Understanding Majority Leader Paul Gazelka

Anyone wanting to develop an understanding of Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-13, Brainerd) should read his book Market Place Ministers. The book is out of print, but based on our initiative, there is now a copy available in the Legislative Reference Library.

From the book, we learn Gazelka is an Iron Ranger born in Virginia. His ministry does not emanate from a formal church, but rather is a component part to his insurance business. Reading the book provides insight into the trials and tribulations of a non-traditional religious practice and the challenges the Gazelka and his wife Marlee have faced throughout their lives.

When Gazelka was selected as majority leader we heard his wife informed the other members of the caucus they would be having regular prayer meeting. Additionally, we had heard Gazelka had to address a personal issue, prior to his election, which some members of the caucus had a significant concern about. On page 24 page of the book, Gazelka writes, “I had secrets deep in me that I didn’t want her (Marlee) to know about. I was ashamed to admit that I secretly looked at pornography at times when traveling away from home. Hotels often provided pornographic images that I chose to watch.”

The challenges of leadership are also a yoke to bear, and we will watch the activities in the Senate and look for signs of Gazelka’s guidance as specific piece’s pf legislation move forward. Traditionally, the senate is the more deliberative legislative body, less driven by the whims of the day. With a razor, thin majority, any single caucus member can dictate the terms of specific legislation, because they can hang things up until they get their way. The concept of herding cats comes directly to mind.

Rep Jim Knoblach Facing Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Daughter

Some disturbing information has come to our attention, alleging Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-14B, St Cloud) engaged in an abusive relationship with his daughter Laura, which if true are damning. We have received screenshots from her personal Facebook page, which has since been taken down.

In the postings we have read are serious allegations of molestation, without much by way of specifics. We will let you be the judge as to whether or not you think this is fair ground to trod. Let us be clear, politicians hold themselves out as pillars of the community, and as such, deserve extra added scrutiny.


Ellison Declares Position on Congressional Seat

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-05MN) just released the following press release about his future plans regarding his bid for the DNC Chairmanship. Here is the entirety of the release.

Statement from Keith Ellison on DNC Chair Race
Washington, DC – Keith Ellison released the following statement on the DNC Chair race:
“Since I threw my hat in the ring a few weeks ago for the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, I have had the privilege, pleasure, and benefit of listening to a great many party activists, including folks with long years of service and those brand new to the party. I have learned one thing: Democrats are ready for a massive come back. 
“In order to further their commitment and maximize my effectiveness, I have decided to resign as a member of Congress if I win the election for DNC chair. Whoever wins the DNC chair race faces a lot of work, travel, planning and resource raising. I will be ‘all-in’ to meet the challenge. I want to thank everyone who shared their views on this issue, and I want to thank Democrats everywhere for allowing me to move through my decision-making process.
“But at this point, the Democratic Party must be the party that delivers for working people. We can do that by meeting folks where they are, looking them in the eye, treating them with respect, and working to solve their problems. For me, that means a chair with only one full time commitment. 
“Serving my neighbors in Congress and fighting for them has been the best job I’ve ever had. Whether it was for immigration reform, worker’s rights, gender equity, or social justice, we stood side by side so that every person in American, no matter their race, religion or identity, is treated with respect and given every opportunity to succeed. Until the DNC Chair election, I plan to continue doing just that.” 
Background Information:
Keith Ellison was born and raised in Detroit, MI and moved to Minneapolis to attend law school in 1990. In 2006, he became the first Muslim elected to Congress and in 2010, became Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He sits on the House Financial Services Committee and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. 
Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District has one of the highest rates of voter turnouts in the nation. In 2015, Ellison unveiled the Voters First Campaign, which aimed to increase voter turnout through grassroots organizing, campaign coordination, and low-donor fundraising. 

More Money for Norm’s Efforts

We checked the large donations of the MN Action Network IE PAC, which is former US Senator Norm Coleman’s (R) Independent Expenditure, and the conduit for support of the MN Senate Republican Caucus.

We found it interesting to note the various late stage contributions, which will be applied to the targeted seats we identified previously. We wonder how much money will be wasted to try and save Sen. David Hann (R-48, Eden Prairie).

10/26/2016 MN Action Network IE PAC received $50,000 from Republican State Leadership Committee, Washington DC.

10/28/2016 MN Action Network IE PAC received $15,000 from Senate Victory Fund (MN Senate Republican Caucus)

11/01/2016 MN Action Network IE PAC received $50,000 from Rosen Diversified (Sen Julie Rosen’s ex-husband).

