From Fender Bender to Pounded Rear Ender

On January 21, 2016, House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-30A, Crown) was reportedly late to a meeting with Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook). The only reason we have found was a tweet by Pioneer Press reporter Rachel Stassen Berger “Am told #mnleg Speaker Daudt was delayed because of a fender-bender. He’s fine but delayed.” When he arrived with staffer Ben Golnik, he said, “Let’s get this party started.”

Now, we have learned the accident was far more than a fender bender, Daudt rear ended another vehicle and both cars were totaled. There was no citation given to Daudt and it is unclear how he arrived at the governor’s residence from the accident location. These question beg the question as to whether the Speaker was given special treatment, or was his trip to St Paul facilitated in anyway by law enforcement? We are unclear. The other driver received medical attention later in the day and we understand he is now, taking up a civil action against Daudt.

A review of Daudt’s motor vehicle driving record shows he was convicted of texting while driving in 2013. The legislature passed restrictions on texting while driving in 2015 and the item went into effect on August 1st of that year. Daudt voted in favor of the provision.


A Comprehensive Breakdown of MN Senate Primary Races

This article is an independent analysis from the piece we scribed yesterday, but there are some common themes and relevant considerations. Again, the fundamental question is whether or not the candidates seeking the seats in a primary contest are challengers to the establishment or ally more or less with the Presidential candidate. Especially, on the Republican side, Donald Trump’s campaign has proven to be more strident and less self-effacing. If he makes a brash, inappropriate comment he is more likely to double down on it, rather than apologize for it.

Because state senate races represent larger geographic area the candidates tend to be more moderate, but this theory, though it may be the rule, has its own bevy of exceptions. Additionally, because senators have four year terms they tend to take a more long-term approach to political questions and incumbents especially, are not lightning rod candidates.

There are 14 contested senate primaries and seven DFL and seven Republican. In two districts, which are open seats, Districts 01 and 15, there are primaries on both the DFL and Republican sides.

District 01 (DFL Primary)-Jual Carlson v. Kip Fontaine

The senate seat in the far northwest corner of the state has been a solid DFL seat, but that was while Sen. Leroy Stumpf (DFL-01, Plummer) held it. Now with his retirement, the question is who will be able to pick up the baton?

Fontaine is the DFL endorsed candidate, and his experience in the criminal justice system and a locally election official and with deep roots in the community we expect he will prevail on August 9th. His opponent In 2012, his opponent Carlson was a Republican candidate in the primary losing out to Steven Nordhagen, who then lost to Stumpf 60.59% to 39.33%. We doubt a turncoat will have much traction in a DFL primary race.

District 01 (Republican Primary)-Edwin Dale Hahn v. Mark Johnson

Johnson is the Republican Party choice this election. He is a graduate of Bethel University, with a J.D. from the University of North Dakota. He was employed by IBM in Rochester and moved back home and now is a part owner in a family business Johnson Concrete and Construction. His political views seems to embody a current Republican trend which is, elected officials in St Paul fail to take into account the needs of Greater Minnesota. This traditional mantra should do well in the primary contest.

His opponent Hahn is a Conservative Rightwing candidate and current member of the Thief River Falls City Council. His bio opens with I am a God fearing man, and “stands strong against those who would try to rob us of our 2nd Amendment rights.” A perusal of his campaign website one can get the impression his appeal to people in favor of rightwing militias.  He sports a bald pallet and a crisp and clean look.

We will watch this race with interest because Hahn seems like a person who would support Donald Trump.

District 05 (Republican Primary)-Justin Eichorn v. Pedie Pederson

Eichorn is in a contest with Pederson to challenge Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-05, Grand Rapids). In 2014 he challenge Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-05B, Balsam Lake Township) and lost by 1808 votes. Pederson originally filed as a DFL candidate and later changed his filing to the Republican Party and hence facilitated this primary contest.

Since Eichorn has been a Republican candidate before we expect he will succeed and emerge to challenge Saxhaug.

