Archive for May, 2010

In my opinion, this election will be more about ideology than events. What I mean by that is that it’s more likely that people will reject the Obama administration’s attempts to grow government.

Arthur Brooks’ op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post lays it out nicely:

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise: limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.

It is not at all clear which side will prevail. The forces of big government are entrenched and enjoy the full arsenal of the administration’s money and influence. Our leaders in Washington, aided by the unprecedented economic crisis of recent years and the panic it induced, have seized the moment to introduce breathtaking expansions of state power in huge swaths of the economy, from the health-care takeover to the financial regulatory bill that the Senate approved Thursday. If these forces continue to prevail, America will cease to be a free enterprise nation.

I’d argue that there’s a great indicator as to which side will prevail. I’d argue that that indicator is the enthusiasm gap, which dramatically favors Republicans.

The reality is that Americans are mostly a freedom-loving, capitalist bunch. More than any other nation, Americans treasure their independence. That, not the opportunity of wealth, is what brings people to our nation.

The radicalism of the Obama administration, supported substantially by the Pelosi Regime, is at odds with the American people. They’ve spent most of the first 16 months of the Obama administration defying the will of the American people.

Nobody thinks that this administration and this Speaker won’t pursue their radical agenda just because they’ve gotten a couple items of their radical agenda passed.

The Obama administration’s radicalism has led to an economy that’s still struggling and a debt that’s crippling future generations with stifling debt levels. Their policies haven’t improved lives. At best, their policies have forced people and state governments to tread water until someone who knows what they’re doing is in power.

Here in Minnesota, the DFL’s lone ‘victory’ was a budget agreement that gives the next governor the ‘opportunity’ to opt into the Obamacare Medicaid’s expansion. Last Tuesday, Sen. Berglin took great pains to explain that, should the next governor opt into this expansion, Minnesota would get $7.45 in federal matching funds for every dollar Minnesota spends.

What Sen. Berglin was careful to omit was that those matching funds were only guaranteed through 2014. Sen. Berglin also omitted to mention that Minnesota would have to sign maintenance of service agreements with the federal government that would guarantee that maintain the federally mandated level of service after the matching funds disappeared.

When Speaker Pelosi said that we’d have to pass the health care bill to see everything that’s in the bill, what she really meant was that we wouldn’t know all the different ways that we’d get blindsided until it was too late. For instance, they won’t like reading that the Obamacare legislation includes a 3.8 percent sales tax on home sales:

Tax on Home Sales. Imposes a 3.8 percent tax on home sales and other real estate transactions. Middle-income people must pay the full tax even if they are “rich” for only one day, the day they sell their house and buy a new one.

Rest assured of this: though there’s a calm in politics right now, that’s just living in the eye of a storm. When the August recess rolls around and the campaign starts dominating the news, focus will shift to the penalties, tax increases and costly individual mandates included in the Obamacare legislation.

Likewise, talk will shift to the unprecedented and unsustainable deficits that are the direct fault of the Obama administration’s policies and priorities. When that happens, I’ll be thankful the candidates I’m supporting won’t have to run with a D after their name.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Conservative/Republican pundits are suddenly hyperventilating because Mark Critz won a special election in PA-12, a district where D’s outnumber R’s by a 2:1 margin, on a night when Critz benefited from a tightly contested U.S. Senate primary. I have a word of advice for those hyperventilating pundits:


Doug Schoen states in this post that Critz ran as opposing Cap and Trade, Obamacare and against President Obama himself. The voters in PA-12 bought it. Perhaps they will again. Perhaps they won’t.

One thing’s for certain, though: The disparity in turnout because of the Specter-Sestak primary will vanish during the general election, especially with Pat Toomey leading Sestak and Republican Attorney Gen. Corbett leading in the contest to be Pennsylvania’s next governor.

If I were advising the Burns campaign, the first thing I’d tell him is that he should question whether Critz will represent his constituents or whether he’ll do what he’s told when he’s told by Speaker Pelosi.

If the health care debate exposed anything, it’s that Blue Dog Democrats are Democrats first. They’re only Blue Dogs when they have Speaker Pelosi’s permission.

