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I’ll risk saying this but the professional political punditry needs to get start seeing things through a policy impact perspective, not through a ‘will it play politically’ perspective. During this morning’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Dayton said that he’s long advocated for a single-payer health care system.

What was the collective reaction from the professional political punditry? Crickets. No big deal. Keep moving.

The government, whether we’re talking about the Obama administration or the Dayton administration, is incapable of handling anything that complex. In too many instances, it’s incapable of handling fundamental responsibilities.

That professional political pundits think it isn’t a big deal to advocate for a system that’s never worked anywhere because that’s been his standard answer is shameful. Style points seem to matter more than character, policy impacts and what’s best for Minnesota.

It’s time to tune out the professional political pundits because they’re too interested in election outcomes. Unfortunately, they aren’t interested enough in policy outcomes. Jeff Johnson’s policies will make life better in Minnesota. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to build the Sandpiper Pipeline because that’ll free up railcar space so farmers can get their crops to market. That makes life better for hard-working Minnesota farmers. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to open PolyMet because that’ll create hundreds of good-paying jobs. That’d make life significantly better for miners and mining communities.

Apparently, these things don’t matter to the professional political punditry from both sides of the aisle. Their tweets didn’t speak to what’s best for Minnesota. They just spoke to who won or lost based on game-changing moments and style points. That isn’t responsible journalism. That’s the type of partisanship that’s rotted our institutions and corrupted the political process.

If Republicans retake the House of Representatives and Gov. Dayton gets re-elected, Republicans will have a mandate because they spoke about issues. Gov. Dayton will have retained his title but he won’t have a mandate because he hasn’t spoken about what he’d do in his second term.

The DFL isn’t the party of no. They’re the party that won’t say no to their special interests that are driving Minnesota’s economy into the ground. Ask an Iron Ranger if they’re better off now than when Gov. Dayton took office. If they’re honest, they’ll say they aren’t. Their median household income has increased marginally. The percentage of people living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) grew by roughly 50%.

Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed. It’s virtually impossible to get changes made to policies to include or drop people from coverage. Still, Gov. Dayton insists that “it isn’t perfect” but that it’s getting better. Once a month, if not more often, we hear of another MNsure-related disaster.

Meanwhile, the professional political punditry insist that Gov. Dayton is winning because Jeff Johnson didn’t have that big game-changing moment. With all due respect, these political junkies are missing the point. Jeff Johnson has been solid. He’s provided sensible solutions to Minnesota’s biggest problems. Gov. Dayton has been dismissive, arrogant and utterly incompetent. He’s Minnesota’s version of Jimmy Carter.

It’s time to ignore the political junkies because they’re worried more about gamesmanship than doing what’s right for Minnesota. While we’re at it, it’d be great to get rid of the incompetent in the Governor’s Mansion, too.

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Last night, I watched the Almanac Roundtable debate featuring the candidates for Secretary of State. The lasting impression I left with was straightforward. Steve Simon is Mark Ritchie in an expensive suit. He’s thoroughly indoctrinated in liberal ideology with regards to voting fraud. The other thing about him is that he apparently thinks voters are incredibly stupid.

Let’s take that last one first. After Dan Severson highlighted the vulnerabilities of Minnesota’s election system, Rep. Simon replied, saying “Would Minnesota have the highest voter turnout rate in the nation if people didn’t trust it?” That’s a nice-sounding answer but it doesn’t have anything to do with whether the system is secure. The fact that Democrats continually talk about Minnesota’s election system as the nation’s gold standard is because they don’t want people checking out the details of whether the system is fraught with vulnerabilities.

Rep. Simon’s answer totally ignores the vulnerabilities in Minnesota’s voting system. I know more than a little about this since I wrote a series of articles highlighting those vulnerabilities. (See here, here, here and here.)

Part IV is particularly disturbing because it shows how protective the election machine is of their system:

Thanks to KSTP-TV’s reporting, we learned that cities threw “up legal roadblocks” to their investigation. We learned that Bloomington “even suggested that felony charges could be pursued against” KSTP-TV if they “reported what [they] found.”

