Franken Opponent Wish List

Minnesota Senator Al Franken doesn’t have a high profile challenger yet in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.  People don’t seem to be flocking to run against Franken at a time when a January 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey is finding that Senator Franken is leading former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman by 6 points, Congressman John Kline by 8 points, Congressman Erik Paulsen by 11 points and Congresswoman Michele Bachman by 14 points.

Despite these findings, 45% of Minnesota Republicans want to nominate Bachmann to oppose Franken. I would be in Blogger Heaven if a Franken-Bachmann race came to be, but I find it difficult to imagine that I, or Franken, could possibly be so lucky.

Given that the conventional candidates like Coleman looks to be taking a pass at the Senate race, maybe it’s time for the Minnesota GOP brain trust to get unconventional.  These are some of the match-ups that I personally day dream about: Continue reading

How In the World Did Minnesota GOPers Screw Up Their Golden Opportunity?

I have a prediction, though not a particularly prescient one.  Minnesota Republicans will say they lost the election because of bad candidates.  Mitt Romney, Kurt Bills, and the Tea Party-supported freshmen legislators were all just bad candidates, they will say.

“Victory has a thousand fathers, and defeat is an orphan,” as John F. Kennedy observed, and in the coming days a lot of Republican candidates will be orphaned.

But for their own good, Republican leaders need to objectively ponder this question:  Bad candidates, or bad policies? Continue reading

Brodkorb Says Gay Marriage Opponents Are Being Used As Political Pawns. Photo ID Supporters Too?

Michael Brodkorb, former top political strategist for Minnesota Republicans, recently made it perfectly clear that the Republican-proposed gay marriage ban amendment was motivated by politics, not principles.

As WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler reported:

 In an interview with WCCO, Mr. Brodkorb Continue reading

Bills’ Minnesota Currency Proposal: Change We Can Believe In?

U.S. Senator Amy Kloubachar’s virtually invisible campaign opponent Kurt Bills borrows many of his policy ideas from his mentor, libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul.  One of the least discussed of Bills’ proposals is his call for Minnesota to consider issuing its own currency.

Like Congressman Paul, Mr. Bills backs a national return to the gold standard.  In addition, Bills has sponsored state legislation to study whether Minnesota should adopt an alternative currency.  Bills’ bill (H.F. 1664):

“A joint legislative committee is established to study the adoption of an alternative currency by and for the state of Minnesota and its citizens, in response to the abdication by the United States Congress of its constitutional duty to regulate the value of its money, which it has failed to do through the Federal Reserve System.”

Financial experts are not so sure about Mr. Bills’ state currency idea.  For instance David Parsley, a professor of economics and finance at Vanderbilt University was quoted by CNN saying:

“Having 50 Feds” could debase the U.S. dollar and even potentially lead the country into default.  The single currency in the United States is working just fine.  I have no idea why anyone would want to destroy something so successful — unless they actually wanted to destroy the country.”

Despite the naysayers, the prospect of having a cool new state currency raises many creative possibilities for Minnesotans.

Name.  For instance, what would we call the new Minnesota currency?

MinneDollar quickly comes to mind, but that seems much too obvious.  Plus, if the dollar collapses, as Mr. Bills foresees, “MinneDollar” wouldn’t inspire much confidence, now would it?

Alternatively, perhaps Minnesota’s dollar could be called “ “The Viking,” to symbolize our ability to dust ourselves off after humiliating defeats, and come back for more humiliating defeats, without ever seeing the epic futility of it all.  Very Minnesotan.

Or, the corporatist Republicans controlling the Legislature might prefer to sell off the naming rights of the new Minnesota currency for a price, to someone like Twin Cities Federal (TCF) Bank, which  already owns the naming rights to a largely taxpayer-funded stadium, and is run by a former GOP Party Chairman.  Yes, Minnesota’s equivalent to “the dollar” could be called “The TCF.”

Finally, there is always “The Gopher.” What better name to carry on Minnesota’s rich tradition of picking really humiliating names to represent our state?  Plus, “Golden Gopher?”  Gold standard?  Get it?

Faces.  After we name our new currency, we, of course, need to put a good face on it.

America’s first President, George Washington, preferred faceless money.  He was staunchly opposed to putting President’s images on U.S. currency.  Modest George thought doing so was too self-aggrandizing, elitist and monarchical.  In other words, George was a socialist.