Here in Minnesota, there’s much reason to be optimistic about November’s election, starting at the top. Tom Emmer has a significant advantage just by not being Speaker Kelliher or Sen. Dayton. According to this Strib article, Sen. Dayton is highlighting the fact that he’ll tax small businesses into neighboring states:

Mark Dayton
Dayton, a DFLer, has a simple answer to lop off two-thirds of the problem: taxes.

“Make taxes progressive. Make the richest people in Minnesota pay their fair share,” Dayton said.

He said hiking taxes on Minnesota’s highest earners could raise $4 billion for the state in two years, much more than recent tax increase proposals. One failed proposal this year would have hiked the income tax rate for married couples with taxable income of more than $250,000 a year, raising about $500 million in the next biennium.

Raising taxes on small businesses by $4,000,000,000 per biennium only guarantees one thing: U-Haul will have one banner year after the other during a Dayton administration.

I’d also question whether you can raise taxes by $4,000,000,000 if you only raise taxes on the rich. The Strib article said raising taxes on the rich would’ve netted “about $500,000,000.” Reality is that creating a new income tax bracket with a rate that’s almost 2 points higher than the current highest bracket would’ve netted $435,00,000. That means Dayton’s projections aren’t realistic. They aren’t even close.

In fact, I’d bet that you’d have to dip well into the middle class to raise taxes by $4,000,000,000.

Speaker Kelliher didn’t help herself by picking John Gonyou as her running mate, meaning the DFL will have their work cut out for them and then some if they want to win the governor’s race.

Based on what I saw at the DFL and GOP flyaround press conferences, it’s apparent that the DFL is in disarray, though I’m sure they won’t stay that way forever. Nonetheless, it’s apparent that independents have fled the DFL locally and the Democrats nationally because their agenda is simply too radical.

Between now and Election Day, it’s our responsibility as activists to remind people that, when President Obama, Speaker Pelosi or Sen. Reid demand that a so-called fiscal moderate vote for new entitlements or other reckless spending bills, the so-called fiscal conservatives vote exactly like Bernie Sanders.

Whether it’s Collin Peterson getting some meaningless concessions on Cap and Trade or Ben Nelson accepting his 30 pieces of silver for a temp fix on Medicaid expansion or Bart Stupak trading his vote for a meaningless scrap of paper, the reality is this: Democrats don’t have a spine to stand up to their leaders’ radical agenda.

The best thing we can do to win people over is to remind them that Democrats are spineless wimps who’ll do what they’re told by their leadership and their special interest allies when they’re told to betray their constituents.

The next best thing we can do in this fight is remind people that the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda is the most radical agenda in American history and that it’s taking us in the wrong direction. FAST.

It’s time we stopped with the whining and we got back to reminding people that why they left the Democrats in the first place. If we do that, we’ll have a very strong, possibly even historic, election year.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The only chance Mark Ritchie has of getting re-elected is if his corrupt allies convince Minnesota voters that the recount didn’t expose corrupt processes and training errors. This LTE attempts to sugarcoat the truth:

Minnesota law requires a recount when the margin of votes is less than one-half of 1 percent. Before the recount, the votes separating the two candidates was 206 votes. During the recount, nearly 3 million ballots were reviewed and counted. The recount was meticulous at all stages and finalized following a trial heard by a three-judge panel. The appointed judges had affiliation with Democrats, Republicans and independents.

The recount wasn’t meticulous. Dozens of absentee ballots that didn’t have signatures on them were accepted. Minnesota election laws require the person that applied for the absentee ballot put his/herr signature on the envelope. Likewise, the person witnessing the filling out of the absentee ballot must also put their signature on the envelope that the absentee ballot is put in.

That’s before talking about Minnesota Majority’s investigation. This information is disturbing:

VACANT AND NON-DELIVERABLE ADDRESSES: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has flagged the addresses recorded for nearly 100,000 voters as being either “vacant” or “undeliverable”. We visited approximately two-dozen of these undeliverable addresses to verify the USPS results and discovered approximately 50% of the addresses in our sample to be correctly flagged, in that the addresses did not exist. We have taken photographs of empty lots and non-existent addresses where our investigation revealed invalid addresses.

