2014 Primary Results

The participation rate in the Republican Primary was quite pathetic in general and even worse when compared to the DFL. In spite of not having a serious Primary Challenger Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) and Lt Governor Candidate Tina Smith (DFL-MN) scored 177,648 and the entire Republican field received only 183,941. Adding the challengers to Dayton and the DFL number is 191,054.

When looking at the US Senate similar numbers emerge. US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) received 182,599 votes with the combined DFL turnout being 193,227. On the Republican side, Mike McFadden (R-MN) secured 129,403 and the field of Republicans only 180,519.

It is interesting the lack of falloff in this election ballot on the DFL side. Traditionally, there is better than a 5% reduction each line down the ballot, but in this case, in spite of no real challenger there was only a 1.12% between the US Senate race and the Governors race and only a 4.40% reduction between the US Senate race and the State Auditor’s race. This means people actually showed up to support State Auditor Rebecca Otto (DFL-MN).

If this were late night television in the 1980’s, we would be feeling like Carnac the Magnificent this morning. As we predicted, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R-MN) would prevail in the GOP Primary contest. We also identified the order of finishers’ dead-on. Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-MN) would be the first loser, followed by Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-MN), with businessman Scott Honour (R-MN) trailing the pack.

Additionally, we were spot on in contest between Otto and former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza (DFL-MN). This race rises to the level of what was he thinking. Entenza should stop wasting his money, or make that his ex-wife’s money on fanciful pursuits and invest it in his retirement, because his days of elective office are over. Especially in light of his 19.07% result statewide. He should buy a boat and sail off to some faraway port of call. Hey Matt, start watching those Cialis commercials.

As everyone expected Businessman McFadden bested retiring Rep Jim Abeler (R-35A, Anoka) quite handily. The one race, which we failed to mention in our pre-Primary analysis, was in the 1st Congressional District and there Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) defeated GOP endorsed candidate Aaron Miller (R-MN), although, this is not really much news other than a kick in the teeth of the Republican Party.

In the 6th Congressional District, former Rep and gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer (R-MN) handily defeated Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah (R-MN) by 122,68 votes securing 73.20%. In this race there is a stronger than average Republican turnout, likely due to the Primary race, but when compared to other Congressional Districts the DFL support was far lower for candidate Joe Persky. In this District the Republican turnout was 26,438 compared to 9990 for the Democratic field.

In the two, House Races we were interested Rep Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B, Minneapolis) defeated Minneapolis School Board member Mohamud Noor (DFL-MN) 383 votes. House Deputy Minority Leader Rep Jenifer Loon (R-35A, Eden Prairie) easily beat Tea Party candidate and MN Family Council endorsed candidate Sheila Kihne (R-MN) by 675 votes. This is another example of the weakness of the Republican Party endorsement.

If we go back to the race in Minneapolis, there are a few interesting aspects of this race. As all eyes are focused on the emergence of the political power of the Somali community, the ability to organize and support a single candidate has not solidified. For Noor, this is his second political loss in two Primary contests. He lost to now Sen Kari Detzich (DFL-60, Minneapolis) in 2011. When viewing the raw amount of votes Noor will need to enhance his base if he wants to run again. In 2011 he received 1626 and this time 1949. This is also a bitch slap to former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak and SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morrillo Alcea from Kahn for their support of Noor.

Advanced Analysis of Today’s Primary Elections

In general, this Primary election is a snoozer. We expect the overall turnout not to exceed 200,000 in all of the primary contests combined. In 2010, the total turnout was 292,834. It is interesting to note that with the new rules for non-excuse absentee voting may actually show a higher participation rate when measured against past years. This is mainly due to the anticipated low turnout.

We will give you our analysis of the various contests and even our expected results. We will be most interested in the value of the endorsements of the major political parties in the local races, because it will show the strength or weakness of the respective political parties. Especially, on the Republican side, due to their past financial woes, it will be interesting to see the respective outcomes. Of course the gubernatorial contest is where most of the attention is focused, but again the local house races are where the true capability is best assessed.

