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Yesterday, the St. Cloud Times published this interesting article about Liz Baklaich, who is running for the St. Cloud City Council in Ward 2. For those who aren’t familiar with St. Cloud, Ward 2 “includes a section of the north side along the Mississippi River and the East Side.” If she’s elected, I would be one of her constituents. But I digress.

According to the article, Ms. Baklaich’s “goals include making sure the citizens and their voices are heard — and she is holding listening sessions as a way to get a pulse on what residents are feeling. ‘If I’m going to run, I want to know what’s important because honestly, what I see, is people are generally disengaged,’ Baklaich said. ‘People are disengaged because they feel like they are not being listened to.'”

If elected, Ms. Baklaich wants “to lower taxes and focus on helping businesses succeed, maintain parks and public lands and improve the city’s relationship with St. Cloud State University.” She’s also concerned about the federal refugee resettlement program:

“I have concerns about the money aspect on refugee resettlement and I think that when citizens come and they ask questions, no one should be able to wag their finger in their face and shut them down by calling them hateful names,” she said. “If somebody has a concern, the best way to alleviate that concern is to talk to them, understand where that concern is coming from and why they have it, to address them openly and honestly and then to figure out what to do about it.”

It’s apparent that she’s already more in touch with her potential constituents than Councilman Laraway. Laraway’s biggest worries are about his clients, most of whom aren’t his constituents.

Baklaich is right when she said “I don’t like that when I show up at a city council meeting and people go up and they speak, it looks like the council already has their mind made up. What I see is, if I want people to go up and to speak their mind, I want the council to listen to them.” When I spoke during the City Council’s open forum section of the meeting, the City Council didn’t pay much attention. I could’ve been talking to an empty room and received as much attention.

It’s time to throw the bums out. Jeff Johnson is the only current councilman who will listen to people and he isn’t seeking re-election. I won’t be voting for Mr. Laraway because I demand to be listened to. This August, I’ll be voting for Ms. Baklaich.

According to this article, President Trump will make a campaign appearance in Duluth. Also, “the rally will be at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.” Pete Stauber plans on attending the event. Stauber is the GOP-endorsed candidate for the Eighth Congressional District. Stauber hopes to replace Rick Nolan.

It’s worth noting that “Trump carried [the district] by nearly 16 percentage points in 2016.” Further, “the race for the open 8th District seat is considered a tossup.” Unlike the races in CD-2 and CD-3, this race is an actual toss-up. Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan is getting excited:

“The importance of Minnesota this election cycle — in influencing the balance of power in Washington D.C. for the next two years and ensuring we send the President conservative reinforcements — depends on our ability to Make Minnesota Red,” Carnahan said. “We look forward to the momentum and positive energy his visit will bring to Minnesota Republicans and our opportunities this election cycle.”

President Trump will increase turnout in the Eighth District. His appearance might help cause voters to switch allegiances.

This shouldn’t be seen in a vacuum. Remember that the DFL primaries (gubernatorial and congressional) both pit an environmentalist against a pro-mining candidate. Don’t think that President Trump won’t mention that in his speech.

The last time Trump was in Minnesota was right before the 2016 election. Back then, they said stopping in Minnesota and Wisconsin was “campaign malpractice.” I guess the pundits were wrong that time, too.

During her interview with KMSP-TV, Erin Murphy did her best to explain why the DFL endorsement for governor is important. At one point, I got the sense that Rep. Murphy almost said that it’s important because she’s strapped for cash and needs the DFL’s assistance to push her across the finish line. She stopped short of that but that’s still the truth:

According to this report, Murphy had less than $75,000 cash-on-hand as of 3/31/2018. By comparison, Tim Pawlenty has $900,000 more cash-on-hand. On the DFL side of things, Tim Walz has almost $650,000 cash-on-hand.