However, something tells me that the likes of Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty wouldn’t let modesty get in the way of monetary immortality for themselves.  So we’ll let those former Governors fight it out to determine whose face is on our new Minnesota currency.

Why did I leave current Governor Mark Dayton off my list?  Ah shucks, Modest Mark doesn’t need that.  (Owning most of the new currency is good enough for him.)

Motto.  After our currency has a name and a face, it would need a motto, something akin to the saying on U.S. currency, “In God We Trust.”

If we go with selling off the naming rights, as contemplated above, I guess we’d need the new currency motto to be “Your convenience bank.”  Stop whining, it will grow on you.

“In Ron Paul We Trust” also could work, since Mr. Paul is the brainchild of all this, and because he is treated like a deity by his adoring followers.

But given the Minnesota Republicans’ obsession with proving they are tighter with the Almighty than everyone else, the GOP-controlled Legislature would probably make the motto something more like “In God We Trust, Unlike the Godless Liberals.” Bam.  On-message.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think my vote for the new Minnesota currency name goes to “The Loon.” I know it’s hackneyed.  But loons are graceful creatures with a gorgeous call that is closely associated with Minnesota’s iconic lakes.   Loons are our State Bird.  “Common Loons” are both beautiful and “common,” just like the great people of Minnesota.

Besides, “The Loon” perfectly captures the merits of the Mr. Bills’ idea.

– Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured in the Politics in Minnesota Morning Report “Best of the Blogs” feature, as well as a “best of the best” in Minnpost’s Blog Cabin feature.

To Reach Out to Minorities, Kurt Bills Selects…A White Male

Republican Minnesota House member Kurt Bills, who is running for U.S. Senate against Senator Amy Kloubachar, is serious about reaching out to Minnesota’s growing minority community.  He is so serious that he hired a new Director of Minority Research.

Good for Mr. Bills.  Not many Republicans are so proactive about trying to diversify their white male dominated party.

So, pray tell, who did Mr. Bills select for this role?   Drumroll please…

A white male.  Over the next few weeks before the election, Mr. Bills has directed former Minnesota House member Dan “Doc” Severson (R-Sauk Rapids) to reach out to Minnesota’s minority communities on his behalf.   Mr. Severson was opposing Bills earlier in the year, but withdrew from the race.  In 2010, Severson lost in a bid to become Minnesota Secretary of State.

Look, I have nothing against white guys.  Some of my best friends are white guys.  As a matter of fact, I’m a white guy in good standing.  I know most white guys are not bigots, and want to see minorities treated fairly and have equal opportunities.  I have felt the sting when people have assumed otherwise about me, and so I in no way mean to suggest that Mr. Bills and Mr. Severson are anything but well-intensioned.

But I do mean to suggest they have a tin ear on this issue.  Bills’ representative would have much more credibility with the target audience if he or she had walked in their audience’s shoes, or something approximating them.  Minorities would be more apt to listen to Bills’ Outreacher-in-Chief if that person understood first hand what it’s like to adapt to a land with an unfamiliar language and culture.  They might be more willing to trust someone who knows what it’s like to be held back in life because of pigmentation, spiritual beliefs, chromosomes, or an accent.

After all, would Mr. Bills appoint a career government employee to reach out to businesspeople?  Would he appoint a Jew, Muslim or non-believer to reach out to evangelical Christians?  Would he appoint a non-veteran to reach out to veterans?

Mr. Severson looks to have done many worthwhile things in his life, such as serving in the military, in business, and as a substitute teacher.  He’s probably a good guy.

But as Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is often, effectively, the message.  When a candidate does a statewide search of our increasingly diverse state and concludes that a member of the majority race and privileged gender is the single most qualified Minnesotan to reach out to minorities, it does indeed send a message.  And it’s perhaps not the message Mr. Bills hoped to send.

– Loveland


What if Romney Picked Bachmann To Be His Running Mate? He Did.

Congressman Paul Ryan comes across well.  He’s attractive, smiles a lot, wears the presidential uniform well, and has a ready string of impressive-sounding statistics on the tip of his tongue.

But beyond the candidate packaging, what does this guy stand for?

When trying to understand something new entering our lives, the natural tendency is to seek out a local point-of-reference.  For instance, when Minnesota Timberwolves fans recently asked “who the heck is Alexy Shved,” a player the Wolves’ brain trust acquired this summer, Wolves PR people explained “He’s the Russian Rubio,” referencing their talented point guard Ricky Rubio.

