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Message Notwithstanding: The DFL Is Rural MN's Best Hope

Category: Society
Posted: 02/19/18 08:24

by Dave Mindeman

In a Star Tribune article about the caucuses, there was this paragraph near the end about the 23B special election worth noting...

This points up a problem for the DFL: The House GOP's ruthless greater Minnesota messaging -- DFL equals city slickers who don't care about you or your people -- continues to work. And/or the DFL's standing in districts in greater Minnesota has quickly collapsed for myriad possible reasons. President Barack Obama lost the Munson district by just 3 points. Gov. Mark Dayton lost by just 2 points. But now their party is in a 15-20 point hole.

OK - let's examine this. I do not question that the DFL is in a hole with rural districts like this. Saying it is 15-20 points is a little hyperbole, but there is a deficit to be sure.

The thing I never understand is that the House GOP's messaging is just that - a message. 1) It is not true. 2) The GOP is worse for rural communities than the DFL has been.

Yes, the DFL has lost some of its Farmer roots - but you ask some of the Farmer organizations and you may hear a different story. Rural Minnesota may be a challenge for Democrats but greater Minnesota cities are not exactly happy with the results coming from the GOP.

Rural areas are farms and small towns - neither of which get anything other than a message of "the DFL is bad for you" from the Republicans.

When it comes to their issues, the Republican legislature is a disaster.

1) Broadband - the consistent theme on broadband is that the Democrats propose larger funding proposals and the GOP cuts them down to the minimum. Rep. Garofalo keeps telling our rural constituents to wait for new satellite technology - that's all they need. But they are not buying it.

2) LGA - the biggest beneficiaries of local government aid (LGA) are the smaller and mid-size greater MN towns. Although dollar amounts to the metro area may be larger - on a per capita basis, the state help to rural Minnesota is much more concentrated. Democrats have championed LGA for years. The Republicans have called it a budgetary waste.

3) Buffers - Dayton took the lead and the heat on this issue. It is very important for water quality. To their credit, Minnesota farmers have complied with the new rules, but would like more say in how it is implemented. The MN GOP has just been a critic - not a leader. In the long run farmers and the state will benefit, but not from any GOP policy.

4) Infrastructure - Per capita MNDOT dollars are much greater in rural Minnesota than the Metro. The GOP "message" is that greater MN is shortchanged by the concentration of mass transit in the Twin Cities. But while the MN GOP legislature is hard core cutters on transit, they do not move those dollars into a rural infrastructure - they just tack on extra tax cut money. Many rural projects slated to be acted on, have been delayed by budgetary funding shortages which the current legislature is responsible for.

5) Child Care - Although this doesn't seem like a particular major rural issue, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities lists it in their top three on their home page. Western Minnesota has been talking about this for awhile now....

The situation is being called a crisis in many areas outside of the Twin Cities, with reports easy to find of parents taking their children to communities 40 miles away.

Hear any MN Republicans talking about that? I haven't.

So, the MN Republicans hide behind a message. They keep preaching to long time Republicans that the DFL is NOT their friend in rural Minnesota. But that is a questionable statement on the merits. The DFL has tried to address the above named policies for several years - especially during the Dayton tenure - and have met nothing but resistance and obstruction from their Republican counterparts.

The DFL may have a messaging problem in rural Minnesota, but they are, in reality, rural Minnesota's greatest hope.
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