Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

3/31/2005

"Empowered"

Regular readers know that we are interested not only in Minnesota's 2006 Senate race, but in expanding the Republican Senate majority elsewhere. There is an extraordinary opportunity to do exactly that right next door in North Dakota. Peter Savodnik writes an interesting piece on this potential blockbuster race by weaving in the politics of ranching and Social Security. From The Hill:

Republicans in Washington have said privately that their only hope of beating Conrad, in his fourth term, is Hoeven, who recently won his second term as governor with more than 70 percent of the vote.

These Republicans add that North Dakota should be a ripe target, given that the state strongly backed Bush in 2000 and 2004. Also, many in the GOP have said that they feel empowered by last year’s defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in neighboring South Dakota.


But dude, Republicans don't get "empowered". Definite liberal adjective there, Pete. Next time try "emboldened", "confident", "expectant", or even "upbeat".

3/30/2005

Wictory Wednesday

In the late '80s there was a raging debate in the pages of National Review magazine, at that time the flagship of conservative journalism. Then-editor (and godfather of modern conservatism) William F. Buckley was arguing that conservatives should throw their support behind moderate Democrat Joseph Lieberman in his attempt to unseat liberal Republican Lowell Weicker in their Connecticut Senate race. Thomas Sowell, if memory serves me, was arguing against conservative support for Lieberman by contending that of greatest importance is securing a Senate majority -- from which all legislative power flows.

Buckley's support may not have made the difference but it didn't hurt Lieberman's ultimately successful campaign against Weicker.

Today conservatives are facing a situation with similarities in Rhode Island. Liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee will be in a tough race next year. His task has been made somewhat easier by the fact that he will be facing "dynasty" ultra-liberal candidate Patrick Kennedy. What makes our decision easier, as conservatives, to support Chafee is best summarized below by Polipundit:

Chafee is one of the more independent members of the Republican caucus. But he casts the two most important votes that count:

1. To keep Republicans in charge of the Senate, so that ultra-liberals like Patrick Leahy do not chair key committees.

2. To give the president’s judicial nominees a fair up-or-down vote.

Every seat matters. Please support Chafee’s campaign with an online contribution.


That said, CONTRIBUTE HERE.

UPDATE: A day after his mother was found drunk and badly injured while lying in a street, Patrick Kennedy is OUT of the race.
(Hat tip: SI Conservative)

3/29/2005

On the Dole

With her predecessor, Senator George Allen, demonstrating enormous success at fundraising and the recruiting of world-class candidates in the likes of John Thune, Richard Burr, Jim DeMint and others in the 2004 election cycle, Elizabeth Dole does not seem nearly as motivated in her new role as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Republican insiders" believe the Party could pay for giving the position to Dole over Norm Coleman.

Superior messaging can cover a multitude of sins but strong candidates are needed against extremely vulnerable Democratic incumbents in WA, MI and other states if the Republican majority is to be expanded. We can only hope such murmurings will serve as motivation for the otherwise gifted Mrs. Dole.

3/28/2005

"It's Laughable"

Or so says Jennifer Duffy, managing editor of the Cook Political Report, when asked about Fmr. Senator Grams' hopes to be re-hired in this morning's Pioneer Press piece by Charles Homans.

Steven Schier of Carleton College agrees: "I would say that Rod Grams' trajectory is steep and uphill."

As we've commented before, Senator Grams will always have a warm place in the hearts of Minnesota conservatives. And with April 15 approaching, all working families with children should think well of Sen. Grams' legislative achievement of the $500-per-child tax credit. Be that as it may, Grams' accusations of "kingmaking" on the part of Party Chair Ron Eibensteiner would seem just a bit more plausible if Grams had made even one appearance at local Republican BPOUs in the last several weekends:

As a senator, Grams was reluctant to hype his own achievements. Four years out of office, he still considers his legacy to be that of a quiet, hard worker who accomplished things like the $500-per-child tax credit without drawing much attention to himself. He also was loath to kick back at the taxpayers' expense.

"In the eight years I spent in Washington, I never played one round of golf," he said proudly.

But other observers suggest Grams might have been wise to wile away at least a few hours now and then networking on the green. Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner argues that Grams hasn't spent enough time shaking hands and raising money back home, and that his low profile — in party circles as well as with the public — leaves him at a disadvantage to the visible and well-connected Kennedy.

Eibensteiner has been quoted recently saying there is "no race" for the Republican nomination and that Kennedy's victory is a "fait accompli." The comment sparked anger from Grams.

"What kind of Third World politics does he want to impose on the Republican Party?" Grams said. "The delegates won't be elected for another year. The convention is 18 or 17 months away. And (Eibensteiner) wants to have a single name on a slate. That's kingmaking."

Eibensteiner insists he's not playing favorites in the race, just calling it like it is.

"In the last three to four years, Mark Kennedy has worked very hard," he said. "He's out there with the activists, he's raising money for other candidates, he's helping other candidates. And what has Rod Grams done in those four years? He's never helped other candidates get elected or been a part of the process. He's been missing in action for the last four years."

Elections DO Matter

Jayson Javitz, a contributor at Polipundit, makes the case HERE that Senate elections matter -- a lot. Read the post and contemplate how different the fiscal policy of the United States would have been over just the last 18 months if we did not have a Republican majority. Then get really nervous and contribute to a certain Senate candidate HERE.

3/26/2005

Sabato Saddles Up

The always entertaining pundit Larry Sabato, has a habit of playing it safe with his predictions but is considered usually quite on the money with his political analysis. So pardon TBFKADVK if we scoff just a tiny bit at Sabato’s opening preview of Minnesota’s 2006 U.S. Senate race, even if we like his final conclusion:

Minnesota (Open Seat)
Outlook: Toss-up

If any incumbent were headed for defeat in 2006, it was one-term Democrat Mark Dayton. Try as he might, Dayton just hadn't gone down well, and when he closed his D.C. office for fear of a terrorist attack in fall 2004--the only member of Congress to do so--he likely sealed his fate. Facing the music, Dayton stepped down, and Democrats hope that either attorney Mike Ciresi, who lost the 2000 Senate nomination to Dayton, or unsuccessful 2002 House candidate Patty Wetterling will carry the party banner in 2006. Minnesota often leans Democratic, but at the starting gate the likely Republican nominee, Congressman Mark Kennedy, appears to be the pick of the entire Senate lot in this state. Kennedy is opposed by former one-term Senator Rod Grams, who lost to Dayton in 2000, but Kennedy is a heavy favorite for the GOP Senate nomination. Unless the climate changes, we'd tip this to Kennedy, but for now, since it's early and this is an open seat, we'll hold our horses.


Larry, we’d like to introduce you to Amy Klobuchar and the 49 legislative DFLers who have endorsed her so far. They might disagree with your characterization that the DFL is pining their hopes on Wetterling and Mike Ciresi. Given Sabato’s Virginia location, one could suggest his prediction for the DFL reflects the rumor mill in national recruiting circles. More likely, some prominent members of the DSCC haven’t been on the DFL chicken dinner circuit.

Otherwise, Sabato’s crystal ball has been properly dusted. No one is seriously questioning whether Kennedy will receive the GOP endorsement and saying that ”at the starting gate the likely Republican nominee…appears to be the pick of the entire Senate lot…” isn’t too shabby.

Giddy up, Mark.

3/25/2005

National Journal: TBFKADVK Up, NYT Down

Vaughn Ververs of National Journal makes note, once again, of our own First Ringer's recent roadtrip following the Kennedy Campaign (link unavailable at the time of this posting). The takeaway? Blogs like TBFKADVK will continue to increase in importance and the New York Times will continue its inexorable fade to black.

With media organizations losing the power they once had over public figures, look for this relationship to go through some real hard times. When Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, he invited a single blogger to travel with him on the announcement tour. Not only was the blogger with the candidate for three days of the five-day tour, he was the only journalist of any kind to accompany Kennedy on the bus. That kind of elevation speaks volumes about the value being placed on new media outlets.

For public figures of all stripes, and political figures in particular, reporters for outlets like the New York Times are becoming less and less important. Political strategists are becoming more wary as well about cooperating with reporters, seeing more value in sticking with the team line than playing both sides. When they want to spread a message, they'll use these emerging venues. When things go bad, they won't hesitate to attack and blame "the media."

Jumpin' Jim Reveals Secret Plan

...to invade Iran next year.

Meanwhile, this plan to defeat Jeffords seems like a fool's errand. Number 60 won't be coming from the Green Mountain State.

Hey, Canada: Vermont for Alberta straight up. We'll take those scary Canadian Alliance zealots off your hands and you eat Cherry Garcia 'til the cows come home.

3/24/2005

Move to Revoke Frist's Medical License

THIS sounds like another brilliant political move by the Left.

Besides, those dozens of surgeries Dr. Frist does gratis in Africa each year are probably not needed any longer.

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Or don't.

The Intent is to Save a Woman's Life...

