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Whenever a DFL politician talks about major construction projects, whether it’s the Sandpiper Pipeline project or the PolyMet Mining project, they always say these 6 extra words:

“We need to do this right.”

This time, the politician was Al Franken and the project he was talking about was PolyMet. Unfortunately, Sen. Franken loves using the environmental activists’ code words. Here’s a perfect example:

The Minnesota Democratic senator, who is in a re-election contest with Republican challenger Mike McFadden, spoke about the copper/nickel/precious metals venture during an interview at the Mesabi Daily News Monday morning. The senator said he believes “a vast majority of Minnesotans want to see those (PolyMet) jobs … no question about that.”

Franken said he has regularly been in touch with PolyMet officials. And he has also heard from critics of the project. “One thing I’m very aware of is that we haven’t done this before here,” the senator said. “But boy, can I understand how people are frustrated” about the nine years of environmental review. “Believe me that’s not lost on me.”

Franken said he aligns himself with the Iron Range Legislative Delegation on the issue — “Get it done based on the science.”

“Get it done based on the science” is code for ‘let’s let the environmental activist organizations drag this out with lawsuits, PR stunts and propaganda wars’. DFL politicians are experts at that. DFL politicians like Sen. Franken and Rep. Nolan are professionals when it comes to looking like they’re doing something while dragging their feet.

That’s what they’ve both done since getting to DC. Nolan voted for HR 761, then promised environmental activists that he wouldn’t vote for it again if it came back for final passage:

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

This weekend, Nolan told Tom Hauser that he voted to streamline the permitting process. Sen. Franken couldn’t say that because he hasn’t lifted a finger to make PolyMet a reality. Nor has he done anything to streamline the permitting process in the future.

Instead, Dayton, Franken and Nolan have worked hard to walk a perilous tightrope. Dayton, Franken and Nolan have to appear to be friends of the miners without overstepping the environmental activists’ boundaries.

The PolyMet supplemental draft environmental impact statement is currently in the comment review phase, which Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said earlier this month should be completed in early-2015.

If the project receives a certificate of adequacy from the SDEIS, permits can follow, with construction beginning. The venture is projected to create 360 permanent jobs, hundreds more spin-off positions and more than 2 million hours of construction.

“We’ve got an incredible deposit of minerals,” Franken said. “But if this had been done too soon and it was tainted and the watershed contaminated, it would be mitigated for decades or centuries. And what would that have meant for the second or third project?”

Throughout this process, environmentalists have portrayed mining companies as deadbeats that destroy the environment, then skip the country while taxpayers foot the cleanup bill. They’ve also portrayed mining companies as thugs who love destroying the environment in their lust for big profits. This is dishonest.

That isn’t what happens. These companies have a history of following the rules. They have a history of doing things right.

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When it comes to national security, Sen. Franken is a lightweight. This article provides additional proof of that:

Franken said Obama doesn’t have authority to bypass Congress, but he has long backed closing the military prison and handling suspects through the American judicial system. Franken said he worries Guantanamo’s continued existence has only boosted terrorist recruitment efforts, and said there are plenty of high-security prisons in the United States to house the dozens of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.

Sen. Franken isn’t serious about fighting terrorists. Check out this statement about taking on ISIL:

There are no good options on Syria. But as I’ve said, the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people and injure many more is a horrendous act, and there have to be consequences for that. Whatever action the United States takes, it has to be limited action. This can’t be an open-ended commitment, and it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground. Congress now has an important role to play, and I look forward to participating in a vigorous debate about the use of force and the best interests of our country.

Destroying ISIL isn’t possible without putting American boots on the ground. If you’re opposed to putting American troops into harms way, Sen. Franken, then just say that you aren’t really interested in doing what it takes to destroy ISIL.

