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Primary Endorsements

August 8th, 2012 (09:56 pm)

So, if you live in Minnesota, you have a primary election coming up on August 14th -- next Tuesday. If you want to find out your candidates, you can visit http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ and put in your address -- in addition to getting your polling place, you can click a link to get a list of candidates. Complete with their web pages! I think that last bit is new.

That almost makes my endorsements beside the point (I mean, I endorse, but I think the main service I provide my most local friends for those down-ticket races is pulling together information so they don't have to go hunting for it) but I still have to go click the links and do the research, so I might as well share my notes with you.

And just to remind everyone: this is the Primary. Neither of the Constitutional Amendments will be on this ballot. You'll have to come back to the polls in November to vote on those (and please do. I tend to assume I'm preaching to the choir here and I want all you choir members to at least get out and vote on those amendments.)

LJ-cut to have mercy on those out-of-state people who puzzlingly enough do not find my analysis of Minneapolis school board races fascinating.

I don't vote in the Libertarian, Independence, or Republican primaries so I'm going to focus on the DFL primary.

Amy Klobuchar is the incumbent. The other candidates are "Dick" Franson, Darryl Stanton, and Jack Edward Shepard. Franson is a perennial candidate who never gets taken very seriously. Darryl Stanton seems to be a passionate liberal but I don't think he'd be particularly effective, even if he had any chance of winning, but he doesn't.

The actual potential danger on the ballot is Jack Edward Shepard, who makes absolutely no bones about the fact that he's a Republican who's trying to act as a spoiler.

I'm reasonably satisfied with Senator Klobuchar and will be voting for her in the primary.


The District 5 incumbent is Keith Ellison.

He has two opponents. One is Gregg Iverson, who doesn't seem to have a website. The other is Gary Boisclair.

Excuse me for a minute while I take a deep breath.

I find deliberate spoiler candidates obnoxious. But people who run on blatant bigotry take it to a whole new level.

Congressman Keith Ellison is Muslim. Apparently Boisclair has a problem with this. (I'd like to send him this rebuttal to the idea that Muslims can't be good Americans, but somehow I think it would sail right over his head.) He's also a member of the "horrible pictures" school of anti-abortion activism.

Boisclair is a disgusting person. Frankly, while in general I don't care about a political candidate's religious views (provided that they don't want to force them on me), I view Keith Ellison's faith as sort of a fun bonus, because he makes right-wing Christians so incredibly frothy.


And now we get to the first down-ticket race. There are four candidates running: Doug Mann, Janice Mae Harmon, Carla Bates, and Willis G. Trueblood. There is one open seat; two candidates will advance to the general election, and one will be seated on the school board.

FYI, although Minneapolis City Council and the Park Board are done by Instant Runoff, School Board is not. Fortunately, this isn't going to be a particularly agonizing choice.

Carla Bates is the incumbent. Despite being deeply unimpressed by the Minneapolis School Board overall, I have a strong pro-incumbent bias because almost no one wants to do this job more than once. They get paid $13,800/year; they generally work far more than 40 hours a week; and everyone hates them. Getting blamed for everything that goes wrong with the Minneapolis public school is pretty much the job, right there.

Anyway, the typical candidate comes on to the board bright-eyed and optimistic, is crushed into misery and despair within months (maybe weeks), and decides not to run again because really, being hated by 387,753 people for $13,800/year is a shitty gig. And the net result is a complete lack of institutional memory that makes a not-terribly-effective school board even less effective. So if someone wants to do it more than once? Unless I really, really hate them I'm probably going to vote for them.

I'm pretty sure Carla Bates has pissed me off, but I can't remember what she did so it can't have been all that bad. Therefore, she gets my vote.

I was thinking that because it's a primary they'd have me vote for two -- but I e-mailed Carla Bates and she says it says "Vote for One." Which is good, because:

Willis G. Trueblood is not actually running. A reporter went to his house to interview him and was told by someone who refused to identify himself that Willis Trueblood was in intensive care. That leaves Doug Mann and Janice Mae Harmon.

