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Another Look At The Senate

June 9th, 2010 by Kevin

A couple months ago I addressed whether the Senate was truly in reach for Republicans this election, and since we\’ve seen a lot of interesting developments in some of the races I thought it would be worth taking another look.  I wanted to wait until after Super Tuesday so my analysis wasn\’t outdated literally within hours after I wrote it.  Now we at least know who the contestants are some of these races….and while Republicans will make major gains in the Senate, the ultimate prize, the majority, is outside of their grasp but there are some nice consolation prizes along the way.

Let\’s start with the easy ones

Indiana – Currently held Senator Evan Bayh (D), the last we looked at it I was pretty confident that a Republican would have a solid shot here, and it\’s moved far beyond that.  This has long been leaning solidly Republican.  Republicans Coats has held a solid lead over Democrat Ellsworth for awhile.  Ellsworth\’s polling has never left the low 30s and while Coats support has drifted up and down between the high 40s and low 50s, it\’s always been at least a two digit gap, which is pretty much all you can ask for a non-incumbency race.  This race ceased being interesting to anyone outside of Indiana awhile ago.

North Dakota – Pretty sure I said it best the first time around.

Dorgan is out, Republican Governor John Hoeven is in, Republican takeover….any question?

Delaware – The first of the Holy Trinity (Deleware, Illinois, Nevada) for Republicans in 2010.  It being Biden\’s former seat is the old part interesting here.  Otherwise it\’s simple.  Republican Castle over Democrat Coons, done deal.  I said I\’d put money on it then, the offer still stands.

Arkansas – The only thing interesting about this race was the primary.  Would Senator Lincoln be removed by voters in favor of  fellow Democrat Halter?  Or would she survive only to be defeated in the general election by Republican Boozman?  No matter how the primary turned out, a Republican was going to come away with the seat in the general election so the primary was purely academic.  This will be Republican territory come November…and Lincoln can\’t blame anyone but herself….well, maybe Obama.

So those are four Democrat seats that should easily come to Republican territory…the score is now 45 – 53 – 2.  After this, things get decidedly more fuzzy…I\’ll save the Republican held seats for last, because with one exception they aren\’t overly exciting now.

Nevada – Another member of the Holy Trinity, one Harry Reid and we finally know who his opponent is, the Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle.  Now some would say Reid has returned from the dead and is ready to pull out a win.  I disagree completely.  The polls have closed and showed a tighter race too, but if you look at the history, Reid\’s numbers haven\’t changed in months.  The dynamics of the polls have been people shifting back and forth between undecided and one of the three Republicans.  Angle was arguably the one with the lowest name recognition.  The fact that so many are still undecided indicates they aren\’t excited about voting for Reid and are willing to give Angle a chance.  This is still looks like a likely Republican takeover….the score is now 46 – 52 – 2

Illinois – The final member of the Holy Trinity, President Obama\’s old seat, warmed over by Chicago-style corruption and now ready for a new occupant.  The Republican candidate Kirk isn\’t the most conservative Republican in the country but he\’s solid where it counts and he is about as good as you can expect from Illinois.  Meanwhile the Democrat Giannoulias, like every other Illinois Democrat, is plagued with corruption charges.  And with the Blago trial kicking off, that\’s at the forefront of Illinois voters.  On the other hand, Illinois Democrats are notorious for their (dirty) political machine and you can\’t discount them yet.  In a fair world, this is an all but certain Republican victory, but I have to list it as leaning towards a Republican takeover…..the score is now 47 – 51 – 2

Pennsylvania – This seat has managed to raise more political drama than you\’d expect.  This was supposed to be relatively simple.  Flip-flopper Spector and Democrat Sestak battle it out, the winner eventually loses to Republican Toomey in the general election.  Short. Simple. Not a whole lot to fuss over.  And then came the news that the Obama Administration had tried to but Sestak off with a job offer.  That story simmered for weeks and then now another Democrat Senate candidate is claiming the same thing.  Insta-drama!!  Not that it\’s helping Sestak, who beyond a short-lived bump in the polls after the outbreak of the latest scandal to plague the White House, is now solidly trailing Toomey.  I fully expect to see that hold.  Sestak lost the chance to capitalize on the scandal when he allied with the White House.  Now there isn\’t much territory to wedge into to regain a lead.  Likely Republican takeover….the score is now 48 – 50 – 2

Colorado – The other half of the scandal, and arguably the more important half.  Before Romanoff, Sestak was an isolated case of political amateurism by the Obama Administration.  Now Romanoff has Republican nationwide on a treasure hunt for more cases of political buyoffs by Obama & Company. But this race has more drama in it\’s own right.  I had confidentially predicted Norton would defeat all Democrat resistance and take this seat.  I\’m not exactly sure why but polling has shown it\’s neck and neck.   Norton is still likely to be the Republican candidate, but the Democrat is less certain.  Senator Bennet is currently leading in the Democratic Primary polls, which is nice because he\’s also polling pretty damn awful for the general election.  If he wins the primary, this leans Republican takeover.  If Romanoff manages to scratch out a win in the primary, this is a toss-up at best.

California – Yes Senator Boxer is batshit crazy, now onto new news, the results of the primary….Carly Fiorina is the Republican.  Now she\’s been solidly behind in polling and she\’s not gaining traction either.  Senator Boxer is polling in the mid to high 40s, so she\’s technically vulnerable but it\’s California….bat-shit crazy is a virtue there.  Likely Democrat retention.

Wisconsin – Well this has changed quite a bit since I last looked at this race.  Governor Thompson is definitely out so that goes Republicans best chance at stealing this seat.  Newcomer Johnson was endorsed on the first ballot at the Republican convention, but there isn\’t much polling history between him and Senator Feingold.  Feingold has always polled just under 50 so technically he\’s vulnerable, and the polling shows that he\’s running neck and neck with Johnson.  However, independents tend to fall towards Feingold, so unless Johnson can really play up ObamaCare, which polls horribly, and Feingold supported, this is a Democratic retention.

Washington – Senator Patty Murray is polling sub-50 which technically makes her vulnerable.  And Republican Dino Rossi is polling neck-and-neck.  But Washington is a blue state and has been trending bluer, so I have to give the tie-breaker to Murray, but we\’ll call this one a toss-up for now.  Until the election gets closer, I\’d say Murray\’s incumbency trumps Rossi\’s close polling.

