Thursday, November 08, 2012

Not optimal

The 2012 campaigns came to an end on Election Day, in a stunning victory for Democrats, and in disbelief for Republicans.

The day began with reports of heavy voter turnout with few problems at the polls. At the Minnesota GOP Victory Party at the Bloomington Hilton, the evening began with cautious optimism. The parking lot was full to overflowing by 7:00 p.m., with television satellite trucks stationed on the south side of the hotel. Activists admitted the possibility of losing the majority in the Minnesota Senate, but expected to retain control of the House. They were hopeful for at least a slim Electoral College win for Mitt Romney, with fingers crossed.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who ran unopposed for reelection, hosted a hospitality suite with his family and Chester, the family bulldog and mascot of the self-proclaimed Hennepin County Taxpayer Watchdog. The suite became the unofficial headquarters for SD44 activists, where they monitored the election returns via cable TV and a rather flakey WiFi connection, while munching on popcorn, party mix, and yes, "puppy chow."

The SD48 hospitality room, really a conference room, was standing room only with candidates and activists and the requisite TV displaying election coverage.

At his hospitality suite, U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills greeted a steady stream of supporters, as his campaign staff hovered over a laptop computer. I spent a few minutes with Bills communications manager David Strom before the candidate gave the nod, and then led his entourage downstairs to the main ballroom to deliver a gracious concession speech while encouraging the party faithful to stay engaged to fight in 2014.

Chris Fields, who challenged Democrat Keith Ellison in the Fifth U.S. Congressional District, admonished Republicans to hold elected officials at all levels accountable by continuing to discuss campaign issues like the economy and government spending. Receiving over 25% of the vote in the Fifth, Fields asserted that Republicans achieved a new credibility in the historically-Democrat district.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Poll watching

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." —Plato

Today is Election Day. Get out to vote!

Before you vote, review the Election Integrity Watch Action Plan, and if you see something, say something. To report any suspicious activity at your polling place, call 877-602-WATCH.

After you vote, share your voting story with Minnesota Public Radio News at their special web page.

After the polls close at 8:00 p.m., you can watch the results come in at any of several election watch parties, or hunker down at home in front of the TV. If you want to follow certain races closely, try the MinnPost Live Election Results Dashboard, which you can view from an Internet-connected computer or mobile device. The official results will be posted at the Minnesota Secretary of State website. There is a dubious report circulating that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is hoping for a 150% voter turnout to defeat the Voter ID amendment.

Over the weekend, I was encouraged by the turnout at a Saturday morning campaign literature drop and Sunday afternoon phone bank shift. There were so many volunteers scheduled for phone bank shifts that all of the calling stations were full, so they were buying cell phones to enable even more calls. People also stopped by to pick up campaign lawn signs. Minnesota visits on Sunday by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and yesterday by presidential candidate son Josh Romney have Republican activists energized and hopeful for today's elections.

Monday, November 05, 2012

DFL running scared?

By David Faith,

Over the last three days, I've received no fewer than three expensive glossy mailers paid for by the DFL attacking David Gaither. These mailers are the worst sort of political trash. They feature an unflattering screenshot of David apparently laughing and juxtapose it with a series of slanders, including (I'm not making this up) that he wants old people to starve. They are premised on the sad, tired DFL argument that only the central government can accomplish anything and that if, like Gaither, you believe government should live within its means then you must not care about the needy. They are premised on belief that only central government can help people, and that local governments, communities and private organizations don't exist. They are premised on the belief that rather than empowering people to help themselves we should treat Minnesotans as helpless sheep, powerless without the DFL shepherd.

Yet in a way, I was actually glad to receive these mailers because they told me something very important. David Gaither has the DFL running scared. There are a lot of tight races in Minnesota and the DFL would not be spending massively in Senate District 44 unless they thought there was a very good chance that David Gaither can defeat DFL incumbent Terri Bonoff. Gaither could be the key vote to defeating Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to make Minnesota the highest-taxed state in the nation, and the DFL is willing to to dig deep into their coffers to keep him out of the Senate. I think you measure a man by his enemies. David Gaither has made an enemy of the DFL money machine. That should tell you everything you need to know about his candidacy.

Let's get out there and elect David Gaither to the State Senate!

David Faith is Vice Chair at Large of the SD44 Republicans. This article originally appeared on

Friday, November 02, 2012

Trick or treat?

Looking at this direct mailed campaign lit piece, you might think that Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) has been endorsed by the popular former Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-MN3). Just look at that nice photo of the two shaking hands, under the headline that calls Benson "The Right Choice for Minnetonka and Plymouth." The word "right" is even underlined, in case you didn't get the hint.

At the League of Women Voters candidate forum, Benson said, "I have been endorsed by two very important and highly respected Republican politicians: a former Republican governor and a former long-term U.S. Congressman."

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, nowhere on the lit piece does it actually say that Ramstad, who has retired from partisan battles, has endorsed Rep. Benson. At the forum, Benson did not say which Republican former long-term U.S. Congressman endorsed him. When the campaign of Benson's challenger, Mark Stefan, asked Ramstad for clarification, here is what he replied via e-mail:

To Whom It May Concern:

I want to set the record straight that I have not endorsed State Rep. John Benson.


Jim Ramstad
Member of Congress

The DFL legislators on this side of town are sure working hard to look like Republicans, at least until the Legislature is actually called into session. I wonder how many voters will fall for this trick-or-treat.