...but this is a nice side effect. (Hat tip NRO's The Corner)

From The American Prospect:

Suddenly it occurs to me that the Republican fight against the courts on Terri Schiavo has been, among many other things, a perfect set-up for the Republicans' next major congressional initiative: packing the courts with President Bush's conservative judicial nominees. Just take a look at how George Bush reacted this afternoon, after a federal appeals court refused to re-insert Schiavo's feeding tube:

"I believe that in a case such as this, the legislative branch, the executive branch, ought to err on the side of life, which we have," the president said. "Now we'll watch the courts make their decisions."

Combine that with the fact that Mark Levin's Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destorying America is right now on the best-seller lists, and you have a recipe for a mobilizing a hurt and highly motivated constituency in defense of the president's coming effort to transform the courts so that they more closely hew to the perspective in the White House and Congress.

3/23/2005

Why Mark Kennedy?

In an e-mail, reader Mike H. asks:

I am a big fan of the TBFKADVK blog and but I still
can't figure out what's so great about mark kennedy
that all the blogs I visit are so pumped up over him
running. Is this guy like another Tom Coburn or is
he just the best we can get out of MN in terms of
being conservative.
I happen to think Kennedy's strengths are electability, conservative credibility, and youthful optimism. In that order. But I think it would be interesting to see what others think. What are your opinions?

(Note: Trolls and disruptors, please behave yourselves. Your opinions are welcome provided you don't attempt to hijack the thread)

Upside Down by 2017

The Social Security Board of Trustees released a report today that changes the insolvency dates of Social Security. According to the Board by 2017 Social Security will be paying out more money in benefits than it takes in and will be exhausted entirely by 2041.

Repeat after me: There is no Crisis. There is no Crisis. There is no Crisis...

Could it be we've stumbled across the liberal answer to the Social Security dilemma in this week's headlines? Compulsory state-sponsored euthanasia at age 67 could be just the thing to salvage the SS trust fund.

Kingmaker-In-Chief

Is Karl Rove pulling a 'Pawlenty' in trying to encourage Kathering Harris out of next year's U.S. Senate race in Florida? At least Harris is getting her medicine face-to-face and not with a last second phone call.

St. Paul Mass for Schiavo

In what will surely be portrayed by some as shameless electioneering, Congressman Kennedy silently joined 1,500 fellow believers in a Mass for Terri Schiavo last evening at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Liberals will console themselves with poorly worded polls that purport to show starving this woman is good politics.

This much is certain: Minnesotans will not have a more stark contrast between candidates than they will in their choice for U.S. Senate next year.

Delay's Minions

Several days ago Bob Novak reported the RNC was warning House Republicans that they could lose dozens of seats in the '06 elections. Nice fundraising tactic, says Charlie Cook.

"In looking at the current political playing field, it is hard to see how Democrats can make up much ground in 2006. To pick up the 15 seats that Democrats need to take the majority, they would need to hold onto every one of their 11 competitive seats and then win 15 of 17 (or 88 percent) of the vulnerable and potentially vulnerable Republican-held seats."

3/22/2005

TBFKADVK: Gangsta Style

Just one minizzle! A reader put TBFKADVK through Gizoogle.

I think Strom sounds much more intimidating to the legislature writing at Our Hizouse. Check it out yo.

Handicapping DFL Chair Race

Always Right, Usually Correct handicaps the race for DFL Chair -- the person who will spearhead Democratic efforts against Mark Kennedy next year. Fear not.

Hillary Two-fer?

John Podhoretz constructs a plausible scenario wherein Ms. Rodham does not run for reelection to the Senate in '06 in order to campaign unencumbered for the presidency in 2008.

Giuliani or Pataki would pad the Republican Senate majority and Rodham would still be able to secure the '08 nomination, thus insuring a third Republican term in the White House.

3/21/2005

The Schiavo Divide

Red or Blue? Who knew the real divide was over a brain-damaged woman in Florida.

Minnesota’s Congressional delegation was evenly split again, 4 to 4, this time over the issue of Terri Schiavo. Only the split was over who could bother to attend a vote. Representatives Kennedy, Jim Ramstad (R), John Kline (R), and James Oberstar (DFL) all voted yea on Bill S 686 ES while the reminder of the delegation didn’t even show up. Of the four who voted, only Kennedy has thus far released a statement---a portion of his floor speech:

"Since I was a child, to this very day on the floor of this House, I have been guided by a fundamental principle: that we as men and women and all of us as a society, will be judged according to how we treat the most vulnerable among us. That is the issue we face today…

"The law ought not to provide murderers guilty of terrible crimes more protections than an innocent young woman lying in a Florida hospital bed. So today, we must act on behalf of Terri Schiavo. Congress must act on behalf of all those who cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves.

"Americans believe in a culture of life, not a culture that tells the weak and the vulnerable there is no place for them at our table. We make progress toward that culture of life one life at a time, one heart at a time. Today, let us start by helping Terri Schiavo live."


Of the four representatives who didn’t vote, so far only Betty McCollum has released any comments. Given her remarks, one has to wonder if McCollum felt this strongly about Terri Schiavo needing to die, why didn’t she return to vote?:

“After fifteen years Ms. Terri Schiavo continues to live in a vegetative state with no hope for recovery from her severe brain damage. Ms. Schiavo, her husband, her entire family and her health care providers deserve our prayers as they continue to confront the difficult decisions surrounding this tragic situation. The medical decisions that are being made regarding end-of-life care for Ms. Schiavo are a matter for Terri’s husband, her family and her doctors to make. In my opinion, it is absolutely inappropriate for Congress to be acting to direct medical attention on behalf of any individual regardless of the circumstances.

Ms. Terri Schiavo deserves the right to human dignity and respect. Instead, this brain damaged woman and her family are being used as political pawns. Republican Leader Tom Delay has decided it is in his interest to exploit Terri Schiavo’s misery and the anguish of her loved ones for political gain. Nothing I have witnessed in Congress has been more cynical or distasteful.”


The absence of Minnesota’s Methuselah, Martin Olav Sabo, isn’t surprising given his staunch pro-choice voting history, but the non-votes of Gil Gutknecht and Collin Peterson (DFL) might give pro-life voters in the 1st and 7th Congressional districts a splash of cold water to the face. Peterson touts his pro-life endorsements as does Gutknecht, both of whom have 100% pro-life voting histories.

Don’t be surprised if those perfect scores both show a slight dent come 2006.

Dr. Decorum

While speaking before his political base -- in Canada -- Dr. Dean refers to the Republican majority as "brain dead". This while Congress debates legislation on the fate of Terri Schiavo.

While Dean cultivates Ontario's coveted 16 electoral votes, the Republicans seem poised to lose their congressional majorities -- in about 2048.

Mark Kennedy's Grassroots Campaign

In response to an inquiry made a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to ride along with Congressman Mark Kennedy on Saturday, March 19. The Congressman was visiting some local BPOU conventions, hoping to persuade the delegates to support his candidacy for U.S. Senate in person.

My main reason for riding along was to get a chance to ask the Congressman some questions as we rode between locations. I had plenty of opportunity for that, and will be sharing his responses over the course of the next week. But first, some observations about the BPOU appearances themselves.

The BPOU (Basic Political Operating Unit) conventions are Minnesota's party mechanism for nominating delegates who decide on the endorsement of candidates. They're as close to the grassroots as any official party gatherings can come.

Shortly after I arrived at the Woodbury City Hall, I spotted Congressman Kennedy deep in conversation with one of the attendees. This would be a pattern throughout the morning. At every stop, no matter what else was going on in the meeting, a few people broke away to speak with the Congressman personally, and every time he gave them as much time and attention as his campaign staff could bear before whisking him away to the next scheduled appearance.

As part of his regular speech delivered to the BPOU’s, the Congressman said he’s one of those rare politicians who likes to campaign. Witnessing him in action one could easily believe it. Speaking with his campaign staff, one can’t help being convinced. One of his staff workers said, “he wears us out,” in an admiring rather than complaining context. His energy and enthusiasm were certainly in evidence Saturday morning.

At the first BPOU convention, in Woodbury, I spoke briefly with Rep. Jim Knoblach. Having lost count, I asked him if he had come out with a formal endorsement in the Senate race yet. He gave me a puzzled look and mentioned he had already endorsed Mark Kennedy, adding that they went to college at St. John’s together. I asked him if he had any opinion on former Senator Grams bid for the nomination. The first of many similar inquiries and responses, Rep. Knoblach had nothing negative to say about Sen. Grams either personally or professionally. But did offer his opinion that he thought his time had passed, and he wished Grams would realize it.

In fact the only negative comments about Grams all day could be summarized in a couple of short points: Where is Grams at the BPOU’s? Many also wished Grams would knock off the “kingmaker” stuff. In fairness to Sen. Grams, I think much of the latter is being stoked by the local media in attempt to create controversy in a race that – judging from Kennedy’s warm receptions yesterday – doesn’t seem terribly contentious or heated in reality.