There’s no doubt that Sen. Franken thinks that that’s the best poll-tested statement he could issue. Similarly, there’s no question that half-hearted airstrikes without boots on the ground is a political action. It isn’t a serious attempt to destroy ISIL. The Democratic Party, led by pacifists like President Obama and Sen. Franken and Sen. Klobuchar, is going soft on national security again. Closing Gitmo, not taking the airstrikes on ISIL seriously and ruling out putting boots on the ground in Anbar Province and in Syria says one thing unmistakably clear.

It says that Obama, Franken and Klobuchar aren’t serious about national security.

Why wouldn’t you keep Gitmo open? Why give these terrorists the opportunity to radicalize American prisoners? Back in 2006, Amy Klobuchar said that it was important to get out of the war responsibly. In 2008, Franken campaigned on the same message. Then-Sen. Obama campaigned on getting us out of Iraq. Franken, Klobuchar and Obama didn’t talk about winning wars. I wrote about that multiple times in 2006-2008.

As George Will and Charles Krauthammer highlight, the fastest way to end a war is to lose that war. That’s what Franken, Klobuchar and Obama are about. If they aren’t about losing winnable wars, then they’re doing the same things that people who want to lose wars would do.

Politicians that aren’t interested in killing terrorists and winning wars are anti-American. Sen. Franken and President Obama, it’s sad to see that that shoe fits.

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If people had said that Iowa was leaning Republican at the start of 2014, people would’ve said that that means Republicans were heading for a very good year. Based on the last 4 polls in Iowa, I’d say that Republicans were closing in on a strong year in the Senate:

Braley’s campaign is doing everything it can to frighten voters into voting for Braley:

With just weeks left in a tight Senate race that he started with an advantage, Democrat Bruce Braley is pressing to raise concerns among women voters about his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst, and take some of the sheen off the farm-raised, military veteran who rose from relative obscurity to GOP stardom during the campaign.

The all-abortion-all-the-time campaign worked so well for Mark Udall that they’re apparently shipping it to Iowa. A campaign is running on empty when their best hope is frightening people into staying home. That’s the Braley campaign’s only hope.

Frankly, it’s a high-risk attempt. Joni Ernst just isn’t frightening. She’s a military vet. She’s a state legislator. She’s got personality. It’s difficult to make someone with those attributes sound scary. One woman that is scary campaigned for Braley this weekend:

“What the Republicans are really fighting for is a world which there is less and less investment in your future, less and less opportunity for you and more and more protection for those at the top,” Warren told a crowd of about 500 people Sunday in the Iowa Memorial Union ballroom on the University of Iowa campus.

That Massachusetts windbag is all BS and no substance. There’s no question, though, that she’s the brightest star in the Democratic Party. The thing is that she’s talking generically. She isn’t directly talking about Joni Ernst. While her speech probably whipped the activists into a frenzy, it isn’t likely that she convinced independents that support Joni Ernst into supporting Braley.

If this race represented a Christmas stocking, Braley would be a lump of coal. He’s a check-the-box politician. He’s good enough to be a back-bencher but he isn’t good enough to be a star.

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During his interview with Esme Murphy, Rick Nolan reiterated his support for overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United vs. the FEC lawsuit:

The Supreme Court ruled against BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold:

Independent Expenditures by Corporations

The Court overruled Austin, striking down § 441b’s ban on corporate independent expenditures. It also struck down the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA § 203’s extension of § 441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures. The Court held that the “government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations.” An analysis of this holding follows.

As Applied Challenge. First, the Court held that the case could not be resolved on an as applied basis without chilling political speech. Under an “as applied” challenge, the Court’s review of the law’s constitutionality is limited to the set of facts in the case before it. The Court therefore broadened the case from Citizens United’s initial narrower arguments, focusing only on Hillary, to reconsider both the validity of its prior decisions in Austin and McConnell and the facial validity of § 441b.

In reaching this decision, the Court reasoned that among other things:

1. Citizen United’s narrower arguments, including that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication,” are not sustainable under a fair reading of § 441b, and

2. it must therefore consider the statute’s facial validity or risk prolonging its substantial chilling effect.