New York – Last time I listed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as potentially vulnerable, that has most certainly changed.  None of the top-tier Republican candidate materialized and Gillibrand is now polling over 50 against all her potential Republican opponents.  Solid Democrat retention and not worth further study.

Ok now let\’s wander into Republican territory…because even in this year of the Great Republican Feeding Frenzy of 2010, there are some Republican seats that show signs of weakness.

Florida – Ok maybe not weakness as much as pure political theater of the worst kind.  Crist was the establishment candidate for the Republicans.  He had fundraising, he had party support, he had a solid campaign staff….one problem, nobody liked him.  Marco Rubio took over as the Republican candidate and Crist became an independent as bitterly as possible.  Oh and there is a Democrat candidate Meeks, whom nobody seems to be paying attention to, including the Democrats as the Democrats have adopted Crist by sending their best staffers to him.  Crist in return has made a jackass out of himself at every opportunity and established him as the most pathetic form of principle-less flip-flopper there is.  Polling shows things pretty tight but I expect that to change.  Meeks will slowly fall out of the picture and it\’ll be Crist vs Rubio, with Rubio eventually taking it.  I\’d say this leans Republican retention at this point.

Missouri -This should be an easy win for the Republicans, but they had been trying their best to screw it up.  Polling had turned around for Republican Blunt since the new  year and he was solidly ahead until just recently.  Democrat Carnahan has been trying to link Blunt to the oil industry, and by proxy the disaster in the Gulf.   That appears to be gaining some traction.  Looking at the specifics of the polling, despite his lead, I would say Blunt is in serious trouble.  The passion index is solidly in Carnahan\’s favor and the state has a popular Democratic Governor.  We\’ll call this a toss-up at this point.

Ohio – This was already a worrisome state for Republicans and it hasn\’t gotten any better.  Republican Rob Portman has lost his lead, and is polling neck and neck with Democrat Lee Fisher.  The specifics of the poll slightly favor Portman, but not by much and the trend is definitely in favor of Fisher.  I\’ll be optimistic and call this a toss-up.

Kentucky – Well Rand Paul is the Republican candidate, and my fears about him are being confirmed.  And his missteps have hurt him bad.  He\’s holding on to a solid lead at the moment, but let\’s hope he\’s stopped the bleeding or else Republicans will lose this seat.  If they can hold the line, they\’ll keep this seat….barely.  Working against Rand Paul is that he\’s been so high profile that very few are undecided on him, so he doesn\’t have much room to gain ground.  Let\’s call this leaning  Republican….as long as Rand Paul keeps his mouth shut.

New Hampshire – I was a little concerned about this seat last time, but I\’m feeling better now.  Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) leads Rep. Paul Hodes (D) by a solid margin in the polls and has cracked 50 a couple times.  Even Ayotte\’s closest competitor in the Republican primary beats Hodes, although not by much.  This is quickly becoming uninteresting.  Likely Republican retention.

North Carolina -I hesitated included this because I\’m pretty confident this will stay in Republican hands, but Burr has shown far more weakness than a Republican has any right to in this political climate.  There is no political reason for it, so it\’s hard to get a sense of it.  Not helping matters is the fact that pollsters have pretty much ignored this race, with the exception of PPP which with it\’s large Democrat clientele has a vested interest in showing Burr weaker than he is.  Probably not a race that has to be at the top of your radar screen but any incumbent that can\’t break 50% is worth keeping an eye on.

Arizona – This I mention merely to poke fun at the Non-Maverick-Formerly-Known-As-A-Self-Titled-Maverick.  McCain has only himself to blame for all his troubles in this primary and it couldn\’t happen to a more deserving guy. JD Hayworth is still giving McCain fits and McCain\’s TV ads have gained a comically desperate tone to them.  That said McCain still maintains a solid lead over Hayworth in the primary, but both maintain a lead over their Democratic opponent.  Solid Republican retention.

End results?

I see the final results coming out to be 48 Republicans, 50 Democrats, and 2 Independents (caucusing with Democrats), although if Republicans can pull off Colorado 49 for both Republicans and Democrats.  But even if Lieberman decides to caucus with Republicans, that only makes it 50 – 50 with Biden as the deciding vote.  Barring some major event, the majority of the Senate remains out of reach for Republicans.

[Crossposted at True North]

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GOP State Convention 2010 – Day3

May 1st, 2010 by Kevin

So we\’re back…again.  We\’re were scheduled  to start at 9:30, I got here a little late but we were still working preliminaries when I showed up about 15 minutes late.  Basically today should be a calmer day, as the endorsements are out of the way.  However, we still have a lot of resolutions to go through, plus apparently there is some major judicial thing that we need to go over?  I\’m not familiar with that but we\’ll see.  There might also be some fireworks from CD3 and others about a document of guiding principles they threw together.  Ideally it would replace the platform, but at the moment I think it\’s intended as a marketing tool.

10:09 – We\’re hearing the Constitutional Committee report…

10:25 – I\’ve been told that that attempt to pass the Guiding Principles and Values document as a State Document will happen today.  It\’s not going to be an attempt to replace the platform or anything, just as a state document so we can use it more as a market tool at the moment.

10:28 – There was a comment in my comments area about this document a couple days ago, and I want to address it further here.  The comment was :

Well, I still know a couple people who read the whole platform and know what is in it. And a statement of principle isn’t any good unless you are the individual that came up with it. And if you did, why would you want it subjected to the ugly process that took place on the floor, asking the word “be” be changed to “of”? Within two convention cycles, your brief elegant statement of fundamental principles would look more like the Bible than the Ten Commandments.

I guess my response to that would be, you’re misunderstanding either the intent of the document, or the concept of “principles”.

Principles don’t change. Ideas come and go. Legislation comes and goes. Events come and go. Principles are the bedrock all those are based upon.

If there is ever a time that the Republican Party has ceased to believe in the principles of liberty, family, the individual, life, security and the rule of law, then the Republican Party has ceased to exist.

10:43 – Girl Scouts are on stage for an applause?? I missed the reason…just a civics lesson?

10:44 – Here\’s the judicial thing…basically the appointment for members of the Judicial Committee are to change.  Basically there are 12 Judicial Districts instead of 8 Congressional Districts.  Makes more sense to appoint the members by Judicial District instead of by Congressional.