After giving a brief speech to the Woodbury BPOU (at which he received a standing ovation upon introduction), he left the meeting room after some handshaking a brief follow-up conversation. In the lobby outside the room, he met with a couple of different people to answer more specific questions.

And then we were off to the Maplewood / North Saint Paul BPOU.

This one was held in a Moose Lodge. From what I could tell, Moose hate light. The meeting room was windowless, and even the artificial light was quite low. None of my pictures in there turned out visible enough to keep.

We entered to find Obi Sium, a candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 4th district, speaking. A fascinating candidate in a race that is surely one of the two most difficult districts in which a Republican can run for Congress in Minnesota. Being an immigrant to the U. S. from Eritrea and/or Ethiopia (we arrived late and his literature isn’t clear), he believes he can speak to the large immigrant community in the 4th, driving a wedge into a reliable DFL voting block who respond well to Sium's conservative message. We wish him much luck.

After Mr. Sium, Congressman Kennedy was introduced. Professional observers of politicians would probably find this old-hat, but I thought it was interesting to see how the Congressman varied his presentation from place to place. Most of the same speaking points were hit – and there were clearly some specific catch phrases he liked using everywhere. But in style he came across as conversational, rather than oratorical, and this played quite well every time. Those who are worried about Kennedy lacking charisma need to turn off the television and come watch him in person.

At this appearance a man stood up at the end of the speech and asked if the Congressman would take questions. Kennedy immediately said yes. And then had to stand there attentively while the man read from a prepared text for about the next three minutes. The man was apparently a Republican union worker who found the Republican party’s resistance to a minimum wage increase and recent support of bankruptcy reform bill difficult to defend to his fellow union members. Kennedy answered as best he could, but there were so many twists and turns in the way the question was presented, I’m not sure how satisfied the questioner was with the answer. But after a few more questions, as Kennedy was leaving, he took the time to speak to the man personally for another five minutes or so.

Just as we were leaving, we passed (and I stopped to greet) Attorney General Candidate Jeff Johnson on his way in. I had interviewed him just a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota politics apparently isn’t as big a world as I had previously assumed.

Back to our luxurious campaign limousine (the VW Jetta version), we were on our way to North Minneapolis. I mentioned my somewhat surprise that the campaign was targeting such heavily DFL dominated areas. I offered an observation some of us local bloggers had worried that the Republican Party was abandoning these areas, and wondered what might be done to reverse this. This brought a wry smile, and a reply that the first thing is for the Republican candidates to show up there – which is exactly what he was doing.

One of the points the Congressman made in the standard speech was that he won his first Congressional race by 155 votes. That taught him to campaign hard for every single vote he can get. There was surely no disconnect between that lesson and his behavior on Saturday.

I jinxed Kennedy staffer Lonnie on our way to the next BPOU, as I complimented him for finding these rather out of the way locations all over the Twin Cities. He promptly got lost. But recovered within about five minutes, and we arrived slightly ahead of schedule.

Our final BPOU was at the Weber Park Recreation Center in north Minneapolis. The crowd was smaller, but enthused. We were informed as we entered the building that the folks in the meeting room had noticed Kennedy arriving, and had just passed a motion that the next person to walk through the door had to speak. Playing the good guest, I let the Congressman go in ahead of me.

In contrast to the Moose Lodge, this room was very bright. Our smallest attended meeting, it was nonetheless one of the most energetic. After the speech, questions were taken once again. One was an impassioned, though somewhat difficult to understand, question regarding family reunification and immigration law, asked by a man with a heavy (Russian? Ukrainian?) accent. The oddest question of the day came from someone apparently trying to get the Congressman to disagree with the Marbury v. Madison decision in the name of opposing judicial activism. After some back and forth, with the questioner not seeming to have much of a question left after the initial oddity but refusing to yield to floor, the chair finally stepped in to call for two more questions before they moved on to other business.

This same questioner made a beeline for the Congressman afterward, and he spent the usual five or so minutes speaking to her before he had to move on.

There was also some time for a photo-opportunity with a man running for State Senate. This was another recurring theme throughout the day. The Congressman made clear that a photo was not an endorsement, but he was also quite enthusiastic about supporting people at the "entry level" positions of elective office.

And then the Congressman was off to an Eagle Scout award presentation, and we parted company. With much new insight into how Mark Kennedy campaigns, and plenty of recorded questions and responses (which I’ll cover over the course of the week), it was a fascinating morning.

P.S. There are some pictures too. But I can't get the picture hosting service to cooperate. If I can, they'll be added to this post.

3/20/2005

Red Maryland? And Michigan?

THIS piece by two political science professors in the reliably liberal Baltimore Sun postulates that African-American Lt. Governor Michael Steele would be a slight favorite against likely Democrat opponent Kweisi Mfume in their potential Senate matchup next year.

It was evident to anyone who watched Steele's speech at last year's Republican National Convention that the Lt. Governor has a promising future. Doubly encouraging would be his election from a state that last elected a Republican Senator in 1980.

Also, word on the street is that Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow will show some weak numbers in a poll to be released soon by the Detroit News.

3/19/2005

Patty O'Wetterling

O.K., it's not as cool looking as Howard Dean's "baseball bat", but Wetterling's campaign has the same core constituency. I'm guessing THIS is full by tomorrow night.

Kennedy Comments on Schiavo

Bloggerist Doug shares his conversation of earlier today with Mark Kennedy on congressional action re: Terri Schiavo.

The Coming DFL Fratricide?

Such are the musings of First Ringer at, well, The First Ring.

3/18/2005

The “Schizophrenic” Sixth – and More

D.C.’s other major political publication, The Hill shines some light on the battleground contests of 2006, focusing heavily on Minnesota’s U.S. Senate battle royale-to-be and the race in the 6th Congressional District:

”While Democrats have their eyes on Republican-held House seats in eastern Iowa, southern and central Minnesota, eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, the GOP hopes to pick up retiring Democrat Mark Dayton’s Senate seat in Minnesota…

… Mike Erlandson, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Party and chief of staff for Rep. Martin Sabo (D), said that his was the only blue state in the country to give Sen. John Kerry a wider margin than Al Gore enjoyed in 2000.”


Puncture a hole in that theory in two words or less? Sure. Ralph Nader. Nader received over 5% of the vote in Minnesota in 2000 and less than one percent in 2004. But hey, who’s counting?

”Erlandson estimated that it would cost each side roughly $15 million to compete for Dayton’s Senate seat.

Three Democrats are considering bids — Patty Wetterling, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) last year; Hennepin County prosecutor Amy Klobuchar; and Mike Ciresi, a trial attorney who has battled tobacco companies.

Kennedy has emerged as the handpicked candidate of mainstream Republicans in the state, including Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).

Shedding light on how Democrats will run against Kennedy, Erlandson said: “I think it’ll be very clear to Minnesotans that a vote for Mark Kennedy is a vote for the agenda of George W. Bush, which suffered a defeat in 2004.”

Erlandson added that Dayton’s decision to exit the Senate does not reflect poorly on Democrats’ chances of holding on to the seat. “Senator Dayton’s decision to not seek reelection was mostly because … he didn’t have the energy to do battle.”


Or the money, or the approval rating. Naturally, Democrats like their odds with an open congressional seat and with so few in play nationally, anything that looks weak will be targeted at least early on---by both sides. Republicans, nationally and locally, aren’t expressing a great deal of concern with the 6th since 2004 DFL nominee Patty Wetterling’s interest in the U.S. Senate race. The Hill attempts to suggest the 6th is in greater play by describing it as ”northwest” of Minneapolis, which while true, is akin to saying Iowa is in play for Democrats because it’s south of Minnesota.

”Democrats in Washington have voiced hope of snagging Kennedy’s 6th District seat, to the northwest of Minneapolis.

One Minnesota Democratic official described the district as a “schizophrenic” mix of socially conservative Catholic voters of German descent, centrist Republicans and unaligned, working-class families. “It’s Jesse Ventura country,” he said, referring to the independent former wrestler-turned-governor.

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti dismissed talk of the Republicans’ losing the seat. “We don’t have any concern about holding that seat,” he said.”

A Bloggerist Returns to the Kennedy Trail

Tomorrow I will be joining Mark Kennedy as he makes the rounds of some local Republican BPOU sessions.

Look here sometime between tomorrow evening and Monday morning for the post on the experience.

Congress Shall Make No Law...

Reader "Carnivore" gets extra credit for the following commentary on proposed FEC regulation of political speech:

First we need to license all bloggers and register all blogs. If you aren't doing anything illegal you shouldn't fear this. The cops just want to know who has the blogs and who doesn't.

Next we need to stop the production of blogs that have no sporting purpose.

Third, we need to ban all small, concealable, and cheap blogs as being too inaccurate.

Fourth, we need to ban all large and expensive blogs as being too accurate.

Fifth, blogs should be limited to no more than 10 entries. All High-Capacity blogs should be banned.