Let’s get serious here. With the DFL’s help, Erin Murphy should win the DFL Primary. The minute the primary is over, though, she’s in trouble. The bad news for the DFL is that her competitors on the DFL side are in worse shape. With the DFL having been taken over by Our Revolution, Murphy is the only candidate extreme enough for that organization. Lori Swanson and Tim Walz will split the outstate vote. When they lose the primary, their voters are most likely to either not vote for Murphy or they’ll switch to the GOP.

This won’t be a happy reunion. This is the DFL’s civil war. Republicans aren’t unified but the DFL is heading for outright civil war.

Zach Dorholt’s newest political venture is running for the ISD 742 School Board. Predictably, Dorholt is bringing his failed liberal ideology with him.

One of Dorholt’s “priorities” is “to revamp Apollo High School.” “You hear the conversation of, ‘Am I going to go to this brand new school or am I going to go to this relic from the ’70s?’ I don’t want that to be a narrative in our community. These need to be equal schools,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of different ideas about how to do that and I want to make sure that conversation is constructive.'”

Actually, St. Cloud doesn’t need 2 high schools, especially with grade school enrollments dropping over the next 10 years. The new Tech High School should be able to house all of the students within a decade. The last thing we need is to spend another $25,000,000-$50,000,000 on renovating Apollo.

Dorholt will have high name recognition going for him in his campaign. What he’ll have going against him is his reckless spending habits, his love of tax increases and his liberal ideology of just dumping tons of money at noisemakers. People who have studied the Apollo issue and who are honest know that we don’t need to renovate the building.

Dorholt and his fellow liberal won’t admit it but St. Cloud isn’t growing. Businesses are closing or moving. People who still live in St. Cloud are sending their kids to Sauk Rapids-Rice HS so they won’t have to deal with the Tech situation.

Meanwhile, Dorholt and his progressive friends have buried their heads in the sand, pretending that the problems I just outlined don’t exist. Unfortunately for taxpayers, they exist. Dorholt and the other progressives on the Board will attempt to throw more money at the problem without fixing the problem.

I’m semi-stunned with the first polling for the DFL primary in Minnesota’s Eighth District. First, the polling company was “conducted by Victoria Research and Consulting for the Radinovich campaign. The firm, based in Maryland, has worked in Minnesota’s Eighth District since first hired by the late Jim Oberstar in 1992.” Next, “the company interviewed 400 likely DFL primary voters in the Eighth District from May 12-17. Of the five DFLers in the race, Lee had the highest name recognition at 39 percent, while Radinovich was second at 30 percent. Fewer than one-in-four likely primary voters had heard of state Rep. Jason Metsa or North Branch Mayor Kristen Hagen Kennedy.”

That few people had heard of Kristen Hagen-Kennedy isn’t surprising. That few people have heard of Jason Metsa is stunning. He’s a state legislator. He’s been re-elected, too. That isn’t the only bad news for Metsa, though. Here’s more:

The survey considered the candidates support within the district’s two major media markets, Duluth and the Twin Cities. Lee had a clear lead in the Duluth market, with 24 percent support, while Radinovich was second at 18 percent. Metsa finished third with 15 percent support while Kennedy had the backing of just four percent of those polled.

Radinovich holds a clear lead, however, in the southern part of the district, with 17 percent support. Kennedy was in second place at nine percent, while Lee finished third at seven percent. Metsa came in at just two percent support.

In other words, Metsa is tanking outside of his back yard.

Lee represents an interesting dilemma for the DFL. She’s well-known, popular and she opposes copper-nickel mining:

The last thing the DFL needs is for there to be a tough fight between the pro-mining people and the anti-mining activists as their 2 finalists duke it out. That’s what this is shaping up to be at this point. It’s impossible to forget, too, that Leah Phifer won all 10 of the ballots at the DFL CD-8 Convention, though she didn’t win the endorsement. Let’s remember, too, that Rebecca Otto’s only win in the Precinct Caucus straw poll was in CD-8. They might’ve gotten rid of Phifer but they haven’t gotten rid of the environmental activists.