Makes sense….not sure why this was supposed to be contentious unless I\’m missing something.

11:16 – Treasurer report is happening….

11:20 – Janet Beihoffer is talking about election judges

11:24 – A rising applause for Marty Seifert…and he deserves it.  He gave it a good fight but when it was clear that it was all but over, he conceded and spared everyone a lot of trouble and strife.  He was very classy in his concession and I have no doubt that we\’ll see Marty moving onto to other great things.  Not just because he deserves them, but because he\’s got the character and ability to do so.

11:53 – I\’ve had a steady stream of people swinging through the area and we\’ve been chatting about the ramifications of the endorsements yesterday and what exactly it means for the election.  The Seifert crowd seems to have taken the endorsement well and are supporting Emmer.  The only negative in their eyes are that there are still existing question marks.  Seifert was very much a known quantity, whereas Emmer now must conform to a new role, that as leader and statesman, rather than party attack dog.

Personally, I think the same intelligence and wit that helped Emmer recognise vulnerable points in the DFL position will carry him.  And to be honest, his old role may very well help him sandbag against DFL attacks.  The DFL conventional wisdom is that \”Emmer is insane, Seifert was just evil\”.  If the DFL keeps poking at Emmer trying to reveal that fire-breathing attack dog, and it doesn\’t appear, suddenly the main theme of their attacks on Emmer rings hollow.

Also Minnesota is still very much a small state, as in retail politics still works here.  And that works in Emmer\’s favor as he does extremely well in small group settings.  And the \”I\’ve got a pickup truck\” that worked so well for Scott Brown in Massachusetts also works for Tom Emmer as well….although I\’m not sure if Tom actually does have a pickup truck.

One downside of Tom Emmer that I came to see a lot yesterday is how he appears on photography.  Some people, just by quirks of their face, frequently look bad in still photos.  Pelosi has this problem as well, although it\’s probably more self-inflicted, resulting from too much Botox.  But even in her most genial moments, she frequently comes off looking like a shrieking harpy.  Tom has a similar problem.

When taking pictures yesterday it was best just to start clicking and don\’t stop, see what turned out later on.  While going through my photos after the fact, a lot of the pictures of Emmer depicted him as having a very angry look on his face, when I know for a fact, that at that time he was not at all angry.  It was just how his face looked at that particular moment.  It\’s a relatively minor issue, but it could be a perception problem.

12:06 – With the endorsements gone, most of the press is as well.  In fact the only people helping me keep Press Row warm are Bill Salisbury from the Pioneer Press and Rachel Stassen-Berger from the Star Tribune.  There has been some good natured heckling both ways.

12:12 – Bonn Clayton, Judicial Elections Chair, is speaking…

12:23 – Greg Wersal, candidate for Supreme Court, is speaking…points out that the law states that if he tells us what he thinks, he also has to state that he keeps an open mind.  Rightly points out that this abridges on freedom of speech, religion, association, etc.

12:31Tim Tingelstad, candidate for Supreme Court, is speaking….

12:38Dan Griffith, candidate for Appellate Court Judge, is speaking….

12:48 – We just endorsed for judge

12:50 – Michael Brodkorb, Deputy Chair of the party, is giving his report….he\’s talking about the difference between us and the DFL.  First of all we didn\’t protest having to say the pledge.  And we have unity in our party after the endorsement, the DFL is very divided and fractured.  They had people walking out of the convention in anger and frustration.

12:55 -Tony Sutton, Chair of the party, is now giving his report…

1:03 – Tony just introduced Tom Emmer to address the convention…

1:04 – Tom briefly addressed the convention.  A good Rah-Rah type speech that also preached unity of the party moving forward for the common good.  Then the balloons dropped from the ceiling.  The girl scouts came out of nowhere to frolick through the balloons.  After fun frolicking, Tom Emmer\’s boys appeared with their campaign buttons to pop as many balloons as possible.

1:12 – We\’re now addressing the remaining resolutions, although the Emmer kids are still madly popping balloons all over the convention hall.  Very amusing.

1:15 – Now that it\’s calmed down a bit, I\’m going to take this opportunity to compliment both Tony and Michael, which is something that I\’ve already done in person, but I think it\’s worth repeating here.  I don\’t think it was any secret that during election of party officers I supported Dave Thompson and Dorothy Fleming for Chair and Deputy Chair, respectively.  I had very real concerns about how close both Tony and Michael were to the Ron Carey team, whom I really disliked.

However, I am happy to say I was VERY wrong.  From the start Tony and Michael have made openness and transparency their mantra.  They have made a point to repeatedly gather input from delegates and activists.  They have taken ideas given to them by activist and run with them, but they\’ve also made those same activists accountable for those ideas, so that there is some ownership and motivation to really pursue the idea.

Kudos to both Tony and Michael, and I\’d like to state you have my vote for re-election if you choose to pursue it.

1:32 – Confirmed….the concessions here at the Minneapolis Convention Center are still awful…

1:33 – We\’re still doing resolutions and it\’s likely we will be doing that for the rest of the day…don\’t expect too many more updates, because to be quite honest, this part of conventions, bores me to tears.

2:37 – The effort to push CD3\’s Guiding Principles document has begun

2:46 – Motion passed

2:59 – Convention adjourned.

We\’re done folks! Thanks for reading!

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GOP State Convention 2010 – Day2

April 30th, 2010 by Kevin

Well it\’s day two of the 2010 MN GOP State Convention, and we\’re here bright and early, ready to get started at 9:00 AM.  We were here until after 1 AM yesterday and it promises to be another long one today.  In fact I\’m pre-emptively labeling this day \”The Grind\”, and I urge the delegation to prove me wrong.  Seriously, please do!  Either way, I\’m setup for another lovely day of conventioning.  Due to the sub-par concessions of the Minneapolis Convention Center, I\’ve packed my own caffeine and snacks….I\’m ready for the long haul.

9:04 – Okay we\’re here, but haven\’t started yet.  So…..we\’ll wait.  I should note, if there is anything in particular you\’re looking to see or hear about, let me know in the comments and I\’ll see what I can do.

9:08 – Twice now they\’ve made an announcement for delegates to take their seats.  Looks like they are trying to get started.