Sixth, ban the import of all foreign blogs based on arbitrary criteria.

Seventh, ban all blogs with more than 1 assault feature. For instance, a blog can have a Comments button but no "conspicuously protruding" Links button.

Eighth, all blogs must be password protected so they cannot by used by children.

Ninth, no blogger can post more than one-blog-per-month.

Tenth, no blog can be viewed across state lines.

The Zenith of Judicial Activism?

I desperately want to believe THIS. But just in case, we need more senators like THIS.

Even a Stopped Clock...

3/17/2005

Saint Patty Jumps In On Saint Patty's Day

Our good friend at Minnesota Democrats Exposed scoops us with news that Saint Patty is running, appropriately enough, on Saint Patty's Day.

This should be seen as unadulterated good news for Minnesota Republicans. Wetterling did remarkably well last year in a district in which -- on paper -- she should have had no chance. This was due exclusively to the good will afforded her name. What most folks don't know is that 90 days before the election she was still trying to figure out what she believed on the issues of the day before ultimately assuming the doctrinaire positions of MoveOn.org. She avoided media appearances like the plague. If you think Congressman Kennedy stumbled just a bit yesterday, just wait until you see Wetterling wither under the media spotlight she so painstakingly avoided last autumn.

Wetterling's decision insures a lengthy Democratic primary battle. More significantly, it almost certainly insures GOP retention of CD-6. There is rejoicing in Stillwater and Blaine this evening.

The folks at Kennedy v. The Machine do not wish Patty Wetterling luck but we wish her well. She has endured a level of suffering known by few parents -- and borne with more grace by even fewer. But her public policy prescriptions -- like the rest of the radical Left of her party -- would be disastrous for our state and nation.

Cookin’

Although he’s not the most entertaining pundit in the world, Charlie Cook weighs in on the U.S. Senate races for 2006 and sees a field set to change very little in either direction. With Democrats defending 18 seats, Cook sees early signs that a previous problem from Dems in past Senate election cycles could return---retirements:

”Then there are retirements, the root of Democrats' undoing last November. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer of New York has made it a priority to minimize the number of open seats his party will have to defend. At this point, Democrats are looking at two retirements, Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton and Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes. The remaining 16 incumbents have indicated they will seek re-election.

In Minnesota, Dayton announced Feb. 9 he would not seek a second term. Nine times out of 10, a party would rather have an incumbent run than defend an open seat. But Dayton is that one. In 2000, Dayton ran a self-funded race to defeat Republican Sen. Rod Grams, a weak first-term incumbent.

Over the next four years, he did very little to shore himself up politically. Dayton's dislike of fundraising, the disincentives to self-fund contained in the 2002 campaign finance legislation and a decrease in Dayton's net worth left him vulnerable.”


Cook’s other thoughts on Minnesota may earn him a nasty phone call from Grumblin’ Grams as he “anoints” Mark Kennedy as well:

”Recruiting plays perhaps the largest role, followed by retirements and fundraising. It is far too early in the cycle to hand out even mid-term grades for recruiting, but Democrats have had some early success in key races, particularly in Pennsylvania, with state Treasurer Robert Casey Jr., while Republicans got the candidate they wanted in Minnesota, Rep. Mark Kennedy."


Cook’s entire column, released first to his newsletter subscription members, is not yet available on his website but should be soon.

GARY ADDS: I buried Cook in each of the last two elections and correctly called +4 Republican last year. And Eric Black of the Strib could confirm I was correct in every Senate election of 2002 -- with the exception of New Jersey -- where even I could not anticipate that the New Jersey Supreme Court would violate state law and allow a ballot change after the statutory deadline. "How'd you do that?", asked Black.

When do I start getting paid for this crap?

I *Gulp* Take the Pledge

When a Kiss (Isn't) Just a Kiss

New England leftists are incensed about Senator Lieberman's flirting with President Bush on Social Security reform. Many are dismayed he accepted (and returned) the President's kiss on the night of the State of the Union. So much so, in fact, that they are considering eating their young:

John Orman, of Trumbull, said he is creating an advisory committee to evaluate a run for the Democratic nomination.

"There is a great national debate going on for the heart and soul of the Democratic party," said Orman, 56. "Let the battle begin here and now in Connecticut."

Lieberman, 62, ran unsuccessfully for vice president as Al Gore's running mate in 2000, and then launched a bid for president. He pulled out of the White House race in Feb. 2004, after convincing losses in the early primaries.

The three-term centrist Democrat has come under fire for his support of the Iraq war and his willingness to work with President Bush and the Republicans on a number of issues.

"Our party's Senator is no longer a Democrat. He has joined the Republicrat Party," said Orman. "After 17 years as a safe-seat senator, Joe has lost touch with his party and with his state."

3/16/2005

A Kennedy Stumble on Radio

Two different conservative bloggers today noted their disappointment with Mark Kennedy's appearence on the Ron Rosenbaum and Mark O'Connell talk radio show this morning. I didn't get to listen to the broadcast, but the commentary is not good for Kennedy.

One noted:

I’ll admit it, I am a Kennedy supporter. I volunteered for him last election. But this exchange was not a confidence builder. I can understand the outrage and questions it will raise with the Kennedy/Grams endorsement battle. I am not off the bandwagon yet, and it would take a lot to get me off. But it was a gaff, and I hope the Congressman can manage the damage control.

Ouch! That's not good - especially coming from a prior Kennedy volunteer.

The other commentator was even harsher:

Had I not know it was him, I would have thought it was the goofball he hopes to replace.

The GOP power in this state may very well regret coming out in support of Kennedy so early in the process.
However, there is a silver lining in this for those of us who support Kennedy's candidacy. There's no last minute surprise here. Kennedy is going to have a very long period to introduce himself to Minnesota voters.

Will there be flaws? Will there be gaffes? Of course. Apparently you can chalk today's appearence up as one or the other. It won't be the last either. But let's not make this into some unique Mark Kennedy problem. It's a political reality every candidate eventually runs into. Politics is rough.

But I wouldn't make to much out of this or any other single event. Kennedy is going to get the chance to make his case in a way that supercedes the "soundbite" candidacies of recent years. To borrow a cliche, it's a marathon, not a sprint. And, despite how flawed his media strategy might occasionally make him look at this point, his opponents will eventualy have to pass through the exact same new-media gauntlet without the benefit of Kennedy's early experience.

This is one of the reason's Kennedy's embrace of the blogosphere is exciting. Say what you will of him, the guy isn't hiding or backing down. He's embracing every media opportunity he has to take his case directly to the voters. And I would think it very unlikely that he's not learning how to handle himself better in this new media era as he gains experience.

Wictory Wednesday

Polipundit is once again encouraging their readers to participate in "Wictory Wednesday" by contributing early and often to Mark Kennedy's campaign. Poli is a bit Poli-anish in thinking this race could be a 'walk'. Nonetheless, we appreciate the spotlight on the Minnesota race.

3/15/2005

More From Grumbling Grams

As noted on this blog many times, former Senator Rod Grams has been tossing around "kingmaker" accusations against the state's Republican officials. According to a report in the Star Tribune, Grams seems to be flirting with the notion of turning his grumbling into a campaign theme:

Former Sen. Rod Grams' feud with Minnesota Republican leaders spilled over to Washington, D.C., last week, where a Capitol Hill newspaper pictured him next to a photo of the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Under the headine, "Dept. of No Respect," Roll Call's Thursday politics section featured a defiant Grams vowing not to let state GOP leaders snuff out his bid for the party's endorsement for the 2006 U.S. Senate race.

Grams has accused Minnesota GOP Party chairman Ron Eibensteiner of playing "kingmaker" for suggesting that Rep. Mark Kennedy already has his party's endorsement locked up to seek the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton. Eibensteiner pointed to the backing Kennedy has received from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Norm Coleman, and 26 out of 31 state GOP senators. As he has before, Eibensteiner insisted that he has not endorsed anyone and remains neutral. But Grams wasn't buying any of it. "He can say what he wants," Grams told the newspaper, which is widely read in Congress. "He's just trying to dictate."

Grams says that polling shows he would be just as strong a candidate as Kennedy and that national Republican campaign committees haven't made a choice yet.

Speaking for myself, I thought Rod Grams was a fine Senator. But in his loss to current Senator Dayton, he also demonstrated himself to be a lackluster campaigner. This more than anything else is Grams' problem winning the nomination. He should concentrate less on Eibensteiner, and more on convincing the grass-roots that the 2000 election was a fluke - or at least that he learned to correct his campaigning mistakes.

Yet the one currently hitting the grassroots, in the form of visiting BPOU meetings and personally asking for the support of the party's base, is Mark Kennedy. If he's been "made king" already, someone apparently forgot to tell him. To me it looks like energetic campaigning - exactly the kind of thing party members like myself didn't see in Grams in 2000.

SDP Christens 'Kennedy v. The Machine'

After a week in Barcelona (where $27K evidently goes a long way) Jon Lauck returns to direct a little traffic our way. Thanks, Jon.

