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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.


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.


Posted by: Lapin Agile (lapin_agile)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)

Wow. The Sharon Anderson website is impressively impenetrable. And yet, so very intensively populated with debris. Including long lists of email addresses spammers would love and at least one person's social security number. ... And the dead woman thing? Incredible.

Posted by: Sylvia (sylvia_rachel)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)

Gosh. That is an ... interesting website. I think my favourite bit is when she chastises the local paper for not including candidates' website addresses.

Here in Toronto, a couple of years ago we elected a mayor who made returning every phone call and fixing every pothole a central feature of his platform. He'd done it as a councillor, and people in his suburban ward liked it, and I think he reckoned he could be mayor the same way and it would all work out fine.* For obvious reasons, it hasn't.

*He also fulminated about the "gravy train" at City Hall, promising to eliminate gazillions of dollars in wasteful spending, while at the same time promising to put money back into taxpayers' pockets (it's become irritatingly common here to refer to us as "taxpayers" instead of, say, "voters" or "residents" or even, I don't know, "people") by eliminating the $60/year vehicle registration tax. The results have been fairly predictable, in that when you immediately reduce annual revenues by $60× however many million cars there are in Toronto, and then discover that actually there isn't nearly as much wasteful spending as you thought, you will tend to find yourself in a bit of a situation.

Posted by: Adrian Turtle (adrian_turtle)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)

I think Brandon Carmack is trying to say borrowing money is bad, because future generations will be imprisoned by the debt just when they ought to be freed by their education. It would make sense if he were talking about student loan debt, but it's obviously ridiculous in this context.

Or he might not know what a "bonding bills" are, and think they involve something like all the second-graders getting bills from bail bondsmen.

Posted by: Sylvia (sylvia_rachel)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)

Or he might not know what a "bonding bills" are, and think they involve something like all the second-graders getting bills from bail bondsmen.

Or, like, indentured servitude.

Posted by: “...something amazing, a boy falling from the sky” (mckenzee)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)

I am intrigued by the idea of self-governing school children, a la Lord of the Flies.

Posted by: sarah_johnson74 (sarah_johnson74)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)

I wonder if that is what he means??? I read that Carmack is an avid Ayn Rand supporter (via his facebook page), so maybe he also advocates anarchy. He has obviously never stood in front of a Kindergarten classroom and attempted to teach the students something.

Posted by: sarah_johnson74 (sarah_johnson74)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)

I did some research on Brandon Carmack and he recently moved to the Minneapolis area, within the last two years. He also has only ever worked in the private sector, I am not sure how someone of his age thinks he has experience to legislate anything in the public sector, especially when he has only ever been in the private sector. I love how he speaks like he is an authority on public education, when in reality he has never attended a public institution. His line, SO THEY CAN BE SELF-GOVERNING, demonstrates his ignorance in this area. Lets not forget his age, he is only 24. Paymar has served this community for well over half of Carmack's life, how ironic. If you look at his website further he attempts to justify his experience through his education and experience with studying the Guatemalan Constitution, I am not sure how the constitution of Guatemala has any impact upon the citizens of Minneapolis. I am going to have to err with Paymar. This specific election goes to show the Republicans cannot find a good candidate to run, so they found the closest able bodied person who will fill the slot as cannon fodder.

Posted by: kev_w_phips68 (kev_w_phips68)
Posted at: October 26th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)

I saw Carmack at a town hall meeting this week between him and Paymar, talk about an arrogant young guy. Carmack is running on an idea of ousting a 16 year incumbent, and he may pick up a few votes on the anybody but Paymar mentality. But, seriously this election came down to no Republican wanted to run, so they find a young hot shot to fill the void and waste donation money.

Carmack really needs more experience, his campaign is a joke. I agree with sarah_johnson74, what does the Guatemalan Constitution have to do with St. Paul??? He does not have a clear plan for as to what he would do once elected. If you cannot show people what you want to do in office through experience then you need to tell them what you plan to do.

Advise for Carmack dial back the ego, get involved in community projects to gain experience, and try running for a smaller local office so you can gain some political experience before you try and represent me in the capitol.

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