The Republican Primary for Governor has shown little in the way of heating up this election. The spates of commercials on television, which are not the best expenditure of money during a Primary, are minimal. Which is as it should be, but if they are buying ad time, it is interesting to discern what message each candidate is communicating. This b roader message can enhance the one thing Primary campaigns utilize, which is a strong targeted mail campaign. Here again the expenditures leading up to tomorrow’s vote fail to reflect an intensity of effort.

A view of the pre-Primary reports for Republican endorsed candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R-MN) show total receipts of $233,984.09; incurred expenditures of $229,862.50 and has cash-on-hand of $122,886.49.  Johnson has received $11,000 more in contributions since the filing of the report. The same for the most financially well-heeled candidate Scott Honour (R-MN) shows total receipts of $1,181,389.12; incurred expenditures of $619,696.69 and has cash-on-hand of $542,242.77.  Now, granted the bulk of Honour’s money stems from loans from himself with obligations totaling $907,456.14. He also received $10,000 in additional contributions since the filing of the report. Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-MN) receipts of $265,421.03; incurred expenditures of $619,696.69 and has cash-on-hand of $542,242. The Zellers campaign has received an additional $19,500 since the filing of the report. Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-MN) receipts of $198,237.84; incurred expenditures of $232,271.04 and has cash-on-hand of $71,018.32. Since the filing of the pre-Primary report an addition $3,500.00 has been reported. These figures are paltry compared to previous years.

In spite of a large amount of money spent and remaining on-hand Honour has failed to make much of an impact at all. In fact, since the reality of his message is effectively my name is Scott Honour and I moved to Minnesota a few years ago and let me spew textbook Republican rhetoric. We think he will spend far more per vote than any other candidate in the field. Meaning he will fare poorly.

All things being equal, we expect Johnson will prevail for a few reasons. First, he has the GOP endorsement. Second, he has a Scandinavian name. Third, he is a current elected official where the voting population he has needed to sway in Hennepin County exceeds 100,000 voters and he has a well-defined base from which to operate. Additionally, this is the second time his name has appeared on a statewide primary ballot with the endorsement. The one major benefit for the endorsed candidate being, a mailed sample ballot from the party.

As we can tell from his campaign commercials Zellers is mounting an anti-tax message, which might resonate with Republican Primary voters, but doesn’t appear to be all that different from a General Election message. Glad to see an intact nuclear family, but sorry not much else is there. The success of the former Speaker’s message seems to ring hollow now that the state has overcome the deficits of the last 10 years, of which Zellers helped foster a government shutdown during his tenure.

Seifert is mounting a Greater Minnesota rural strategy, but as that population declines, so does its political impact. Because he was less visible than Zellers as Minority Leader and because of his tactic at the Republican State Convention, trying to foster a no endorsement vote, he will likely come in third.  

If the Republican Primary turnout exceeds 150,000 it will be quite a surprise.

In the 6th Congressional District, we believe Tom Emmer (R-MN) will best Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah (R-MN).

On the DFL side, with the only statewide contest being the battle between incumbent State Auditor Rebecca Otto (DFL-MN) and former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza (DFL-MN) neither campaign is stirring up significant interest. Since this is a campaign to unseat an incumbent the challenger needs to make a compelling argument for doing so.

In Otto’s defense there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for an ouster. There is no scandal, no financial mismanagement and it appears she is doing the job more than adequately. Yes, she may have taken a position contrary to sulfide mining as a member of the State Board of Investment, but that will likely only hurt her options on the Iron Range. Traditionally, the DFL support emanates from the 4th, 5th and 8th Congressional Districts and if the bulk of the voter’s in the 8th decide to show up they would still need to offset against those in the more populous metropolitan counties. Because they issue is sulfide mining, Otto’s opposition should also cultivate support from environmentally concerned voters, who are just as passionate as are Rangers.

As we view the Entenza campaign we see three basic planks. First, being Otto’s vote against sulfide mining.  Second, her vote for photo id in favor of Republican proposed amendments, which ironically occurred when Entenza was Minority Leader, and hence happened with his full knowledge and sanction. Third, his claim to protect employee pensions, which from the [pensioners we have spoken with is not even a concern of their own.

This being said, few of the attacks on Otto seem to stick. In fact, the main difference between the two candidates is gender and here Entenza comes up short, because as a man he doesn’t seem all that different from any other male politician.