\"\"9:09 – I should note there are noticeably more people today.  I know in my own personal BPOU we seated all our alternates yesterday, but I would not expect that to be the case today.  A lot more press showed up today as well.

9:12 – Pledge of Allegiance, which we also did yesterday…unlike the DFL nobody here has any qualms about saying the Pledge.

9:15 – And we\’re off!

9:16 – Congressman Kline is speaking.  Pure red meat to wake up the delegates this morning.

9:23 – And now Congressman Erik Paulsen is speaking

9:24 – Incidentally I should note we were told in the press area that we\’re not starting the Governor endorsement process until noon.  So if that\’s all you care about, go take a nap or something because sure as I\’m sucking down Mt. Dew, it will be a long night.

9:35 – Party staff is touting the new voter database, Phoenix.  I have access to that database and it\’s actually pretty nice.

9:50 – State Party Chairman Tony Sutton is speaking.  He\’s doing the Volunteer of the Year Awards

9:57 – I had a number of people stop by to chat.  Janet Beihoffer, former CD2 chair and activist-extraordinare, who is supporting Tom Emmer.  Then Pat Staley, chair of SD37, who has finally made his decision and is supporting Marty Seifert.  Could not instigate a fist fight between them, both of them are far to nice for that.

9:59 – Back to the topic of Voter ID. Historically the MN GOP has had an awful time of Voter ID databases.  The previous database, Voter Vault, was just horrendous.  Basically you stood a 50:50 chance of the information on the door you are knocking on being accurate.  In fact, Congressional District 2 even went so far as to officially abandon Voter Vault in favor of their own database, KatieVault, so named after it\’s creator.

Now the appropriately named Phoenix is here to take the place of Voter Vault.  And having used it, it definitely has potential.  The problem is that all databases, no matter how well designed are only as good as their data.  They\’ve made a HUGE effort to clean up and verify the data, but from using it I\’ve still found a number of glaring errors.  On the other hand, Phoenix is FAR more user friendly, so perhaps more users will be willing to dump in their updated data and improve the results for everyone.

Time will tell.

10:05 – Stanek is speaking

10:06 – Mark Drake just stopped by to let us know the speaking order for Governor candidates.  It\’ll be:

1) Phil Herwig
2) Marty Seifert
3) Tom Emmer
4) Bill Haas
5) Leslie Davis

Saving the \”best\” until last apparently.

10:09 – The Emmer camp is making their round of the floor, checking to make sure \”their\” votes are still on board.

10:11 – Apparently someone snagged a picture of me deep in discussion.

10:17 – Congresswoman Michelle Backmann takes the stage to a rockstar welcome from the crowd, barely audible over the roar of the crowd,  \”Hit Me With Your Best Shot\” is playing.  She may drive liberals crazy but this crowd absolutely loves her.  One probably has a lot to do with the other.

10:18 – Mitch Berg just showed up looking very tired.

10:21 – There is a mob of people in front of the stage taking pictures of Bachmann speaking….they haven\’t done that for ANYONE yet.

10:24 – Bachmann is touting unity, quoting Lincoln \”a house divided cannot stand\”.

10:34 – Randy Demmer just got done speaking

10:35 – Press row is now officially crowded.  My last donut was eaten, thereby removing temptation.  Thank you Brad Carlson!

10:36 – Senator Senjem, Senate Minority Leader, is speaking

10:41 – Activity on the floor has been steadily increasing…the crowd is still very much into the speeches, but there appears to be an army of ants crawling around the crowd as the various campaigns canvass their supporters.

10:45Chip Cravaack is speaking, candidate for Congress in the Eighth District

10:47 – Pioneer Press writer in front of me is reading about Annette Meeks, Tom Emmer\’s choice for Lt. Gov, on Wikipedia.

10:53Joel Demos is speaking, candidate for Congress in the Fifth District

11:00 – Mitch Berg has commenced liveblogging

11:03 – For those that have commented, yes, I am wearing a suit today.  As much as I hate putting on a monkey suit, I do tolerate it for weddings, funerals and some conventions.  Mostly today I just ran out of ideas for concealing my carry weapon.  A suit jacket is an easy (and lazy) solution.

11:05 – Tim Pawlenty is taking the stage for a speech to a very large applause, not quite Bachmann standards, but large anyway.

11:07 – Incidentally the MN GOP does have a live feed of the proceedings at their website…

11:10 – Pawlenty : We\’re gathered here shortly after April 15th, Tax Days….or as the Democrats call it, Christmas

11:12 – Paraphrasing Pawlenty here : Democrats call themselves Progressives, which leads one to believe they\’re in favor of progress or new solutions, but what they\’re offering is the ideas of Eastern Europe from a century ago.

11:15 – Coleman arrived here this morning through the loading dock area….he swung through the press area again just recently.  Not really chatting with anyone, just passing through.

11:17 -Pawlenty makes an elaborate setup to a big secret…..\”We can\’t spend more than we have\”.

11:20 – \”We can\’t spend more than we have\” is a repeating theme.  He\’s also pointing out that people behave differently when they are spending their own money, as opposed to someone else\’s.  He points out you just have to look at how people behave around an open bar.  He compares this to government spending people\’s money.  The crowd is very appreciative.

11:27 – Pawlenty is touting \”concealed carry\” in Minnesota.  Points out more people have been killed by the Hiawatha Light Rail line than \”Concealed Carry\” despite claims that it would be the Wild West from liberals.  That got his biggest applause so far.  I know there are at least three people in the room armed right now, although I wouldn\’t be surprised if it\’s actually MANY times that.

Of course, I should point out that Pawlenty is wrong.  He didn\’t sign a \”Concealed Carry\” bill….there is no such thing.  We only have carry permits, not concealed carry.  Concealment is purely optional.  It\’s a common misconception and it\’s a little disappointment that the Governor is furthering that misconception.  But his heart is in the right place.

11:33 – The Seifert camp has been ready to take the stage for about a half hour now….they do realize they aren\’t the first speaker right??

11:34 – Pawlenty is done speaking…to the tune of \”Fortunate Son\”.

11:35 – We\’re about to begin the Governor endorsement process….

11:38 – According to credentials, we are just short of being a full delegation.

11:40 – Okay we\’re beginning the endorsement process, the motion has been made and passed.