Whether or not the “Russian Rubio” description turns out to be an apt description of Shved’s ability and style of play, it connected with Minnesotans, because it took something unknown and linked it to something known.

So with the Russian Rubio example in mind, what’s the Minnesota parallel to Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan?

Since he’s a popular, moderate-feeling Republican, is he “the Wisconsin Jim Ramstad?”   Since the Beltway media often labels him a “serious” numbers guy, is he “the Wisconsin Arne Carlson?”

Try “the Wisconsin Michele Bachmann.” An analysis of congressional voting patterns by DW-Nominate found that Paul Ryan’s voting record is nearly identical to  Michele Bachmann’s, the local politician who most consistently embarrasses Minnesotans with her ideologically extreme positions.

(Incidentally, another analysis found that Ryan was the most extreme conservative vice presidential nominee — the furthest from the center — since at least 1900.)

Ryan’s tone may be less grating than Bachmann’s, but once you remove the packaging, his policies are almost identical to Michele Bachmann’s.  Paul Ryan is Michele Bachmann, just with more lip control and less lipstick.

Knowing that, ask yourself this question: “If Mitt Romney had chosen Michele Bachman for his running mate, would that make Minnesotans more or less likely to support Romney?”  Because, substantively, that is the question Romney has now effectively posed to Minnesotans, and Americans.

Though Michele Bachman continually gets reelected in one of the most conservative parts of Minnesota, she is remarkably unpopular with Minnesotans as a whole.  A January 2012 PPP survey found that only 34% of Minnesotans view her favorably, while 57% view her unfavorably.  She would get crushed by a whopping 23 points in a head-to-head race versus U.S. Senator Amy Kloubachar.

In other words, Governor Mitt Romney just picked the ideological twin of one of Minnesota’s least popular figures to join his ticket.  Good luck selling that in Minnesota.

– Loveland

Poor Kurt Bills Needs To Learn Modern GOP Fundraising Tactics

I’ve got a tip for poor Kurt Bills or any Republican candidate out there running low on cash:  Say something really, really bizzaro.

I don’t mean a mere gaffe, or run-of-the-mill lie.  I mean the kind of batty stuff that used to get people drummed out of politics.  Because in the increasingly outlandish Republican Party, such rantings are a money magnet.

In today’s Republican Party, if you caterwaul “YOU LIE!” at the President of the United States during a quiet moment of a formal occasion, you no longer will be interrogated by the authorities and have a lifelong security clearance flag on your record.  Instead, you will receive a quick infusion of $200,000 from adoring Republicans.

If you state as incontrovertible fact that 80 Members of the United States Congress are members of the Communist Party, with much less evidence than disgraced Joe McCarthy brought forth, you will no longer be marginalized in American politics.  Rather, you will immediately use your hallucination as fundraising fodder, and be rewarded with a seven-figure avalanche of cash.

If it comes to light that you sexually harassed numerous women while married, you will no longer be ostracized by vigilant marriage-defending Republicans.  You will immediately receive a flood of $400,000 from them, and see your poll numbers spike.

And if you give voice to your reckless McCarthyesque delusions about terrorists infiltrating Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, you will no longer see your career fade to irrelevance the way McCarthy’s did.  Instead, you will open your mailbox to find a cool million waiting for you.

All of which is to say, Minnesota congressional candidate Mike Parry is a political genius.  Because now that he has viciously accused the Governor of being a drug addict with absolutely no evidence, and even ultra-conservatives in his own party contradicting him, he will not be quietly walked off the Republican stage before he does the Party more damage.   Instead, he will probably see Minnesota Republican activists flock to him with wallets wide open.

Therefore, look for U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills, now sitting on a mere 6,000 bills, to say something kooky in the coming days to revitalize his somnolent campaign.  I’m talking even loopier than “look at me, I’m Paul Wellstone!”  Perhaps he could accuse Senator Kloubachar of being a cleverly disguised blood thirsty space alien pedophile cannibal commie intent on overthrowing God, and Smith & Wesson, through provisions she has secretly inserted into the tax code, in invisible ink.

That ought to get him a seat on Hannity tonight, and several million dollars in the bank by morning.