District 15 (DFL Primary)-Chilah Brown v. Rob Passons

Brown is the DFL endorsed candidate. She recently completed her Masters in Tribal Administration. If elected she would be the first Native American in the Senate since Sen. Harrold “Skip” Finn in 1996. Currently, the only Native American representation is in the House from Reps Susan Allen (DFL-62B, Minneapolis) and Peggy Flanagan (DFL-46A, St Louis Park).

Her opponent Passons is known to have closer ties to the Republican Party than he does the DFL. We expect his true allegiances will betray him before DFL Primary voters.

District 15 (Republican Primary)-Andrew Mathews v. Dan Whitcomb

Matthews is the Republican Party endorsed candidate, who lists his issues as: Fiscal Restraint, Keeping Government within its means, Lower taxes, Pro-Life issues, Lake Mille Lacs, Pro-jobs Economy (Saving Sherco Power Plant), and 2nd Amendment Rights (received an “A” rating from the NRA!) He seems to be a candidate right in the heart of the Conservative Rightwing faction of the Republican Party. We will be interested in his opinions about Donald Trump if he emerges from the primary.

His opponent Whitcomb is a more traditional/establishment Republican he is a Navy veteran who served on the Princeton School Board and the Mille Lacs County Board. Because of his experience, he offers a more steady hand on the tiller of government. He challenges Matthews because of his lack of experience. We shall see which perspective prevails.

District 23 (DFL Primary)-Barbara Ann Lake v. John M. Lillis

Lillis is the DFL endorsed candidate for this seat to run against Sen Julie Rosen (R-23, Vernon Center). He is a retired construction worker and may just be a sacrificial lamb in this contest.

He is challenged by Lake, a local reporter for the Mapleton Messenger and may be better aligned to challenge Rosen. Her ties to the community through her work on local issues may provide a more in depth perspective. What better name to have here in Minnesota in the Land O’ 10,000 Lakes, which we all know, there are 11,842. This is just another example of our pension for understating our attributes.

District 24 (DFL Primary)-Sen.Vicki Jensen (DFL-24, Owatonna) incumbent v. Rich Bailey

Jensen is seeking reelection to her 2nd term. She serves as on the Commerce Committee as Vice Chair, and on Education, Finance – E-12 Budget Division, Subcommittee on Equity, and Transportation and Public Safety Budget Division and Transportation and Public Safety Committees.

She authored 114 bills last legislative session including tax breaks for military retirees and student loan recipients. We see no clear reason why Jensen has failed to do her job as a state senator and warrant a return to St Paul. Her election in 2012 helped add more gender diversity to the senate.

Her opponent Bailey, a Navy veteran, claims to have “registered as a Democrat,” problem is we do not have party registration here in Minnesota. It is hard to find much information about him. In viewing some of his few comments he highlights working on state budgets and cutting down on government waste; sounds more Republican talking points than they do DFL.

Because of her work as Steele County DFL Chair Jensen should easily prevail.

Senate District 27 (Republican Primary)-Cynthia Gail v. Gene Dornink

Dornink is the Republican Party endorsee to challenge Sen Dan Sparks (DFL-27, Austin). He runs Gene Dornink Carpentry LLC and returned to politics after losing a union job. By most appearances he is a run-of-the-mill Republican, who may harbor some grief after he lost a job bid.

His opponent Gail has deep roots in the Green Party and will likely not fair very well in the Republican primary.

Senate District 32 (Republican Primary)-Sen.Sean Nienow (R-32, Cambridge) incumbent v. Mark Koran

Nienow is seeking his 4th non-consecutive legislative term, he was defeated in 2006 and return in 2010. He also became the focus of a large amount of news attention when he filed for bankruptcy and reneged on a Small Business Administration loan to the tune of $840,000. The money stemmed from a purchase of a company National Camp Association’s, which sought placement for children in camps.

In spite of his own personal financial troubles, Nienow has proven to be a stalwart in support of the Republican Senate Minority and has served his district and constituency as a fiscal conservative.

His opponent Koran is a transplant from St Paul, who strongly identifies with his Catholic faith which strengthened his Pro-life position. He serves on the Lent Township Planning Commission. Nothing we can see in his statements or background warrants his selection over that of Nienow.