A system that’s the gold standard for election participation shouldn’t threaten people examining the system. They especially shouldn’t threaten reporters investigating Minnesota’s election system. The thought that they’d throw up legal roadblocks and suggest that they’d file felony charges against KSTP’s reporters strongly suggests that Minnesota’s election system is anything but impervious to voter fraud.

The DFL says that there’s little proof of fraud existing. That isn’t true but let’s say it is. The video shows that there’s a number of vulnerabilities in the absentee ballot system. Why wouldn’t we want to eliminate those vulnerabilities?

Another of the DFL’s chanting points is that we should want high voter participation rates. That sounds nice but it comes with a catch. The insinuation always comes with the suggestion that everyone who requests a ballot should get a ballot. There’s never a mention that this should be done within the context of the requirements in Minnesota’s constitution.

Steve Simon doesn’t have Mark Ritchie’s history of corruption. Still, Simon is nothing if not a puppet doing the same things Mark Ritchie did. That’s a step sideways after a major step backwards in 2006. We don’t need Mark Ritchie in a better suit. We need a man of integrity who won’t blindly incorporate the DFL’s chanting points into Minnesota state statutes.

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Stewart Mills just won an important endorsement:

Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about Stewart Mills, except that he’s the clear choice for voters on Nov. 4 to send to Washington to represent Northeastern Minnesota’s sprawling 8th Congressional District.

Don’t believe he’s a rich kid who never had to work a day in his life, as some have charged this election season. The truth is he scrubbed toilets and mopped floors for his family’s Mills Fleet Farm stores. And today he’s vice president in charge of administering a health plan for the chain’s 6,000 employees and their families. A job of such importance requires plenty of hard work.

The Duluth New Tribune’s endorsement is one of the most important endorsements from Minnesota’s Eighth District. It isn’t the only endorsement that matters but it’s important.

What makes this endorsing editorial important is how it takes Rick Nolan to the woodshed. Here’s a great example of that:

Don’t believe critics who say Mills would privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid if elected. Even after the Republican nominee flatly denied it at Tuesday’s forum, Nolan continued to make the baseless accusation.

“Yes, there have been some Republicans that have advanced different ideas, but those are not me. For Rep. Nolan to attempt to put words in my mouth because somebody somewhere in the Republican Party advanced one idea — . You know what? I can only state what I believe and what I will stand for in Washington,” Mills said. “I believe in preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare.”

Nolan had his script a year ago. No matter who he ran against, Nolan’s plan was to accuse his opponent of a) representing the 1 percent and b) wanting to privatize Social Security. Why trust a person who won’t listen to what others are saying and who thinks he’s a mind reader? That wasn’t the only time the Tribune’s editorial board criticized Nolan:

Don’t believe Mills is a spoiled elitist, either, as this fall’s bad-mouthing further has purported. We all have our less-than-mature moments, but at Tuesday’s forum, Mills was respectful, he listened politely when it wasn’t his turn to speak, and he consistently referred to his opponents as “Rep. Nolan” and “Mr. Sandman.” (Ray “Skip” Sandman of Duluth is the Green Party nominee in the 8th District. Voters can hope Sandman stays involved in public service after his thoughtful, sincere and genuine performance Tuesday.)

By contrast, at least twice Nolan cut off Mills while he was talking; referred to him at least once as “Stew”; talked about his “dad and your granddaddy’s store,” as though speaking to a small child; and on a couple of occasions turned to Mills and lectured him like he would an underling. The moments were disrespectful, rude, inappropriate and less than congressional.

It’s astonishing how disrespectful Rick Nolan is. This wasn’t the first time Nolan was dismissive of Mills. It’s just that this debate was just the biggest stage where Nolan was condescending, undisciplined, dismissive and disrespectful.

Beyond that, Nolan’s anti-war policy is reckless:

Critics also have charged that Mills has no clue about foreign policy. But when asked about the threat of ISIS, Mills offered a detailed, realistic and honest assessment while Nolan said, simply, we can’t afford wars overseas. As true as that may be, reality is dictating a different course.