– Loveland


Note:  This post was also featured as part of the “Best of the Blogs” feature in Politics in Minnesota’s Morning Report.

Twenty Debates? Oh No, Mr. Bills!

“Less is more,” minimalist designers tell us.  “The law of diminishing returns,” economists explain.

And so it goes with campaign debates.

Campaign debates serve a lot of important purposes for our democracy. They are a more efficient way to communicate with voters than door-knocking or pressing the flesh one clammy hand at a time.  They get candidates off-script, which captures rare moments of candor, humor, humanity, intelligence, stupidity and reality.  They cover more issues than ads, direct mail and other forms of political communications, which exposes candidates’ depth, or shallowness.

But clearly, there can be too much of a good thing.  In the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Mark Dayton, Tom Horner, and Tom Emmer debated and debated, and debated some more.  They debated an eye-glazing 25 times.  Most of the debates ended up getting ignored by reporters, and just about everyone else, because they became complete and utter re-runs. I mean, even if you love Gilligan’s Island, and who amongst us does not,  the 25th time you see a re-run about Gilligan’s pedal powered bamboo car is significantly less riveting than the first 5 times.

As Washington University political scientist Steven Smith observed about the 2010 marathon debate-a-thon:

 “…there is a point of diminishing returns and I think in the Minnesota case we may have reached the point in the last month where there have been so many debates that the individual debates just don’t receive much attention.

Now in 2012, State Representative Kurt Bills wants to debate U.S. Senator Amy Kloubachar 20 times over about 90 days.  This desire likely has less to do with Bills‘ love of debates than it does with the fact that his campaign is broke and having a difficult time delivering his oddball Wellstonian-libertarian fusion messaging.

Though Kloubachar is a bright and skilled debater, her campaign strategists would prefer to keep the popular incumbent in highly controlled settings until Election Day, to preserve her large lead.  Therefore, so far they have agreed to two debates.  For context, former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman agreed to debate challenger Al Franken five times.

Somewhere between Kloubachar’s 2 and Bills’ 20 is a reasonable number.  I’d say the number is no higher than 10.

Here is my rationale:  Most of what is learned by undecided voters through debates is conveyed through news coverage.  After all, the people actually attending the debates, or monitoring them start-to-finish on TV or radio, are predominantly voters who made up their minds long ago.  So, when the news coverage stops, the debates pretty much stop yielding benefits for undecided voters.

Minnesota’s newsrooms continue to shrink dramatically, and are decreasingly willing to cover politics, particularly broadcast news outlets.   Given those unfortunate trends, I find it difficult to believe that the Minnesota’s press corps will give decent coverage to more than about 10 debates.

So, I’m all for debates.  And two is not enough.  But oh no, Mr. Bills, not 20.

– Loveland


Note:  This post also was featured as a “best of the best” on MinnPost’s Blog Cabin feature.

Missing: Kurt Bills

If anyone has seen this man, please notify the authorities immediately.  His name is Kurt Bills, and he has been missing since the moment in mid-May that he was endorsed by the Minnesota Republican Party.

It is feared the man is squandering his donor’s money on bizarre, inscrutable ads that are invisible to the swing voters that he needs to win over in order to have any hope of defeating overwhelmingly popular U.S. Senator Amy Kloubachar.

The man is likely dressed like Rod Sterling, muttering about the gold standard, and attempting to use “Minnesota Dollars” to purchase additional cryptic ads.

His Party is worried about him, and would appreciate any clues about his whereabouts.

Why Tim Pawlenty Will Help Romney Win Minnesota

Dear Mitt Romney:

Whatever you do, please don’t pick Tim Pawlenty for your Vice Presidential nominee.  As an avid Obama supporter in Minnesota, I would HATE to see that.  It would guarantee that you would immediately erase Obama’s large lead in Minnesota, and shake up the nation’s electoral map.

Pay no attention to bitter bloggers who claim that Pawlenty is politically impotent in Minnesota.  It is true that he ended his tenure as Minnesota Governor with record low approval ratings from Minnesotans.  But that was a long time ago.

And, yes, Pawlenty campaigned night and day for months to try to win Minnesota for John McCain, only to get pasted by 10 points.  But that was just a fluke.

Sure the negative Nellies also point out that Minnesota’s bemulleted favorite son also was trailing President Obama in his own home state, before his premature evacuation from the GOP nomination fight.   But Governor Tim is right, you can’t believe polls any more than you can believe the climate scientists.