RETURNED POSTAL VERIFICATION CARDS: In addition, the state’s primary registration verification tool is the Postal Verification Card (PVC). These post cards are mailed to newly registered voters. If the PVC is successfully delivered to the stated address, the voter is assumed to be legitimate. If the card is returned as undeliverable mail, the voter’s identity is in question and they are supposed to be challenged for proof of identity and residence at the polls in the next election. Over 80,000 of these postal verification cards have been returned to the secretary of state’s office as non-deliverable since 2004. Over 54,000 of them were from 2008 and when that number was generated, mailing of PVCs to 2008’s Election Day registrants was not yet complete.

Having 54,000 PVCs returned to the SecState’s office is stunning anbd disturbing. If a person’s address can’t be verified, then the integrity of the system is questionable. I wouldn’t trust voter registrations that can’t be physically verified.

The question that people must ask themselves before voting this November is this: Does this sound like an airtight system?

Another thing that people should ask themselves is whether they’d trust a SecState who thinks that a reporter who shows him improperly accepted ballots is ambushing him.

Theoretically speaking, Mark Ritchie is a public servant. In reality, he’s anything but a public servant. Ritchie shows every indication that he wants everyone to vote, whether they’re felons, whether they’re registered in that precinct or whether they don’t fill out their absentee ballot paperwork properly.

With Mr. Ritchie, it’s the intent that matters, not whether they followed the law. Think about this: When an absentee ballot is submitted and there isn’t a signature on the envelope, what’s the guarantee that the person casting the ballot is the person who the vote belongs to?

Vouching is another thing Mr. Ritchie advocates. That needs to be abolished because it’s too easy to commit fraud. Ritchie advocates for vouching because he thinks we should tear down walls to voting at all costs. I reject that policy because election laws must strike a balance between making voting easy for legal residents of that precinct but that protect elections’ integrity.

Mr. Ritchie will point out that a citizen can lodge a dispute against a person who’s been vouched for. That’s true but it relies too much on a person being there to challenge the residence of a vouched-for voter.

Severson’s reform agenda deals with vouching:

The fix to the vouching issue is to go to a provisional ballot which is cast but not counted until proper verification is received. The voter has 10 days in which to produce the required information and once the information is received the vote is counted, if a recount is required.

By casting a provisional ballot, then providing identification within 10 days after the election, we can be certain that the voter is a legal voter. Without Rep. Severson’s reforms, there’s no guarantee that the people voting are legal voters.

With all due respect, I’m not that trusting because my vote is too important in a close election. Mr. Ritchie has made clear that he’s perfectly willing to ignore sensible safeguards in the name of getting as many people voting as possible. That’s the type of thinking that strips elections of their integrity.

The argument that’s been made against these provisions is that voter fraud is statistically insignificant. That’s what David Schultz talked about in testifying against PhotoID. The point isn’t whether there’s a statistically insignificant amount of voter fraud. It’s whether there’s a enough fraud to tip tight elections.

Remember that voter fraud doesn’t happen in districts where the winner gets 70 percent of the votes. It happens where there’s tight races. Here’s an example of what I’m saying: In 2008, Gail Kulick-Jackson and Lisa Fobbe beat Sondra Erickson and Alison Krueger by 159 total votes. I’m not accusing Jackson or Fobbe of cheating but that’s a place where vouching might’ve made a difference.

I’m not buying into the ‘we haven’t seen fraud so we aren’t changing anything’ argument either. Shouldn’t we tighten things up that have great potential for fraud? What’s wrong with being proactive, especially when it comes to something that important?

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Mark Sommerhauser is reporting that Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, unexpectedly announced that she’s retiring after 13 years in the Minnesota legislature.

This is another big blow to the DFL. They’re already running into a stiff headwind this year. Now they’re dealing with some unexpected retirements in typically swing or conservative districts.

Whoever the DFL candidate is, they’ll start out at a definite disadvantage, especially in the fundraising and organizational departments. Otremba’s district isn’t unionized to any extent and there’s alot of ground to cover. The major cities in 11B are Long Prairie, Staples and Osakis. Alexandria is just outside the district.

That’s alot of territory to cover and most of it leans conservative. Rep. Otremba was staunchly pro-life, even refusing to vote for Margaret Anderson-Kelliher for Speaker. There’s a strong outdoorsman’s club/gun club presence in the area, too.

Mary Franson, the GOP-endorsed candidate, registered with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board to run for the 11B seat on Jan. 14, meaning she’s had tons of time to put her team together. She’s raising funds, too.