That’s downright dangerous thinking from a sitting member of Congress. Does Nolan think that we’re safe as long as we don’t bother ISIS? That’s incredibly naïve. That type of naiveté can’t be tolerated when terrorists are at war with us. Mills sounded like the wise congressman:

“We don’t have a choice in this one,” Mills said. “They have a direct stated intention of attacking Americans (and of) attacking America and American interests abroad. The current track that we’re on is the right track because we need to leverage our air power we need to work with our allies in the region … making sure that we’re able to give them the training and the arms (and) the logistical support and the intelligence they need so this particular coalition can be successful in undoing our mistake of creating the vacuum (caused by the premature U.S. withdrawal of troops from Iraq). We don’t have a choice in this. We can’t bury our heads in the sand while there are people being beheaded — while there are Americans being beheaded.”

Pretending that terrorists will leave us alone is foolish. That isn’t reality. As Mills said, ISIL has said that they want to attack Americans. They want to hoist their flag from the White House. ISIL has a history of doing what they say they’re going to do.

It’s time to retire Nolan. He’s outlived his political shelf life. He isn’t a good listener. His policies are older than the rock formations of the Iron Range.

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The least competent DFL governor of my lifetime criticized the most successful DFL governor of my lifetime during Tuesday’s debate in Duluth. Here’s what Gov. Dayton, the least competent DFL governor of my lifetime said:

“I’ve seen the hucksters go up there and promise chopstick factories.”

There’s only one person that fits Gov. Dayton’s description:

Jul. 19, 1989 11:06 AM ET
HIBBING, MINN. HIBBING, Minn. (AP) _ Lakewood Industries, a Hibbing chopsticks factory that Gov. Rudy Perpich had called a major step in efforts to revitalize northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, has closed.

Lakewood Forest Products, the plant’s parent firm in Canada, said Tuesday that it closed the factory because of a financial restructuring. The company said in a press release that it had been talking with a potential overseas investor, but that discussions broke off Tuesday.

Discussions with other potential investors are continuing, but management “has determined that in light of the company’s working capital position it is necessary to close the plant until adequate financing sources have been identified and a financial restructuring plan implemented,” the release said.

In case that date doesn’t remind you of something, this paragraph will:

On its first anniversary, the Hibbing plant was criticized by Independent-Republican leaders as a government-backed boondoggle conceived for Perpich’s hometown. Perpich was unavailable for comment on the closing.

Here’s Gov. Dayton’s full criticism of Gov. Perpich:

“Irresponsible…you’re just doing it for political advantage,” he said. “I’ve been working on behalf of northeastern Minnesota for 37 years and I’ve seen the hucksters go up there and promise chopstick factories…and all those other things because they are dangling out the prospects of jobs. Well we’re going to do this one responsibly.”

I’d love hearing Gov. Dayton explain how preventing PolyMet from being built is irresponsible but funding DFL GOTV call centers is responsible:

EVELETH, Minn.— Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich today announced that New Partners Consultants, Inc. will operate a call center for its customers at Progress Park in Eveleth. The company is finalizing plans to lease the space that formerly housed Meyer Associates, Inc. New Partners will utilize some equipment from the Meyer operation, which is currently under IRRRB’s ownership. Staffing will begin as soon as all agreements are in place, possibly as early as next week.

“We are pleased to have played a role in facilitating the reopening of the center,” said Sertich. “This project will result in new job opportunities, particularly for those displaced by the Meyer closing.”

The man running the IRRRB is Tony Sertich, who was appointed by Gov. Dayton. If anything fits the definition of hucksterism, that fits. By the way, here’s the definition of huckster:

someone who sells or advertises something in an aggressive, dishonest, or annoying way

It’s disgusting that Gov. Dayton accused Commissioner Johnson of hucksterism while Gov. Dayton is engaging in hucksterism. Commissioner Johnson is simply fighting for PolyMet and for the streamlining of a process that’s corrupted by rich special interests. By comparison, Gov. Dayton is fine with maintaining the corrupt status quo.