District 52 (DFL Primary)-Matt Klein v. Todd Podgorski

Klein is the DFL endorsed candidate, positioned to replace the late Sen. Jim Metzen (DFL-52, South St Paul) and a physician at Hennepin County Medical Center. He also is a member of 197 School Board. There the board has shown its forward approach to addressing climate change at the local level by passing the state’s first pollinator friendly legislation. If elected he will be the sole physician in the entire legislature.

He is challenged by Podgorski a current member of the South St Paul City Council, former school board member and current Deputy Sheriff.

District 53 (Republican Primary)-Bill Dahn v. Sharna Wahlgren

Walhlgren is the Republican Party endorsed candidate to oppose first-term Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-53, Woodbury). In 2014, she opposed US Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN04) and was trounced 61.19% to 32.90%. This time the she will attempt to apply her economics degree to state legislative issues, once she is able to surpass her primary opponent Dahn.

If there is an election, few people should be surprised when they see the name Dahn listed. He is a perennial candidate in this instance the term gadfly applies. He has run for the state house, mayor of St. Paul and the US Senate. The question is when will this guy get the hint, nobody wants you to represent them for anything.

District 59 (DFL Primary)-Sen. Bobby Jo Champion (DFL-59, Minneapolis) incumbent v. Patwin Lawrence

Champion is seeking reelection to his 2nd senate term after two terms in the state house. As is frequently the case different constituency groups chafe under the current leadership and seek to have their own representation. When Champion¸ an African American, was first elected he unseated a Augustine “Willie” Dominguez (Hispanic). In this case, Champion is facing a challenge from within his own community.

Lawrence, a native of Charleston, SC, is a member of the Minnesota State Council on Black Minnesotans and serves on Minneapolis Urban League’s Board of Directors as President of the Minneapolis Urban League Young Professionals. We doubt an outsider from another state will unsettle Champion’s bid for a 2nd term.

District 62 (DFL Primary)-Sen. Jeffrey Hayden (DFL-62, Minneapolis) incumbent v. Mohamoud Hassan

Hayden is seeking his 3rd term of office amid a swirl of criticism associated with his board position with Community Action. Bill Davis has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and his son Jordan Davis has been convicted in federal court on aiding and abetting mail fraud and conspiracy to misuse taxpayer funds. Hayden has been a high profile member of the DFL Senate Majority as the Deputy Majority Leader, and is a large presence in stature around the Capitol.

His opponent Hassan accuses Hayden of not being in touch with the community. Hassan, who is Somali, may have a different perspective than the larger community. The demographics of district 62 are not as favorable to a Somali candidate as Senate District 60 so we expect Hayden will survive despite his connection to Community Action.

District 64 (Republican Primary)-Ian Baird v. Sharon Anderson

Baird is the Republican Party endorsed candidate to face Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-64, St Paul). His only chance for electoral success will be in the primary since St Paul is clearly a DFL town. There isn’t much that needs to said about Baird’s candidacy because his opponent is Sharon Anderson.

Once again a name of a perennial candidate/gadfly graces an election ballot. Anderson previously defeated Sen. Tom Neuville (R) in the Republican Party Primary for Attorney General in 1994, in spite of the fact she lacks a law degree.  We give her the same reception as Bill Dahn, just go away.

A Comprehensive Breakdown of MN House Primary Races

The Minnesota State Primary on August 9th has a number of interesting contests which include insurgences from the left against DFLers and the right against Republicans. As we saw during the Presidential Primary season, there is a lot of unrest in our politics this year. With a week before the winnowing process, we thought we would take a look at each legislative contest and try to understand the dynamics in each race.

House Races

There are seventeen House primary contests with eleven on the DFL side and six on the Republican.  Seven incumbents face a primary challenge and they are: Reps. Sondra Peterson (R15A, Princeton), Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown), Tom Hackbarth  (R-31B, Cedar), Deb Hillstrom (DFL-40B, Brooklyn Center), Joe Mullery (DFL-59A, Minneapolis), Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B, Minneapolis) and Rena Moran (DFL-65A, St Paul).

When looking at the field of candidates on the Republican side, we wonder if the victorious candidate will be more or less like Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. In the six odd Republican Primaries, as one candidate stakes out an extreme right-wing conservative position and the other tries to one-up that position. This one-upmanship normally, would make a candidate untenable to the general electorate, but with this current state of unease traditional measures are thrown out the window.