11:42 – Everyone but Leslie Davis agreed to abide by the endorsement.  That caused some annoyance in the nominating committee, because at first he didn\’t have enough signatures to pass the nominating process.  So the members of the nominating committee signed for him just to give him enough signatures…..and then they asked him to abide by the endorsement and he refused.

11:48 – Herwig is speaking

11:52 – Okay I was trying to decide whether to publish this but I\’m going to toss this out there, but I repeat this is a VERY unconfirmed rumor.  Supposedly there is someone coming to endorse Emmer for Governor that requires a very high level of security, as in higher than anyone else so far.  Keep in mind we have Congressman, former Senators and a Governor in the room.  Who could possibly need even more security??

Obviously there are suspicions…most prominent is Sarah Palin.  The Emmer campaign had wanted her endorsement to be secret until today, but it leaked yesterday and they are pissed about it.  Originally the idea was to have her record a video endorsing Emmer and have it played during his speech, but that apparently feel through.  So some are wondering if she\’s making an appearance instead.

I find that hard to believe….if you didn\’t even have an opening in your schedule to record a video, how would you have an opening to attend the convention??

But to be honest, I\’m a little struggling on an alternate name that fits the mold….although like I pointed out this is just a RUMOR at this point.

12:06 – Phil Herwig is done speaking.

\"\"12:07 – While Phil was speaking, had a chance to talk with Michelle Bachmann.  She was very adamant about staying out of the Governor\’s race, she\’s not endorsing anyone.  And she complimented how civil the entire process has been.

12:08 – Marty Seifert is on stage, being introduced by Taxpayer\’s League\’s Phil Krinkie.

12:19 – Huge response from the crowd for Seifert, it looks to be roughly half the crowd.  I think we\’re up for a long endorsement battle here.

12:20 – I gotta compliment the Seifert campaign, they have been working the press area HARD.  Every fifteen minutes or so I have a Seifert staffer swinging by to drop off some information.  Couple minutes ago I got an advance copy of Seifert\’s speech.

\"\"12:27 – Lots of red meat in the speech obviously, it\’s a laundry list of conservative requests….immigration, taxes, spending, welfare, health care, etc, etc, etc

12:28 – He\’s done with his speech….confetti falling from the ceiling.

12:33 – Emmer\’s team has taken the stage….kind of a folksy theme to his presentation.

12:51 – Emmer just got done speaking….and I think there is a game of one-ups-manship going on.  Emmer had confetti falling all over the hall, plus pyrotechnics!

\"\"12:55 – Haas is speaking now…no supporters with him, he never gives up that\’s for sure.

12:57 – Looks like a lot of the delegates took this opportunity for lunch1:36 – I stepped out for a bit to go grab lunch.  Looks like most of the delegation is back, although none of them are paying attention to Leslie Davis who is currently at the podium.

1:37 – And Davis is done….balloting to being.

1:40 – Apparently 13 BPOUs have requested a roll call vote….

2:39 – How long does it take for a group of adults to figure out how to vote?? Forever.  In fact my BPOU had so much fun, we decided to do it twice…..we screwed up the first time.

2:40 – Ok the numbers are flying in precinct by precinct….you can see the numbers as they are reported at the MN GOP livestream, but it would be damn near impossible to report live here.

2:48 – Emmer definitely has the early lead….I\’m predicting 55% on the first ballot for Emmer.  Of course at that point Davis and Herwig and Haas are gone, since they don\’t appear to be getting to 5%.  But if it\’s a 55-45 breakdown, does Seifert concede or insist on a second ballot??

It\’s hard to say, I would not be surprised if he wanted to go to at least a second ballot.  If nothing changes then he\’d concede….or at least that\’s my prediction.

2:51 – I do have to point out how greatly the state party is making to ensure transparency here.  I mean they are literally broadcasting a view of the spreadsheet as they enter the numbers, and that same feed is up on the big screens here in the hall.  The entire delegation is literally looking over the shoulder of the person totaling up the votes.

2:55 – Seifert is picking up ground here, but I don\’t think anyone is going over the top here.

2:56 – Seifert is over 40% now….so it won\’t happen on the first ballot.  The question here is does he concede?  Or does he think he\’s got enough votes in his pocket?

3:01 – Ok here are the final numbers….

Emmer  – 1076 (53.3%)
Seifert – 865 (42.8%)
Haas – 26 (1.3%)
Herwig – 36 (1.8%)
Davis – 6 (0.3%)

My prediction of 55% was close.  Haas, Herwig and Davis are all dropped from contention.  With the winner needing 1196 to win, even the combined totals of the dropped three aren\’t enough

3:05 – Haas just conceded and endorsed Seifert

3:06 – Davis just addressed the convention and did not endorse anyone.

3:07 – Herwig addressed the convention and endorsed Marty Seifert.  That\’ll definitely be enough to at least convince Seifert to go to a second ballot.

3:12 – Rep. Kurt Zellers is addressing the convention.

3:13 – Okay as was pointed out in the comments my predictions are pretty good, so here\’s my new one.  I\’ve previously predicted Emmer after three.  I\’m making a slight modification….it will be two ballots and then a concession by Seifert.  I think he\’ll do a second ballot to find out where the Haas, Herwig and Davis votes go.  Plus you have to think both candidates hide some votes.  So he\’ll do a second ballot to find out where all these votes settled down to.

My guess is that the second ballot won\’t really change the margins a great deal.  You\’ll still have Marty in the mid to upper 40s and Emmer in the low to mid 50s.  But after that ultimately what is Seifert\’s strategy for gaining votes from Emmer??  His floor organization will already be tested on the second ballot so he can\’t fall back on that.

So second and then a concession by Seifert, Emmer wins.

3:19 – Dave Thompson is addressing the convention.  He\’s addressing party unity, using his battle with Tony Sutton for Party Chair as an example.

3:24 – Tea Party Patriots, one of the main Tea Party organizers in MN, are addressing the convention.  They are studiously denying that they have endorsed ANYONE.

3:28 – Okay remember when I said the Seifert campaign was working the press area hard?? Well they just evened up.  The Emmer campaign just came through with Rice Krispie bars for all the press area.

3:37 – Ok there was a slight change to the numbers for Emmer and Seifert…..basically there was some double-counting of the affiliate votes.  So it\’s actually Emmer 1062 and Seifert 859, the percentage changes were negligble.

