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Naomi [userpic]

Election 2012: Congressional Races

September 29th, 2012 (08:23 pm)

I know I said I would work from the bottom up, but I started to do some research and remembered that there's a questionnaire that Soil and Water people have the opportunity to fill out, and they haven't yet. So I should probably hold off until later in October to do those.

So let's do the Congressional reps.

U.S. Representative, District Five.

Minneapolis is in Minnesota's 5th District, and there are two candidates: Keith Ellison (DFL) and Chris Fields (Republican).

I would like to give the Republicans a hearty, encouraging pat on the back for running a candidate in the 5th District. There are some shocking number of races where Congresspeople run unopposed because everyone knows the guy's going to win so why even bother to file? Chris Fields' website is here. He echoes some standard Republican talking points on the economy and health care while staying away from social issues. He's totally going to lose.

Keith Ellison is a vocal member of what Wellstone called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party" while also being willing to vote in favor of half a loaf, if that's the best we're going to get. I like his politics, I like him personally (he's an excellent speaker) and frankly, I would vote to keep him in office if for no other reason than the fact that as a liberal patriotic African-American Muslim Congressman, he makes right-wingers' heads explode on a daily basis.

U.S. Representative, District Four

St. Paul is in the 4th Congressional district and the incumbent is Representative Betty McCollum. I have paid less attention to McCollum over the years than Ellison, but so far as I know she's respectably liberal. I have the impression that the 4th district is less safely Democratic than the 5th, probably in part due to all the Hernandez signs I've seen in St. Paul. (According to Wikipedia, the 4th district has been represented by Democrats since 1949 -- the 5th, only since 1963. So I'm probably wrong.) Here's who's on the ballot:

Betty McCollum (DFL, incumbent)
Tony Hernandez (Republican)
Steve Carlson (Independence)

As I noted for the Senators, "Independence" = Jessecrat, and you really can't draw any conclusions from party affiliation about what a given candidate stands for.

Betty McCollum's website is here. I will note with some disapproval that she doesn't have an "Issues" link, but she is the incumbent and she has a Wikipedia page, which notes that she has a 91% Progressive rating, she's been a supporter of GLBT rights since first taking office, and she's a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Tony Hernandez's website is here. I am amused by the fact that he doesn't mention his party affiliation anywhere (or if he does, he hides it pretty well). Like Fields, he also mostly avoid social issues, although his economic plan is full of posturing and meaningless puffery: "I will vote against raising the debt ceiling" (here's the thing: if you want to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, you need to start by passing a budget that doesn't require the debt ceiling to be raised), "Congress must eliminate redundant spending and reduce taxes" with nothing anywhere that talks about what he would cut, exactly, to make this work (hint: eliminating redundant spending will not balance the budget. You need to either raise taxes, or make significant cuts, which probably means significant cuts to defense spending because that's where we spend the biggest chunk of our discretionary budget!) Also, he claims that gas prices are high because of deficit spending.

Having looked at Steve Carlson's website, I'm going to say he's a crank. He calls himself a Tea Partier, he apparently thinks he's running against Walter Mondale (it's not 100% clear whether he thinks he's Ronald Reagan), and he has a badly put together website with a URL that suggests it's still 2010. If you're a glutton for punishment, though, check out his rap video. (From 2010.)

Anyway, I'm going to vote for Betty McCollum.

Naomi [userpic]

Elections 2012: State Legislators

September 29th, 2012 (09:39 pm)

I'm kind of on a roll here so let me see if I can kick out another post tonight.

In Minneapolis, I live in 63A.

State Senate, District 63
Patrick Marron (Republican)
Patricia Torres Ray (DFL)

I like Patricia and think she does good work generally. She door-knocked our house when she was trying for the DFL endorsement back when she first ran. We were getting ready for a party but invited her in to chat with us while we cleaned and cut up vegetables and so on, which she did. What actually swung us to support her was that she arranged childcare for delegates at the DFL Senate District Convention -- which said to me that she paid attention to the barriers that keep people from participating, and was actually committed to doing something about them. That is the sort of thing that I want in the people who represent me in the legislature. (The day care was set up by her campaign, but it wasn't just for her delegates -- it was for any delegates who needed to bring kids that day.)

Patrick Marron doesn't seem to have a website. I wasn't going to vote for him anyway, though.

State House, District 63A
Kirk Brink (Republican)
Jim Davnie (DFL)

My State House rep is Jim Davnie. Jim I know personally pretty well -- we met when Ed and I were volunteering for DFL legislative candidates and both Jim's wife and I were pregnant. Jim door-knocked when Molly was about a week old and broke off his "hi, I'm Jim Davnie and I'm running..." spiel mid-sentence when he realized that it was me and OH MY GOSH I'D HAD MY BABY and he got all excited and wanted to hear how the birth went and so on.

He's also thoughtful, responsive, and a good legislator. On occasions I've disagreed with him and he will listen to me respectfully and then tell me that he thinks I'm wrong. He's also a fantastic speaker in front of a crowd; when Sabo retired I was disappointed that Jim didn't run for U.S. House (although I like Ellison) and during the primaries a few years ago I was disappointed that Jim wasn't running for U.S. Senate (although I like Franken).

Kirk Brink doesn't seem to have a website and doesn't seem to have responded to any candidate surveys. (I will admit I'm doing this kind of early, but the one I found, Jim Davnie HAD responded.) I would make fun of him for his lack of effort, but like Patrick Marron, he's totally going to lose.

In St. Paul, I'm going to be living in 64B.