I expect Radinovich to win the primary because there will a significant turnout for the pro-mining Swanson-Nolan gubernatorial ticket in the primary in the Eighth. That shouldn’t be underestimated. However, it wouldn’t be wise to predict a Radinovich victory in November if the Erin-Squared ticket wins the gubernatorial primary. An Erin-Squared victory will likely have a negative effect on turnout in the Eighth District.

In a surprise move, the DFL has opted to hold an endorsing convention to fill the soon-to-be empty seat left by Keith Ellison’s decision to run for Attorney General.

According to the DFL’s official statement, “The party said in a statement that Ellison’s move has ‘resulted in a great deal of confusion and interest’ in how the DFL will handle the primary election. The party said delegates should have a chance to endorse a candidate.”

Later in the article, it said that “the candidates are state Rep. Ilhan Omar, former Minnesota House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, state Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, Frank Nelson Drake and Jamal Abdi Abdulahi.”

This should get interesting. First, most of these candidates are socialists. Putting them on display will only remind Minnesotans how far left the DFL has drifted. Despite all of the names on the ballot, this is essentially a 2-person race between Ilhan Omar and Margaret Anderson-Kelliher. Based on what I’ve seen thus far this election season, I’d consider Omar to be the frontrunner for the endorsement. I don’t know that there is a frontrunner in the primary.

One thing that’s pretty apparent, though, is that Margaret Anderson-Kelliher and Ilhan Omar represent significantly different wings of the DFL. Omar stated that “I am a coalition builder and will continue Congressman Ellison’s legacy of using the Minnesota Fifth District seat to fight for all of us not only in Washington but here at home.”

It will be interesting to see which part of the DFL is dominant. I suspect it’s the Ellison-Omar wing.

Thus far, Tim Pawlenty is the only GOP gubernatorial candidate to send me information on their campaign. Jeff Johnson’s campaign hasn’t shown any signs of activity, either in fundraising letters, campaign updates or through social media. At this point, I’m left to question whether Jeff Johnson is going through the motions or whether he’s just too broke to run a full-fledged campaign.

At any rate, Tim Pawlenty is running a complete campaign. In his latest campaign email, Pawlenty writes “The DFL candidates for governor, Tim Walz and Erin Murphy, support tax increases and turning Minnesota into a haven for illegal immigration by imposing sanctuary state laws. In fact, Tim Walz even proposed bringing terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay to Rochester, Minnesota!” Later in the same email, Pawlenty wrote “At a time when our state government can’t properly operate the renewal system for licenses; can’t even properly confirm eligibility before giving out public assistance; and is even being investigated for potentially diverting child care funds to terrorists — we need our elected officials to be accountable and use common sense. With the DFL plunging into chaos, they have proven to every Minnesotan that they cannot and will not take these critical responsibilities seriously.”

Gov. Dayton has been a total disaster the past 8 years. Minnesotans are taxed far too much. Far too often under Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s watch, they’ve ignored warning signs of theft or fraud.

It isn’t improper to call the DFL the party of big broken government. They’ve proven that they only care about oversized appropriations and no oversight. MNLARS continues unfixed. Meanwhile, Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would’ve saved deputy registrars from financial ruin that Gov. Dayton and the DFL caused because Republicans wouldn’t write Gov. Dayton a blank check for an additional $33,000,000 to supposedly finish fixing MNLARS. When the GOP insisted on strict oversight, Gov. Dayton went into another of his famous diatribes.

Do we want another inept, corrupt Democrat in the Governor’s mansion? Shouldn’t we want a governor who has already shown he’s competent? We can’t afford Erin Murphy’s wildly expensive ideas

With the DFL primaries likely to be contentious, some major rifts have gotten exposed. In his weekly commentary, Harold Hamilton noted that “the DFL is wholly funded, owned, and operated by the wealthy urban elites who hail from about three zip codes in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. These king makers are extremely liberal in their world view and thus support candidates who are extremely liberal in their world view. In short, the DFL establishment these days favors extreme liberals who hail from the urban core.” (Hamilton predicts that Erin Murphy and Keith Ellison will win their primaries and be the DFL’s general election candidates for governor and AG respectively.)