The First Amendment’s protections apply to all political speech. The argument that ‘corporations aren’t people’ is laughable at best. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say that the First Amendment protects only individuals. Does the Fourth Amendment protect only individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? Of course it doesn’t.

But I digress.

Nolan said that he’s “the lead sponsor of new legislation in Washington to reverse Citizens United.” That means, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Nolan wants to reverse the chilling effect McCain-Feingold had on political speech. For those asking why that’s a bad thing, I’ll answer with a question. Do you want the government to say what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? Before answering that question, think about this: Lois Lerner “served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC“:

One of Lerner’s former colleagues tells National Review Online that her political ideology was evident during her tenure at the FEC, where, he says, she routinely subjected groups seeking to expand the influence of money in politics, including, in her view, conservatives and Republicans, to the sort of heightened scrutiny we now know they came under at the IRS.

Before the IRS, Lerner served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC, which she joined in 1986. Working under FEC general counsel Lawrence Noble, Lerner drafted legal recommendations to the agency’s commissioners intended to guide their actions on the complaints brought before them.

Isn’t it frightening that a corrupt bureaucrat like Lois Lerner could be the final arbiter of what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? If Nolan’s legislation passed, it’s possible a corrupt, hyperpartisan bureaucrat could determine which speech is acceptable and what speech isn’t.

Nolan’s legislation would make it illegal for unions to advocate for their endorsed candidates. Nolan’s legislation might be used to shut down ABM, Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC and the DCCC. Is that what Nolan wants?

I’d bet it isn’t. He’s been silent while the DCCC ran its disgusting ads. He’s been silent while Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC ran disgustingly dishonest ads. Apparently, Nolan only opposes money in politics when he’s in front of a camera. That isn’t a principled position. It’s a political position.

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Is an Enrollment Management Plan Really Necessary?
by Silence Dogood

Just over three years ago, on September 20, 2011, President Potter gave Dr. Mahmoud Saffari, Vice President for Enrollment Management, ninety days notice that his contract was being terminated (i.e., that he was being fired). Dr. Potter stated that his firing was, in part, because he failed to develop an Enrollment Management Plan. Three years later, there is still no enrollment management plan and, surprisingly, no one else has been fired. Perhaps the lack of an Enrollment Management Plan was just a ruse for getting rid of Dr. Saffari because it certainly seems that there has been no urgency to develop one since Dr. Saffari’s departure.

In the fiscal year following Dr. Saffari’s departure, SCSU lost 5.4% FYE enrollment, followed the next year by another 5.0% FYE enrollment decline. The administration is projecting another loss between 4-5% this year. The cumulative enrollment loss over the three-year period FY13-FY15 is 14.2%. That’s assuming that the enrollment is only down this academic year by 4.5%.

In order to better predict enrollments, three years ago President Potter formed the Data Analytics Group. The Data Analytics Group’s enrollment prediction for FY14 was a projected loss of 2.4% enrollment. Enrollment dropped by 5.0%. Last March, the Data Analytics Group’s enrollment projection for this year was for a loss of 3.2% enrollment. That number has since been raised to a loss of between 4-5%. As a result of their consistent and significant underestimating of the enrollment declines the past two years, it is really difficult to believe that the projections of the Data Analytics Group are accurate.

Minnesota State University—Mankato has a lot of information that is available on its website to anyone with a computer. This certainly isn’t the case for SCSU where lots of information simply isn’t available, not updated, or only available to people having access to the SharePoint website.

One of the notable pieces of information that is publically available on Mankato’s website is their Enrollment Management Plan.

http://www.mnsu.edu/student/enrollmentmanagement.html

Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan is a total of three pages long and contains aspirational goals that can be readily assessed. Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan is reproduced below.