Why shouldn’t Gov. Dayton? The activists corrupting the environmental review are Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s biggest supporters. Putting the puzzle together, it’s obvious that Gov. Dayton and the DFL don’t want a straightforward, streamlined review process. If it was streamlined, the environmental activists wouldn’t have the multiple opportunities to kill important projects that they hate. Right now, PolyMet and Sandpiper top their list of projects to kill.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL don’t share Minnesota’s priorities. They’ve proven that by calling people names without explaining why they’re fighting for the corrupt status quo. Yesterday, Gov. Dayton got out of control, criticizing his first boss for being a huckster. I’m not even sure he realizes what he did.

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When I watch this video of Greg Orman dodging the question on whether he’d repeal Obamacare, it’s difficult to not think ‘that’s what a career politician sounds like’.

He’s right that we have an affordability crisis. Throughout his response, though, he outlined what’s wrong. At no point did he outline a solution. It was as close to a filibuster as you’ll hear in a debate.

People know what problems they’re facing. What they don’t know, however, is what solution can pass that’ll fix the problems they’re facing. After hearing Orman’s reply, which I won’t call an answer, people will still be wondering what the solution is.

Orman spent almost 90 seconds saying nothing. That isn’t the way to win over Republican-leaning voters. In Kansas, there are 3 political beliefs: Republicans, Democrats and leaning Republican. At this point, Orman looks like a flavor-of-the-month type of candidate. With the polls showing significant and rapid movement in Pat Roberts’ direction, Orman can’t rely on smooth-sounding rhetoric.

That’s why I’ve thought from the start that Orman can’t pull off this charade that he’s an independent. He’s a Democrat. No amount of smooth-sounding rhetoric will wipe away his well-documented liberal tendencies.

The American people are cynical. They understand that Independent is the party that Democrats pick to avoid being called a liberal. It’s also what they say when they don’t want to admit that they’ll vote to keep Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

Orman’s tap-dancing notwithstanding, the truth is that he’s a Democrat who will vote to keep Harry Reid as the Senate Majority Leader. In the end, that’s what will sink him in Kansas.

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I don’t have many quotes to rely on but my impression is that tonight’s debate marked the night the gloves came off. Jeff Johnson went after Gov. Dayton for not knowing about PSLs being in the Vikings bill that Dayton negotiated and signed. Later, he said that Gov. Dayton’s tax increases didn’t just hit richest 2%, highlighting the health insurance tax, the cigarette tax and wheelage tax that hits everyone.

Commissioner Johnson was especially feisty on the Sandpiper Pipeline Project, saying that it was Gov. Dayton’s appointees who voted essentially to kill the pipeline project. Gov. Dayton’s smug dismissal that Commissioner Johnson probably “didn’t understand the process” was immediately greeted by Commissioner Johnson saying that he understood the process and that Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted to kill the project. Johnson then said that Gov. Dayton couldn’t hide by saying it was someone else who voted on the project. Commissioner Johnson finished by saying that “Sometimes, Governor, you have to take responsibility.”

Gov. Dayton criticized Commissioner Johnson by saying that “Taxes should be low, broad and simple isn’t a tax policy. It’s a slogan.” Tonight, Gov. Dayton proposed raising taxes on the middle class again by raising the gas tax again. Then he went back to talking about cutting taxes on the middle class. His closing statement from another planet then stated that Minnesota was heading in the right direction because he’d solved the deficit problem.

The arrogance was disgusting. Again.

The question Gov. Dayton didn’t explain is why he thinks Minnesota’s economy is doing well. The unemployment rate is low but monthly revenues aren’t meeting projections. Minnesota’s economy lost 4,200 jobs in July, something Gov. Dayton didn’t address.

Hannah Nicollet got in on the Dayton bashing, too, when the subject turned to the Vikings stadium disaster, saying that when her daughter throws a hissy fit in a store, she lets her daughter’s tantrum run its course. Then she said that sometimes, a governor has to have the spine to say no when the Vikings were throwing their hissy fit.

Gov. Dayton replied, saying that 7,500 people are working, “many of them minorities”, before asking if the candidates would like to tell them that the stadium bill is a disaster. Commissioner Johnson said that he’d stand by his characterization.

In his closing statement, Gov. Dayton said that his biggest priority for another term will be education. Earlier, he said that raising taxes on gas would be his priority. When everything’s a priority, nothing is a priority.