State Senate, District 64
Sharon Anderson (Republican)
Dick Cohen (DFL)
Scott Larson (Independent)

Oh. Oh my. It's Sharon Anderson.

Let me tell you a cautionary tale.

Back in 1994, Sharon ran in the Republican primary for Attorney General and won the primary. There were three prevailing theories at the time: (a) people thought she was some famous-ish actress by the same name, (b) the knee-jerk feminists had said "oh, a woman, I'll vote for her," and (c) the knee-jerk Scandinavians had said "oh, an Anderson, I'll vote for her." Or some combination of the three. Whatever it was, she wound up as the Republican candidate for AG, running against Skip Humphery, who beat her handily. The Republicans didn't even endorse her -- they were so appalled that I think they seriously considered endorsing Skip Humphery, because Sharon is up there with the guy who thinks Laura Ingalls Wilder is God in the annals of eccentric local politicians.

In a sense, you can credit Sharon with these posts, because when I'd get to the bottom of the ticket, when I didn't know anything about the candidates and would think about voting for the woman or the person with the appealing name, I'd think about Sharon Anderson, and leave those choices blank. Which bothered me, so I started doing research before I went in, and I blogged about it, and voila. My empire of political influence.

So, Sharon's website is here. I have occasionally pondered who I'd vote for in various races if my criteria for choosing candidates was not "who will best serve the public interest" or "who will represent my views" but "who would be the most entertaining?" (I think the xkcd guy with the hat probably chooses his political candidates that way.) I suppose I might vote for Sharon if that were my criteria because the level of disruption she would bring to the state legislature might be rather impressive. Although it would probably get old really fast.

Dick Cohen's website is here. He's been in the state legislature for forever. Seriously, he first went to the legislature in 1986. I was thirteen in 1986. He appears to be a solid liberal who would represent me well.

Scott Larson's website is here. He's also a solid liberal and appears to agree with Dick Cohen on pretty much all issues but he thinks Cohen has been in the legislature for too long. I think my favorite campaign promise ever has got to be this one: I will have a 24/7 PERSONAL phone number and e-mail so YOU can reach me any day, any time. I will ALWAYS remember WHO I represent and WHO sent me. YOU deserve to have YOUR voice heard.

OK, I've changed my mind. Hat Guy would totally vote for Scott Larson. Entertainment around the clock.

I mean, talk about the sort of promise you only make when you know you are safe from any possibility of actually winning.

Anyway, I'm going to endorse Cohen although I will admit a certain suspicion of people who have been in the State Legislature since "Addicted to Love" was first climbing the charts. (I should get over it. I know that in national politics, you have incredible influence as a ranking committee member, and you can use it to send oodles of money back to your district. You want really, really nice roads? Vote for incumbents. Yes, I realize that THIS IS PROBABLY THE PROBLEM WITH AMERICAN POLITICS RIGHT HERE but on topics like this I am inclined to shrug and play the game the way the rules were written.)

I have to say, though, I'm really puzzled by the fact that on one hand, there are enough Republicans in this district to have a noticeable number of Hernandez signs around, but on the other hand, their alternatives to Cohen are a guy who's running to his left, and a woman whose website suggests that she might be channeling transmissions from aliens through her dental fillings. If I were a Republican living in Senate District 64 I think I would go with a write-in.

State House, District 64B
Brandon Carmack (Republican)
Michael Paymar (DFL)

Brandon Carmack has a website that even has a helpful link for Why Me, Not Him. His reasons for why him and not Paymar:

1. Unemployment is bad and our leaders haven't done enough about this. (Given that the Republicans have held a legislative majority for the last two years in both the State House and the State Senate, I'd say he's making a good point, but not the one he's trying to make.)

2. Paymar supports bonding bills to support education. I am actually not a huge fan of bonding bills -- I'd rather raise taxes on everyone, and support all the school districts equally, but I also think that individual municipalities should have the right to raise their own taxes to support their schools, if they choose to do so. Carmack's explanation for why bonding bills are bad is so incoherent I'm just going to quote it:

My opponent supports bonding bills in the name of helping our children and their future. The logic behind this argument falls flat on its face. Public education is about the advancement of knowledge in our youth - SO THEY CAN BE SELF-GOVERNING. Using bonding bills to educate our children is like putting candy in front of their face while chaining them to a post.

...what?

Seriously, if anyone can make heads or tails of that, please translate it for me. It may be the SO THEY CAN BE SELF-GOVERNING in all caps that's really throwing me off but then I get to the candy metaphor and ... what?

3. Paymar has supported legislation that gives tax breaks to companies that hire ex-convicts and this seriously offends Carmack. Personally, I'm in favor of not taking someone who broke the law (most ex-cons out there were not RAPISTS AND MURDERERS, as it happens -- mostly they committed property crimes and drug crimes) and and throwing them away forever. I believe in rehabilitation. This means helping people find jobs.

So, basically, I'd say Carmack has pretty well sold me on Paymar, but let's check out his website, too.

Solid liberal. Sort of boring in how solidly liberal he is. He's been in the legislature for 16 years so he's very focused on the stuff they actually do and don't do; very pragmatic but still idealistic enough that he voted against the budget compromise agreement. I don't have the personal connection to him that I have to my Minneapolis legislators but whatever, he looks like someone who will represent my beliefs and principles extremely well. He's got my endorsement.

Carmack also complains about how long Paymar has been in the legislature (16 years!) which given that everyone in 64B is also in 64 is sort of hilarious. Paymar has nothing on Cohen in the legislative longevity department.

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