This will be a difficult seat for the DFL to hold. These days, there’s alot of that going around.

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Whether he admits it or not, Richard Blumenthal’s political career is finished. The firestorm his ‘misstatements’ have caused are showing in Scott Rasmussen’s polling:

Following a New York Times report that he exaggerated his military record, Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal has lost ground in match-ups against all his potential Republican challengers in Connecticut.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Connecticut finds Blumenthal with just a three-point advantage over Linda McMahon, 48% to 45%. Two weeks ago, he led the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment by 13 percentage points. The New York Times story broke late Monday; the survey was taken Tuesday evening.

When matched against former GOP Congressman Rob Simmons, Blumenthal leads by 11 – 50% to 39%. Two weeks ago, the longtime state attorney general held a 23-point lead over Simmons.

Though it ended decades ago,lying about one’s service in Vietnam is toxic, which Mr. Blumenthal is finding out the hard way.

To compound the matter, Mr. Blumenthal said that “I may have misspoke…I did misspeak on a few occasions out of hundreds of times that I spoke…I will not allow anyone to take a few of those misplaced words and impugn my record of service.”

With all due respect to Mr. Blumenthal, that cow’s out of the barn. It isn’t in his control what happens to public opinion. That’s in the control of the public. Based on what they’re telling Scott Rasmussen, I’d say that the public is rejecting Mr. Blumenthal as a viable U.S. Senate candidate.

The only thing left to determine is who will replace the guy who was replacing corrupt Sen. Christopher Dodd as the Democrats’ candidate.

Appearing on Special Report’s roundtable, A.B. Stoddard said “I really think he’s finished. When he stands there and says he will not allow a few occasions where he misrepresented his service as a Vietnam veteran to impugn his actual record, he’s impugned his reputation and his credibility as a candidate. I think his candidacy is finished. I can’t imagine that he recovers from it.”

In his post on the subject, Ed Morrissey writes that people are amazingly forgiving…”for now.” He’s right but Blumenthal shouldn’t take comfort in that. Life will be torture for Mr. Blumenthal while he waits for the other shoe to drop. I wouldn’t want to be Mr. Blumenthal right now.

This Roll Call article shows that he hasn’t become toxic yet with power-hungry Democrats:

“I think, you know, his actions as it relates to standing up for veterans over a long period of time speaks volumes [about] both where his heart and his actions are,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said. “I’m sure he will continue to stay in the Senate race, and we will continue to support him.”

Sen. Menendez is spinning this. People don’t care whether Mr. Blumenthal has been ‘good on veterans’ issues.” They’re worried that they can’t trust him. If he’s willing to lie about his military record to advance his political ambitions.

Furthering his insults, Mr. Blumenthal would have people believe that he couldn’t tell the difference between serving in a tropical, humid overseas war zone to serving stateside in the Reserves. That’s the ultimate in insulting. He couldn’t seriously think we wouldn’t notice the difference.

It’s one thing for people to disagree with policy positions. It’s another thing when people think they can’t trust you to tell the truth about the most basic things. Like with Charlie Crist’s campaign, the best days of Mr. Blumenthal’s campaign are behind him.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Apparently, Sen. Pogemiller used a canned line during his visit to St. Cloud. After reading this quote in the Makato Free Press, I realized that:

Pogemiller, who landed at the Mankato Airport less than an hour after the Republicans took off, said he doesn’t understand why Republicans are waiting until next year to push for reforms.

“I think we have to talk about facts and fantasy,” Pogemiller said. “…This state has been governed by a Republican governor for eight years.”

Pogemiller also said government reform alone won’t fix the looming budget shortfall for 2011 and 2012, projected to be $5 billion or more. “You could eliminate all of state government, all of the agencies and all of the state employees, and that would be less than $1 billion (in savings),” he said.

Technically, Sen. Pogemiller is correct. If you eliminated the salaries of every employee from every government agency, you’d fall short of what’s needed to balance the budget.

That’s a nice spin, though, because it isn’t about eliminating the government employees. It’s about the programs they administer.

For instance, as far as I can tell, Steve Gottwalt’s plan to reform MinnesotaCare doesn’t involve cutting state employees. It does, however, have the ability to save more than $1,000,000,000 during the next biennium by shifting from the current health insurance policy to an health reimbursement account or HRA.