If Otto’s point she originally raised when Entenza filed for the seat being State Auditor is a place where past Governors have emanated, then Entenza may have strengthened her ability to vie for the spot herself. If successful in 2014, she will be a three time statewide officeholder.

We think Otto will prevail and Entenza may even best his spending rate established in 2010, where he spent $66.99/vote this rivaled New York Mayor Michael Blumberg. Good thing he has the money his ex-wife Lois Quam made to cover his losses.

The two House races we are following are in Minneapolis between Rep Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B, Minneapolis) and Minneapolis School Board member Mohamud Noor (DFL-MN) and southwestern Hennepin County between House Deputy Minority Leader Rep Jenifer Loon (R-35A, Eden Prairie) and Tea Party endorsed candidate Sheila Kihne (R-MN).

In the case of the Kahn/Noor turnout will be the key element. There were 1651 absentee ballot requests with 1448 returned for 87.70%. This is the highest amount in any district in the state. This is the third quest for office by Noor. In 2011, he tried for the Senate seat now held by Sen Kari Detzich (DFL-60, Minneapolis). In that contest he secured 1626 votes, but that was a district twice as large as this. The turnout for that December Primary was 5,981 so it would appear the universe of this election should remain be somewhat better than half of 2011. The higher the turnout could help either candidate, but it will depend on which precincts the turnout occurs.

The Cedar Riverside area benefits Noor due mainly to the high population of Somali residents, but because the University of Minnesota doesn’t commence classes until later this month there will be little boost from the student population. Kahn is also cultivating Somali votes with her support from Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame (D-MN).

We think the combination of a divided Somali population and the fact Kahn has represented the district since 1972 will assist her once again. If the student population were present it could be a different result.

We are less informed about the race in Eden Prairie. Here it is a question of who has the greater sway over local elections the Republican House Caucus or the Republican Party. Loon has the greater amount of money as viewed from her pre-Primary report she has raised $56,196.00 plus an additional $6,000.00 since the time of the filing. Her campaign spent $11,971.98 and had $66,224.17 cash-on-hand. Her opponent Kihne raised $24,927.00 with an additional $3,000.00 coming in since the report filing. The campaign spent $8,827.48 and had $15,304.21 cash-on-hand.

We will watch this race with interest, because the higher the turnout in a Hennepin County race will likely benefit the gubernatorial candidate Johnson.

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Candidate Filings and Primary Challenges

The 2014 campaign officially started yesterday at 4:31 PM, this is when every candidate needed to put their money where there mouth is (pay their filling fee) and officially commence the 2014 campaign season. There were a few surprises, but largely everyone thought to be in the pool was actually in the pool.

In large part, the Republican contests are far more interesting then are the DFL. But with there now being a race for State Auditor there will be less opportunity for cross-over voting and shenanigans.

Federal Offices

US Senate

In the US Senate race, incumbent US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) faces token opposition from an unknown person in Sandra Henningsgard. We doubt there will even bea debate during the Primary. On the Republican side is a 5 person field with only two legitimate candidates and some gadflies.  They include: Mike McFadden (R-Endorsed), Rep. Jim Abeler (R-35A, Anoka) the clear moderate Republican in the field, David Carlson, Patrick Munro, and perennial filer Ole Savior. On the Independence Party side there are also a slew of candidates: Kevin Terrell (IP-Endorsed) ,  Steve Carlson, a candidate for Congress in 2010, Jack Shepard a ex-patriot who as we understand from talking to him lives in Italy, and Steven Williams. There is also a Libertarian candidate Heather Johnson.

1st Congressional District

Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN1) has no Primary challenge and will face off against the victor between Jim Hagedorn (R-Endorsed) and Aaron Miller.

2nd Congressional District

Congressman John Kline (R-MN2) also has no Primary challenge and he will face a three-person field including the eventual Democratic victor between Michael Obermueller and Michael J. Roberts, and Independence Party candidate Paula Overby.

3rd Congressional District

Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN3) sans a Primary challenger, and he will only face-off Sharon Sund (D).

4th Congressional District

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN4) is without a Primary challenger, and she will face two others in November Sharna Wahlgren (R) and Dave Thomas (IP).

5th Congressional District

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN5) does have a Primary challenge by William P. Brown. After his Primary victory, he will then match-up against Doug Daggett (R), and Lee Bauer (IP).