How long will he put up with these lame payola jokes?

Skin In The Game

Polipundit posts on a Zogby International poll that shows the marked contrast between the voting patterns of "investors" and "noninvestors". If accurate, let's just say Harry Reid is literally fighting for the viability of the modern Democratic Party in keeping his caucus opposed to Social Security reform.

Read the post and explain to me again why some Republicans are nervous about personal accounts.

3/14/2005

Not Bad

Speaking of the race to replace Mark Kennedy in CD-6, our friend at Power Liberal takes note that Michele Bachmann has made news in the Strib every day this month save 3. As we all know, getting on the bad side of the folks on Portland Avenue is inversely proportional to getting on the good side of the activists who will choose the Republican nominee. Nice work.

“It’s Time for the Good Wine”

Well, at least his campaigning doesn’t consist of just complaining to Roll Call.

There’s been another sighting of GOP long shot Harold Shudlick campaigning among the Republican rank-and-file. Last seen at the GOP’s State Central meeting in Bloomington, Shudlick has upgraded his campaign with an official campaign sign---a traditional-looking red and yellow affair standing in stark contrast to his normal eight-foot high “homemade” sign held up by white PVC tubing.

Shudlick was handing out literature and speaking with attendees at the Dennis Prager event sponsored by AM1280 The Patriot. Shudlick’s message has become a cross between Gary Bauer’s and Howard Dean’s as he implores those he meets to help him ”take back America” while supporting a platform that includes being pro-life, pro-medical savings accounts and still oddly, fighting socialism. Shudlick’s homemade sign reads ”The Perfect Storm” Didn’t everybody die in that movie?

Harold Shudlick is obviously a decent man, but like a midget in the NBA, he’s completely out of his league. One of his posters reads, ”It’s Time for the Good Wine.” That’s it. No, I don’t know what it means either, and I don’t have the heart to ask. I don’t think a pro-wine, anti-socialism platform will win the GOP endorsement, although it may entertainment some wine aficionados like Doug.

I think it may be time to put the cork back in.

Papertrail

As chronicled on David Strom's radio show this weekend, the Republicans have an embarassment of riches in CD-6. This blogger thinks Michele Bachmann would make an extraordinary congresswoman, but it would be hard to go wrong with any of the candidates. Each would be a slight favorite if Patty Wetterling runs and a prohibitive favorite if she does not.

Cheri Pierson Yecke is one politician who does not run away from her record. At the "Publications" tab of her web site you can find books, reports, articles and columns she has authored. The number is almost as impressive as the content.

While my preference would be to see Michele Bachmann in Congress and Pierson Yecke in the U.S. Department of Education under a different kind of Pawlenty Administration, it is difficult to imagine a more gifted thinker as candidate for federal office.

From The 'Stop Me Before I Kill Again' File

Sen. Russ Feingold of McCain-Feingold infamy says he thinks blogs are just swell at Daily Kos.

3/13/2005

Rage Against 'The Machine'

If you tuned in to the Northern Alliance Radio Network yesterday from 12-3PM you heard their first guest, Congressman Mark Kennedy, tell the N.A.R.N. guys how much he relies on alternative media to both receive and communicate information on public policy. It's clear that the Kennedy campaign has made an early strategic decision to largely bypass traditional media to get their story out -- very smart since most local print and broadcast media has long since proven its hostility toward conservatives. Kennedy lauded "The blog formerly known as Dayton v. Kennedy" as breaking new ground in the coverage of his Senate campaign. In particular, he highlighted First Ringer's recent sojourn with the Congressman on his statewide campaign announcement tour -- a trip that has even been noted in The Hotline political report. Kennedy also reprised his opposition to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" law which stands poised to rob bloggers of their First Amendment rights.

At this point, Brian "St. Paul" Ward of Fraters announced to Kennedy and their entire audience the new name of TBFKADVK: KENNEDY v. THE MACHINE; kennedyvmachine.com. The new name was met with approval by Kennedy and with cheers by the N.A.R.N. crew. Fun stuff.

Why 'The Machine'? We found it descriptive of the amalgamation of the DFL, Star Tribune editorial page, most local broadcast media, educational establishment (which values tenure, retirement benefits and political correctness more than education), AFSCME, SEIU and various and sundry other tentacles of the status quo. It also alludes to the worst in big-city Democratic "Boss" politics (see fmr. Mayor Daley, Tammeny Hall, etc.) which has recently reared its ugly head in Washington State, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Kennedy will be up against all these forces and more for the next 19+ months.

Now for the humble pie: 2 weeks ago we pronounced the Yecke campaign in CD-6 as not ready for prime time by virtue of the fact they were putting out literature with a web address that did not yet exist. While kennedyvmachine.com has been secured, development of said site is "under construction". We expect the new site to be operational in the next several days with help from our good friend Derek Brigham.

Rage.

3/12/2005

Kennedy on N.A.R.N. Today

Word on the street is that Congressman Kennedy will appear on the Northern Alliance Radio Network right after 12 noon today. Be sure to listen HERE or HERE from 12-3.

I think this could be the broadcast that finally gets them syndication.

UPDATE: THE NEW NAME OF DAYTON V. KENNEDY WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON-AIR!

3/11/2005

“He’s a Non-Candidate”

But don’t believe TBFKADVK, take it from Roll Call.

Former Sen. Rod Grams continues to prefer leveling his ”kingmaker” charge against the state GOP than…what’s the word?…campaigning. In the latest edition of D.C.’s premier congressional newspaper, Grams levels accusations, curses, promises widespread U.S. House and Senate support and is generally written-off by most Minnesota GOP insiders:

“There’s a feeling that the state party is trying to be kingmakers and usurping [the convention delegates’] role,” Grams, now a Washington lobbyist, said. “The delegates won’t even be elected until March of next year.” “We’ve got almost two years; this is awfully early to do this,” he added. Eibensteiner reiterated that he has not and would not endorse a candidate until after next year’s state party convention, but that has done little to quiet Grams….

“He can say what he wants but that’s bulls**t,” Grams charged. “He’s just trying to dictate.”


Classy. Maybe such behavior is partially the reason for views like this:

“Whether he drops out or not, he’s a non-candidate, “ said one Republican insider who did not want to be identified. “Everybody in the party knows that his chances are slim to none and slim left town a long time ago.”….

Grams “lost his last race against a weak candidate and he’s going to be up against a tough candidate and everybody wants to win,” explained Scott Johnson, contributor to the Powerline web site, a Minnesota-based political web log. But beyond his defeat, what may hurt him more is what he has done since then. “Since 2000 he has not helped in any way,” the Republican insider said. “He has not helped other Republicans get elected, he hasn’t done any fundraising; he has dropped out of sight.”


The former Senator also seems to be engaging in a political flight-of-fancy vis-à-vis his expected support statewide and nationally. The result is, unfortunately, a bit sad to behold:

”For his part, Grams, who owns three radio stations in central Minnesota, believes he will still have the support of those who helped him in 2000. “I’ve got a lot of support as well; we just have to wait until we can figure out” who wins the nominating convention, he said.

Grams also said that, when the time comes, he is confident many of his former House and Senate colleagues will come to Minnesota and stump on his behalf and help him raise money.

“I think I can have a lot of support and Senators who will come and campaign if I ask, when I ask, and a lot of House Members too,” he said.”


Since the Roll Call article is payment subscription-only, read the rest of the piece over at The First Ring.

Sad Sack

We have already eviscerated Sen. Grams' argument that the Minnesota Republican Party hierarchy is coronating Congressman Kennedy HERE, HERE and HERE. Ringer has done the same at his own blog HERE. But let's not allow facts to get in the way of some biting political commentary by Steve Sack. For your edification from yesterday's Strib:



In his defense, Sack's bit about 'who died and made you Dick Cheney?' could prove eerily prescient...

Protocols of the Elders of Blogging

Is this one of the perks of being a MOBster?

On behalf of the boys of TBFKADVK, yours truly paid his respects to the Godfathers of the local blogging scene, those nefarious boys of Power Line, John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, as the duo was honored by Minnesota’s conservative think tank, the Center of the American Experiment (poor Paul Mirengoff, the Pete Best of the blogging set, was not present). The duo’s presentation, ”The Sixty-First Minute, Blogging on the Eve of Dan Rather’s Retirement”, was planned to begin immediately following Rather’s closing remarks on CBS Evening News---a sort of blogger version of those opposition responses to the State of the Union, although Hinderaker and Johnson are a much more articulate pair than Pelosi and Reid (and best I can tell, have far less botox).

My presence at the event was by no means assured. But fortune favors the bold---if by fortune you mean completely happenstance and by bold you mean the single and bored. A last second invite by Saint Paul of Fraters to TBFKADVK coupled with the declining responses by Gary and Doug found myself breaking into my very busy schedule of sitting to rub elbows at the table reserved for the NARN boys and their Patriot 1280am brethren.

