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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Dissecting Peter Hutchinson

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 02/08/06 14:12

by Paul Bartlett

Independent Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson claims that the process is broken. Nonsense. Republicans and Democrats clash over different beliefs. Independents lack cohesive heartfelt political beliefs.

So let's put that broken process nonsense to rest. If you support higher property taxes, discrimination against gays, denial of women's rights, punitive transportation policies, environmental degradation, corporate hegemony, xenophobia, then you're a Pawlenty supporter. You are a Republican. You can either vote for Pawlenty, or cast your vote for Hutchinson. Either way, Pawlenty gets your vote.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader helped moron tyrant Bush steal the 2002 and 2004 elections; ditto Hutchinson. Like Nader, Hutchinson's campaign will be financed by sleazy Republicans, determined to sabotage yet another election. The one eternal truth about Republicans is that they will steal anything, even if it is nailed down.

Hutchinson is truly an ego-enigma, just like Nader. While his major positions match the DFL's, he claims a cloak of independence. Let's be honest, he should be listed as Pawlenty's Lieutenant Governor candidate.
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Coleen Rowley: DFL Problem or Solution?

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 02/07/06 10:17

by PDW58

In Minnesota's Second Congressional District, a lot of talk and speculation has centered around Coleen Rowley, the FBI Whistleblower, and 2002 Time Magazine "Person of the Year", who announced her intention to run for Congress as a Democrat some time ago. Since that announcement, she has received an enormous amount of attention....... some of it sought and some of it not.

Let me offer one observer's assessment of her candidacy and the hub-bub surrounding it. Just one opinion from someone who has watched DFL politics for a long time; I am sure you will find a multitude of other opinions without too much searching.

Coleen Rowley is, by any measure, an unconventional candidate. She doesn't particularly like being labeled, even with positive, flattering labels ie...2002 Time Magazine "person of the Year" - she refuses to use it. This isn't necessarily good or bad... she is who she is, and it makes her unique. It is somewhat refreshing to see a candidate who doesn't regurgitate a bunch of scripted talking points and has the ability to speak about real beliefs, rather than canned, robotic rhetoric.

The DFL party powers are uncomfortable with this maverick quality. They always assume that winning requires "message discipline" and "adherence to predetermined party issues". To them, it is dangerous to create your own policy ideas or step away from pre-planned activities.

Bottom line -- she can't be controlled and that makes the powers that be in the DFL nervous.

So, for now, let's look at the district. The Second Congressional district is a mixture of heavy suburbs in the north and heavy rural areas in the south. It is difficult to classify the district completely because of this division....the assumption is that it leans Republican. Since the 2000 redistricting, the Second has been noted as an increasingly GOP district. This may be true, but there are a couple of things to add to the mix. First, when John Kline won for the first time in 2002 (after redistricting), he defeated 4 term incumbent, Bill Luther, from the old 6th District. In that election, a Luther supporter did a stupid thing.... a guy named Sam Garst filed as a candidate under a party name of "No New Taxes" thinking it would siphon some Republican votes away from Kline and give Luther a better chance. Well, the connection to Luther was obvious, the press had a field day, and Kline was able to ride the aftermath all the way to November. It skewed the results. Second, in the 2002 election that followed, Teresa Daly was the opponent. She had to raise money from scratch, had no name recogniton, and her only political experience came from a Burnsville city council seat. She never got off the ground and, again, Kline coasted.

Because of these situations, the District is still difficult to fully assess. Now, Coleen Rowley, may add another quirk in this election cycle which could add, yet another, odd saga to the mixture; only time will tell. But let's assess what she brings to the table.

Coleen Rowley has incredible name recognition. Of course, that alone isn't enough, but the kind of name recognition she has, is probably worth at least $500,000 in funds raised. State Senator, Sharon Marko, who has filed to oppose Rowley for the DFL nomination, has little or no name recognition. She would have to spend huge amounts in media buys and print ads, just to get the district to recognize her name.

Coleen Rowley has security credentials. Now, in recent election cycles, Democrats keep making, what I consider, a big mistake... they think they have to concede the security issue to their opponent and then assume they have to change the topic to "their" issues of jobs, health care, and education. The problem with that is, that the Republicans just keep coming back to security. The topic is vague enough to utilize in virtually any way, shape or form -- who can prove that the terror threat is any more or less real than it was 4 years ago? Instead of side stepping the issue, which Democrats often do (and which makes them look weaker), Democrats should challenge the premise head on. Rowley does that... and it challenges the Democratic conventional wisdom.... making the DFL hierarchy nervous.

Coleen Rowley bucks her own party. In a district like the 2nd, this is actually a plus. This year, I believe, the voters are going to really assess whether or not they feel the Republicans are doing an acceptable job of leading government. And although they will have doubts about the Republicans, the voters (especially in this district) are not sold on the old DFL line either. Rowley's image is actually enhanced by her own party's swipes at her. She will be able to state with authority that she is truly independent from "politics as usual".... she will have battle scars from both sides to prove it.

Now, having said all that... the Rowley campaign has some work to do. The flap over the Kline/Klink photo was a mistake, but certainly nowhere near as bad as some in the DFL would have you believe. It is not even in the same ballpark as the Luther/Garst fiasco of 2002. I feel the Rowley campaign actually handled the aftermath the right way -- and Kline's dismissal of the apology may even be a plus for Rowley.

There are other areas that need work also. Although I think her emphasis on security issues is fine, she still needs to define clear positions on the "bread and butter" DFL issues.... she also needs to develop a concise "stump" speech which will allow her a comfortable avenue to introduce herself and her issues to the new people she needs to reach. Her open ended style works well for Q & A, but not for openers.

But these are things that any first time candidate would wrestle with... Coleen's main problem has been high expectations. Her unorthodox style didn't fit the "expected" image that the DFL had painted for her. The image expected was unrealistic from the beginning and the DFL's insistence on her meeting those expectations is ridiculous.

The recent DFL track record in this area is certainly not impressive.... so why insist that their candidates follow a flawed - or at least previously unsuccessful - formula? Now, more than ever, this party needs to embrace originality and difference -- not tired, old formulas. Coleen Rowley is clearly the best chance for a Democratic win in the Second District - she may have to do it in spite of the DFL, not because of it.
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Truth is a Wiretap Casualty

Category: US Politics
Posted: 02/06/06 12:36

by Jim Dooley

President Bush claims to have the "inherent power" to protect us by spying on us without a court order. On his orders, the NSA has used warrantless wiretaps on U.S. citizens since 2001. In April 2004, at a town hall type meeting, he said "Anytime you hear the U.S. Government talking about wiretaps, it requires a court order. Nothing has changed". Why should we trust him with wiretaps, when we can't even trust him to tell the truth?
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