In the three years since Dr. Saffari’s departure, President Potter has failed to develop an Enrollment Management Plan. The only thing resembling an Enrollment Management Plan that has come from Dr. Potter is that he is ‘right sizing’ the university. If you do not have a plan all roads lead to an unknown destination. Mankato has specific goals so they know where they are going and at critical decision points they can choose a path with a higher probability of reaching their goal. Since SCSU has no plan, decisions are made without consideration of the intended final destination. It appears that SCSU is proclaiming that we arrived at our destination and claim that was where we were going all along. As a result, I suggest that SCSU use Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan as template. With a few changes, it will give SCSU some goals that the university can work toward achieving. Having a plan, even the Mankato plan, would give SCSU some goals to work towards and a means of assessing the university’s progress towards those goals. Right now all we have is someone saying we’re ‘right sizing.’

With the assumption that SCSU only loses 4.5% this year, which is an overly optimistic projection, SCSU will have lost 21.5% of its FYE enrollment in five years. On the other hand, from its Enrollment Management Plan, it is clear that Mankato is aspiring to grow its headcount enrollment from 15,000 to 17,000 by 2017. Clearly, SCSU and Mankato are heading in different directions. If you had a choice, which path would you chose? Apparently, Minnesota students and parents are choosing and it doesn’t look too good for SCSU.

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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This LTE fails miserably in tying Stewart Mills and the NRA to the Ebola outbreak. Here’s the heart of its attempt:

A year ago Stewart Mills signaled his candidacy with an open video “letter” to Rep. Rick Nolan. It promoted the need and right to own an assault rifle as a constitutional symbol of American freedom. Now with the Ebola outbreak, this NRA and its wider coalition doctrine is pitted even more squarely against government involvement in health, both at the preventive and care level.

We don’t have a surgeon general because the NRA effectively blocked his confirmation. The American Medical Association and NRA have been feuding for years over such things as the NRA’s opposition to a physician’s right to ask patients about guns, its killing of a CDC study on gun deaths, and medical consensus that our 30,000 annual gun deaths should be treated as a public health problem. This partisan austerity anti-government stance has cut in funding of the NIH and CDC such that the NIH director recently noted that we otherwise should have had an Ebola vaccine by now.

That’s breathtakingly ill-informed. That’s a stretch of Olympic proportions.

It’s the latest attempt by the gun control crowd to tie Ebola to constitutional conservatism. First, progressives said that the Ebola crisis was the result of Republican budget cuts to the CDC. Now they’re saying that it’s conservatives’ fault because the NRA rejected President Obama’s surgeon general nominee.

It’s long past time to mercilessly ridicule this type of thinking.

Saying that gun deaths are a “public health problem” is insanity. The vast majority of gun deaths are caused by criminal activity. How will doctors treat that? Say ‘take 2 short clips and call me in the morning’?

Next, saying that Stewart Mills’ video to Rick Nolan “promoted the need and right to own an assault rifle” is breathtakingly dishonest. The video that Mills put together that went viral showed how little difference there is between an assault rifle and other firearms. This buffoon’s attempt to frighten people into thinking that Stewart Mills is obsessed with putting automatic weapons in everyone’s hands is laughable.

Ebola exposes how attempts to use market-forces alone in health care have again failed the U.S.

The man that wrote this LTE just identified himself as Nolan’s base: pro-gun control and pro-socialized medicine.

That puts to rest the argument of who would accurately represent Minnesota’s Eighth District and who would represent Nancy Pelosi.

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Joe Atkins, one of the co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, insists that Tim O’Driscoll’s editorial was misleading. Actually, it’s Atkins’ editorial that’s misleading:

Republican Rep. Tim O’Driscoll’s recent op-ed (“Insurance premiums are going up,” Oct. 12) was very misleading and continues the practice of attacking MNsure, celebrating technical problems and distorting the facts about rate increases.

The fact is that Minnesota’s rates remain the lowest in the nation and our uninsured rate dropped by 40 percent, to the lowest level in state history.

Republicans ignore the $20 million in federal tax credits that Minnesotans received this year. When tax credits are accounted for in next year’s rates, many Minnesotans statewide will actually see a decrease in their premiums.

In Region 8, which includes Stearns, Sherburne and Benton counties, a 25-year-old selecting a silver plan, the most commonly selected plan, will see an average increase of 3 percent with tax credits. A 40-year-old on a silver plan will see an average increase of 1 percent, and a 60-year-old will see no increase.