Harmon doesn't have a website but did show up for a forum on Monday night. Here's the article about it. Some choice excerpts:

"Harmon was unable to get through her introduction, more than once forgot what she was saying, and once gave an answer that didn’t in any way respond to the question."

"The next question was whether the candidates would agree to adopting a resolution to enact a racial and economic equity impact assessment....Harmon seemed not to understand the question, going into a speech about abortion."

"The third question asked what role the principal and teacher contracts played in attracting the best and brightest teachers and principals....'Teachers do need to support our students so they can go forward in life,' said Harmon, and soon forgot what she was going to say again."

That would be a NO.

I am not a huge fan of Doug Mann -- his website is somewhat incoherent, with no current content, and my impression is that he's more of a professional gadfly than a serious candidate who is ready to do the work (being hated! for $13,800 a year!) of a school board member. But at least he can get through an introduction, finish sentences he's started, and answer questions more or less on-topic. I'd still prefer Carla Bates.


Candidates: Lorie Skjerven Gildea, Jill Clark, and Dan Griffith.

In judicial races, since they're unlikely to announce bluntly on their website that they're for or against gay marriage, abortion rights, etc., I tend to look at their endorsements. Are they endorsed by a bunch of people I like? Good. Are they endorsed by a bunch of people I dislike? Bad. Are they endorsed by no one at all? Probably a flake. VOILA.

Conveniently, all these people have websites.

Lorie Skjerven Gildea is the incumbent. She's endorsed by a loooooooong list of people I mostly haven't heard of, plus Rudy Boschwitz, Walter Mondale, Brian Melendez, Tim Penny, and Tim Pawlenty. It's sort of the perfect resume for a judge: she's endorsed by Republicans, Democrats, and at least one Jessecrat.

Jill Clark has a lot of ranting, a lot of boldface (her name is bolded every time it appears, which I find irrationally off-putting), and no endorsements whatsoever.

Dan Griffith appears to have been endorsed by his wife and kids. Oooooh and according to his 13-year-old, "He’ll do what’s right for our state because he's a Christian." Now THERE is a big red flag, on top of the lack of endorsements.

Lorie Gildea it is, then.


Three candidates: Alan Nelson, Tim Tingelstad, and David R. Stras. Again, everyone has websites.

David R. Stras is the incumbent. Like most judicial incumbents, he has a pretty website, no information about his views on anything, and a long list of endorsements. I have to admit that most of the names I recognize on his list of endorsements are people I loathe. (Norm Coleman. Even just the name gives me hives.)

Alan Nelson starts out by noting that in the primary, an incumbent will sail through so he is essentially running against Tingelstad. And you don't want to vote for Tingelstad because -- you know what, I'm going to C&P to quote. Here's what Alan Nelson says on his website:

Tim Tingelstad’s views on the separation of Church and State scare me. I draw your attention to his “vision” page and these two representative quotes:

“It is particularly vital that a worldview, based upon the Truth of God and His Word, is returned to our highest courts.”
“It is not unconstitutional to bring the Word of God back into public education.”
Of course, the first question that leaps to my mind is which Word of God? The Bible? Old Testament or New? And why not the Talmud, or the Koran, or the Book of Mormon?

The second obvious question is would Mr. Tingelstad object to someone else’s Word of God being used in the classrooms of his children? Or in a courtroom where he was the defendant? Of course he would. Which is why I’m shocked that this issue is even open for debate with Mr. Tingelstad. Go ahead, visit his site and read for yourself.

In contrast, I hold the traditional view that the separation of Church and State is what makes this country so great. It is what elevates our country so far above all others. We all have the freedom to practice our own religion, and that includes the right to be free of others trying to impose their religion on us. This is especially true as we walk into the classrooms and courtrooms of this state.

Further poking around his site revealed the startling and unusual fact that he actually spells out his views on a bunch of issues. (Gay marriage: for it. Abortion rights: for it. Affirmative action: against it.) I don't agree with him 100% but I'm pretty sure he's closer to my views than the other guys. (Especially Tingelstad.)

Okay, dude! You've sold me. I will at least vote for you in the primary, and I'll consider you in the general even though you have no endorsements.

Tim Tingelstad is as loathsome as Nelson suggests but, conveniently, he makes it really easy to spot.

