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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.


Posted by: Surrendering to the mystery (jenett)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)

I was in McCollum's district for about half the time I lived in the Twin Cities, and I agree with what you've said - with a bonus of "the two times I wrote her about stuff, she sent back thoughtful, coherent, and clearly not purely a form letter" responses. Which always make me pleased in a politician.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)

Oh, that is excellent to hear.

Posted by: A Wandering Hobbit (redbird)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)

Yes, give them that pat on the back. I'm going to be showing up next month essentially to vote for President and state legislature (especially state senate, which is close to evenly divided between the two parties). Rumor has it the Republicans are running someone for U.S. Senate; they aren't running anyone for Congress in this district.

Posted by: jiawen (jiawen)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 04:31 am (UTC)

I voted for Diana Longrie rather than McCollum in the Democratic primary because McCollum is actually not that strong on liberal issues. McCollum supports exemptions allowing Catholic organizations to not provide family planning benefits in employee health insurance, for example. Longrie got way more votes than the social conservative in the primary, which I hope will steer McCollum more to the left. (Of course, McCollum thoroughly trounced both her opponents, getting 84% of the vote, so she could just as well take that as a sign to keep doing exactly what she's been doing.)

Posted by: Lane (riverrocks)
Posted at: September 30th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)

I got pushed polled by the Chris Fields campaign on Friday night, just seconds shy of nine. By a computer. So I let myself yell a little when they got past the Chris-is-an-educated-veteran-from-humble-beginnings part to the very selective and vacant of context Ellison's voting record part. Hopefully all the times I pushed the button that basically meant I will vote for Ellison no matter what you tell me will keep them from calling me in the future. It annoyed me, but it still doesn't top the time a volunteer from an Ellison opponent's campaign called on voting day to ask if I was going to vote for their candidate, and when I said no, replied "Well, I hope you're at least not going to vote for the terrorist." (And yes, I reported them)

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