Mary Kiffmeyer talked about getting an amendment passed through the house during this year’s session that would’ve changed the state’s budgeting process from the current baseline budgeting to zero based budgeting. Rep. Kiffmeyer explained that zero-based budgeting forces each agency to justify every penny of budgeting. It also introduces cost benefit analyses into the budgeting equation.

As King aptly puts it, it forces the government to justify every penny spent rather than just haggling over the last few pennies of the increase. Add to that Tom Emmer’s pledge to vigorously search out agency overlap and their budgets and you have the potential for alot of savings.

That’s before factoring in the savings the state will realize from the pension reform that will get signed into law this year.

Once businesspeople start seeing that a GOP majority in the House and Senate are enacting reforms that reduce the cost of government, coupled with a government that’s more better at customer service, business costs will shrink, giving businesses the capital incentive to invest in their companies’ expansion.

As Rep. Gottwalt likes to put it, that will give the goose that lays the economic golden eggs to keep laying more golden eggs.

Think about the difference in mindsets. The DFL has displayed an attitude of ‘it can’t be done’ whereas the GOP has adopted an attitude of ‘watch what’s possible when we put our mind to it.’

Minnesotans are starving for leadership that says that they’re returning to doing things that make sense, starving for leadership that says ‘we’re laying out a positive vision for Minnesotans.’ I’m betting that Minnesotans are more likely to respond to the GOP’s positive message than they’ll respond to the DFL’s message of ‘No we shouldn’t.’

This November, the DFL will learn the hard way that reality-based positivity sells.

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It was a busy day at the St. Cloud airport Tuesday afternoon, with the DFL and the GOP stopping in during their post-session flyarounds.

When I pulled into the airport parking lot at 1:20 pm, Sen. Pogemiller was standing outside talking on his cell phone. That seemed rather odd compared with past flyarounds. In the flyarounds in previous years, I assumed that the DFL and GOP planes would be late.

When I walked into the lobby where the press conferences would be held, the people that I didn’t see spoke louder than the people who were there. Tarryl Clark wasn’t there. Neither was Larry Haws. Also missing from this trip was Speaker Kelliher. The only local candidate attending was Bruce Hentges, the DFL endorsed candidate for Tarryl’s Senate seat.

It isn’t that that’s surprising considering the fact that the DFL doesn’t have endorsed candidates for a number of House and Senate seats. As of tonight, Steve Gottwalt, Mary Kiffmeyer, Michelle Fischbach and Tim O’Driscoll don’t have opponents.

Like I told Times reporter Mark Sommerhauser, I can understand the DFL not having candidates running against popular incumbents like Michelle Fischbach, Mary Kiffmeyer and Steve Gottwalt. It’s stunning that they don’t have a candidate running against Tim O’Driscoll for the open seat in HD-14A, where Dan Severson left to run for Secretary of State against Mark Ritchie.

When asked if Gov. Pawlenty had won the budget battle, Sen. Pogemiller said that yes, “Gov. Pawlenty did win if you’re talking about national talking points” before adding that he’d “argue that Minnesota lost” as a result of the outcome. When pressed about why they didn’t push harder for their agenda, Sen. Pogemiller said that “There’s no amount of political philosophy that’s worth shutting government down over.”

For her part, Sen. Berglin said that this year represented a lost opportunity caused by Minnesota not agreeing to opt in on Obamacare. Sen. Berglin said that Minnesota would’ve gotten $7.45 back for MA for each dollar it paid into the federal government.

Sen. Berglin said that not doing the early opt-in would cause other states to get the money Minnesota could be getting.

Clearly, the DFL leaders were dispirited as a result of not getting their priorities passed into law.

When the GOP entourage arrived, there was a detectable difference in attitude. Led by GOP endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, the entourage of Emmer, House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, Rep. Matt Dean and Sen. Amy Koch greeted the people gathered in the Aviation building at the St. Cloud Airport.

After giving a brief presentation on his reform agenda, Rep. Emmer invited questions from the audience. WJON-AM’s Jim Maurice and the St. Cloud Times’ Mark Sommerhauser also covered the event. Rep. Emmer said that health care would be a major issue in the campaign, saying that, if elected, he wouldn’t opt into the Medicaid expansion.