What the hell? Was there a three-for-one sale on BATSHIT WHACKJOB CHRISTIAN DOMINIONISTS during filing season this year?

Okay. One more race and I'm done here.


Oh my god, it looks like there's no incumbent. It's a Judicial Race that actually matters. I'm pretty sure Liz Cutter has sent me mailings. (They were attractive postcards with pictures of her looking distinguished. I think. I don't pay that much attention to that sort of thing, except that I always save them to cut up and put in the bookmark cup. Political postcards are always printed on the perfect thickness of cardstock for bookmarks.)

Here's who's running: Steven E. Antolak; Diane M. Krenz; Deborah Russell; Elizabeth V. Cutter. There was a forum in late July. Here's the video. It's an hour long, and no one seems to have written anything about what got said. (I wish I could find the reporter who reported that school board forum, stick them in a time machine, and send them back to report on this. Dammit. Because watching an hour-long forum? WAS NOT ON MY LIST OF THINGS I WANTED TO DO TONIGHT.)

Apparently three of them are prosecutors; Deborah Russell prosecuted Amy Senser. Antolak is the exception; the Star Trib article about this describes him as a "business lawyer."

Liz Cutter. She's done trainings on how to deal with domestic violence, both locally and internationally (!) She has a respectable list of endorsements -- it includes Keith Ellison and Walter Mondale. I also really appreciate the fact that she understands how some of us make decisions -- instead of just listing everyone alphabetically she breaks them up into categories (elected officials, law enforcement, lawyers).

Steve Antolak. No endorsements listed. He seems to be an active civic volunteer (he chaired the Hennepin County Citizens Solid Waste Advisory Committee for four years, for which I will give him some credit: this is clearly someone who is willing to do unglamorous work). I am deeply, deeply unimpressed by the boilerplate ad he's stuck on the front of his website, though -- you can go watch it (it's only a minute long) and be totally unimpressed with me. It's an ad saying that he has the AV PREEMINENT RATING and when I say it's a boilerplate ad, I mean that he got a letter through the mail saying "We are willing to give you this rating if you pay us a fee! And for an additional fee we will give you a SHINY COMMERCIAL that you can put on your website to IMPRESS POTENTIAL CLIENTS!" This rating may be totally legit and not even remotely like being offered a spot in "Who's Who Among American High School Students" or "Who's Who Among American College and University Faculty" or "Who's Who Among Residents of South Minneapolis (Not Southwest, They Have Their Own Listing)" but frankly if you put that ad on your campaign website you seriously damage your credibility with me.

Diane M. Krenz has one of the most badly designed websites I've seen in a while. That link will take you to the page with the utterly pointless Flash intro: here's the actual site. Her kid is eight, according to her bio; if her kid were fourteen, I would think the site was probably put together by the kid, but eight's a bit young.

Let's see. She goes to a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. She's a union member (AFSCME) but doesn't seem to have the union's endorsement. She has an endorsements page but I don't recognize any of the names (and there aren't very many). I do like this bit, from the Testimonials page: "I am supporting Diane Krenz because she always treated me and my clients fairly and respectfully. She would do the same as a judge." --Craig Boone, retired Assistant Hennepin County Public Defender. If your court opponents would say that about you, it's generally a good sign. In her FAQ, she also notes that a Prosecutor should be the Constitution's first line of defense, and assess whether the police violated the rights of the suspect.

Deborah Russell is the one who prosecuted Amy Senser. (For the out-of-towners: this was a high-profile vehicular homicide case. It got a lot more coverage than would be typical because Amy Senser is married to a former MN Viking.) Her website says LAW ENFORCEMENT AND LABOR ENDORSED! -- the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police and the AFL-CIO endorsed her. I tend to actually view law enforcement endorsements as a negative. Since I'm guessing these are not the ONLY supporters she's got, I don't know why she doesn't have an "endorsements" page, but she doesn't seem to have one. She does have a "Testimonials" page which includes positive comments from a Public Defender.

The only personal info on her biography page is that she lives in the Kingfield neighborhood and does dog stuff. It doesn't say whether she's married, whether she has kids, whether she goes to church (and if so which one), etc., and I have to admit, I kind of like this. She does mention that she served in the military (US Army Reserves JAG Corps).