Gov. Dayton was exceptionally dismissive tonight. When Commissioner Johnson talked about 50% of Minnesotans being underemployed, Gov. Dayton insisted that that was “nonsense.” When Commissioner Johnson said that the statistic came from Dayton’s administration, Gov. Dayton didn’t know how to respond.

This likely won’t get written anywhere else but Gov. Dayton sounded exceptionally arrogant, dismissive and in a foul mood. His response to Commissioner Johnson’s talk about underemployment essentially was that it was nonsense. That’s what an out-of-touch governor sounds like. Article after article talks about how many part-time jobs are getting created. How can Gov. Dayton say that verified facts are nonsense?

This was Dayton at his most unlikable, dismissive worst. He was snotty. He didn’t agree with anything Jeff Johnson said on the big issues. He stuck to his talking points.

I’m going through the videotape of the Mills vs. Nolan debate. When they debated the issue of pipelines, something stunning happened. It wasn’t surprising. It was that Rick Nolan exposed himself as totally trusting government. Here’s the exchange I’m talking about:

Here’s the key part of the back-and-forth:

NOLAN: When you’re talking about Keystone, the TEA Party Republicans brought a bill before the House of Representatives that exempted Keystone, a foreign corporation, from complying with the EPA, from complying with the Army Corps of Engineers permits for installation and maintenance, for having to post financial assurances for when those accidents inevitably occur. Would you have voted for a bill like that? No. I’m for the Keystone and for Sandpiper but I want it built right. We’ve proven that we have the technology and the know-how to do it right if we have the political will. But we can’t let foreign corporations come in here willy nilly and have their way with us…
MILLS: Well, I keep getting accused of being a TEA Partier but I’m not sure if that’s entirely accurate but, nonetheless, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers has been weaponized against projects such as Keystone and, you know what, after years and years of trying to get it done, if these agencies aren’t looking for how it can be done but trying every reason to get it stopped, you know what, it’s time to get the people to take control of their government from the bureaucracies and the various agencies so we can get projects like Keystone going…

This isn’t surprising but it’s stunning. Rick Nolan’s belief that bureaucracies, especially the EPA, are honest arbiters of all that’s virtuous is stunningly naïve. What justification is there for that other-worldly opinion? Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), has a mini-series on YouTube titled Victims of Government. I’d love seeing Nolan explain how the EPA’s actions in this article aren’t utterly corrupt. Let’s hear him explain how private property owners aren’t getting victimized by the zealots running the EPA. Here’s a story where the EPA showed itself to be weaponized:

[Andy Johnson] and his wife built a small pond on their rural property using the stream flowing through it. They stocked the pond with trout so that their three small children could fish. The pond is an oasis for wildlife such as ducks and geese passing through.

It is precisely the sort of industriousness that reasonable people and zealous stewards of the environment applaud. But the EPA is made up of neither reasonable people nor zealous stewards of the environment.

They are crazed hypocrites greedy for unchecked power and hell-bent on destroying the passions that connect people to the nature surrounding them. Like the Food and Drug Administration in the movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” the EPA has become the face of absolute power in the hands of blind government bureaucrats.

That is why the faceless henchmen of the EPA have come after Mr. Johnson and his family, charging them with violating federal law and threatening to bankrupt them. These EPA thugs ordered the Johnsons to destroy the pond they built and threatened to fine them $75,000 a day for being in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Stewart Mills is exactly right when he talks about the EPA being an agency that’s looking for ways to stop Keystone and Sandpiper. This is proof that the EPA isn’t interested in common sense. It’s interested in destroying private property rights.

Earlier in that segment of the debate, Nolan talked about supporting the Sandpiper Pipeline project, with this caveat. He wanted the route changed just slightly. Mills said that that’s just a way to delay the project. That would give Nolan’s allies in the environmental movement another opportunity to sabotage the project with attrition litigation. It’s time for the Iron Range to realize that Rick Nolan doesn’t support the miners’ lifestyle. He’s only come out for Keystone once it became politically imperative to say yes to the miners.

