The NFL Moved by the Velvet Glove

People following the saga of Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL, may wrongly believe the decision by Anheuser-Busch was the straw that broke the camel’s back and forced Zygi Wilf rescind his decision to reinstate Peterson. We believe the real power to change the outcome was the first shot fired by the Radisson Hotels.

Remember Radisson Hotels is synonymous with Marilyn Carlson Nelson. Carlson Nelson is #1114 on Forbes Billionaires list and she carries significant weight in Minnesota political circles. We speculate Carlson Nelson put in doubt support for the Super Bowl 52. This message of possible erosion for the biggest NFL annual event in 2018 would send shivers through the 32 owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The course change in less than 24 hours proves something dramatic occurred and we believe Carlson Nelson to be the catalyst for change.

Additionally, some criticized Govern Mark Dayton (DFL) for weighing in on the issue saying, “It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.

“However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.”

We do not. The Vikings are a public asset, and they are beholden to the citizens of Minnesota for the new stadium. When people come to the public trough for support it comes with specific entanglements and this is an example.

The 180 by the Vikings vindicates Dayton’s statement and will likely improve his acceptance with women voters come November.

Recent Statewide Polls

We expect the Democratic candidates for US Senate and Governor will prevail and their margins will be in the mid to high 50’s. We make this assessment based on Minnesota’s realignment back to a two party state where a third party candidate will have at best a nominal effect in an election. If we view a mid-term election as a base vote election then we feel that DFL base is 43% and the Republican 37% with 20% uncommitted to either side, but they generally lean in the same fashion. This means the generic Democratic vote is actually 52% the Republican 44% with 4% going to the remaining third party offerings.

Additionally, there is nothing driving this election, it is rather dull with little controversies other that an odd candidate for the State Supreme Court Michelle McDonald (R) and potentially the combination of sex and politics in the State Auditor’s race with Randy Gilbert (R).

Now unlike the 2010 election, which is an aberration and only occurs every 30 years, meaning there is no statewide federal candidate for office, the turnout will be down from Presidential years. This provides the greatest challenge to Democrats which need to become more and more innovative and drive out their base. One truism is Republican voters are far more committed than are Democratic voters.

US Senate

The most recent poll in the US Senate race between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Businessman Mike McFadden (R) has Franken with nearly a 50% margin at 49% with McFadden trailing significantly with 36%. With Franken showing such support with eight weeks left in the campaign it is clear McFadden is gaining no traction with voters.

His attempts at humor in his campaign commercials are a poor campaign strategy. He seems to being to trying to out funny the funnyman, while Franken appears serious, stately and actually doing his job. We expect the margins will widen as we approach the election and will be surprised if McFadden clears 46%.


The same Star Tribune Poll has Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) leading challenger Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) with a sizable lead 45% to 33%. This places Dayton as a bit weaker than Franken with the same poll participants, which we find to be a bit odd. Granted Dayton is an oddity in Minnesota politics, but just as everyone has a strange uncle or aunt, so do we and ours is Mark Dayton.

We learned Dayton has 100% name recognition and he like Franken is dependent upon the Democratic based vote. Unlike in 2010, where third party candidate, former Republican Tom Horner (IP) syphoned 12% of the votes, this go round the third party effect will be minimal and there is little Johnson is doing to capitalize. His rhetoric is just generic Republican talking points, lower taxes, smaller government more freedom, more liberty.

If the trend holds we expect Dayton will break the mid-50’s and we expect his numbers will be comparable to those of Franken.

There Are Fundamental Problems with Any State Run Insurance Program

Any discussion about the problems associated with the Affordable Health Care Act or MNSure seems to be fodder for Republican candidates for office. The reason they argue is that health care insurance should be left to the private sector and the market will provide. This philosophy is just as wrong-headed as the government trying to run a health care system.

The larger problem is the entire approach is misguided. Government does have a role to play but, that role should be focused on cost containment, establishing reimbursement rates and setting standards for quality of care. The government’s role is to act on behalf of the consumer and afford the citizen’s the opportunity to challenge the behemoth called the insurance industry.

Insurance is a poor approach to healthcare, because everyone will need those services throughout their lifetime and to force people to buy into a program with a defined end is a form of obligation. Economically, our state and nation recognizes the problems assocated with increasing health care costs, but by addressing them through an insurance policy is only using the collective purchasing power in one direction, which is creating the pool of money for payment.

If the health care system would only work like the Medicare system and people pay based on their economic ability it would be far fairer. If those with ability to pay were obligated as they are in the Social Security system, but without any caps in their contribution, this system would thrive. There is plenty of financial opportunity for people to make money, just not in large amounts each transaction.

If the system were to put in place incentives for people to modify their behavior such as weight reduction and abstinence from smoking the incident rates for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other high cost medical treatments will fall.

Insurance companies are the bottom feeders in this system and by acting as intermediaries and brokers they are paying both sides of the equation. This is why government needs to have a weighty and significant role.

September Surprise in State Auditor’s Race?

Checks & Balances has it on good authority State Auditor candidate Randy Gilbert (R) may end his bid for office. The reason being allegations of an affair with a realtor of which he arranged trysts with under the guise of obtaining for properties rehabilitation. This information is being communicated the woman’s ex-husband and we are expecting television news stories to follow shortly.

If Gilbert does end his bid it will mean a free ride for incumbent State Auditor Rebecca Otto (DFL). This will mean Checks & Balances has impacted two Constitutional races this election. Remember we tweeted the Dennis Nyguen (R) Strip Club story in March.

Interestingly, enough the Republican Constitutional candidates are having an event this evening on Lake Minnetonka on a boat owned by Al & Alma’s of the Viking’s scandal fame. Seems like being parked out on the dock might be the place to be tonight. Question is will Gilbert be there.

Maybe this is why Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-48, Eden Prairie) is so adamant about wanting to remove our press credentials.



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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