreement.

The good news is that Chairman Knoblach persevered, which led to the Daudt-Bakk budget eventually passing during a special session. There’s no reason to think that Wolgamott would stand up to the DFL leadership. He’s a hardline progressive that would’ve voted to create MNsure.

Finally, here’s another part of Wolgamott’s statement getting into yet another race:

Status-quo politicians like Jim Knoblach continue to stack the deck against hard-working, middle-class Minnesotans, prioritizing wealthy donors and corporate special interests instead of working families.

Wolgamott is as cookie-cutter as they come. There’s nothing that says he’d be a leader. If you went to the dictionary for the definition of a career politician, here’s what you’d find:

Jerry Relph won election to the Minnesota Senate on November 8 by defeating DFL candidate Dan Wolgamott by 148 votes. Because he won by that narrow margin, Senator-Elect Relph had to wait until the recount was finished to celebrate. That recount was finished yesterday. Predictably, Relph maintained his lead, though the margin of victory got a little smaller.

According to the article, “Wolgamott picked up six votes in Stearns County, while Relph lost one. Both candidates’ totals in Benton and Sherburne counties remained the same.” The bottom line is that Senator-Elect Relph’s margin of victory is now at 141 votes after starting the recount at 148 votes.

Thanks to this recount and another recount victory in SD-44, Republicans will hold a 34-33 majority in the Minnesota Senate. House Republicans are waiting for the outcome of a special election in HD-32B on Feb. 14 to find out how big their majority will be. Right now, there are 76 Republicans in the House. It’s expected that Ann Neu, the Republican running in that race, will win that election.

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This St. Cloud Times article reports that Dan Wolgamott “will formally request a recount after the canvassing boards of Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties and the state have certified the election results.” Wolgamott was defeated by Jerry Relph in the election to see who would represent SD-14 in the State Senate for 2017-2021.

According to the article, “Wolgamott said he would request the recount ‘to ensure that our voting process was as fair and accurate as Minnesotans expect it to be.'” The truth is that he won’t win. If Mr. Wolgamott doesn’t know that, then it’s a good thing he wasn’t elected because he isn’t smart enough to represent SD-14.

Seriously, it’s impossible to make up a 142-vote margin in a race where 37,000 votes were cast. When King Banaian was elected to represent HD-15B in November, 2010, he initially won by 10 votes. That triggered an automatic recount. In the recount, Dr. Banaian gained an additional 4 votes. Carol Lewis, his opponent that year, gained 1 vote, meaning that Dr. Banaian officially won by 13 votes, not 10.

In 2014, Jim Knoblach defeated Zach Dorholt by 69 votes. Dorholt didn’t bother asking for a recount, probably because he knew it was a lost cause.

To be fair, it’s entirely possible that the DFL powers-that-be might’ve ordered Wolgamott to request a recount because the majority of the Senate potentially hangs on the outcome to this race.

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The last 2 weeks of a legislative campaign are filled with mailers. This year isn’t an exception. Dan Wolgamott, the DFL-endorsed candidate for SD-14, touts himself as running a positive campaign. What he isn’t telling people is that the DFL is running his smear campaign for him. In fact, of the 4 lit pieces I’ve received since Saturday, all were paid for by the “Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor State Committee.” In fact, the fine print says that “this is an independent expenditure, not approved by any candidate.”

My favorite lit piece has a young woman doctor with a stethoscope looking at a smiling little girl. The caption on that page says “Dan Wolgamott will never play politics with our healthcare.” (Emphasis their’s) At the bottom of the back page is a side-by-side comparison of “Dan Wolgamott’s healthcare plan” and “Jerry Relph’s healthcare plan.”

Dan Wolgamott’s health care plan has 3 bullet points, starting with “Protect affordable healthcare in Minnesota from profit-hungry insurance companies that want to limit our coverage and hike premiums.”

I didn’t need to read further to know that the DFL isn’t capable of telling the truth. The Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA, was written in such a way as to prohibit insurance companies from making a profit. That’s why Democrats had to include a provision in the ACA that I call the insurance bailout provision. Now that insurance companies are losing money, they’re hiking their premiums and limiting the number of policies they’ll sell.

If this is Wolgamott’s health care plan, which I suspect it is, then he’s advocating a single-payer health care plan. Talking about “profit-hungry insurance companies” sounds like Bernie Sanders’ talk. The only plan Sanders, the socialist, would support is single-payer.