Opting into the Medicaid expansion is enticing initially, he said, but that there’s no guarantee that the money Sen. Berglin talks about would be there after 2014. What would be there would be maintenance of service agreements that Minnesota would have to sign if they opted in.

Rep. Emmer then called St. Cloud Rep. Steve Gottwalt to the microphone to explain his Healthy Minnesota Plan, HF3036 this past session. Rep. Gottwalt said that it wasn’t accepted as the reform to MinnesotaCare but that it was adopted as a pilot program.

Under the pilot program, 60,000 single Minnesotans without dependent children will be covered. Rep. Gottwalt said that the fiscal note calculated the savings at $110,000,000 for the next biennium. If enacted into law for all 800,000 people on MinnesotaCare, the savings might exceed $1,000,000,000 for the upcoming biennium.

Rep. Zellers spoke about how government operations should change to be more customer friendly. He spoke about streamlining the permitting process for construction permits would save contractors time and the government money.

Rep. Emmer said that the key isn’t in cutting money from the budget because, sooner or later, that agency or that department will want the cuts restored. He said that the key is first determining what state government should be doing, then eliminating duplicative agencies, then streamlining processes so that the bureaucracies so that they’re more responsive to the public.

When asked if he thought if there were enough reform opportunities to balance the budget, Rep. Emmer pointed out the budget saving that could be realized just by implementing Rep. Gottwalt’s Healthy Minnesota Plan.

Sen. Senjem drove the point home by saying that making government more efficient and responsive to Minnesota’s needs would help Minnesota become a business friendly state that’s able to compete with anyone.

The thing that stood out to everyone who attended both events was that the DFL event was poorly attended and all but lifeless whereas the GOP portion was upbeat, filled with ideas and laying out an appealing agenda that Republicans will campaign on.

Also attending the event were GOP endorsed candidates John Pederson and Dave Brown, representing SD-15 and SD-16 respectively, along with King Banaian and Tim O’Driscoll, representing HD-15B and HD-14A respectively.

The GOP group was outgoing and upbeat. Also impressive was how they cheerfully answered all questions posed to them in a straightforward, facts first manner.

There was a detectable difference in energy levels, with there being significantly more energy, and more people attending, at the GOP event.

That Tarryl Clark, Larry Haws, House Majority Leader Sertich and Speaker Kelliher weren’t there spoke louder than anything in Sen. Pogemiller’s or Sen. Berglin’s presentation.

It truly was a case of the visuals telling the real story.

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Make no mistake about it: the DFL is scrambling in Central Minnesota. This was only highlighted by Rep. Larry Haws’s surprise retirement announcement Sunday night.

The DFL currently doesn’t have a candidate in House Districts 14A, 15A and in SD-14. They were without a candidate in HD-15B less than 24 hours because Carol Lewis announced that she was running for Rep. Haws’s open seat.

According to Mark Sommerhauser’s article, Lewis is a former school board member:

One DFLer wasted no time stepping forward: Former St. Cloud school board member Carol Lewis said Monday she hopes to replace Haws in House District 15B, which covers north, east and downtown St. Cloud.

Ms. Lewis, whom I’ve never met, is starting from a compromised position. Because of the late start, her fundraising is a mess. She’s also put herself in the difficult position of defending raising taxes at a time when tax increases are extremely unpopular:

Lewis ran for the District 15B seat in 2005, but dropped out after losing the DFL endorsement battle to Haws.

If elected this time, Lewis says she’d focus on “fiscal responsibility.” That could come through combining state agencies to cut costs, and also may require expanding the state sales tax to cover clothing, Lewis said.

Raising taxes of any sort won’t be popular this election cycle. Ms. Lewis will get a cold reception from voters once it’s known that she wants to raise taxes when families are struggling.

Larry Hosch will have a real fight in HD-14B. He’s being challenged by small businessman and longtime GOP activist Tom Ellenbecker. Mr. Ellenbecker is helped by the fact that Rep. Hosch didn’t follow through on reforming the Green Acres tax laws like he promised.

Politicians break campaign promises all the time and get away with it. This is one of those promises that people expected to be kept. Because the DFL legislature didn’t fix the mess they created in 2008, farmers’ property taxes will be significantly higher, putting many farms in distress.

Rep. Hosch won’t get those farmers’ support when he visits their farms this summer. Hosch will find it difficult to win without substantial support from his district’s farmers.