What is an affiliate, it\’s basically groups like the Young Republicans or the College Republicans that we give a few token votes to, but since they span multiple Congressional Districts they are prone to making counting difficult.

3:39 – We\’re beginning the second ballot

\"\"3:53 – Okay had a chance to talk with Tom Emmer for awhile and then I had to go vote.  I think the key takeaway from the interview was that despite what Phil Herwig says, he thought Herwigs votes were coming to his side.  If Emmer\’s percentage goes up at all, it\’s over.

3:57 – HELP!!! The Emmer team is attacking the press area!!!

4:00 – It\’s kind of amusing that the people in the press area are exchanging predictions.  General concensus seems to be that Seifert will concede after two.  Because really what\’s the logic for a third??  On the other hand there are a few claiming we\’ll go to a third ballot because Seifert is going to depend on his floor organization to turn some votes for him.

I just don\’t see that happening.  I\’ve been on the floor and the Emmer team seems far more organized and effective than the Seifert team.

4:00 – Tony Sutton is presenting the local elected official of the year award….the mayor of Plymouth, Kelli Slavik, won.

4:09 – Sitting next to Eric Black today in the press area, he reminded me of a part of the Emmer interview I had forgot to mention.  Someone tried to trip him up on support for public stadiums, because there is a rumor going on that his Lt. choice supports public funding for them.  He pointed out it doesn\’t matter, it\’s what he believes that matters and that is that we should support the Vikings to keep them in Minnesota.  But then went on to say we should support ALL business, not just the Vikings, by creating a climate that makes Minnesota the place to be.

So while he doesn\’t specifically rule out public funding he certainly left the impression that the Vikings shouldn\’t get special treatment than any other business.

4:12 – We\’ve moving onto debate on the platform while we\’re waiting for results on the second ballot.

4:14 – Another motion to kill the platform and go back to just a statement of principles

4:30 – Carol Malnau is addressing the convention…

4:41 – Second ballot results are in…

Emmer – 1118 (56%)
Seifert – 876 (43.8%)

Ok that means it\’s all but officially over….Emmer needs 60% and he\’s damn close.  Now does Seifert concede or make us do a third ballot?

\"\"4:46 – Seifert just conceded and endorsed Emmer!!!

4:57 – Ok there is much celebration on stage.  Seifert and Emmer did the show of unity on stage together, holding raised hands.  Pictures will be up soon.  We also endorsed Meeks for Lt. Gov.

4:59 – We just adjourned until tomorrow morning….here are some pictures from the celebration….






I\’ll see you tomorrow!

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Posted in 2010 Elections, 2010 MN GOP Convention, True North | 18 Comments »

GOP State Convention 2010

April 29th, 2010 by Kevin

Ok I\’m here at the MN GOP State Convention in Minneapolis.  Convention actually started at 6:30 PM, but at 7 PM I\’m still getting settled in.  Between setting up all my stuff and squaring away our BPOU I think I\’m also ready for business.  I\’ll be blogging the events of the days, both official and un-official and those will follow below.  Start at the top and keep scrolling…

\"\"7:15 – Stanek got a chance to speak before credentials and he notably made clear his support for carry permits.  The crowd gave that a big applause.  And so did I as a carry permit holder, who is exercising that right.

7:18 – The Severson campaign was staged to take the stage but apparently they didn\’t realize this credentials stuff always takes about an hour and they just broke up.

7:24 – Credentials are finished….we\’re getting ready for Auditor speeches, but in the meantime we\’re hearing from the Rules Committee via Michael Brodkorb.

7:27 – Ok now that I\’m caught up with happenings.  It\’s time to report some of the unofficial stuff happening.  Biggest news on the floor is the two most recent endorsements for Governor, and neither of them bode well for Seifert.  Sarah Palin endorsed Emmer via Facebook/Twitter this afternoon.  And the Star&Sickle (Star Tribune) endorsed Marty Seifert.  Upon hearing this news, most Emmer supporters break out in a grin.  Seifert supporters make a less than pleasant face.

7:34 – Mark Drake, the communications director, just swung by to let us know that as of tonite all candidates will be nominated, with the exception of Governor.  And for Governor, five candidates passed the nominating committee, those being Bill Haas, Phil Herwig, Tom Emmer, Marty Seifert and Leslie Davis….the rest didn\’t show up.

\"\"7:37 – It\’s always obvious who is new to these proceedings and has a little too much gumption for their experience.  There was some protest to the floor as to what constitutes a \”roll call\” vote.  The speaker apparently wanted all votes secret….which is fine, but eventually at least the totals need to be revealed….which wasn\’t okay with her.  Apparently having the BPOU chair stand up and report the number of Yay/Nay votes in their BPOU is too much like a union hall for her.  Nevermind that this isn\’t exactly new to conventions.

7:40 – Already the delegates are a little annoyed by the acoustics of the convention hall.  Even though conversations have been taken OFF the convention floor, they still echo off the walls and make it hard to hear on the floor.

8:03 – I went to grab something to eat, and came back to find out that Mitch Berg next to me, had lined up an interview with Pat Anderson, who is running for State Auditor.  Regarding her chances she\’s very positive, if it were just delegates she\’s positive she\’d have it on the first ballot.  But she isn\’t confident where the alternates stand.  So it might take a ballot or two for things to settle down.

8:05Theresa Collett is speaking.  She\’s running for Congress in the 4th District.  Big applause.

8:12Lee Byberg is speaking.  He\’s running for Congress in the 7th District.

8:15 – Some commentary on the convention itself.  We\’re not in the auditorium this year, we\’re in Hall E….which resembles a giant aircraft hanger.  Bleachers on either side for alternates and guests.  Chairs in the middle for delegates.  Stage with two screens and a flag up front.  Bleachers in the back, behind the TV cameras, which are overflow seating but are mostly there to create a wall so that there can be a row of vendors behind it, but still in the convention hall.  Meanwhile I\’m in the press area off to the left side (hehe) of the stage.

Some campaigns have hung banners above the delegation.  Seifert and Emmer of course.  Bachmann has a small one up.  Herwig has a GIANT ugly neon green one hanging as well, that says \”Change We Can Believe In\”.  Really?? Ugh.