Anyway. I think I am going to vote for Liz Cutter, but if anyone would like to make a case for someone else, please feel free. (And hey, if any of you fine individuals I'm discussing would like to stop by in the comments -- anonymous comments are screened, because I have problems with spammers, but I will definitely unscreen anything left by a candidate.)


Posted by: consider that you may be wrong (ukelele)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC)

Oddly, I *do* find your analysis of local school board candidates fascinating.

Posted by: David W. Schroth (davidschroth)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC)
Head shot

You left out the bit about Jack Edward Shepard being a fugitive from justice.

I don't remember the exact decisions, but I do remember being enraged about decisions Lorie Skjerven Gildea she made. She is, in my opinion, one of the damaging legacies that are all we have to show for for eight years of Pawlenty misgovernance. She will not get my vote. Since Tingelstad is a total non-starter

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)

Oh! I TOTALLY DID leave that out. Here's an article: http://www.minnpost.com/political-agenda/2012/06/fugitive-us-senate-candidate-shepard-sues-huffington-post-says-hes-not-arso

I would like to note for the record that I am NOT saying that he is an arsonist, since apparently that'll get you sued. I am saying that

1. He's a convicted felon whose crimes included sexual assault.
2. He was charged with arson, but not convicted because he fled to Italy.
3. The comments on that article could be a troll claiming to be him, but if they ARE him, they make me think, "holy shit, this guy is a DENTIST? there are people out there who willingly pay money to have him use sharp, delicate instruments in their mouths? OH MY GOD."

(The lawsuit was over an article the HuffPo ran in 2010, when he ran for Congress. WHY is it possible to file candidacy papers when you're a wanted felon living abroad?)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)

And if you do remember the infuriating decisions Gildea has made, I am very interested in hearing them.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 02:33 pm (UTC)

Although honestly, I don't know who else I'd vote for in that race. Dan Griffith is out. Jill Clark sounded like a flake.

Posted by: arkuat (arkuat)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 11:26 am (UTC)
lake-superior 2007

Yay! I'm so glad to see you posting these again this year. Thank you!

Posted by: Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013 (pameladean)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)

You save my bacon every time. Not that I eat bacon, but surely saving it is still good.

Thank you.


Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)

Tens of my friends have come to rely on my endorsements for local races. I'm not sure why the local politicians haven't noticed what a powerhouse I am, and shown up to woo me. (Unless by "woo" you mean "sending me postcards addressed to 'current resident.'")

Posted by: rgeorge (rgeorge)
Posted at: August 12th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)

I still live in hope that you'll move to Northeast, so I can get your picks on county district 5 races too.

Posted by: rgeorge (rgeorge)
Posted at: August 12th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)

er, county district 2. See? we need you...

Posted by: “...something amazing, a boy falling from the sky” (mckenzee)
Posted at: August 10th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)

We just moved from SE Texas to the Powderhorn and a mutual friend pointed me towards this post. I don't think we can vote in the primaries, we are registering soon, but I look forward to your advice in November.

Posted by: Chris Gwinn (Chris Gwinn)
Posted at: August 10th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)

Mckenzee - you can register at the polls in Minnesota. Show up with a current utility bill or driver's license with your name and address and you can vote.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 10th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)

You can register at the polls on election day. Any of the following will work:

* An ID with the new address (such as a driver's license)
* A receipt for your new driver's license
* Any photo ID (even expired) such as a Texas driver's license or a U.S. Passport, plus a utility bill with your new address that is due within 30 days of the election day.
* A registered voter from your precinct who is willing to vouch for you (i.e., sign a sworn statement saying, "this person lives here.")

Here's more detailed info from the Secretary of State's site: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=204

Posted by: Corinne (corinnethewise)
Posted at: August 11th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)

Despite never having lived in Minnesota (and unlikely to, unless one of your fine upstanding universities wants to hire me in 2 years), I find your run downs of the elections really interesting. :) Especially when I'm paying more attention to Indian politics than US right now. I think we have a primary next week, I should probably figure some of this stuff out for CT soon.