Adding to Rep. Hosch’s difficulties are his frequent votes for tax increases the past 2 years as part of the House DFL leadership. That won’t play well in 14B because it’s one of the most conservative districts in the state. It isn’t currently represented by a conservative because, prior to this election, Rep. Hosch was able to portray himself as a centrist/moderate.

That won’t be possible this cycle because of all the tax increases he voted for this session.

Republicans are willing to work hard this cycle. Add to that that they’re on the right side of the issues in most polling and the DFL’s disarray and you’ve potentially got the recipe for a strong year in 2010.

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With the Minnesota legislature officially adjourning sine die just before 11:00 am Monday, political junkies like myself will turn our attention to this summer’s campaigns. One campaign that I’ll be watching with interest is the governor’s race. The man I’ve supported since Day One, Tom Emmer, issued this statement on the session:

First of all, we should be grateful to Governor Pawlenty for once again protecting Minnesota families and businesses from tax increases. Economic recovery in Minnesota will come faster because we had the strength to hold the line on taxes.

But any recovery will be stopped in its tracks if the next governor “opts in” to Obamacare early by enrolling thousands of Minnesotans onto the federal health care roll at irresponsibly high costs, ignoring Minnesota’s nation-leading reforms in health care delivery.

With this deal, the next governor will have that power. I am announcing today I will not use it if elected this November. I also challenge my opponents (including Speaker Kelliher, who pushed for this power in closed-door negotiations) to tell Minnesotans where they stand on this issue immediately.

In addition to the “opt in” provision to Obamacare, the 2010 session will be remembered as another wasted opportunity due to failed Democrat leadership.

We should have taken this opportunity to redesign our government to provide expected services in a sustainable and sensible manner and we should have taken this opportunity to eliminate redundancies and excess in government. Instead, we have yet again postponed the day of reckoning and kicked the can down the road to the next Governor and the next legislature.

Minnesota expects more. Minnesota deserves more. We are ready, willing and able to take charge of our runaway government in this state. It is time to redesign government to serve the citizens of our great state. It is time for new, fresh and bold ideas. It is time to govern and we are up for the challenge!

During the debate on the budget deal, Marty Seifert and Jim Abeler both criticized the deal because it didn’t deal with the out years, aka the budget tails. Because the DFL refused to deal with those tails, the next legislature, one that’s sure to have alot more Republicans, will have to work with the new governor to put Minnesota on the path to prosperity.

In my opinion, that won’t happen with Sen. Dayton, Speaker Kelliher or Rep. Entenza as governor. That said, I’m confident that we won’t have to find out whether I’m right or wrong because I’m confident Tom will win this November. Thus far, polling indicates Tom’s positioned nicely going into the campaign:

According to the poll of 588 registered voters who say they’re likely to vote, Emmer leads Kelliher 41 to 33 percent. Horner is at 9 percent. Another 17 percent are undecided.

According to the poll, in a hypothetical race, Emmer leads Dayton by eight points–42 to 34. Horner is again at 9 percent and 15 percent are undecided.

The poll showed, Emmer leads Entenza 42 percent to 31 percent. In this hypothetical race, Horner pulls in 10 percent and 16 percent are undecided.

The DFL will have difficulty gaining traction running on the issues of tax increases (Sen. Dayton), spending increases (Rep. Entenza) and single-payer health care (Speaker Kelliher). The KSTP poll that shows Tom leading Dayton, Entenza and Kelliher also shows that there isn’t much support for tax increases, with 64 percent of likely Minnesota voters saying that they’re taxed too much, with a modest 27 percent of likely Minnesota voters saying that they’re taxed just right and a paltry 8 percent of likely Minnesota voters saying that they’re taxed too little.

Speaker Kelliher made a deal with the devil when she won John Marty’s endorsement at the DFL convention by saying she’d push for passing single-payer health care. That decision was understandable but foolish. It’s understandable in the sense that it’s what she needed to do to win the endorsement. Without that, Speaker Kelliher doesn’t live to fight another day.

It’s foolish from the standpoint from the perspective that that commitment will be a millstone around her electoral neck for the general election. Single-payer is more radical and less popular than Obamacare, which is quite the accomplishment.