We will highlight a few of the more interesting and impactful contests, since some are merely party fights angling for a shot at a well heeled incumbent, while others could have a dramatic effect.

District 31A (Republic Primary)-House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-30A, Crown) incumbent v. Alan Duff

The most significant, by far is the challenge for Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt R-31A, Crown). His loss would have a significant effect on the forthcoming special session, in fact, were he to lose, he would not likely even be the negotiator over session. He is facing off against someone he served with on the Isanti County Board. Alan Duff (R) is a Tea Party candidate, who doesn’t feel Daudt is adhering to the tenants of “true” fiscal conservatism, because he has been willing to compromise with Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook). In this case, the conservative rule appears to be, compromise is capitulation.

Early on in this contest there were some conversations about DFLers crossing over and voting against Daudt, but we have heard little to further this idea. There were about 500 people who attended the DFL caucus this year and little on the ballot by way of important on the DFL side with the exception of the Congressional District contest. Truth is in a small turnout, like a legislative primary 500 votes, could have a significant impact. It likely will not happen, because at the time of this article only 90 absentee votes have been cast. Looks like chicken is the rule here.

District 60B (DFL Primary)-Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B, Minneapolis) incumbent v. Mohamud Noor (DFL) and Ilhan Omar (DFL)

Another interesting race pits one of the two longest serving members of the Minnesota against two opponents. Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-60B, Minneapolis) matches up against two Somali candidates, Mohamud Noor (DFL) and Ilhan Omar (DFL) Both of Kahn opponents are from the Somali community, and in fact from the same tribal community. Ironically, the longest serving member of the legislature, a Jewish woman, who represents the West Bank, is being challenged by two Muslims.

The most intriguing aspect of this race is the struggle of an emerging community (Somalia) trying to gain its political footing here in Minnesota. It is clear the Somali grows larger each day and their high birth rate is one of the political issues, which tax the resource options and housing becomes an even more paramount for public discourse.

As we track this race, certain schisms seem to be emerging. Noor as a man is cultivating and receiving support from the more traditional part of the Somali community, during a forum last night at the Humphrey Institute, vocal Noor supporters were either Somali men, community religious leaders or women adorn with Hijab. Correspondingly, his support at the District 60B endorsing convention, though small, was a similar constituency group.

Omar as a Somali woman covers three political boxes: gender, culture and age. In political parlance she is a threefer. As the youngest candidate in the race and the most recent college graduate, she seems to receive her support from the younger, more progressive community.

Granted these characterizations may seem overly simplistic, and of course each candidate has other supporters both traditional and non-traditional.

Her appeal to a younger voting base aligns with the support for Bernie Sanders and a student population. She also confirmed as much during her opening remarks.

Her agenda seems to be right out of TakeActionMN’s playbook and she was endorsed by the group prior to the endorsing convention and TakeActionMN provided an in kind donation to her campaign with a literature piece used at the convention. We have talked with some of the progressive activists in the district, which are supporting Omar because they feel Kahn has not listened to them specifically and it is more of an ego snub rather than an issue of substance. Liberal white guilt is likely in play and a factor to Omar’s advantage.

The Student Vote

Since the University of Minnesota Minneapolis Campus and Augsburg College make up such a substantial part of the district, one would think there is an significant opportunity to cultivate support from this community, but the question is will the student vote be as available for an August 9th primary? The U of M Fall Semester begins September 5th and Augsburg August 29th. This prevents freshmen from voting in any fashion and other campus residential students will not be able to vote unless they have registered at a new address different from the Spring Semester redirected their ballots another address. This activity will take far more organizational effort.

Here is a letter of support in the MNDaily, which calls change for change sake, which is in direct conflict with how the legislative process works. It is about seniority stupid.

Absentee Ballots

There is a big push for early voting and since Minnesota now has a no excuse absentee ballot system people can apply to vote quite readily. We have talked with both the Noor and Omar campaigns and learned the following. Noor says they are aggressively pursuing an early voting strategy with their campaign and claims a better than a 2-1 advantage over Omar. In fact, they say have even been siphoning off votes organized by Omar.