A word of advice to the Center for the American Experiment for future such gatherings---even the greatest food in the world loses its allure when being eaten while watching network news. The buffet seemed so much more inviting in line while observing Saint Paul performs amazing contortions of simultaneously talking politics to renowned Minnesota pundit Sarah Janecek while flirting with City Pages correspondent Molly Priesmeyer. The concept of the evening’s remarks following Rather’s sign-off was a wonderful set-up, except for having to endure the monotone twang of Rather’s own brand of folksy liberalism for his entire broadcast. Fortunately, the volume on Rather’s newscast was blissfully turned down by the time most people had settled in their seats.

As the clock ticked down on Rather’s retirement, the din of the crowd lessened more and more until images of 9/11 appeared on the screen and Rather darkly intoned, ”this is a day you will remember the rest of your life.” It was almost moving as Rather recalled 9/11 and the somber days that followed but the aging anchorman, the dinosaur from the era when television consisted of the Big Three and none other, strayed into classic Rather territory as he concluded. His one-time signature closing line, ”courage”, returned to be blurted out like a mental patient obsessively saying ”spoon” or some other noun---a fitting finale to a bizarre career and one that brought a few chuckles and plently of strange looks around the room.

Johnson and Hinderaker spent very little of the evening fisking Rather, focusing primarily on how Power Line was founded (and named---by one of Hinderaker’s daughter’s friends) and the role the site’s readers played in the infamous Memogate scandal which launched the site to international prominence. The two reiterated on numerous occasions that the readers of Power Line deserved most of the credit for the ”Sixty First Minute” story, prompting Minnesota Taxpayer's League President (and fellow blogger) David Strom to say of the evening that he’d never seen Johnson so humble (although with David, most everything he says has a sarcastic edge, so perhaps it was an insult). Both Johnson and Hinderaker seem to have understood their roles as ambassadors of the blogosphere and so after a few hiccups on the ego highway (”Power Line Radio” anyone?), they’ve settled into a positive habit of taking some of their spotlight and reflecting it on others who deserve credit for their own investigative pseudo-journalism.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was well informed about blogs and blogging in general. Perhaps they were even too informed as when during the Q&A session, one attendee called the duo, and all bloggers, ”heroes.” Neither Power Liner had to spend any time explaining what a blog was, instead diving into the meat of the 60 Minutes story and later, their reactions to some of the major stories of the day. Watching the crowd interact with Johnson and Hinderaker, I saw a glimpse of the future of communication---a future with a smarter electorate and a general public better able and more willing to engage in debate and political discussion. Some in the audience were aware of that future as well, asking if either blogger feared any negative consequences with the growth of the blog. While both acknowledged the blogosphere had its share of kooks (many of whom deliver endless amounts of email to the site), as Hinderaker said, ”the solution to bad speech is more speech, not less.”

By pure luck, Minnesota has become an epicenter of the blogosphere thanks to being called home by some of the most talented bloggers in the business. By pure luck, someone who wasn’t even blogging five months ago is getting free tickets to an even like this to be surrounded by many of Minnesota’s political and blogging elite.

Pinch me. Hell, pinch everybody at TBFKADVK.

Maryland Sen. Sarbanes Retires

Longtime reader "Staten Island Conservative" alerts TBFKADVK that Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes is retiring. Like New Jersey, this will be a tough race in a blue state. But Lt. Governor Michael Steele is a gifted public servant and could make a credible race.

At the very least, the DSCC will be sending cash to Maryland which means less money elsewhere -- like Minnesota.

Moving Towards 60

Good news from two other '06 Senate races, one red state and one blue.

In West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito continues to make moves toward either a challenge of the Klansman or contesting an open seat should Byrd retire.

In New Jersey, Thomas H. Kean Jr. (and son of the former well-regarded Republican governor) has begun fundraising for a race for the open seat being vacated by Sen. John Corzine. Kean, like his father, may prove to be a Republican of the RINO variety but these days it's all about with whom you caucus. He is said to be one of the only candidates the Democrats feared in what will still be an uphill race.

OnlineCoalition.com

Last Saturday Congressman Kennedy was heard to say, "let's get rid of 527s and save blogs". He gets it.

OnlineCoalition.com is bringing right and left together like nothing since an 80s famine relief song. Please take a moment and sign THIS online e-petition to save blogging and internet-based journalism from the heavy hand of the FEC.

3/10/2005

Why T-Paw is Destined for Big Things

and why Krinkie could still be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in CD-6: read HERE.

These wingnuts have taken this whole 'consent of the governed' thingy too far!

2006 Social Security Implications

Bob Novak contemplates the "crossroads" at which the GOP finds itself on the issue of Social Security: pass a watered-down version now which puts private accounts off for 5 years or take the issue to the voters again in 2006 and pad their Senate majority to assure passage in 2007:

"there is a temptation among many Republicans to match Democratic intransigence and go to the public in the mid-term election. The Republicans stand at the crossroads, about to make a decision that will affect much more than Social Security."

3/09/2005

Futurama

The Star Tribune is conducting an online poll to ask their readers about the future of blogging. The question: Are you a regular blogger/blog reader? You can vote HERE.

At the time of my answer, "No! Blogs are unreliable, self-important junk" was the leading answer among 5 options at 31%.

One can only imagine a similar poll was conducted by the editors of "Horse and Buggy Times" shortly after the introduction of the Model T.

Thompson: 'Show Me the Money'

Don't look for a Thompson v. Kohl blog to be launched any time soon:

Former HHS Secretary Thompson joins Logistics Health

Logistics Health Inc (La Crosse, WI), a provider of medical readiness and homeland security solutions, announced that former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC) Secretary and Wisconsin Governor, Tommy G. Thompson, has joined the company as President, effective February 23. Privately-held LHI provides services that allow its customers to achieve high levels of medical preparedness for both military and civilian pursuits.


Turns out he didn't need that Homeland Security gig after all...

'Shot' on DFL Endorsement Process

NARN ringmaster (and Strib apologist) Mitch Berg today uses the freshly minted candidacy of Mark Rotenberg (Don't bother memorizing that name) to render a humorous but accurate account of the Democratic endorsement/nomination process in Minnesota. Read it HERE.

Off Topic: Richardson

Occasionally political events outside Minnesota are so compelling that they require comment -- even on a blog devoted to a Gopher State Senate race 20 months away. Last Independence Day weekend I was on pins and needles desperately hoping John F. Kerry would select John Edward as his running mate instead of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Why? In spite of the fact that China purloined some valuable nuclear secrets under his tenure at Energy, Richardson is downright sane. His selection last July as Democratic running mate would have insured New Mexico stayed in the Democratic column and would have put AZ, NV and perhaps even CO in play. It would also likely have stemmed Republican inroads with the Hispanic community.

Bullet dodged.

In just the last several days Richardson has proven himself to be a genuine supply-sider on economic policy and hawkish on foreign policy. Regrettably, this makes him unfit for the Democratic ticket in '08 or any time soon. But if lightning struck and circumstances put Richardson in the Oval Office, Americans of all political stripes could rest easy. Ironically, Richardson's political future would be much brighter if he came over to the dark side.

3/08/2005

TBFKADVK: 46% PURE EVIL

TBFKADVK got a bit misty-eyed yesterday upon reading we were among the most "evil" websites of the Northern Alliance/Minnesota Organization of Bloggers confederation. I'm just not sure how we were bested by Belief Seeking Understanding, a blog devoted to a curious amalgamation of computer coding and Christian apologetics. From The Nihilist:

The Evil and The Good

I noticed that several mob sites used the Gematricular to determine whether their website was good or evil. According to their website, “The Gematriculator is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is.”

Well, if it says so on the internet, it must be true. I ran all of the NARN and MOB websites through it, and as of this morning, here are the most and least evil members. I’m not sure how infallible it is, Nihilist in Golf Pants and Kool Aid Report are among the least evil. But then again, The Bleat rates as the least evil of all, so maybe there is something to it.

The most evil (evil percentage):

1. Belief Seeking Understanding 51%
2. Flyover Country 48%
3. The Night Writer 47%
4. TBFKADVK 46%
5. Minnesota Democrats Exposed 44%
6. it’s noon somewhere 43%
7. Power Line 42%
8. Echo Zoe 41%
Scholar’s Notebook 41%
10. PolicyGuy 39%
The Bickersons 39%
12. Macaroni Penguin 38%
Our House 38%
SCSU Scholars 38%
Shot in the Dark 38%
The First Ring 38%
the whippersnapper 38%
18. Captain’s Quarters 37%
Jay Redding 37%
19. faithmouse 36%
Plastic Hallway 36%
21. CenterFeud 35%
EckerNet 35%
Smoothing Plane 35%
24. Brainstorming 34%
Flown to the Roll 34%
Pair O’Dice 34%
Rocks Off 34%
Shock and Blog 34%
The Attic 34%
30. pinkmonkeybird 33%
sprucegoose 33%
32. Bogus Gold 32%
Centrisity 32%
Craig Westover 32%
Solablagola 32%
Speed Gibson 32%
The M.A.W.B. Squad 32%

3/07/2005

Betty Says 'No'

When it rains, it pours in this race…

4th Congressional Congresswoman Betty McCollum is out of the 2006 U.S. Senate race.