It\’s absolutely impossible to get in and out of the convention hall without being accosted by staff/supporters of a number of candidates.  At first you feel bad about waving them off but ultimately I\’m not making my decision 5 minutes before endorsement based upon something I read on a pamphlet.

\"\"8:24 – There is a motion on the floor to delay the endorsement for Auditor to tomorrow.  Basically the reasoning being that there are some Congressional Districts that have to drive a great distance and they are not well represented right now.

8:33 – Motion failed…by a huge margin.  From the debate on the floor, clearly one of the campaigns took stock of what the credentials report told them and knew they were in trouble and tried to change things to buy themselves time to get more of their supporters here.  From our conversation with Pat Anderson earlier I think it\’s safe to say it\’s not her campaign.

8:40 – Nominating Committee is reporting one candidate for Secretary of State, Dan Severson.

8:41 – And the Dan Severson horde takes the stage….we\’re gonna need a bigger stage.

Um is \”Danger Zone\” really the best campaign song???

8:43 – Uh, never mind, I just learned he\’s a former Navy Pilot….nevermind, it makes sense now.  My bad.  In fact the slideshow behind him while he\’s talking includes pictures of F-14s and such.  Cool.

8: 54 – Dan Severson has been endorsed for Secretary of State.

8:58 – Nominating Committee reports here is one candidate for Attorney General, Chris Barden.  His gang is up on stage now.

9:14 – Chris Barden has been endorsed for Attorney General

9:16 – Okay now we\’re getting ready for the endorsement for State Auditor.  There are four candidates, Pat Anderson, Tom Conlon, Randy Gilbert and Jeff Wiita.  That will be the speaking order.

Motion to endorse for Auditor passed so this will happen tonite, latecomers be damned.

9:18 – Pat Anderson\’s presentation is on…a video presentation, instead of speeches.

9:28 – Pat is done speaking….a little lackluster compared to her usual self.

9:29 – Tom Conlon is up and speaking

9:38 – Wow….Conlon in his speech just withdrew from the race and endorsed Pat Anderson.  It took him this long to get to it so it took everyone by surprise.

9:40 – Randy Gilbert\’s team is up.

9:50 – And finally Wiita is up….he\’s not a real good public speaker.  If he\’s smart he\’ll have his daughter do his speech for him.  I have no idea how old she is but when she gets older she\’s one to keep an eye on because she has a natural ability for public speaking.  Of course, that\’s assuming she\’s not just interested in this because her dad is running.

9:54 – He did not…he\’s speaking

10:00 – Okay we\’re preparing to beginning balloting instructions.  I really wouldn\’t expect this to take too many ballots.  It\’s basically Anderson vs Gilbert.  I\’m expecting high single digits for Wiita.  Then mid-30s for Gilbert, with the balance going to Anderson.  Then Anderson will take it on the second ballot.

10:06 – I forgot to mention….Luke Hellier of MDE is sitting nearby me here in the press area.  He\’s live-blogging as well.  Got to catch up on the latest gossip through him as well.

Derek Brigham stopped by to chat as well, and he\’s got some minor scandal about the resolutions committee that I\’ll share soon.

10:38 – Beginning discussion of resolutions. So, onto the gossip… Basically a lot of people have complaints about how God awful the current platform is….it\’s approximately 7584 pages long and half of it contradicts the other half.  It\’s absolutely impossible to \”support the platform\” unless you have some major mental issues.

So in answer to that, weeks ago CD3 unanimously passed a document that sought to be an alternative to the standing platform.  Mitch posted about it here and here….the first link including a preliminary version of the writeup.  All they wanted was to present it as a marketing tool.  There was a huge debate in the resolutions committee….which was finally settled when one of the people supporting it accidentally cast a ballot the wrong way.  As a result it won\’t actually be presented to the delegates, but there will be an effort from the floor to try to present it.

10:57 – We\’re working on resolutions….this is the part of conventions I hate.  It used to be so exciting when I was new, after all I was helping to write the GOP platform!!  And then I lost my innocence and realised none of it really matters.  As I said it\’s impossible to support the platform.  And it\’s horrendously long so nobody actually reads it.  The only use it has is for DFLers to use against our candidates.  Time to delete and start over….with basic broad principles we can all agree with, rather than getting bogged down in the weeds of policy.

11:03 – A motion to do what I just said, was just made from the floor (not by me!).  Basically to delete the platform and write a set of principles we can all agree with.  It was ruled out of order at this time since we\’re discussing changes to the platform.  Later we\’ll have the chance to vote up or down the entire platform.

11:15 – Thirty-seven minutes later, we just adopted Section 1….dear Lord have mercy on us…

11:21 – Another motion to delete the platform and just kept the planks of principle.

\"\"11:22 – There was just a motion that people are having too much fun socializing and visiting and discussing issues, so that we should table further discussion of the platform till tomorrow.  Basically that we\’re to adjourn to social/happy hour.

And the motion passed.

11:24 – We have the results for the first ballot for auditor and there will be a need for another ballot

Anderson – 860 (47.9%)
Gilbert – 598 (34.3%)
Wiita – 327 (18.2%)
Conlon – 5 (o.3)

1078 (60%) is needed for endorsement, so we\’re going to a second ballot.  By the rules Conlon, and only Conlon is dropped from consideration since he did not get 5%.  This is roughly what I expected the first ballot to be so I\’m not hugely surprised although Wiita apparently has more support than I thought.

11:28 – It occurs to me that we\’re in for more than a second ballot.  Basically Anderson is the clear leader.  However, Wiita if he drops out, will likely throw his support to Gilbert.  Even if all Wiita\’s votes follow him to Gilbert, it\’s not enough to put Gilbert over the edge.  So regardless, this comes down to either Anderson or Gilbert trying to convince the others supporters to swing their vote to them.

This could very well go beyond three ballots now that we\’re in this situation.

\"\"11:32 – We just had a motion to adjourn.  Seriously???  After one ballot?? If you\’re wussing out now, what are you going to do tomorrow when we\’re arguing over endorsement for Governor all day long???  Buck up buttercup., it\’s not even midnight.