Talk about misleading. That’s stunning. From Rep. Atkins’ perspective, premiums didn’t increase because taxpayers are footing the bill for MNsure’s premium increases.

Rep. Atkins, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone’s paying for those premium increases. When premiums increased by 22% in Benton, Stearns, Sherburne and Wright counties, the premiums really skyrocketed. When premiums increased by 43% in Meeker, Kandiyohi, Chippewa or Yellow Medicine counties, premiums really increased. When premiums increased by 34% in Cottonwood, Lyons, Nobles and Murray counties’, premiums really increased.

Let’s remember Chairman Atkins’ happy talk in Atkins’ interview with Julie Bartkey in mid-September, 2013. After that, let’s fast forward to January, when KSTP’s reporter Jay Kolls interviewed Jim Nobles, the Legislative Auditor. Here’s what Kolls reported:

KOLLS: There are all kinds of red flags popping up at MNsure and Jim Nobles tells me that MNsure has not delivered what it promised to taxpayers and the agency needs to be held accountable.

In the interview, Jim Nobles said this:

So I think everyone agrees that we simply have not delivered what we promised.

Watch this video of Atkins talking about whether the rollout would be smooth:

This interview happened a week before MNsure and HealthCare.gov went live.

BARTKEY: How are you feeling with everything? Are you feeling confident? Off camera, you said that the whole nation’s eyes are watching.
ATKINS: I’m actually feeling better about it every day. One of the best news days that we had was when we found out that this would have the best rates of any insurance marketplace in the country. My understanding is that tomorrow — I don’t know when this all gets shown — that the federal rates are going to be released for all 50 states and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Minnesota will lead the nation of having the lowest rates anywhere in the country.
BARTKEY: What about any of the technical aspects, any concerns that it will crash or that people won’t be as trained as they should be to make sure that consumers can pick the right plan?
ATKINS: When you’re as technically unsavvy as I am, anything like an iPad or a computer concerns me. But that’s why you hire the professionals that you do and I’m — from all that I hear — we’ve got the best folks involved both at the state level and externally coming in and taking a look at how we’re doing business to make sure that we’ve got those protections, to make sure that we’ve got the IT network in place to handle it.

That’s proof that Rep. Atkins is a king of happy talk, the point person to deliver sunny-sounding statements that everything’s just fine whether that’s true or not.

Having Atkins say that rates are really cheap because they’re heavily subsidized is like saying Northstar Rail is inexpensive because taxpayers, not riders, pay for most of the cost of transporting people. Rep. Atkins shouldn’t be trusted because his op-ed is spin:

Compare that with rate increases over the last decade as high as 19.5 percent. In Region 8, some carriers are offering plans that are 18 percent cheaper than they were last year. When was the last time you heard of health plans going down in price?

Let’s compare that with the truth:

From 2003 to 2010, individual market insurance premiums rose a total of 35 percent in Minnesota, compared with 47 percent in our first year under Obamacare.

Rep. Atkins’ spin and cherrypicking is anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Rep. O’Driscoll’s advice is good advice:

Keep a copy of this article, and when open enrollment begins Nov. 15, take a look at your new premiums and compare my math to the 4.5 percent number being marketed by MNsure.

Rest assured that Chairman Atkins’ spin won’t withstand strict scrutiny.

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This article is rather enlightening:

“I learned some important lessons from him. First of all, the importance of a job to someone who doesn’t have one. My job as governor is to do everything I can to provide jobs for the people of Minnesota, those who are unemployed, those who are underemployed, to those who want better opportunities for those young people from Bemidji High School who were here and are going onto college and need a better job environment when they graduate.”

Dayton says, “Whatever I can do to make a difference and to be proactive” will frame his administration.