The Omar campaign says they too have been mounting an aggressive early vote strategy and their claim is that they have contacted obtained requests for absentee ballots which exceed the total number of 2332 votes Kahn received in the last primary.

Our investigation into the validity of these claims show at the time of this story 1875 ballots have been received and accepted. This includes some ballots, which are now being accepted directly at the polling locations. Based on our research the Omar claim is not met, but the Noor claim may be true. Granted, this number can grow because people can submit absentee ballot forms and receive a ballot up to the day of the primary election, though the ballot must be received and accepted by the day of the election. Also, campaigns may be holding completed ballots for drop into the county office in order to establish a trend line or outmaneuver their opposition.

Noor has been accurse of not bidding his time and self-anointing as a leader in his community. He is mounting his third attempt at legislative office, he finished 2nd in the 2011 Primary losing out to now Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL-60, Minneapolis). He then contested against Kahn in a 2014 Primary, who defeated him by 493 votes. If he loses this time he may be relegated to the annuals of perennial candidates or gadflies like: Harold Stassen, Ole Savior and Dick Franson.

By all accounts we believe the winner in this contest will need to exceed 3500 votes. Last time, slightly better than 4200 were cast, but with a three-way race and three active campaigns focused on voter registration and absentee ballots we can foresee higher voter than in 2014.

District 65A (DFL Primary)-Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-65A, St Paul) incumbent v. Rashad Turner (DFL)

Moran is being challenged by Rashad Turner (DFL) head of the St. Paul Black Lives Matter. Turner a younger African-American seems to be positioned as a challenge to the establishment, not that Moran represents the establishment, because she mounted her own primary challenge in 2010 to the then DFL Party endorsee Jeremiah Ellis.

We are interested in this race to see if Black Lives Matter is able to gain any support from the broader community. The recent death Philando Castile, though tragic, may not provide enough of a catalyst to political upheaval. Moran has stood on the floor of the House on many occasions and discussed the impact of decisions being made on the floor to the black community, but when the House is controlled by a Republican majority the words fall on deaf ears.

Other House Primaries

District 01B (DFL Primary)-Michael “Mike” Moore v. Erwin “Erv” Rud.

Moore, of Mentor, is the DFL endorsed candidate, while Rud is the challenger to the establishment from the left. Moore has a great deal of experience working with many different constituency groups in many different corners of the district. In the announcement article of his endorsement, which ran in May in the Crookston Times a litany of his accomplishments are ticked off in the piece. One specific facet highlighted is he owns two local newspapers in the area. Rud on the other hand, wrote his own Letter to the Editor, challenging a move to remove him from party office since he is challenging the endorsed candidate. The response does seem a bit whiny. There are allowances for removal, but it will take action by the local party central committee.

We will watch will interest as to the outcome, if measured in light of the Democratic Presidential Primary contest. Moore appears to be is the establishment candidate and Rud the outsider. Since, Democrats nationally backed the insider over the interloper, especially, because the ultimate winner is set to face Rep. Deb Kiel (R-01B, Crookston), one would think Moore prevails. Though as is always the case in a low profile election turnout is the key factor, and an established base the essential element.

District 06A (DFL Primary)-Ben DeNucci, Julie Sandstede, Mike Thompson and Tom Whiteside

In this race, there is no endorsed candidate during the endorsement fight Whiteside carried the bulk of the support from institutional groups i.e. labor unions and other traditional support organizations. The main reason being he was a staffer for Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN08), in the end the race came down to Whiteside and DeNucci who is a local mayor of Nashwauk. Whiteside led on each ballot, but fell far short of the 60% needed with 51.5% of the vote. DeNucci in addition to being a recently elected local official is a small business owner, as the owner of Keewatin Auto Repair, and proprietor of the DeNucci Saloon.

DeNucci supports the Polymet mining operation at Keetac and calls for a push back on state regulations on sulfide mining; he challenges the validity of old scientific knowledge from decades ago. With his focus being on the dumping of foreign steel into the domestic market, taconite production hold a distinct disadvantage.