Let’s remember that Nolan’s first proposal on PolyMet was to propose a mining institute somewhere on the Range:

Northeastern Minnesota would be home to a major new national research center dedicated to the advancement of minerals research, mining technology and the environment, and is expected to generate several thousand new jobs, under a plan announced today by Rick Nolan, the DFL-endorsed candidate for Eighth District Congress.

The proposal is strongly supported by former Eighth District U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resource Research Institute, NRRI, and the UMD Swenson College of Science and Engineering.

At a news conference in Duluth and with press interviews across the Iron Range, Nolan said he will immediately introduce legislation to establish the United States Technical Institute for Mining and the Environment (TIME) upon taking office in January 2013. The exact northeastern Minnesota location for the TIME Center will be selected from proposals developed by the state, municipal and county governments and their private sector partners.

Nolan’s support for the two biggest projects in northern Minnesota has been tepid at best, artificial at worst.

The Iron Range can’t afford Rick Nolan’s naïve belief that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are honest arbiters of this nation’s environmental laws. He’s standing in the way of one important project after another. He’s the believer in sentences that are always 4 words too long. He’ll never say that he supports PolyMet. Period. It’s always that he supports PolyMet…if it’s done right. He’s never said that he supports the Sandpiper Pipeline project. It’s always that he supports Sandpiper…if it’s done right.

It’s time for the Iron Range to reject Rick Nolan. If they reject his caveated support of all things mining, they will have gotten things right.

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Guy Benson’s post on Sen. Mark Udall’s recent difficulties highlights why Udall is fighting an uphill fight. Benson highlighted this video especially:

Here’s the transcript of the exchange between Sen. Udall and Rep. Gardner:

REP. GARDNER: I would just like to ask Sen. Udall this question. What is the price you’d put on carbon?
SEN. UDALL: Congressman, the price I would put on … is the opportunity we would miss if we don’t go all in. We’ve had floods, we’ve had fires, we’ve had doubts, we have the leading climate scientists in this state telling us it’s happening. We know it’s happening. Farmers know it’s happening. The ski areas know it’s happening. We all know it’s happening. So let’s lean forward. Let’s create our future. Congressman Gardner is looking backwards. Let’s look forward and embrace the future and embrace these technologies. They’re right there for the taking.
I’m looking forward to the next energy bill.
REP. GARDNER: What is the cost that you will put on with your tax?
SEN. UDALL: Congressman, the point is that we’ve shown that you can put a price on pollution. We’ve done it over and over again.
REP. GARDNER: How much?
SEN. UDALL: When we send those signals to the market. We’ve got a lot of market-oriented people here today. When we send those signals to the marketplace, our markets respond because we’ve got the best system of capitalism, we’ve got the best entrepreneurs. We’re going to innovate. That’s how we make the future. We’re in a global economic race and we’re going to innovate to create jobs and grow the economy.

Sen. Udall clearly didn’t want to talk about the size of his tax increase. His answer is typical liberal psychobabble. His answer wasn’t about the real world. It was purely in the hypothetical world. The other thing that’s clear is that Sen. Udall didn’t present proof that the government would be good at putting “a price on pollution.” That’s yet another piece of hypothetical, wishful thinking liberalism. No proof is needed because everything is settled according to Sen. Udall.

This debate wasn’t about debating the merits of their policies. For Sen. Udall, this was a GOTV operation. His statements are filled with pandering to the environmental activists that Democrats need to turn out en masse to offset President Obama’s drag on Democrats. It’s difficult to believe that Democrats buy climate change. I think it’s all about Democrats pandering to environmental activists for money and votes.

Still, Cory Gardner’s persistence was smart. He insisted that Sen. Udall put a price tag on Udall’s Cap and Trade legislation. Gardner wouldn’t let him talk about “the environment” in the theoretical sense. Gardner made Udall talk about it in dollars and cents specifics. I’m betting that the NRSC will soon be up with advertising that talks about higher energy costs hurting families that are already squeezed by the Obama-Democrat economy.

This is high stakes GOTV operations. For his part, Rep. Gardner has the better argument because it’s the question that people across the nation are asking.
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Bruce Braley just made a major mistake during his debate with Joni Ernst:

Braley tried to be tough on the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), saying he voted to authorize the airstrikes Obama ordered in Iraq and Syria.