"After much personal reflection I have decided to continue serving my Fourth District constituents and fighting for Minnesota families in Congress. Next year, I plan to seek re-election while at the same time working to ensure the strongest Democrat emerges to win the U.S. Senate race. In the future I will likely explore other political opportunities, but for now I have a job that I love. I am very blessed to have the privilege of serving the people of Minnesota in Congress.

All across Minnesota there are too many families confronting really difficult challenges in their daily lives. I feel the best contribution I can make to help Minnesota families is to continue to fight for them in Congress, leading with both common sense and a progressive voice. The party ruling Washington is putting our nation's future in danger and I feel a tremendous sense of urgency to keep fighting to get our country back on the right track."


So while the GOP field is set, the DFL narrows to three: Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, wealthy trial attorney and 2000 Senate candidate Mike Ciresi, and potentially Kennedy’s 2004 congressional opponent Patty Wetterling. Our DFL friends over at Checks and Balances don’t even believe it’s a three-way race:

”Right now we see an endorsement contest between Wetterling and Klobuchar shaping up with a possible, but not guaranteed primary contest with Ciresi. Word we have out of Washington, D.C. through the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is they feel, as a trial lawyer, Ciresi is not the best candidate for the spot.”


Go Mike Go.

Dictatorships and Double Standards

Senator Grams has joined the media chorus in alleging the state party Republican leadership is exhibiting all the traits of a tyranny in dictating to the rank and file who their nominee will be. But check out this curious bit of commentary from Senator Grams in an AP story this afternoon:

Grams, who lost to Dayton in 2000, said he wasn't upset with Coleman or Pawlenty for their endorsements, but he wondered if they had axes to grind. Grams endorsed a Coleman rival in the 1998 governor's race and a Pawlenty rival in 2002.


Is it just me or does Grams' "kingmaker" accusation comprise a double standard? Scrutiny of the above would suggest that Grams believes Pawlenty and Coleman are endorsing Kennedy as retribution for the Senator's own (unsuccessful) attempts at "kingmaking" against Coleman in '98 and Pawlenty in '02.

The first person to correctly reference the title of this post wins a new Chevy Avalanche from NARN and the White Bear Lake Superstore.

MN Republican Chair: "There is no race".

Republican Chair Ron Eibensteiner says, "There's no race" and Mark Kennedy is -- in effect -- the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Fmr. Senator Grams disagrees.

Sources tell me that of the scores of Republican Senate District conventions convened this Saturday, Kennedy & surrogates made an appearance at every one. The number attended by the Grams "campaign"? Zero. That's not getting outhustled. That's forfeiting the game.

It's time for a Senator who will always be remembered fondly by conservatives for the federal Child Tax Credit to move on to the next chapter.

Pawlenty to Endorse Kennedy Monday P.M.

Word just reached TBFKADVK that Governor Pawlenty and Congressman Kennedy will be hosting a joint press conference in an hour. The press conference will be held at Republican Party HQ in St. Paul. The topic? An "Announcement regarding the U.S. Senate race".

It is almost certain Governor Pawlenty will be endorsing Mark Kennedy early this afternoon, effectively clearing the field on the Republican side. It remains to be seen if the DFL race can be nearly as bloodless. The only question that remains to be decided is when Senator Grams will follow suit.

We will hear from our DFL friends that the Republican non-contest will yield an "untested" candidate in Kennedy. TBFKADVK notes that this sounds much like those football prognosticators who say that NFL teams with a first-round bye will be "rusty" come playoff time -- while failing to note those same teams almost always go to the Superbowl.

Hugh Hewitt to FEC: "Drop Dead!"

Hugh Hewitt says "The coming crackdown on blogging" ain't gonna happen. Whereas HH practices and teaches constitutional law and I simply struggled through two semesters of the same, I'll take his word for it.

Meanwhile, Hugh trumpets Mark Kennedy as "the candidate that tips Minnesota to the GOP". Overstated? Just a bit. But a good reckoning of the Gopher state Senate race nevertheless.

The GOP has one built-in advantage in this "light blue" state—the presence on the 2006 ticket of popular Gov. Tim Pawlenty, whose hockey-playing folkishness and great good humor has kept his personal account high even as the state has navigated difficult fiscal times. Mr. Pawlenty is already on every handicapper's short list for the GOP's vice-presidential slot in 2008, and has even appeared on a couple of lists of potential presidential candidates. If he can bring a new Republican senator to D.C. in January, 2007, that will only enhance his growing stature in the party.

Minnesota is a closely divided state when it comes to politics. Sen. Coleman beat former Vice President Walter Mondale by 60,000 votes in the 2002 election marked by the death of then-Sen. Paul Wellstone in a plane crash. Last fall, despite an intense GOP effort, Minnesota went for John Kerry by close to 100,000 votes. The "light blue" status of the state is real, but the right candidate in the right year can move the state closer to light red. Many are betting that that candidate in 2006 will be Mark Kennedy. —•

Kennedy v. Santorum

No, not this Kennedy. This Kennedy.

Are we back to "Me Too Republicanism"?

3/05/2005

Star Trib Slight of Hand in the Headlines

Why do I think this is what they ran with in print?

Yesterday I noted the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press coverage of Rep. Gutknecht's announcement that he is not competing against Rep. Kennedy for Republican nomination for Senate in 2006. At the time the online Star Tribune site had a headline something like (drawing from memory here) "Gutknecht Declines Senate Bid, Will Seek Re-election to House."

Today, the exact same article carries the far more incindiary headline: Gutknecht says he won't play 'kingmaker' for Kennedy

A more exciting headline? Sure. But misleading as well. Gutknecht doesn't have the clout to "play kingmaker" for Kennedy, and never said he did. His actual quote from the article is:

"I don't really believe in some of the kingmaker stuff that's been going on here in the last three or four weeks"
The "kingmaker stuff" is apparently a reference to the large number of endorsements Rep. Kennedy has drawn since announcing his bid for the nomination, but Gutknecht clearly didn't allege he held a "kingmaker" ability himself.

What's more, that is hardly the main point of the article. That line alone is the only time the "kingmaker" concept is even mentioned.

Another example of the Star Tribune trying to push editorial opinion in their news pages? You be the judge.

Prayer For The Rammer

This may not be about Mark Kennedy, but it certainly affects all the members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation---Republican or Democrat.

Minnesota’s Third District Congressman, Jim Ramstad has never been known as the most conservative Republican when it comes to his voting record (Ramstad rated as the least conservative Minnesota Republican congressman on a blogosphere inspired congressional scorecard---Kennedy was first). But Ramstad, affectionately known as The Rammer, has long been respected on both sides of aisle for his willingness to engage in bipartisan affairs and work hard on the behalf of the GOP.

Ramstad was in Washington this past week following eye surgery when he began to see spots in his newly operated-on eye and noticed blood. He has now lost sight in that eye. News of Ramstad’s health was first delivered to a local senate district in the Third by the district’s co-chair who had only been recently informed. The co-chair does not know if Ramstad’s sight in that eye will return or not.

Everyone at TBFKADVK sends their thoughts and prayers to Rep. Ramstad and hopes for a speedy and full recovery.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

From The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook.

Political Web Sites Maintained By Individuals

An individual may participate in political activities over the Internet in countless ways but must be wary of the requirements and pitfalls associated with such activity. Thus, an individual may spend an unlimited amount of money creating a web site that discusses issues, legislation, and policy--and basically anything else provided it does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate--without subjecting herself to regulation by any federal election laws. She may instead spend an unlimited amount of money creating a web site expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate, provided she does not coordinate with a federal candidate or the candidate's campaign committee. In this case, however, the costs of creating and maintaining the web site are considered "expenditures," which trigger reporting requirements to the FEC if they exceed $250. Finally, she may create a web site expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate in coordination with a federal campaign committee. Because she coordinated with a campaign, the costs are considered "in-kind contributions" and are counted against her annual contribution limit of $2,100 per candidate per election.

3/04/2005

Local Media Coverage of Gutknecht Announcement

Both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press ran stories reporting on Republican U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht's official annoucement today that he is not going to run for the Republican nomination to U.S. Senate, and will instead seek re-election to his current Congressional seat.

The Pioneer Press piece was short and straight forward noting:

He stopped short of endorsing U.S. Rep Mark Kennedy for the U.S. Senate in 2006, but he said, "I am confident that my party will field a strong, qualified candidate.''

The congressman said if he were to run statewide, the office he would want would be that of governor. He made his announcement at the Olmsted County Republican Party headquarters, filled with local party supporters who cheered his decision and told him afterwards that he chose the right path.