Whiteside a Hibbing resident at 28, like DeNucci are embodiments of what is an essential value on the Range, which is making sure young people stay put or come back home after they graduate from college. The economic turmoil resulting from lay-offs at the local mines have dramatic impacts in the area. The forthcoming 2020 Census will show a significant decline in population compared to growth in other areas of the state and the clout of the region is expected to seriously diminish. The retirement of Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-06A, Virginia) further eroded the strength of the Iron Range delegation, since most of the power in the state legislature stems from legislative seniority.

Whiteside received the endorsement from the Duluth News Tribune, which in the old days was a kiss of death, because all Rangers know Duluth is not on the range.

The question in this instance will be whether or not the seat moves from the population centers of Hibbing/Chisholm/Virginia to the outer reaches of the community or will the traditional power centers hold sway. At the time of this story 603 absentee ballots have been received and accepted.

District 07B (DFL Primary)- Bryan Jensen v. Liz Olson

This is an election to fill the vacancy created because Rep. Erik Simonson (DFL-07B, Duluth) decided to seek the seat vacated by Sen. Roger Reinert (DFl-07, Duluth). Olson is the DFL endorsed candidate and she received a ringing  endorsement from the Duluth News Tribune, partly due to the fact her opponent Jensen, failed to respond to requests from the paper. Olson came to the are to attend college at UMD and stayed on to work on behalf of local issues. She currently works with TakeActionMN, which is often seen as a Twin Cities based organization, but has pockets of support in some distance areas of the state. Recently, she gained the backing of current Duluth Mayor Emily Larson and former Mayor Don Ness.

By all appearances, Olson has the temerity for the office and the Zenith City needs to bolster its representation as it loses current legislative leadership and be positioned for future opportunities by putting forward strong candidates capable of reelection and hence, legislative  seniority.

District 13A (DFL Primary)- Anne Buckvold v. Jane Leitzman

Buckvold of St Joseph, is the DFL endorsed candidate and she faces a significant challenge to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Howe (R-13A, Rockville). A key component to her race for the legislature is her commitment to have the state finish the connection of the Northstar rail line up to St Cloud as was originally intended. This connection will serve outlying communities like St Joe and provide an additional artery into the regional center.

Since Leitzman has not filed a committee with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, there is challenge to her commitment to the office. Internet searches call attention to a local Veterinarian and a resident of Sauk Rapids.

Based on the local publicity, we think Buckvold has the upper-hand in the Primary contest.

District 15A (Republican Primary)-Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-15A, Princeton) incumbent v. Tom Heinks

Erickson is the Republican Party endorsed candidate and she seeks her 9th non-consecutive term in office, she lost in 2008 to Gail Kulick Jackson by 89 votes. She is the Chair of both the Education Innovation Policy and Ethics Committees. Her Primary opponent, Heinks, is the epitome for the Rightwing Conservative insurgence, his website calls for smaller government, lower taxes and liberty. This is just the right mix for a Tea Party hodgepodge.

Again, the question will be does the Donald Trumpish style candidate win out over the more traditional, establishment Republican party candidate.  We think in this case Erickson’s grandmotherly appeal, her name recognition as a past teacher in the area and commonality of her name on an election ballot may prove to be the right conglomeration of factors to facilitate a victory. Otherwise, this election continues on its strange trip.

District 16A (DFL Primary)-Al Kruse v. Thomas Perry

Kruse is the DFL endorsed candidate angling to challenge Republican Rep. Chris Swedinski (R-16A, Ghent) as he did in 2012. First, he must best Perry in the primary contest. Perry has not file a campaign with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, so again question the veracity of his campaign.

We expect the hat will tip Kruse’s way.

District 31B (Republican Primary) Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-31B, Cedar) incumbent v. Calvin Bahr

Hackbarth kept many in suspense when he filed late in the filing period against Bahr for his 10th non-consecutive term of office. Bahr had bested Hackbarth in the endorsement contest and Hackbarth was weighing his options, but eventually opted to seek a return to the House in St. Paul. Bahr is a Tea Party candidate and fits the mold of most in that stripe.

Hackbarth has had his own controversies over the duration of his political career. In 2010, he lost his committee chairmanship after he was detained by law enforcement for strange behavior in a Planned Parenthood parking lot. At the time he was found to be sporting a concealed firearm, for which he had a permit to carry.

