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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.

How the Bonding Bill Came Together

The 2014 Bonding Bill received its support this legislative session because the House Republican Caucus is largely beholden to a new influencer, which is Brad Rixmann. Rixmann is someone we see on TV often promoting his company Pawn America. He also has become a person able to garner what he likes in legislation. Other publications have discussed his rising abilities. Read Politics in Minnesota from 2011.

The Republicans may have little influence at the state Capitol, but they exercised what they had demanding the bill on Pay Day Lending, a particularly important issue to Rixmann, be watered down in order for them to make an about face and support a larger Bonding Bill. Much to the chagrin of Senate Author Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-61, Minneapolis), House Author Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-67B, St Paul) and many religious leaders including Lutheran Social Services.

Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) did get the pipeline for southwestern Minnesota, which actually will service a number Republican districts, as do most of the add-ons in the Bonding Bill. We think our previous article discussed Dayton’s opportunity to line item veto projects in Republican districts may have had a specific impact, because Republicans were asking for Dayton to sign a letter vowing he would do no such thing. So ultimately, the small government party expressly delivered pork into their respective districts. It sure is ironic to see Republicans who criticize handouts standing with their hands out.

One other mounting concern post-session is the sentiment Veteran’s got a bad deal this session.  In addition to being excluded from the Medicinal Cannabis agreement two facilities, one in Silver Bay, in the district of Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) and another in Luverne were noticeably absent from the final bill.  This meant Veteran support in 2014 went from $4 million down to $2.7 very quickly.

This largely because the Veteran’s community will need have to increase their own presents at the capital procedurally a bonding Bill project doesn’t necessarily get off the ground the first time it’s offered it takes a while to build a settlement around your issue

Medicinal Cannabis

The major point to in form supporters of medicinal cannabis or medical marijuana the fight is not over. It needs to continue during the 2014 elections and Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and House DFLers need to hear at every stop along the campaign trail,the need for expanding treatment options.  The public events should be rife with people asking for treatment options like rheumatoid arthritis,  Post-Traumtic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and whatever other ailments is not treatable by traditional medical pharmaceuticals.

The bill passed this session has implementation date of July 1, 2015, which we expect will be pushed out at least six months, but there’s still time, to fix the legislation, but the pressure has to be applied. If it’s applied the House DFLers will be in a far better position to do something about it.

The main reason is they will then be in the midterm of their 2015-16 term, standing with the backdrop of a presidential election to support them in the next election. This election is a far better opportunity for the DFL to continue to lead on this issue, they didn’t have as many opportunities this year, but legislative session is a totally different story.