11/03/2016 MN Action Network IE PAC received $50,000 from MN Action Network

11/03/2016 MN Action Network IE PAC received $32,500 Senate Victory Fund (MN Senate Republican Caucus)

11/04/2016 MN Action Network IE PAC received $12,500 Senate Victory Fund (MN Senate Republican Caucus)

Final Minnesota Early Voting Numbers

The grand total of Early Votes cast statewide are: 650,799 If these numbers are applied to the last three election they reflect the following electoral results.

In 2014, of the votes cast for US Senate at 1,981,528 the 650,799 would be 66.30% of the overall votes cast.

In 2012, of the votes cast for President at 2,936,561 the 650,799 would be 22.16% of the overall votes cast.

In 2012, of the votes cast for President at 2,910,369 561 the 650,799 would be 22.36% of the overall votes cast.

MN House Seat Concessions

We have spoken with operatives on both sides of the aisle in the battle for control of the MN House this legislative session, and strangely they are both in agreement. They see the outcome as too close to call and the number of variables too vast.  Those variables are turnout, Trump effect, candidate work ethic i.e. numbers of doors knocked, number of contacts made and likeability of the candidate. We think there is

Republican View

On the Republican side, the concessions are such that the scenario of a 67-67 body are actually on the table, but because of the non-contest for 17B, under this scenario the chamber could be in DFL hands until the Special election to fill the seat. The expected losses of seat are in the open seat 37B (Sanders), where their candidate Nolan West (R) is too much of a fascist to hold the seat and Susan Witt (DFL) is expected to prevail.

They concede the Bloomington seat they captured during the last Special Election should go back to the DFL column and Rep. Chad Anderson (R-50B, Bloomington) will be relegated to the status of a one-term legislator and his previous opponent Andrew Carlson (DFL) should be sworn in come January.

 They also believe, Rep. Ron Erhardt (DFL-49A, Edina) will fall due to the attack mounted against him over insensitivity to a female constituent. We disagree and think Erhardt ties to the district first as a Republican, then Independent and now DFLer are emblematical of the evolution of Edina over the last two decades.

Republicans also believe they pick off Rep. John Persell (R-05A, Bemidji) and they are happy to say so because of their candidate’s name Matt Bliss (R).

The four other seats, which they see as a toss-up are the open seats in Red Wing and Apple Valley, we like to call them the in flagrante delicto or the tryst seats, 21A (Kelly) and 57A (Mack), 14B and 17B.  In 21A, two women are facing off Barb Haley (R) and Lisa Bayley (DFL). The race will likely come down to turnout, name recognition, and likeability.

In 57A, two women are competing there as well and in this instance the ethnicity of the candidates may be an unspoken disadvantage. In identity politics, people like to be able to identify with the candidate and select one who they can best identify with. Ali Jimenez-Hopper’s (R) name is clearly identifiable, while Erin Maye Quade (DFL) it is hard to know she is gay from her name, but it is possible to discern it from her literature. The question is with another lesbian on the ballot in 2nd Congressional District candidate Angie Craig (D), which identity question will weigh less to the residents of Apple Valley?

14B is a sequel election between Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-14B, St Cloud) and former Rep. Zach Dorholt (DFL-St Cloud). Last time the race came down to 69 votes. This race in an off year accounted for nearly a million dollars in outside independent expenditures. This go round is not much different the numbers continue to rise and they may break they million dollar figure this time. The college vote is key to a victory for Dorholt and the Trump effect may suppress some of Knoblach core constituency.

Again, the primary factors are turnout, Trump, and likeability. In this case Knoblach is more okey dokey and sounds a lot like Jimmy Stewart and Dornholt a little nerdier, but it likely comes down to who you would rather have a beer with, and Dorholt is a part owner of the Old Capitol Tavern in Sauk Rapids.

17B also is a sequel election and it pits Rep. Dave Baker (R-17B, Willmar) against former Rep. Mary Swatasky (R-Willmar) in 2014 Baker bested Swatasky 214 votes in a low turnout election year. This time Swatasky has an advantage with a woman at the top of the ticket, which makes gender a significant factor. As is always the case, turnout is the most noteworthy issue, along with the Hillary effect and correspondingly the Trump effect, as well as likeability. Both candidates are likeable in person and the question is which one provides the greatest amount of confidence.

DFL View

Our conversation on the other side of the aisle offers up the following. There doesn’t appear to be any level of confidence, but then when the DFL lost eleven seats in an off-year election that shouldn’t be a surprise. If you’re not running like your behind, you’re not running at all. They were not sure of the outcome and would not predict their own victory. Playing from behind is not an enviable position to be in. They are seeking to recoup the rural seats lost in 2014, 02A, 10A, 10B, 11B, 12A, 14B, 17A, 17B, 24B, 27A and lone metro seat 56B.