The other point that must be made is that we’ve got a full-blown health insurance crisis because health insurance premiums and deductibles have gone through the roof since MNsure became law in Minnesota. If Wolgamott truly wanted to guarantee affordable health care, he should’ve told the DFL not to participate in the ACA.

The DFL destroyed Minnesota’s health insurance system. Now politicians like Dan Wolgamott are trying to pretend like they’ve got a solution to the problem. Wolgamott’s solution is a taxpayer’s nightmare. It’s anything but affordable. And yes, Dan Wolgamott will play politics with Minnesotans’ health care. In fact, he’s already playing politics with it.

Rejecting Wolgamott is the right thing to do. That’s the only way to prevent him from doing serious damage to a health care system that’s already in crisis. It’s in crisis because the DFL isn’t interested in doing right by Minnesotans. They’re just interested in piling up ideological victories, even if it hurts Minnesota families.

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The biggest things I took away about Dan Wolgamott, the DFL-endorsed candidate for SD-14, from yesterday’s candidate forum is that he’s an empty suit and that he’s prone to talking himself in circles. On the subject of transportation, for instance, his opponent, Jerry Relph, said he opposed raising the gas tax as the solution to fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges because it isn’t a stable funding source. Relph added that the gas tax might be used as a patchwork to fixing roads and bridges.

When it was Wolgamott’s turn, he said that raising the gas tax wasn’t his first choice, either, for the same reasons. Wolgamott added that there’s no disputing the fact that Minnesota’s lagged in investing in transportation. Wolgamott then said that he has the ability to bring people together (one of his go-to lines when he’s grasping for what to say next) before finishing by saying that all options have to be on the table, including raising the gas tax. If it doesn’t provide a stable funding source, it doesn’t have to be kept on the table.

There’s no doubt that, if given the time, Wolgamott would talk himself into opposing the gas tax increase again.

On a health care question that I submitted, Wolgamott said that “There’s been a lot of boogey-manning going on about MNsure” before saying “we’ve got to take immediate action to help these families who are in these situations.” No kidding, Captain Obvious. Premiums are increasing by 50%-67% and Wolgamott says that “we’ve got to take immediate action to help these families who are in these situations.” Unfortunately, he didn’t admit why they’re increasing that much.

Perhaps that’s because Wolgamott doesn’t want to admit that the DFL screwed things up by moving away from the system they had that was working. Perhaps it’s because he isn’t bright enough to figure that out.

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Monday afternoon, Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Times moderated a debate between the candidates for the candidates for the SD-14 Senate candidates and the candidates for HD-14A and HD-14B. It was the best job of moderating a debate I’ve seen other than the job the Fox News team of Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly.

Prior to the event, Ms. Marohn took to Twitter to ask for questions for the debate. I submitted a question, asking “What is the solution to the Obamacare/MNsure crisis? What needs to be done to prevent more insurers dropping out of the individual market?” It was the next-to-the-last question asked. Suffice it to say that it provoked the sharpest answers of the debate.

Dan Wolgamott, the DFL-endorsed candidate for SD-14, said “Let’s take a look at who actually raises the premiums and that’s the insurance companies and why is that? Well, it’s because the long-term costs of health care are prescription drugs, an aging population and high cost services such as the emergency room. So those are the real long-term costs but we’ve got to take immediate action to help these families who are in these situations. So we need to provide immediate relief through more tax subsidies to expanding eligibility for those so we can offset the rising costs of those premiums.”

That isn’t a solution. It’s barely a patch for a single year. The reality is that insurance companies are losing tens of millions of dollars nationally. If they can’t make money selling their product, they’ll quit selling their policies on the individual market. It’s that simple.

Zach Dorholt’s answer was even more extreme:

We have to remember that when we chose to opt into MNsure, we received Medicaid expansion dollars and those directly impacted the people I work with as a counselor. I work with people who live with serious and persistent mental illness, many of whom were kicked off of a program called General Assistance Medical Care by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and many of those people ended up on the street. Many of those folks ended up costing the system more and that change cost some of those people their lives. If we’re going to be serious about addressing the flaw of the ACA, which is that it didn’t have a public option, and that is very frustrating. We can do that here in Minnesota. There’s three things that we can do: 1. We could pass the Minnesota Health Plan, which would be universal single-payer health care for all Minnesotans. 2. We could create our own public option, which is allowing people to buy into MinnesotaCare and 3, which I think we have to do Day One to address the rising costs of private insurance companies raised, not MNsure. Yes, MNsure is a system that has its flaws and MNsure didn’t raise rates. Private insurance companies raised rates and we need to do something Day One that gives rebates to those people who are stuck in the middle with these high costs.