Gutknecht's announcement further elevates the candidacy of Kennedy, who has the support of much of Minnesota's Republican leaders. Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams said he is planning to seek the Republican endorsement as well.

The Star Tribune article goes into more detail, intentionally or not portraying a sense of more intra-party ill-will among Republicans:

"I don't really believe in some of the king-maker stuff that's been going on here in the last three or four weeks," Gutknecht said Friday in an interview after his announcement.

"The one thing I know about Minnesota politics, there are going to be a lot of twists and turns over the next year and a half. I just think this is far too early."

Gutknecht's decision to withhold his endorsement surprised some party insiders, who had expected him to get behind Kennedy if he decided not to run himself.

"As I heard it, that was the plan," said Minnesota GOP chairman Ron Eibensteiner.

It also captures Gutknecht in some speculation one can only hope sounded a bit better in full context:

"This whole thing can change in a moment," Gutknecht said. "Who knows -- (Vice President) Dick Cheney, his pacemaker may give out next week."

Gutknecht also made reference to the untimely death of Sen. Paul Wellstone and the largely unforeseen election of Gov. Jesse Ventura.

"Who knows what can happen in this business?" he said.

Both articles also give mention to Gutknecht breaking a previous pledge to serve in his seat for no more than twelve years.

Gutknecht Backing the Grams Juggernaut?

From the Associated Press:

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht said Friday he would run for re-election to the House, ending the possibility of a primary fight between two Republican congressmen for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mark Dayton.

"I love the job I have in Washington and I just feel like I fit more in the House of Representatives than I would fit in the Senate," he said. "If the voters of southern Minnesota will allow me to do this, I would like to run for re-election."

Shortly after Dayton, a Democrat, announced that he would not seek a second term Rep. Mark Kennedy announced he would run for the seat. He has picked up the backing of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and 26 state senators.

Gutknecht didn't endorse Kennedy on Friday.

"It's too early to predict who will ultimately emerge as the Republican nominee," he said. "I am confident that whether it's Mark Kennedy or someone else, we will find a very strong candidate."

Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, whom Dayton defeated in 2000, is the only other GOP candidate.


*Crickets Chirping*

3/03/2005

TBFKADVK in New Republic

Michael Crowley of the New Republic writes about the influence of South Dakota bloggers on the Daschle v. Thune race and notes their offspring:


There are already signs of such activity. A few months ago, a Minnesota-based blog appeared called Dayton v. Kennedy, dedicated to supporting GOP candidate Mark Kennedy against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Dayton. (Dayton has since announced he won't run; the blog awaits the new Democratic candidate.) Sure enough, the blog has targeted local media outlets like the Minneapolis Star Tribune, leveling charges of liberal bias. The blog's author, Gary Matthew Miller, claims in an e-mail that he is no GOP plant. But, he says, "I will acknowledge inspiration from Daschle v. Thune." He's surely not going to be the only one.

GUTKNECHT OUT; HOUSE RUN LIKELY

The field is cleared. Gutknecht is out and appears poised to seek re-election to the House. The TBFKADVK tipster is vindicated, albeit 3 days late.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and is expected to make a formal announcement Friday in Rochester.

FEC Poised to Crack Down on TBFKADVK?

Hat tip to my new 'commie' pal for a heads up on the coming regulation of the politcal blogosphere. When reached for comment, Justice Kennedy called it a 'double-plus good idea'.

The coming crackdown on blogging

By Declan McCullagh
http://news.com.com/The+coming+crackdown+on+blogging/2008-1028_3-5597079.html

Story last modified Thu Mar 03 04:00:00 PST 2005

Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a "bizarre" regulatory process now is under way.


Read the whole bone-chilling interview HERE.

It's Never Too Early

Redstate has done the political equivalent of wearing white before Memorial Day: they are already handicapping 2006 Senate races. If you're like me and actually think about this stuff 20 months out, you'll like this open thread and the accompanying prognostications.

3/02/2005

Avoiding the Draft

Is Gil Gutknecht out the door?

Word on the 1st Congressional District corner is that Gutknecht still hasn’t made up his mind on what exactly he’ll be announcing on March 4th. But Gutknecht’s campaign manager has hinted that Gil’s days representing the 1st may be at an end. According to our source, Gutknecht is weighing only three options:

* Run for reelection to the House – Gutknecht pledged a 12 year limit in 1994 and has his eyes fixed on higher office (ideally Governor, but potential U.S. Senate). If Gil runs for reelection, expect a stronger effort to run for Governor in 2010, assuming Pawlenty wins in 2006 and doesn’t seek a third term.

* Run for U.S. Senate – Despite Kennedy’s obvious head start on endorsements and statewide organization, Gutknecht is still mulling a Senate race. If he does run however, he will not return to the House, regardless of the outcome.

* Retire – According to Gutknecht’s campaign manager, retirement is an option on the table without seeking the Senate seat. Whether this means Gutknecht is contemplating retiring from Minnesota politics completely is unknown and probably unlikely given Gil’s ambitions. But it is telling that retirement is considered a serious option by the Gutknecht camp.


News that two of Gil’s three personal options involve him leaving the Congress, 1st District GOP leadership and activists have been scrambling to prepare for his absence. While Rep. Gregory Davids (R-Preston), the Speaker Pro Tempore in the House has been rumored for the seat, some GOP activists are considering drafting a candidate to replace Gutknecht if necessary. Concerns have been raised about holding the seat without the incumbent as the 1st’s GOP index ranks 5th in the state---7th District Congressman Collin Peterson, a conservative DFLer, actually has a higher number of identified Republicans in his district.

So Who might GOP activists be looking to draft for Congress? None other than Lt. Governor Carol Molnau. Formerly representing Chaska in the State Legislature before joining Tim Pawlenty’s ticket in 2002, Molnau was fairly unknown outside the region and has been a quiet Lt. Governor for most of the past three years. Her greatest claim to fame may be that she tossed a (empty) beer keg further than Jesse Ventura at a contest at the State Fair (Ventura was, thankfully, not Governor at the time).

Still, Molnau’s title and credentials would make her a strong Congressional candidate. Is she interested? No one knows and Molnau has never expressed ambitions for higher office. Will she be necessary? Activists in the 1st Congressional GOP hope not.

TBFKADVK in Pequot Lakes Echo

O.K. So it ain't The Gray Lady. Still, it was fun to see this write up on TBFKADVK in the Pequot Lakes Echo.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005
10:21 AM on Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Political Notebook: Blogs coming into their own


A new medium is becoming one of the most talked about elements of modern politics, and at least one major campaign is taking notice.

Weblogs, or blogs, are online journals that publish running commentaries on the day's or week's events. Their contents can range from personal diaries to in-depth investigative reports, and political campaigns across the country in the last election cycle realized their power.

For the first time in Minnesota, a "blogger" was an invited journalist to travel with and report on a Senate campaign. Blogger John Swon of "The Blog Formerly Known as Dayton Versus Kennedy" spent three days last week travelling with Rep. Mark Kennedy as he criss-crossed the state making his bid for the U.S. Senate.

"It was like being on someone's family vacation," Swon said. Swon was one of six people on Kennedy's campaign motorhome, and the only member of the media. "They didn't really keep me at arm's length about anything. It was a very odd situation to be in."

Swon is one of three contributors to the first blog dedicated to Kennedy's senate campaign. Blogger Gary Miller started the "Dayton v. Kennedy" blog last fall under the presumption that the race would be between Kennedy and incumbent Sen. Mark Dayton. After Dayton said he wouldn't seek a second term, Miller and the two other contributors were left with an irrelevant name. Currently the blog is called "The Blog Formerly Known as Dayton Versus Kennedy," (TBFKADVK) though they are actively searching for a new name.

Miller started the blog last September after meeting radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who also penned the premier book on blogs, "Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World." Miller had been reading blogs for over two years and was a big fan of the "Daschle v. Thune" blog, which covered the race between Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. John Thune in South Dakota. When Miller decided to start his own blog, he wanted to run something similar, so he chose a race that hadn't even started.

"I felt, 'I'm going to own this race,'" Miller said.

The blog is a running list of commentary, links to news articles on the race and first-hand reporting, with no qualms about whom they support.

"I was very concerned about the ethics of doing this. I'm obviously a supporter of Mark Kennedy...but you don't want to compromise yourself," Swon said.

Swon said he tries to be as objective as possible. If Kennedy were to do something egregious, Swon said he would report it, as any journalist would.

In the case of the "Daschle v. Thune" blog, blogger Jon Lauck was criticized for accepting $27,000 as a consultant for Thune's campaign. Miller said TBFKADVK has not received any payment or guidance from the Kennedy campaign.

"We're trying to walk a fine line here," Miller said. "Credibility and independence are the currency of the blogosphere. We don't want to be a tool for the Kennedy campaign."

"The Blog Formerly Known as Dayton Versus Kennedy" can be found at http://daytonvkennedy.blogspot.com/