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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.

Cindy Harner is the chairwoman of the SD-14 DFL. Suffice it to say that she isn’t a stranger to spin. In this LTE, Ms. Harner opens her LTE by saying “Not sure your vote matters? In House District 14B there are roughly 18,000 registered voters. With over $1 million spent in the 2014 election in this district, mostly from outside interests, you can be sure your vote matters. Zach Dorholt is against this. He recently said ‘It’s irritating. I don’t want any of it. I don’t care if it supports me or is against me…people in our district they’re angry, they’re sick and tired of it.'”

Of course, Dorholt isn’t telling the truth about this. He’s bought and paid for by the DFL’s special interests. When he was in the legislature in 2013-14, Rep. Dorholt voted for the forced unionization of in-home child care providers even though they wanted nothing to do with the AFSCME union. These in-home child care providers proved they didn’t want the union by soundly rejecting unionization by a vote of 1,014-392 this past March. That’s a 72%-28% rejection.

A quick glance at Dorholt’s campaign finance report highlights the fact that Mr. Dorholt is bought and paid for by the unions:

Simply put, Mr. Dorholt’s statement that he doesn’t want special interest money is dishonest. He should be ashamed of himself for being this dishonest. Ms. Harner should be ashamed for writing this, too:

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.

I won’t trust these DFL politicians with health care. They’re the idiots that ruined Minnesota’s already-functioning health care system. Why trust them to fix a system that needs a transformation? Wolgamott and Dorholt aren’t transformational people. They’re agents for the DFL’s status quo. They’ll do whatever Rep. Thissen and Sen. Bakk tell them to do.

Further, these DFL candidates won’t fight for roads and bridges funding. They’ll fight for light rail transit, which is a total waste of money.

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I’ve always thought that Dan Wolgamott was overrated as a candidate. A visit to his campaign website, especially Wolgamott’s issues page, identifies him as a cookie-cutter DFL candidate. There’s nothing about him that makes people think that he’s leadership material. A quick perusal of Mr. Wolgamott’s About Me page paints the picture of a family guy, active in the community and who is active at church.

Wolgamott said that “Additionally, I am an active member of my church here in St. Cloud where I teach Sunday School!” He also highlighted the fact that he enjoys “working with local youth and helping them learn essential life values including teamwork and leadership.”

That’s the public/PR spin side of Mr. Wolgamott. To steal a phrase from Paul Harvey, here’s “the rest of the story” about Dan Wolgamott. Apparently, Mr. Wolgamott has another side to his personality that he’d rather keep hidden. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this instance, though, these screen captures are devastating politically:

With all due respect to Mr. Wolgamott, Sunday school teachers shouldn’t be talking on their Facebook pages about manginas. They shouldn’t be saying that their pizza party would “be more pleasurable than a night in the sack with Maas’s mom.”

That’s the type of language that only perverts use.

UPDATE: The night in the sack comment was made in 2010, not 2014. The mistake was unintentional. Nonetheless, it’s something that he shouldn’t have said. I’ve deleted the reference to 2014 from the post.

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The longer that the DFL sits silent about pushing Gov. Dayton on the Republican tax relief bill, the easier it is to figure it out that they voted for it because it was politically poisonous not to vote for it. It’s getting easier to figure it out that rural DFL legislators side with their metro leadership rather than with their constituents. Thanks to this op-ed by Sen. Gazelka, it’s getting easy to detect the DFL’s intention of rallying to their metro base.

Sen. Gazelka highlighted what’s wrong with the DFL when he said “After Democrats walked away from the table on special session negotiations, Senate Democratic Leader Tom Bakk finally came clean about his real motivation for killing the tax cuts and transportation spending. He complained the bills were too focused on rural Minnesota and needed to be balanced with more money for the Twin Cities. This is where local legislators normally come in handy to bring some common sense to the discussion. Unfortunately, Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing, spent the summer standing loyally by his liberal metro leadership as they demanded the train at the expense of Winona County taxpayers. Does he agree with his leader that the bonding and transportation bills spent too much on Greater Minnesota? I say it’s about time! Judging by Sen. Schmit’s vote to add the train into the bonding bill in the last minutes of session, and his silence on the issue since then, we have to assume he sides with party leadership instead of his own constituents.”

The question that every conservative activist needs to ask their neighbors when the last time was that their DFL legislator stood up against their metro leadership. I suspect that these DFL legislators haven’t stood up against the metro in a very long time, if ever. I suspect that Sen. Schmitt is the rule, not the exception, within the DFL.

Sen. Schmitt didn’t lift a finger to bring about $550,000,000 worth of tax relief or $700,000,000 in transportation projects. Sen. Schmitt saluted Sen. Bakk and accepted his marching orders. I suspect that Sen. Bakk appreciates loyal foot soldiers that do what they’re told. That’s what Sen. Schmitt is. That’s what Dan Wolgamott would be. This paragraph says it all:

House Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt likened Democrats’ attitude to “throwing their suckers in the dirt” and walking out because they didn’t get what they wanted. Instead of working together to finish the things we all agree on, they are content to let it all go up in smoke. Meanwhile, $550 million in tax cuts and $700 million in transportation funding are stalled while our roads continue to fall apart.

I’d modify that paragraph just slightly. Instead of saying that the DFL walked out “because they didn’t get what they wanted”, I’d say that they walked out because they didn’t get everything they wanted. The DFL is the party of spoiled brats. They fight for the metro brats all the time.

The simple truth is that voting for the DFL is a vote for the metro DFL.

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If you look at Dan Wolgamott’s issues page, it’s pretty clear that he’s a big government liberal attempting to sound like a centrist. It’s clear that Mr. Wolgamott wants to paint himself as a centrist by saying that he’d “work across party lines to move our state forward.” If Mr. Wolgamott is that interested in working across party lines to move the state forward, why didn’t he fight for the $800,000,000 middle class tax relief plan? I know he didn’t have a vote on the matter but speaking out in favor of it would’ve put pressure on Gov. Dayton and the Metro DFL to push for a special session to re-pass the Tax Bill.

Mr. Wolgamott’s association with corrupt far left lefty organizations like TakeAction Minnesota indicates that he isn’t the centrist he’s portraying himself as during this campaign. This morning, I got an email from TakeAction Minnesota warning me that the Koch Brothers want to steal legislative elections here in Minnesota. The email said “the Koch funded organization – Americans for Prosperity – is pouring money into our State Legislative races, launching a mail campaign this week with much more to follow. We want to create a Minnesota where our government and economy is working for us and by us. Our elections work reflects this belief – we are invested in the leadership development of our volunteers and we’re intentionally engaging neighborhoods that are too often overlooked during the election cycle. The work of our endorsed progressive champions reflects this – Ilhan Omar, Erin Maye Quade, Alberder Gillespie, Zach Dorholt, Dan Wolgamott, Lindsey Port, and others.”

TakeAction Minnesota is part of the ProgressNow-Alliance for a Better Minnesota coalition. Wolgamott can’t run as who he is. He can’t run as a Dorholt-like lefty. That’s because Wolgamott lives in St. Cloud, not in the Fourth or Fifth districts or Duluth. If he lived there, then he’d be able to run as the far left lefty that he is. In St. Cloud, he has to pretty much run as a centrist. That’s what Tarryl did in 2005 and 2006. She couldn’t run as a moderate in 2010 because she’d acquired a voting record that exposed her as a tax-raising lefty.