Now we belief the DFL should expand the map and push for a greater influence in the suburbs and think a slight adjustment to their strategy Is warranted, and is now in effect with their last campaign finance report. They have included an additional suburban seat 44A, and another rural seat 27B in their targeting scope.

Republicans are surprised the DFL is continuing to spend money is the two seats they clearly concede 37B and 50B, but acknowledge elections are not a forgone conclusion until every last ballot is counted. That said the combined effort of candidate expenditures, independent expenditures by outside groups are in full effect and the efforts being made in specific districts are easier to see.

The expenditures in 02A are all against the Mathew Grossell (DFL) and none in favor, and for Jerry Loud (R) so this appears to be a DFL write-off.

In 10A, the bevy of outside money is for challenger Quinn Nystrom (DFL) and no aid from the Republican side for Rep. Josh Heintzmann (R-10A, Nisswa). The DFL is showing confidence here.

10B, likewise there is more money flowing into this district from pro-DFL groups than there is from pro-Republican groups and since independent Republicans talk amongst themselves and share information we can be lead to believe this might also be re-obtainable for the DFL.

11B, again the money coming in from the outside is for Thomas Jones (DFL) in addition to having a musical name he is reaping the benefit of the independent expenditures. Speaks for itself.

12A in this sequel election both sides are throwing the kitchen sink into the race. Rep.

Jay Backer (R-12A, Browns Valley) again faces former Rep. Jay McNamar (DFL-Elbow Lake). The flow of money, the intensive effort will also come down to turnout, Trump effect, and likeability.

14B The same sentiments were expressed on this race as discussed above.

17A the sequel between Rep. Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg) and former Rep. Andrew Falk (Murdock) is also receive a great amount of attention. The citizens of this district will breathe a sigh of relief once the election ends. DFL legislators will as well since if asked in private they will admit the bevy of calls and incessant whinnying by Falk over the last two years will be a good reprieve.

17B is discussed similarly above.

24B this is another sequel election between Rep. Brian Daniels (R-24B, Fairbault) and former Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Fairbault) Normally we would think to be the weakest candidate on the roster. His political pedigree consists of being the sister of Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-29B, Maple Lake), and in 2014 since she had no opponent of her own could spend a significant amount of time helping out her brother. This time the DFL was smart enough to put up a candidate against her and keep her home.

The money is coming in hand over fist so the resources are not a question. If Fritz has the energy to knock every door, and shake every hand she should fare well in this current political climate. Again, turnout, the Trump effect and the likeability of the candidate are the essential elements.

27A The DFL an outside group have lessened their fervor against Rep. Peggy Bennett (R-27A, Albert Lea) and less they make a last-minute run, Bennett, will cross the finish line first.

56B discussed above.

New Additions

 The DFL captured the Rep. Greg Davids’ (R-28B, Preston) seat in 2006 and lost it in the subsequent election. As the Tax Chair Davids is a big target and a coup if caught. He encourages the attention and in fact relishes in it. He is a likeable guy, which is probably why he is in the insurance business. His opponent Thomas Trehus (DFL) will have a hard-fought victory, with a big personality if the can climb this mountain. The resources are there to make something happen.

44A this is the race we feel is ripe for the picking in the western Hennepin County suburbs. In 2012 Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-44A, Plymouth) defeated her opponent Audrey Britton (DFL) by 52.12% to 48.6% 2012 or 608 votes. This time Anderson’s challenger is Ginny Klevorn (DFL) and the late money is pouring in.  The Trump effect is in full-throated form and the educated Republican may not show up or cast their scourge all the way down the ballot. We expect Anderson’s fate will be the same as Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN3).

Targets Acquired: Burnsville and Lakeville

The DFL House and Senate caucuses are feeling quite positive about their electoral prospects in legislative district 56, and the three incumbent Republican legislators are feeling the heat. Sen. Dan Hall (R-56, Burnsville), Rep. Roz Peterson (R-56a, Lakeville) are experiencing a barrage of activity throughout their respective districts.

The DFL is stepping up their efforts in these communities and has a finely tuned coordinated effort capitalizing on the unfavourability of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (R), the impact in the suburban area, especially amongst women and the general negativity this election has fostered.

Republicans are already discussing the possible losses which may occur and this only serves to show the DFL capturing or in this case recapturing territory they lost in 2014. If these suburban seats fall the DFL House Majority is a far likelier proposition.