“It’s easy to say no to this and no to that and no to everything, but Perpich said, ‘What can I do?’ to try to make a difference. I hope I can follow in those footsteps. I won’t be building chopsticks factories or visiting castles in Switzerland. Rudy had, as the French said about [de Gaulle], the faults of his virtues and the virtues of his faults. We all have our faults, and we hope for a lot more virtues than faults.

First, let’s highlight the fact that Gov. Dayton isn’t being proactive in providing “jobs for the people of Minnesota, those who are unemployed” and “those who are underemployed.” In February, 2011, Gov. Dayton thought underemployment was a problem along with unemployment. Gov. Dayton in 2014 gets testy when Commissioner Johnson talks about Minnesotans who are underemployed.

When did Gov. Dayton determine that underemployment wasn’t a priority?

Next and most importantly, why isn’t Gov. Dayton interested in being proactive about mining jobs? He hasn’t lifted a finger to make PolyMet a reality. Don’t unemployed miners deserve a proactive governor who’s doing everything possible to create great paying jobs? Is Gov. Dayton only interested in being proactive when his environmental activist allies give him permission?

Finally, it’s interesting hearing Gov. Dayton talk about “hucksters who promise chopsticks factories” as though they were Republicans in 2014 while admitting that Gov. Perpich brought the chopsticks factory to Hibbing in a 2011 interview.

Comparing Perpich’s chopsticks factory with PolyMet is intellectual absurdity. The chopsticks factory went bankrupt in less than 3 years. PolyMet would create 360 mining jobs that would be there for a generation.

Clearly, Gov. Dayton hasn’t thought this stuff through. Clearly, Gov. Dayton hasn’t figured it out that his silence is giving dishonest environmental activists implicit permission to protest PolyMet, which they’re doing.

Will voters let Gov. Dayton off the hook for being a proactive jobs governor for the Twin Cities but an inactive jobs governor for the rest of Minnesota? It’s important to find out the answer to that question because that’s who he’s been.

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Collin Peterson’s calling card throughout the years has been that he’s an influential member on the Agriculture Committee. He’s still running on that calling card, though it’s fair to question how potent it is this time. Torrey Westrom is reminding people Peterson isn’t the only candidate in the race who knows agriculture issues:

Agriculture is another major issue for Westrom, who currently serves on the state legislative agriculture committee. He said that serving on the agriculture committee in Washington, like his opponent currently does, “sure would be” a priority for him.

“I grew up on a dairy farm, I have an agricultural background,” Westrom said. “I have been a strong proponent for agriculture and farmers in the state Legislature, and I will continue to be a strong ardent voice for agriculture in Washington.”

Torrey Westrom knows agriculture issues. Here’s an important difference between Westrom and Peterson:

Peterson has said that he supports the pipeline, but Westrom urged that his support of the project is not enough.

“We have rail car shortages because of this Obama administration’s policy supported by the Democratic leadership,” Westrom said. “You support the pipeline and then you go support leadership that’s gonna oppose it? That doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s a decision I have to make as a new congressman,” Westrom said. “Will I support Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the U.S. Congress or not? I am here to tell you I will not unlike my opponent who has.”

In prior elections, Peterson neutralized the ‘Nancy Pelosi card.’ Apparently, that streak has met its match. Westrom isn’t just mentioning Pelosi’s name. He’s tying Pelosi to Peterson on the biggest issue in the district. Westrom has done a nice job of highlighting the House Democratic leadership’s environmental fanaticism.

That won’t sit well in the 7th District.

Finally, people apparently are responding to Torrey’s positive message:

“We have been running a positive campaign, a positive message, and voters have been responding very favorably to what they see and hear coming out of our campaign,” Westrom said. “We are going to continue pushing a positive message of change.”

The thing that I’ve heard is that people appreciate Torrey Westrom’s demeanor and discipline. He isn’t afraid to highlight differences like he did in this interview. Still, he’s been respectful while highlighting policy differences he has with his opponent. That’s an admirable trait, one which says he’ll fight for his policies and principles without vilifying people he’ll need to work with.

Minnesota’s 7th District needs that type of leadership and character. A vote for Westrom is a vote for principled leadership.

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