Because of his challenge from the right, Hackbarth, normally see as a conservative member of his caucus is being pressed far harder from the Conservative Rightwing side of his party, though few in St Paul would ever think to see Hackbarth as a moderate or middle of the road candidate, but in this instance he appear to be the more mainstream element.

District 40B (DFL Primary)-Rep. Deb Hilstrom (DFL-40B, Brooklyn Center) v. Jim Richards

Hilstrom is seeking her 9th term in the House and her opponent Richards, makes a blanket, sweeping statement directed at her and others of long-term officeholders being more beholden to their own political party than to their district. He sounds more like a Republican candidate than he does a DFLer.

We expect Hilstrom’s tenure as well as her gender should help her prevail in this contest.

District 46A (Republican Primary) Richard Gottlieb v. Anne Taylor

Gottlieb and Taylor are facing-off in the Primary election to contest against Rep. Peggy Flanagan (DFL-46A, St Louis Park). Flannigan who was uncontested in the special election to fill the seat, was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention. As a Native American, Flannigan is a member of the White Earth Band of Objibwe, and one of two native members in the Minnesota House along with Rep. Susan Allen (DFL-62B, Minneapolis).

Of the two Republicans, Taylor, a woman, is likely to give Flannigan the best challenge, but this is largely a seat with a high DFL index and the Republican contest here will provide an indicator of how the Republican electorate is operating after the Trump endorsement.

District 48A (Republican Primary) Kris Newcomer v. Mary Shapiro

Newcomer and Shapiro are squaring –off to face the DFL endorsed candidate Laurie Pryor, for the open seat vacated by Rep. Yvonne Selcer (DFL-48A, Minnetonka). Shapiro is the Republican endorsed candidate and Newcomer, who serves on the Hopkins School Board, has secured support from the Chamber of Commerce, and claims to be the only small-business candidate this election.

We are interest in if the Republican Party candidate or the Chamber candidate emerges. In this election year the advantage may go to the party in the primary, but the opposition in the general election.

District 50B (DFL Primary)-Andrew Carlson v. Christopher Seymore

We first became aware of this contest at the DFL State Convention when party members from District 50 sought to strip Seymore of his status as an alternate because he had filed to challenge the DFL endorsed candidate Carlson.  Carlson lost a special election to Chad Anderson (R) in his bid to fill the seat after the retirement of Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL), who left to become a lobbyist.

Seymore survived the challenge when his critics who were white, and he being black, and spouted the DFL Constitution chapter and verse. He carried the day largely when he announced he was a Bernie Sanders supporter and with 2/3rds of the convention similarly disposed he ruled the day.

We expect this will be Seymore’s high watermark and expect Carlson will win in the end mainly because of commonality of his name. Everyone knows someone named Carlson.

District 56A (DFL Primary)-Jared Christiansen v. Dan Kimmel

Christiansen is the DFL endorsed candidate seeking to face Rep. Drew Christensen (R-56A, Burnsville) in the general election. If Christiansen is successful it will be a battle of two young men for the opportunity to represent the community they both grew up in.

Kimmel lost to Christensen in 2014. He was seeking the DFL endorsement, fostering a rematch until a tweet he made on Twitter saying “ISIS isn’t necessarily evil” after the Paris attacks and the onslaught facilitated his departure.

It will be interesting to see if the DFL endorsement holds sway.

District 59A (DFL Primary)-Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-59A, Minneapolis) v. Fue Lee (DFL)

The contest is another instance where Mullery faces a challenge from within his district from a member of one of the minority communities. Usually, the fight is an endorsement battle, but this time it is a primary fight. Mullery staved off such a challenge in 2012 from a candidate with a musical name Marcus Harcus garnered slightly better than 22% of the vote.

If times are the same in Nordeast and the machinery in place Mullery should prevail.

Special Session Post Primary As Expected

Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) and legislative leaders, Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-30A, Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook) announced there intent to meet in special session August 15th. As we had stated previously, if there was going to be a special session it would occur after the August 9th primary elections.