That necessarily means some awfully hurt feelings. As Hamilton said, “Lori Swanson specifically pointed out in her announcement that she was running for governor that she is in favor of gun rights, a hot button topic. Erin Murphy, on the other hand, is a gun grabber and has no regard for the Second Amendment, as does her running mate.”

Anyone that thinks rural DFLers and metro DFLers won’t duke it out over the Second Amendment is kidding themselves. This is one of the existential fights that DFL Chair Ken Martin has tried avoiding for 5+ years. Hamilton noted that “there is a growing schism between the party’s urban, liberal faction and its rural ‘Reagan Democrat’ pragmatic faction.” Here at LFR, I’ve been chronicling that schism for years. It’s inevitable that the divorce happen.

Mitch Berg correctly notes that “It’s pretty clear the DFL is sliding toward Metro-only status. If they lose CD8 and possibly CD1 this year (both are more possible than at any time in years), and with the knowledge that Colin Peterson’s Potemkin seat in CD7 will never be replaced by a Democrat again when he retires), it’ll really be official, even if they someday flip CD3.”

Tonight on Almanac, the 3 DFL gubernatorial candidates did their best to spin the differences between rural issues and metro issues. They failed. Each played nice to a certain degree, though Erin Murphy definitely attacked Walz on the NRA. When rural voters hear that, it’s inevitable that they think the DFL is the party of gun grabbers. What’s clear is that these candidates either don’t understand rural voters or are too busy pandering to city voters.

Murphy and Maye Quade have opposed pipelines and mining. They voted for the buffer strips, too. These positions will alienate rural voters. Amy Koch nails it during the roundtable:

During the Roundtable, Eric Eskola mentioned the Eighth District DFL Primary. They’d run out the environmentalist in that race. Now, 2 more environmentalists have filed to run in the primary. These candidates won’t win but they will keep that fight fresh through August. That isn’t just a disagreement. Potentially, it might turn into a civil war.

If the DFL can’t resolve these major differences, a divorce is inevitable. It’s just a matter of when.

Jenny Berg’s article about Dr. John Palmer’s decision to run for the St. Cloud City Council highlights something important. It is best highlighted when Dr. Palmer is quoted as saying “I’ve chosen consciously to talk about ‘we the people’ because I really think the current council and the person I’m running against has forgotten that they are servants to the people. In our republican form of government, it’s the people who are in charge.”

What Dr. Palmer implied, I’ll state explicitly. The men who represent the citizens of Wards 1, 2 and 3 don’t listen to the people of their wards. Jeff Johnson, who isn’t seeking re-election, is the only member of the City Council that consistently listens to his constituents and who sees what’s happening in this city.

Of the candidates running for the City Council, I’m confident that Dr. Palmer, Liz Baklaich, Paul Brandmire and Mike Conway will listen to the people. I’m confident of that because I know each of them and I’ve seen how good of listeners they are. It’s possible that the other candidates are decent listeners. I just can’t vouch for their listening skills.

Nobody should like the direction that St. Cloud is heading. The Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Kleis and the incumbents have told us that the city is heading in the right direction. Unemployment is low but Electrolux is moving. Herbergers is closing. Our airport is on life support. What part of that sounds like we’re heading in the right direction?

Palmer said his goals, if elected, are to grow the economy of St. Cloud and ensure citizens’ voices are heard. “We can no longer rely on simply increasing fees and sales taxes, increasing hotel and motel taxes and increasing property taxes. What we need to do is grow the economy in able to have sufficient revenue,” he said. “What you want more of, you certainly don’t tax.”

