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Erdmann Tries Contrast But Still Shows His Naivete

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 02/16/18 18:00

by Dave Mindeman

Jeff Erdmann has been circulating another round of questionable facts regarding Angie Craig. And once again, I would like to offer a counter narrative....

Here are the facts as presented - and my response:

What Happened in CD2:

Angie Craig points to a 1.8% loss to Jason Lewis in 2016 as evidence of a strong campaign. But a closer look at the 2016 election results should trouble Democrats. Craig was the lowest performing Democrat on the ballot in CD2 in 2016.
2016 CD2 Results

1st Place State Senate (DFL) Candidates 180,019
2nd Place Hillary Clinton 171,287
3rd Place State House (DFL) Candidates 169,536
Last Place Angie Craig 167,315

Receiving fewer votes than the far-less-prominent state house and senate candidates despite spending nearly $5 million is an enormous red flag.

Response: Once again, Erdmann is showing a naivete that gives me pause about the ability to run a Congressional campaign. Senate and House candidates did not have 3rd party challengers. And totaling up the individual seats is not a fair comparison for a Congressional wide race. There are several incumbents that are popular enough in their districts to win comfortably no matter what the circumstances.

Erdmann notes third party votes....

Over 10% of voters couldn't support Craig or Lewis: 40,000+ CD2 voters voted third party (29,000+) or left Congress blank (11,000+) despite voting for other offices. Not surprising when you have two multi-millionaire candidates backed by Super PACs and corporate interests. Working class people in CD2 deserve better options.

And yes, a third party candidate did siphon off votes, but if that candidate wasn't there, probably at least half would have voted for Angie (probably more than half). If you add 15,000 votes to Craig's total, she has 182,000 votes - which would be first in Erdmann's comparison.

And, if Erdmann would know normal voting patterns, he would realize that the farther you go down the ballot (especially in Presidential years) the more "drop off" (skipping races) you get. The 11,000 "blanks" is normal and a bogus argument.

And as for two "multi-millionaire" candidates, I don't remember much discussion about their financial backgrounds. Lewis is comfortably wealthy, but he gave zero dollars to his own campaign. Angie gave a fairly large sum but she was facing off against a true multi-millionaire going into a primary against Mary Lawrence. As it turned out, Lawrence dropped out early, but the potential contest had to be addressed. And although Erdmann seems to insist that (rather count on) money is not important, those PACs and corporate interests helped to even out the financial spending difference for Lewis going against Craig.

It is unfortunate, but in the current political environment, a candidate who cannot afford an extensive media campaign simply cannot win. I wish it were not so, but I deal in pragmatic reality, not pie in the sky expectation.

Erdmann delves into cost per vote...

Craig spent over $28 per vote and got similar support as Obermueller in 2012, who spent under $5 per vote. In the last two presidential cycles (2012 and 2016), Mike Obermueller and Angie Craig received nearly similar vote totals. But Angie Craig spent $4 million more and was facing a far less popular opponent than Obermueller (who faced incumbent John Kline)

Obermueller had similar numbers in 2012, but he lost by 8 percentage points, while Angie lost by less than 2%. And yes, Angie Craig spent a lot more per vote, but the race in 2016 was a target for both parties. In 2012, Kline had such a huge money advantage that the race didn't attract much outside attention. Mike didn't get much help.

One more thing from Erdmann....

You shouldn't need to run twice to win: Mike Obermueller lost CD2 in both 2012 and 2014. Angie Craig lost in 2016 on a similar platform. The problem is not name ID or building a campaign infrastructure, it's message and record and how those connect with voters. Walz and McCollum and Ellison didn't have to run twice because they appealed to voters the first time. We can't afford to risk losing to Jason Lewis again by running the same candidate and expecting a different result.

Again, the naivete is striking. Running twice is common in districts like this. Kline ran 3 times before he won. McCollum and Ellison ran in pretty safe Democratic districts - their only issue was to win the endorsement. Walz is the only one who has any direct comparison. He first won in 2006 - a Democratic wave year -by five points. He raised more money in his district than Democrats had in the past and offered a good contrast to his opponent Gil Gutknecht. However, he did not have a progressive message and was not targeted by the NRA, like Democrats in this district were in the past.

To believe that name ID and campaign infrastructure aren't of paramount importance is an utterly horrifying statement to me. His message will do him little good if he cannot get it out to the entire district. Word of mouth might make inroads in a legislative race, but can't work in a Congressional one. And as for record - Jeff Erdmann has none.

It is not just message that wins - it is a message that fits the district. That was what Walz did. Unfortunately for Jeff, the second district is NOT a liberal strong hold. We keep working on it, but the reality is that we have to compromise and form a coalition that can win.

Jeff Erdmann has a progressive message. He would get my support if he wins the endorsement, however, he needs more than just progressives - I fear he does not have the right plan to win in the 2nd. Maybe in the future, progressive values will fully win the day and Jeff would be the candidate that fits the district. But we aren't there yet - we have a lot more work to do. And trying to win here without any money and with only local name recognition is not a winning combination.

Sorry. But that is the truth of the matter.
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