The various sides have agreed to focus on the issues which remained from the regular legislative session have dropped the more controversial items. This means the focus will shift to bonding, transportation and a tax bill. We expect the the final bonding bill will be around $1 billion, but we will not be surprised if the bill hits the magic number of $990 million, so Republicans can argue they didn’t exceed a billion.

Daudt has a primary challenge from a former Isanti County Board collegue Alan Duff, who is running as a Tea Party candidate. Daudt will depart for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH next week and will be present for the nomination of Donald Trump (R).


Speaker Daudt Working Without a Net

Word out of the special session negotiations is no resolution, and no progress. We understand Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) is doubling down and trying to solidify his conservative credentials. Effectively, he is not really negotiating. He brought forward lightning rod legislation we believed to have been laid to rest for 2016. i.e. vouchers and abortion

Interestingly, Daudt has not called a Republican House Caucus since the end of the legislative session. This means unlike former Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon), who used to use the caucus as a foil, a body he had to consult before he could make a solid commitment, Daudt is flying solo.

We may understand why. There is an informal sub-caucus forming around freshman Rep. David Baker (R-17A, Willmar). The freshman class is expressing concerns over their forthcoming electoral fortunes. As concern grows among those with the eleven members with least amount of legislative experience, their anxiety could affect relations within the caucus, especially regarding the vote for speaker, if they hold majority, in 2017. The members of the Republican Freshman class are: Reps. Joshua Heintzman (R-10A, Nisswa), David Lueck (R-10B, Atkin), Jason Rarick (R-11B, Pine City), Jeff Backer (R-12A, Browns Valley), Tim Miller (R-17A, Prinsburg), David Baker (R-17B, Willmar), Bob Vogel (R-20A,Elko New Market), Brian Daniels (R-24B, Fairbault), Nels Peterson (R-26B, Rochester), Eric Lucero (R-30B, Dayton) and Dennis Smith (R-Maple Grove).

As previously stated, we believe the probability for a special session is most likely after August 9th.

A Random Meeting with Speaker Daudt Provides Insight into Special Session

Last Saturday, during the running of Grandma’s Marathon C&B Publisher Shawn Towle happened upon Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) in Canal Park. The Speaker was alone, without an entourage and, when asked about his presence in the Zenith City said, “I was going to run this year, but with the session, I just didn’t have the time. I am here supporting a few friends.”

Towle engaged the Speaker asking about the feasibility of having a special session and initially, Daudt maintained the “party line.” He said, “The Governor is going to have to give on a few things, and Southwest Corridor is a non-starter, and he knows that.” He continued, “I think we’re close, there’s no way we can make it happen by July 1st, but it would need to happen before Labor Day.”

Towle asked about the size of the Bonding Bill, to which the Speaker answered, “We put forward our bill ($990 million) and he wants a few things and if it’s not too much we should get there.”

Towle then challenged a statement made by the Speaker, in which he said, there were enough votes in the chamber for a $1.4 million Bonding Bill, saying there were enough combined Republican/DFL votes, but not enough Republican votes to make up the majority of the 81. Daudt’s response not in my caucus.

During the bulk of the conversation Daudt referred to the Governor multiple times, but no Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook). This raises an issue of whether Daudt sees Bakk as a factor in the negotiation. We understand the two sides are meeting shortly (10:00 AM) and will have an additional report later.

The timing of Daudt’s comments, not before July 1st and before September 5th are quite telling. This means the Primary on August 9th appears to be the defining factor. Daudt is facing a Primary Challenge from Alan Duff, a Tea Party Republican, and Veteran’s advocate. You may remember we pointed out the fact the Tea Party of MN had parked a paneled van outside of Daudt’s district challenging his conservative credentials.


We learned later Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-31B, Cedar) was one who came to Daudt’s defense and tried to have the trailer removed. Hackbarth too is facing a Primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate and his challenger Calvin Bahr defeated him for the GOP endorsement.

Our happenstance meeting of Daudt in Duluth may be a testament to the fact he is not taking Duff too seriously, and portrays a bit of self-confidence, though his critics are hoping it betrays a bit of hubris. Those hoping for Daudt’s failure point to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and his loss to Tea Party candidate David Brat (R).

We agree Daudt may view the political landscape far differently after August 9th.