And it is true that, after Governor Pawlenty pulled out of the primaries, he threw all of his Minnesota political muscle behind you, only to see the Pawlenty-backed Romney campaign lose the Minnesota GOP caucus vote, by 28 points, to a protest candidate endorsing legalized hookers and heroin.  But this was clearly the media’s fault.

Finally, never you mind that Pawlenty currently would be getting pummeled by 15-points  by Minnesota’s freshman  Senator Amy Kloubachar.  Maybe the poll has a 15-point margin of error?

So Governor Romney, whatever you do, please DO NOT choose Minnesota’s favorite son as your running mate.  Such a stunningly brilliant move would ensure a Minnesota massacre for Barack Obama.

Film Premier: Bills’ Choice

Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills apparently has produced a movie trailer to promote his forthcoming short “film,” Staring at the Future.

In an oh so artsy black-and-white trailer for the film, Bills, doing a pretty fair Rod Sterling imitation, warns viewers:

 “The right choice will lead to growth and family. The wrong choice:  Despair.”

But the full film won’t be released until tonight at 9 p.m., leaving us hanging in agonizing suspense to guess what Bills’ Choice is about.  What a tease!


It would be way too tedious and predictable for Bills’ film to be another detail-free sermon about debt reduction.  He’s already been doing that for months.

So maybe Bills’ film will  finally offer some details about his policy agenda.  Maybe we’ll find out what “Bills’ Choice” actually is for Minnesotans.

  • The choice of whether to enact Congressman Ryan’s family-cutting, growth-killing austerity budget?
  • The choice of whether to enact the heroin and prostitution legalization proposals of Ron Paul, Bills’ choice for President?
  • The choice of whether to invest in pro-family, pro-growth education, health care and infrastructure improvements, investments that polls show most Americans are choosing?

In real life, these are the choices Bills’ campaign poses to Minnesotans.  So will art imitate life?

– Loveland

Buffaloed By Bills

Minnesota Republicans endorsed State Rep. Kurt Bills to challenge Democratic Senator Amy Kloubachar in November.  His nomination win was an impressive feat, fueled by support from delegates supporting Ron Paul, the libertarian presidential candidate who promises to legalize heroin, cocaine, and prostitution under the banner of “the party of traditional family values,” which makes perfect sense.

Republican Convention delegates seemed particularly smitten with Bills’ anger at the federal debt.  Anger is the coin of the realm at party conventions, and, make no mistake, Bills is hopping mad about the debt.  (Not the debt that he put on Minnesota schools as a member of the State House, a different debt.)

Fair enough.  The federal debt is a big issue.  So let’s take a look at the causes of it:

In summary, to address the causes of the skyrocketing debt, the answer is pretty clear:  Undo what Bush did.    If you do that — cut off war spending and the Bush tax cuts — the debt trend line very quickly flattens.

What are Rep. Bills’ positions on these issues?  Well, I couldn’t tell a lot from his slim website position paper or media clippings.  There looks to be a good reason why MinnPost’s Erik Black recently wrote a piece called “Guessing Where Kurt Bills Stands on The Issues.”  (Black can’t get an interview.)  So guess we must, along with a little help from his website.  From what I can tell, it doesn’t look like Rep. Bills is too keen on putting the breaks on the primary drivers of the debt increase:

  • BILLS WON’T CUT BUSH’S TAX CUTS.  It doesn’t appear Rep. Bills supports eliminating the Bush tax cuts, the largest cause of the debt increase.
  • BILLS WON’T CUT BUSH’S FOREIGN WARS.  If Rep. Bills is for immediately withdrawing from the middle east wars, another big driver of the debt increase, he doesn’t mention it in his website foreign policy section.

I imagine Rep. Bills was opposed to the Recovery Act.  But you can see the Recovery Act cost is a much smaller contributor than the Bush wars and tax cuts.  Moreover, the up to 2.4 million jobs the Recovery Act created prevented additional debt that would have been caused by an even more severe economic meltdown.  Finally, the Recovery Act is now done, so in terms of Rep. Bill’s future debt reduction plan, it is a mute point.

Instead of undoing what Bush did to create the debt, Rep. Bills seems to want to double down on Bushonomics — tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of high flying industries and aggressive use of the military.  If that’s true, “Bills” could end up being a prophetic name.

– Loveland