6th Congressional District

In the open 6th Congressional District seat DFL endorsed candidate Joe Perske (D) and IP endorsed candidate John Denney get an easy run up to the August Primary. While Republican endorsed candidate Tom Emmer (R) will spend his summer fending off Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah (R).  

7th Congressional District

Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) starts this campaign season lacking any Primary opponent and can focus his attention directly on Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-12, Elbow Lake).

8th Congressional District

Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) will be fending off attacks from all sides. He has Stewart Mills (R) and the US Chamber of Commerce on his right, Ray Skip Sandman (Gr)putting him to sleep on his left, and Eric G. Meyer (IP) biting at his ankles.  Fortunately, Nolan will have his sights well trained on November and if Kendall Killian, his campaign manager can steer the campaign ship on the right course defending off all of the spurious attacks, mainly by the Chamber.

In spite of the loss of the seat in 2010 to Chip Craavack (R) over Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN8) by 6399 votes or 1.69% and the recapture by Nolan in 2012 by a 31,456 vote margin or 8.99% proves this is a Democratic seat. It will remain as such unless Killian is an incompetent manager.

Constitutional Offices


The best fight on the Republican side is definitely in the Gubernatorial Primary. Where GOP endorsed candidates Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson & former Rep. Bill Kuisle (R), Kuisle is affectionately known around the Capitol as Shrek, face stiff opposition from former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) & Rep. Pam Myhra (R-56A, Burnsville), and former House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-34B, Maple Grove) & Rep. Dean Simpson (R-New York Mills), Scott Honour & Sen. Karin Housley (R-39, Stillwater) and  unknowns Merrill Anderson & Mark Anderson (R).


The fields are set for the General election except in the State Auditor’s race. State Auditor Rebecca Otto (DFL-MN) will need to buttress against an attack from former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza(DFL). Now Entenza’s bid is interesting because his prominence in Minnesota politics comes at the behest of his former wife Lois Quam. If he had been married to Sally Jane Anderson and Ms. Anderson wasn’t an executive at United Health, we would likely have never heard of Matt Entenza.  A reading of Entenza’s website shows no sign of Ms. Quam’s name which seems to be a significant omission.  In fact, he and Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) could effectively create their own first husband’s club because each has benefitted from the largess of their ex-wives political investments.

The strategy of a DFL Primary campaign is not all that different from a General election campaign. The focus is on the 4th, 5th and 8th Congressional Districts. In Entenza’s case the 2nd Congressional District might come into play since he is from Worthington.

One question we have is will Michael Brodkorb do more opposition research on Entenza and force him from the race as he did in 2008, for Attorney General?

Now Otto has problems in the 8th Congressional District because of her vote on the Executive Committee against the PolyMet Sulfide mining proposal. After giving her assurances to legislators in the Iron Range delegation of her position, she in turn started soliciting campaign contributions from the environmentalists, which has stoked the ire of many Rangers.

Interestingly, there are few reasons to draw out DFLers this Primary season. As we said before, Franken has no serious opposition. We dub his summer campaign endeavors as mere a Hiccup Primary.  Similarly, in the Secretary of State’s race where Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-46B, St Louis Park) also faces a cast of Gadflies.

Elsewhere, the following only DFLers have Primary contests: Reps. Deb Hilstrom (DFL-40B, Brooklyn Center), John Benson’s 44B seat is open, DFLer’s are hoping to pick-up Michael Beard’s open seat in 55A, Phyllis Kahn has a tough road in 60B and Jean Wagenius must fight of a challenge in 63A in Minneapolis.

On the Republican side with the retirement of Reps. David Fitsimmons (R-30B, St Michael) and Jim Abeler (R-35, Anoka), and Ernie Leidiger (R-47A, Mayer) creates Primaries for the House seats.

Additionally, seven House members get a cakewalk, lacking an opponent in November. They are: Reps. Tony Cornish (23B, Good Thunder), Duane Quam (R-23B, Byron), Kim Norton (26A, Rochester), Joe McDonald (R-29A, Delano), Marion O’Neill (R-29B, Buffalo), House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown)and Joe Hoppe (R-47B, Chaska). Because Daudt lacks a challenger he will be better able to traverse the state helping out the candidates in his caucus by fundraising at their local events.