In other words, Dorholt is for a single-payer health care system. That would ruin the US health care system virtually instantly because the government would set prices. That sounds good until you realize that doctors, clinics and hospitals won’t work without just compensation. Once that’s implemented, doctor and nurse shortages will appear virtually instantly.

Jerry Relph, the GOP-endorsed candidate for the State Senate, cut to the heart of the matter:

I think there’s something that needs to be pointed out here and that is that the reasons why premiums are going up is very simple. The people that were expected to sign up for these programs are not signing up for them. As a result, the people that are drawing on the resource using the insurance are causing the insurance companies to pay out more for medical care and the insurance companies are not receiving the compensation from the healthy people that will offset that cost so we need to look at that.

That’s how the Obamacare death spiral starts. Even though a significant portion of young people are eligible for IRS subsidies or are forced to pay a fine, they still aren’t buying health insurance. That means most of the people who’ve bought health care through the individual market are the patients that have the highest use of medical services.

Jim Knoblach summed things up best:

Well, MNsure is a disaster. We probably had what was the best health insurance system in the United States 4-5 years ago here in Minnesota. Only about 8% of the people in the state didn’t have health insurance. The vast majority of those actually qualified for public health care plans like MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. It wasn’t because of MNsure. They were eligible for all those things anyway. But then with the passage of MNsure at the state level and everything that went with it, it really wrecked the system we had. That’s one of the big differences between my opponent and I. Zach voted for this and I never would’ve voted for this.

It’s clear that the DFL candidates aren’t willing to agree with Gov. Dayton and President Clinton. It’s clear, too, that Republicans have a strong grasp of the issue and that they have solutions to fix this crisis.

The best thing that can be said about the DFL’s solution to the MNsure disaster is that they’re MIA. First, let’s state clearly that MNsure is a financial disaster for Minnesotans. Heather Carlson’s article highlights that fact by stating “Insurance company rates announced last week show that residents in southeastern Minnesota who are looking to buy individual policies will once again be faced with the highest premiums in the state.
There will also be less choice. Blue Cross/Blue Shield announced in June it would no longer sell policies in the state’s individual market. That means there are two insurance plans left for individual consumers to choose from in southeast Minnesota — Medica and Blue Plus.”

That’s the bad news. The terrible news is that “Medica’s rates will climb by an average of nearly 50 percent in 2017 and Blue Plus’ rates will increase by 55 percent. Medica will also cap the number of enrollees it will accept statewide at 50,000.”

Yesterday, I wrote this post to highlight Cindy Harner’s quote about the DFL’s candidates in SD-14:

We have a slate of local candidates ready to make a change for the better. They have fresh ideas and a passion for improving things important to Central Minnesota – things like infrastructure, education funding and health care.

Zach Dorholt’s priorities page doesn’t offer a solution:

As someone who works in the healthcare field I regularly see issues that if reformed, could make healthcare more efficient and affordable. Too many policies are made in St. Paul without the guidance of those who actually work with patients on a day to day basis. When elected, I will work to make sure that healthcare remains accessible and affordable to all of our citizens and that we get our fair share of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from Washington.

That’s a dodge if ever I heard one. What’s worse is that it doesn’t address rising health insurance premiums. It doesn’t address shrinking insurance options. Dan Wolgamott’s thoughts on health care are similarly evasive:

Healthcare

  1. Fight for Fair Prescription Drug Coverage
  2. Increase Efficiency to Ensure Low Cost and Positive Outcomes
  3. Leverage Health Care Technology to Assist Patient Care
  4. Support a Minnesota-Based Approach to Health Care Reform

This isn’t how you communicate solutions, which is what’s required. It’s how to be evasive. I don’t want evasive politicians. I don’t take my car to a mechanic for him to work on it. I take the vehicle there to get fixed. I don’t vote for politicians that don’t offer specific solutions to the biggest problems. I don’t care if politicians work on a problem if they don’t fix the problem the first time.

The DFL hasn’t offered anything resembling a solution to MNsure. That’s why I won’t consider them serious candidates.