Posted by: Peg Kerr (pegkerr)
Posted at: August 12th, 2012 03:28 am (UTC)
HP Politics

I adore you deeply for doing this, and have cross-posted.

Posted by: Peg Kerr (pegkerr)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
Peg 2012

Another thing that struck me, looking at websites: Dan Griffith's pic of him looking (manfully? Christian-ly? whatever) off into the distance with his wife giving him the most simperingly adoring look. It looks like an advertisement from the 1950s about the way that wives should look at their husbands, for goodness sake.

Edited at 2012-08-14 09:37 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)

I hesitate to make overly optimistic pronouncements because Minnesota politics have occasionally had really, really weird stuff happen (like the time Sharon Anderson won the Republican primary for the Attorney General race. Sharon isn't even a lawyer. Her public writing also suggests some serious mental illness that goes way beyond the normal "nutty as a Snickers bar!" fringe candidate standard).

But Keith is very likely to win re-election. This isn't a district where the Republicans generally waste money campaigning, because it's simply not competitive.

Posted by: soundingsea (soundingsea)
Posted at: August 12th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
fringe - olivia - ponytail

I started looking around on my own, and then remembered that you always do tons of legwork. Thanks! Wow to the nutjobs this times around. Just, wow.

Posted by: Scott Raun (sraun)
Posted at: August 13th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)

Thanks! iraunink and I should be voting in the primary tomorrow, this will be wonderfully helpful!

Posted by: rosalux (rosalux)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 05:07 am (UTC)

Thank you! I always do a ton of last-minute googling but a friend linked me to this, so I didn't have to duplicate your work!

Posted by: jiawen (jiawen)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 11:01 am (UTC)

I note that on Stras' website, the only names I recognize endorsing him are Republicans: Quie, Pawlenty, Boschwitz, Coleman, Durenberger, etc. Some of them more liberal than most Republicans, but still, I don't recognize a Democrat in the bunch. That strengthens my agreement with you that Nelson is the right vote for associate justice.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)

An additional source has told me that Stras used to clerk for Clarence Thomas, and is hair-raisingly conservative. I think I'll vote for Nelson in the general election, too (if he gets past the primary) but I don't expect this to help much.

Posted by: Peg Kerr (pegkerr)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
Rob cartoon

Jill Clark was my contemporary at Carleton ( and faculty brat of Hartley Clark) so we know that she is beautiful and intelligent, but that doesn't rule out being a flake....

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)

Oh, interesting.

Well, at least she's probably a flake who got really good high school grades and high SAT scores...

Posted by: Peg Kerr (pegkerr)
Posted at: August 15th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
Rob cartoon

Well, back in my day you could get in with sorta good high school grades and high SAT scores. Not so much anymore. (Also, faculty brat).


Posted by: Sharon Kahn (dreamshark)
Posted at: August 14th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)

Thanks so much for doing this, Naomi. The main reason to vote in the primary, IMHO, is the school board. Mostly I'm trying to head off stealth right-wing candidates. Beyond that, I agree 100% with your reasoning and generally do vote for the incumbent unless there is a strong reason not to. I occasionally attend the City Convention (which is where the full slate of candidates is picked) and I'm always touched by how sincere they are. And usually very well-qualified.

"I have a strong pro-incumbent bias because almost no one wants to do this job more than once. They get paid $13,800/year; they generally work far more than 40 hours a week; and everyone hates them. Getting blamed for everything that goes wrong with the Minneapolis public school is pretty much the job, right there.

Anyway, the typical candidate comes on to the board bright-eyed and optimistic, is crushed into misery and despair within months (maybe weeks), and decides not to run again because really, being hated by 387,753 people for $13,800/year is a shitty gig. And the net result is a complete lack of institutional memory that makes a not-terribly-effective school board even less effective. So if someone wants to do it more than once? Unless I really, really hate them I'm probably going to vote for them."

Posted by: Michelle (silkblade)
Posted at: August 15th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)

Argh! I should have looked for this post before going out to vote yesterday. :)

But now I have been reminded to look out for your next one. I pretty much know how I'm voting on the parts of it I know about but I like reading your analysis.

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