12:24 – Ok we have the results of the second ballot and we\’re going to a third ballot.  1032 was the needed number of votes to get 60%.  Here are the results

Anderson – 900 (56.5%)
Gilbert – 600 (34.9%)
Wiita – 140 (8.1%)
Blank – 117 (There were only 36 last time)

So we\’re still short of 60% of endorsement.  Basically both Anderson and Gilbert kept their votes.  Wiita dropped almost a couple hundred, but most of them kept their ballots blank.  Had they just voted we\’d be done.

12:28 – There was a motion to recess, because the speaker didn\’t think there were enough people in the hall to achieve the 60% (which still requires at least 50% of the original strength).  That motion failed.

12:30 – We\’ll get it on the third ballot I\’m pretty sure.

12:57 – Someone (couldn\’t catch the name) is celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary with us here. Wow.  Congrats but I could think of much better things to be doing for a wedding anniversary.

1:01 – Yet another wedding anniversary being celebrated here.

1:02 – State Party is asking all delegates to bring non-perishable food items in for their food drive.

1:03 – Yet a third wedding anniversary being celebrated here….WTF?

1:08 – Wow….now we\’re singing Happy Birthday to one of the delegates.  The convention is starting to get a little goofy.

1:10 – Oh I forgot to mention, I ran into Andrew Rothman, a very highly regarded carry permit instructor, here at the convention.  He\’s open carrying, which I was very glad to see, but as far as I am aware he is the only one open carrying.  I briefly considered it since concealing in dress clothes can be a pain but ultimately sitting back in the press area that would just cause more problems.  So it\’s loosely concealed under a light jacket.

But I highly recommend that anyone considering getting their permit contact Andrew.  He\’s an excellent instructor, look him up.

1:20 – Randy Gilbert is addressing the convention to concede and is endorsing Pat Anderson.

1:22 – Motion to endorse Pat Anderson, which passed.

1:24 – Motion to adjourn until 9 AM, which passed.

See ya tomorrow!

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Meet the 2010 GOP Gubernatorial Candidates!

January 29th, 2010 by Kevin

Here\’s your chance to sit down and chat with your 2010 GOP Gubernatorial Candidates.  Get to know each candidates and their policy positions, as well as any bad table manners they may have, as you join them for an delicious Asian cuisine!

The event will take place this Saturday, January 30th from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Song Long Restaurant, located at:

14871 Granada Drive
Apple Valley, MN 55124

The public is welcome and we only ask $10 at the door, with your meal included in the price.

This is your last chance to get to know the candidates before the 2010 Precinct Caucuses.  Once you know which candidate you support you can go to your precinct caucuses and become a delegate so you can have a chance to support that Gubernatorial candidate in the endorsement process.  If you\’ve complained about the quality of candidates before, this is your chance to get to know the candidates, pick the one you like best and then join the process to make sure they are the one up for election.

If you stay home, not only will you be hungry, but you miss a chance to participate in the democratic process and ensure the GOP has quality candidates going into 2010.

See you there!

[Event is sponsored by the Senate District 37 Republicans]

[Full disclosure : I\’m part of the Senate District 37 Republicans]

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Note To Norm

January 14th, 2010 by Kevin

Word out there is that Norm Coleman is thinking about getting into the Governor\’s race.  I think I\’ve made it clear I\’m not a fan of Norm, in fact I\’ve NEVER voted for him and I don\’t feel the least bit bad about it.  So I\’m sure my opposition to his potential candidacy doesn\’t carry a whole lot of weight, but it really comes down to some pretty simple realities

Norm got beat by a wrestler and a clown, the only person he\’s ever beaten was a dead man. This can NOT be the best the MN GOP can offer for Minnesota.  If it is we may as well just close shop right away and save ourselves the painful embarrassment of flopping on our faces in 2010.

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CD2 Gubernatorial Candidate Debate

September 29th, 2009 by Kevin

Attended CD2\’s Gubernatorial Candidate debate tonite, and while I\’ve met/talked to most of the candidates one-on-one, it was interesting to see how they handled the group format.  While there was nothing wrong with the event and the organizers did a great job, unfortunately at this stage of the game, the group format isn\’t always the most informative.   Let\’s face it, all of them are fairly mainstream conservatives and there aren\’t going to differ on many, if any, of the issues.  This is exactly what happened on many of the questions.  If not for the politician\’s inate ability to turn a one word answer into a 1000 word diatribe, the whole debate would have been over within 15 minutes.

At this stage of the game in order for things to get informative or interesting, discussion has to inevitably fall into one of two categories.

Policy Hell

This is both the most interesting and frequently most boring category.  This is also where an inexperienced candidate gets bogged down in details.  You end up losing most of the audience and the few that are still paying attention are probably more updated on the details than the candidate is.  In the end the discussions drives way off the beaten path into the rhubarb.

Which isn\’t to say it\’s necessarily bad.  For example, the 65461 Minnesotans with carry permits have been very disappointed in the Pawlenty administration, specifically Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion, for their inability to fulfill their promise to uphold the law regarding the reciprocity issue.  So many of those 65K carry permit holders hold a great deal of animosity towards Pawlenty, and by extension Republicans, and have withheld their support.  They\’re going to want to hear that the next Republican isn\’t going to pull the same idiocy.

Now you start that conversation and most of the audience isn\’t going to have a clue what you\’re talking about.  And even if you have a coherent answer, you\’re debating with a guy that lives and breathes this stuff.  On the other hand, if you can pull off having that conversation without losing the rest of the audience, heh, you just convinced 65K voters to vote for you.


When the menu is the same at every restaurant, it comes down to presentation (and cost but that doesn\’t work as well in my analogy).  If we all agree on the ideas and changes that need to be made, it comes down to how you get things done.  Which candidate can best present out ideas?  Which candidate can best present them in a way that appeals to the Average Joe.  Which candidate can generate the funds to get that message out in an effective way?

This I think is where most of the discussion of candidates needs to revolve around.  Even if you very generally look at each candidate through this lense, you\’ll find that our nine candidate field, pretty much boils down to four \”serious\” candidates.*  If you don\’t have the ability to raise millions in campaign funds, and then use that money to effectively deliver our message to the masses, you\’re just taking up space.  And by effectively deliver, I mean in a manner other than what we\’ve been doing.

Hopefully future events can stick to these areas of differentiation, rather than engage in a lot of preaching to the choir.

*No I\’m not going to name the four.  I\’m trying to keep it productive rather that get in a pissing match with each candidates supporters.

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