The authorization to go to war is one of the toughest votes a congressman will ever cast. That’s why neither party whips the vote. Each congressman and each senator is left to make up their own minds. It’s a solemn event to the point that there’s very little in the way of conversations during the vote.

It’s difficult to think Braley didn’t notice that this wasn’t a vote to authorize military strikes. Politifact rated Braley’s statement during his debate with Joni Ernst as false:

On Sept. 17, less than two weeks before the debate, the House took two votes relevant to this question. The first was whether to attach an amendment, one related to the situation in the Middle East, to a broad spending bill. The House voted, 273-156, to attach the amendment to the bill.

The second was on passage of the bill itself, including the amendment. The bill passed, 319-108. In both cases, Braley voted in favor, along with a bipartisan majority. However, in the debate, Braley misstated what he was voting on.

Here’s the relevant text from the amendment that passed along with the rest of the spending bill:

“The Secretary of Defense is authorized, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals. … Nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute a specific statutory authorization for the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein hostilities are clearly indicated by the circumstances.”

Perhaps Braley thought he had to embellish because Ernst is a war veteran. Perhaps, it’s because he thought that’s what people wanted to hear. Undoubtedly, it’s because he isn’t an honest person. Frankly, I think it’s at least partially because he isn’t that bright. Did he think candidates didn’t verify their opponents’ statements?

Braley’s put his foot in his mouth too many times to win. He isn’t a top tier candidate. That’s why he’s trailing in the RCP average of polls. In 2 polls, they were tied. In 2 other polls, including the latest Des Moines Register poll, Ernst had a 6-point lead. The PPP poll, which is definitely a Democrat-leaning poll, showed Ernst with a 2-point lead. If things don’t change quickly for Braley, he’ll definitely have an uphill fight heading into the stretch drive.

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The thing that came through when KARE11 interviewed David Schultz about the just-concluded Franken-McFadden debate was how disinterested Prof. Schultz seemed in the right policies. That’s perhaps a bit harsh but that’s what I took from the interview. Here’s what Prof. Schultz said that got me thinking:

In many ways, the debate went about exactly the way both sides wanted it to go.

Dr. Schultz, was it Sen. Franken’s goal to get his butt kicked in that debate? That isn’t what was reported but that’s what happened.

One potential game-changing moment came when Franken and McFadden debated the railcar shortage, which is a huge issue in northern and rural Minnesota, Franken said that he’d talked with the Surface Transportation Board since getting to DC and that he’d worked with David Vitter of Louisiana on making it cheaper to file a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board. When it was McFadden’s turn, he criticized Franken. Here’s what he said:

Al, with all due respect, your lack of an energy policy and the lack of an energy policy from President Obama has caused the rail car shortage. There’s not been one pipeline built. You haven’t approved any pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline has been under the review process for 6 years. That is crazy. That is too long. Pipelines are proven to be the most effective, the most efficient, the most environmentally sensitive way to transport oil. Until you start passing pipelines, we’ll have a railcar shortage. I know how to fix this economy. I know how to get us back on the road to growth and prosperity and you are putting Band-Aids as opposed to going to root causes. We need pipelines in this country. I want everyone in this room and in this state I am for pipelines. I will get them built.

Sen. Franken sounded like a typical DC politician who wanted to sound like he was doing something without really fixing anything. Sen. Franken also sounded like a politician who didn’t want to cross his special interest allies.

By comparison, McFadden sounded like a person not beholden to special interests. He also sounded like a solutions-oriented leader intent on making Minnesotans’ lives better.

Sen. Franken sounded like a politician who wanted to make it easier to file complaints. That won’t get the farmers’ grain to market or the miners’ ore to the shipping port. Schultz apparently thinks it’s more important to evaluate how politicians look rather than opine on whether that politician’s policies will solve problems or make Minnesotans’ lives better.

Admittedly, that’s a harsh indictment of Prof. Schultz. This isn’t about being gentle. It’s about getting people’s priorities right. That includes high profile professors’ priorities, too.

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