Palmer said the council needs to be open to differing opinions. “My main goal is to reform the council in such a way that the primary orientation is to listen to the people and to conduct the affairs of the council in such a way so that the people’s voice is not stifled,” he said.

“Let me give a concrete example — by having a public hearing two weeks before they are going to have a vote, and by excluding the public from participating in the debate at the time they are going to vote, you stifle public input. You stifle the quality of the debate.”

That’s what principled leadership sounds like.

In her speech during the open forum portion of the City Council meeting, Liz Baklaich said that the Council is irreparably damaged and couldn’t be fixed. In my opinion, she’s right. Dave Masters, Steve Laraway and John Libert aren’t suddenly going to start listening to the people. That isn’t who they are. I don’t often agree with Vice President Biden but he once said something that’s inescapably true. He said “A leader without followers is just a man out for a walk.” Masters, Laraway and Libert are just people out for a walk.

Frankly, Masters is a disgrace. When Dr. Palmer tried making a point at last Monday’s meeting, the Council President told Dr. Palmer to sit down. When he refused to sit because sitting would’ve violated a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, Masters said “Personally, I take offense with Dr. Palmer not following the rules and standing before the Council after being asked numerous times to sit down please. You have your time when you can speak during the Open Forum.”

I have a problem when elected officials ignore state Supreme Court rulings:

I feel like justice was finally served,” said Robin Hensel, whose refusal to move her chair at a 2013 Little Falls City Council meeting was at the heart of the court’s decision. Hensel, a grandmother and peace activist who frequently protests at Camp Ripley, said she never thought she would actually get charged when she moved a folding chair to the open space between the public galley and the City Council’s dais.

In its ruling Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with Hensel, saying: “The statute is broad and ambiguous, prohibiting any conduct or speech that ‘disturbs an assembly or meeting,’ whether expressive or not. An individual could violate the statute by, for example, wearing an offensive t-shirt, using harsh words in addressing another person, or even raising one’s voice in a speech.”

Masters is part of the problem. In my opinion, Dr. Palmer is part of the solution because he’s a principled leader.

I remember the good old days when Tarryl Clark moved from St. Cloud to Duluth. These days, Tarryl isn’t the rising star that she once was. These days, she’s still travelling but this time, instead of running for Congress, she’s running for a spot on the Stearns County Commission, where she’ll be running against Steve Gottwalt.

A loyal reader of LFR emailed me, saying “Travelin’ Tarryl has a house on Woodhill Road near Cooper Ave about 7 blocks from Calvary Church. Her new ‘apartment’ is near the St. Cloud Aquatics Center…in Steve Gottwalt’s County Commissioner District where the vacancy is occurring.”

KVSC reported the story this way:

With candidate filing periods closing this week, one candidate made a last second entry to join the race to become the District 1 Stearns County Commissioner.
Tarryl Clark announced her intention to run for the position Tuesday. Clark is a resident of St. Cloud who has worked in the St. Cloud area for about 30 years. She is an active member of the St. Cloud Rotary Club and the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce.

Clark has previously been elected to the Minnesota State Senate, where she became Assistant Majority Leader and worked from 2006 to 2010. She was also the Academic Dean at St. Cloud Technical and Community College and the first Director for the Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity.

Clark will run against businessman Craig Bomgaars and former St. Cloud City Council member Steve Gottwalt.

I’m sure the omission of Steve Gottwalt’s accomplishments was intentional. While it’s true that Steve served on the St. Cloud City Council, including as City Council President, he later went on to win election to the Minnesota House of Representatives, eventually serving as Chair of the House Health Care Reform Committee.

I found this interesting:

Especially when compared with this:

What’s pathetic is that Tarryl went from Minnesota Senate in 2005-2011 to Congressional candidate in CD-6 in 2010 to congressional candidate in CD-8 in 2012 to running for the Stearns County Commission in 2018. The question I have is this: will she run for Colin Peterson’s seat when he retires?

I won’t bet against it.

PS- I wouldn’t bet against Steve Gottwalt in this race.