The DFL’s candidates will be fighting an uphill fight because of their positions on health care, spending and taxes. Each of their solutions to Minnesota’s problems aren’t just outside the mainstream. They’re disliked to the point of voters being weary just hearing about them.

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Citing health issues within his family, Larry Haws announced tonight that he was retiring from the Minnesota legislature.

I’d heard rumors that he might retire amonth ago but didn’t put much stock in them because Rep. Haws had already gotten the DFL endorsement to run for re-election in HD-15B. I thought it unnlikely that an endorsed candidate would retire.

Considering the fact that there’s some health issues within Rep. Haws’ family, it makes more sense now.

Following Rep. Haws’s speech, King Banaian, the endorsed GOP candidate in HD15B, issued this statement:

“I thank Representative Haws for his five years of service in the Legislature to the people of St. Cloud,” Banaian said. “Rep. Haws will be remembered as a hard worker and leader in this community.”

“We have much work to do now, to continue to talk to the people of St. Cloud about how we can hold state government accountable to its promises and to make it live within its means. I look forward to hearing many good ideas from residents of our district, and to taking those ideas to St. Paul in January.”

The conventional wisdom will have us believe that Rep. Haws’s retirement makes it more likely that King Banaian will get elected. there’s a certain amount of truth to that but it’s equally true that this was shaping up to be a challenging race for him.

The biggest thing going for King is his understanding of building and sustaining a prosperous economy. Not so coincidentally, that’s this campaign’s hottest issue.

Rep. posted this statement on his House website:

Dear Neighbors,

Because you’re a friend and supporter, I wanted you to know first about my decision to not seek re-election. Five years ago I offered myself as a candidate for public office in Minnesota out of a deep sense of appreciation of the issues important to the people of District 15B.

As a Minnesota State Representative, I have gained the greatest respect for the people in our community and have enjoyed serving their diverse interests at the Capitol. It has been a great honor to help make policies to improve the quality of life for those Minnesotans who call St. Cloud home.

During my service as your State Representative I have chief authored over 100 bills during five sessions and successfully carried and passed 15 bonding bills for Central Minnesota’s universities, prisons, airport, North Star Rail and the Civic Center.

I’ve been honored with ‘Legislator of the Year’ three times:

• I carried legislation important to the Minnesota Trust for Public Land that better positioned Greater Minnesota’s regional park system. As a past Park Director for the city of St. Cloud, I recognized the need to advocate a higher priority for the regional park system in rural Minnesota.
• The Minnesota VFW applauded my efforts to carry the Governor’s 2007 bill that was a cluster of 12 bills to address the needs and rights of Minnesota’s veterans. This legislation represents one of the most significant movements in veterans’ benefits.
• The Minnesota Work Force Council of Minnesota celebrated my authorship of legislation that required prioritization, reduction and saving of a work force program for at-risk youth in the State of Minnesota. Both the Minnesota Work Force Council and the Boys & Girls club benefited from this legislation.
Before coming to the capitol, my life revolved around teaching and coaching, leading athletes in four different sports to win 14 state and national titles before I started to change my hat in to serve as the St. Cloud Park Director, and later, a Stearns County Commissioner. While at the St. Cloud Park Department, I established one of the earliest Adopt Park Programs, recruiting 2,000 volunteers a year and raising $8.3 million dollars to supplement the St. Cloud Park Budget. As a county commissioner I helped establish a public forum at the beginning of each commissioner meeting, invited television coverage of county meetings, and modernized the county web site.

My priorities have always been my family and my community and will remain so whether I’m serving in public office or walking in the neighborhood. After 48 years of public service I am retiring one more time. I love retirement and have done so three other times. My professional journey has opened up incredible opportunities to engage with some wonderful people as we pursued common interests of concern to our families and communities.

I’m not leaving St. Cloud; I’m leaving St. Paul and coming home to St. Cloud. I’m truly looking forward to being home and seeing more of familiar faces and places. Thank you again for the privilege of serving this district for the last five years. It has truly been an honor and a joy to represent the people in our community.


Your Friend,

Larry Haws

Though I’ve disagreed with Rep. Haws on policy a time or two or more, I appreciate the hard work that he did in trying to improve St. Cloud. I wish Rep. Haws nothing but the best in his retirement. I hope he enjoys himself immensely in his retirement.

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