This means Otto will have to fight this one largely on her own, but this means consequences for the other statewide DFL candidates on the ticket. Each will now need to state their position on PolyMet, which could affect them in the November election.


Who Does Entenza’s Bid Benefit?

The decision by former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza(DFL) to contend against State Auditor Rebecca Otto (DFL-MN) may have more to do with 2018 than it does 2014. The reason being that Otto, if reelected in Novemberwould be in her third term and a viable candidate for Governor in 2018. Entenza’s challenge could either derail or enhance her options in the next go-round.

Getting Otto out of the way would benefit other female gubernatorial aspirants like: Lt Governor Candidate Tina Smith (DFL), Attorney General Lori Swanson (DFL)and House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-64A, St Paul). Now this may be pure speculation, but we feel these are logical conclusions and educated guesses.

Of course there is always the factor of Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) himself, who could change the field quite quickly. Many people speculated he would not seek reelection, we did not. There is also the possibility, if reelected; he will not serve out the balance of his term.  Instead he could retire in the last year of his term after having passed two state budgets and defer to Smith giving her the opportunity to pass a Bonding Bill in 2018 and reward specific areas of the state with capital investment monies. A decision like this by Dayton could put a wrinkle in many people’s plans like: St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (DFL), House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL- 61B, Minneapolis) and former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak (DFL) and including those mentioned above sans Smith.

DFL State Convention Aftermath

The activity at the DFL State Convention was largely about internal structure, policy and procedures. The attempt to remove state legislators from the endorsement calculus mainly orchestrated by DFL Party Chair Ken Martin failed miserably. In fact, his attempt to reduce the number of elected officials down to 60 actually went 180°in the opposite direction.

In 2016, all endorsed state legislators will be joined by 60 new elected officials, who will consist of mayors, city council members and county board members who caucus DFL.

In addition to this item, Martin lost on the call for mandatory odd-year conventions at all levels of the process. His attempt to merge the Secretary and Treasurer also failed as did his attempt to have the Vice-Chair and the Out Reach Director become one position.

All and all, it was a bad convention for Chairman Martin, who if he had succeeded, people were apt to call Chairman Mao.

DFL Party Proposing Removal of Endorsed State Legislators

This weekend is both the DFL and Republican Party Conventions. DFLers are meeting in Duluth and Republicans in Rochester. At the DFL, the Constitution & Bylaws Commission is attempting to rework their endorsement system and remove state legislators, especially those from Greater Minnesota from the endorsement calculation. We are hard pressed to understand why they are intent on this path.

Currently, all DFL endorsed and elected state legislators are delegates to the DFL State Convention and the proposal is for the potential number to be reduced to 60 and then those legislators must contend with any other elected official who caucused, endorsed or not, be it a mayor, county commissioner or city council member all contend for one of those spots.

Now when a series of changes as dramatic as these are come up for consideration it elicits this response:

  • What is the rationale for the change?
  • Why now and why is it the last item of business?
  • Who benefits from the change?
  • What are the motivations of the advocates?

Additionally, we will make this caveat, currently, the DFL holds every important position in state government. In all instances except one, Governor, is held by endorsed DFL candidates or the collection of them in the DFL House and Senate majorities.  Also in 2012, 99+% of the endorsed DFL legislative candidate prevailed in their primary contests.

The matter at-hand is whether or not to allow legislators to participate in the process rather than having them compete for a delegate spot with someone at their own Senate District convention.

Since the process appears to be entirely effective, why change it? The old adage if it’s not broke why fix it, seems to apply.

The proposed language is as follows:

3. Clarify that distinguished party leaders are delegates at all levels for the area in which the(y) (sp) reside and move the distinguish party leader language into a new section.

5. Expand the elected official’s convocation to include non-DFL endorsed elected officials to allow DFL elected officials of non-partisan races the opportunity to participate in the convocation.

6. Increase the number of state convention delegates allocated to the elected official’s convocation from 10 to 60 and reduce the number of uncommitted state convention delegates by requiring DFL State Senators and DFL State Representatives to run through the convocation process. Anyone eligible to vote at the convocation which is not a delegate will be given automatic nonvoting delegate status at the state convention.