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Convention Wisdom

This Saturday is the DFL convention for Senate District 65.  We’ll show up early at Central High School so that we have plenty of time to greet old friends and comrades we’ve worked both for and against through various elections and issues.  With the temperature poking up over freezing, it may prove to be a hard day to keep us all focused on the politics.  But March has more happening than a little warmth and a few state tournaments – it’s the real start of political season.

We recently learned that the hole in our Minnesota’s budget is a billion bucks for this two-year period and five billion more for the next.  The disaster will almost certainly be passed on to whoever becomes Governor, and that’s about all we have to work towards deciding at our Senate District convention.

The problem is even more than the numbers, however.   The Citizen’s League outlines how most of the budget is on auto-pilot, meaning that it was approved for a multi-year period long ago.  Thanks to a deal brokered by our now-Governor Pawlenty, we account for inflation on the income side but not the expenditures side.

These are only the structural problems.  The process of crafting a budget requires tremendous leadership as the numbers get tighter, and I have to fault our own DFL team for not stepping up and uniting behind their leaders but only getting crankier.  The Governor has taken large hunks out of aid to local governments, creating property tax hikes and destroying the progressivity of our once proud system.

As we approach who we will want to represent the DFL in the Governor’s race, it’s worth noting that the only living DFLer who once occupied that office is Wendell Anderson, back in 1977.  His “Minnesota Miracle”, which made so much of what we take for granted in this state, has completely unraveled.

How do you choose a Governor to fix the horrible mess that Pawlenty has left behind as he makes his case to become President of the US?  I think the first thing we have to do is not dwell on the outgoing Gov’s chutzpah at thinking he’s remotely qualified to lead anything after his performance here and focus on our own future.  After all, Pawlenty clearly has already checked out of the office – so let’s just leave it behind.

I’m going to caucus for Margaret Anderson Kelliher, our Speaker of the House, because we need proven skills and strong leadership.  I was upset at the performance of the last Legislative session, certainly, but Kelliher was the one solid rock that made it possible for us to accomplish anything.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t be happy with just about anyone on our ballot.  It seems that it’s likely to come down to a contest between Kelliher and Minneapolis Mayor Rybak for endorsement, and either one is likely to make an excellent Governor.  John Marty has an outside chance, and I know he’s a very good person, too.

I simply have to go with Kelliher because she understands firsthand how terribly screwed up things have gotten in great detail.  She’s an excellent leader who understands how to build alliances and use power effectively, too.  Her focus on job creation makes it clear that she understands the great pain that the mismanagement has caused across the state, too.  She has the skills and the grounding to be an excellent leader through very difficult times that certainly lie ahead of us.

The convention on Saturday will be intense in many ways.  My daughter will be there with us to see how it all happens, which is more than an education for her on the Iowa Walking Subcaucus System.  It’s a reminder to all of us that we’re about to pass a great legacy on to a new generation after having shredded and nearly destroyed it.  But we are DFLers, and as long as there are warm hearts, strong arms, and clear minds we can make it work again.  Those are the stakes in this election.

I’m not always one to stay with the leadership, but Kelliher still looks to me like our best chance to gather up the energy that made Minnesota great and do it up all over again.  I’m excited about moving on and getting it accomplished.

As always, I’d love to know what you think.  If you’re a Minnesotan, who do you support and why?  If you live in another state, what’s up at your end?  If you’re in another nation, well … I’ll try to have something more interesting for you on Friday, OK?

11 thoughts on “Convention Wisdom

  1. I’m glad you’re behind Kelliher. You did not even mention that she would be the first woman governor, a bit milestone for Minnesota! But she is a good choice in so many ways that you said very well here.

  2. I like the part about not dwelling on Pawlenty and looking forward instead. I also appreciate your opinions on the candidates. Have a good time at the caucus and I hope your daughter does too.

  3. I like Rybak a lot and I think he’ll bring a lot of new thinking and energy into the office. I do agree that anyone on the DFL side would be a lot better than what we have now.

  4. Thanks, everyone, as always. We have a strong DFL team, but we have to start getting things done in a hurry if we’re going to avoid slipping any further behind. Our legacy is not something we can simply rest on anymore – if Minnesota is going to continue being and being known as the best, we have to work hard to make it so. That’s the real legacy we inherited, after all. Let’s make it happen!

  5. We could really use a second “Minnesota Miracle.” Without dwelling too much on our current bum, one of the miracle’s greatest achievements was establishing an equalizing effect on educational funding throughout the state via redistribution of funds to schools. In the early 70’s passing county bonding bills for school improvements meant serious hardship to farmers and was divisive to communities.

    When the state legislature got its first democratic majority in ’73 (led by some guy named Martin Sabo), Anderson and the legislature were able to forge a more transparent government, an equal and high quality education system, and standard of living throughout the state. The funding structure of education they sought has been the opposite of our current part-time executive.

  6. I fear the days of a government actually working and getting good things done are in the past, never to be seen again 😦

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but partisanship has gotten way out of control. Greed and corruption has taken over and I fear permanent governmental gridlock.

  7. Molly: Naturally, I hope you’re wrong. I do feel that I have to assume there’s something we can do and keep trying, even if we don’t think it’s going to work. Think positive but act realistically, I say!

    Bruce: I’ve wanted to tackle the Minnesota Miracle for a long time, but I’ve been slow to do it. I don’t know a thing about how it came to be because I wasn’t here and I can’t find anything really good about what happened. If you have something to suggest as reading – or write something up yourself – I’d be forever grateful.

    But I do feel this is a very important topic because I completely agree that we need to do it up again. I just don’t know enough about it to say something intelligent right now. If there is some way I can get a good thread going where everyone chimes in their opinion/perspective I’d be very happy!

    How can we get this going, one way or the other? Educate me!

  8. I think the Minnesota miracle came from a number of things. The boom in the iron range due to WWII and post war demand. Most of the founding families Daytons, Pillsbury’s, Cowles and some of the home grown fortune 100 businesses 3M, etc. and their executives. Also some of the homogenity of the state primarily Lutheran with German Catholics.

  9. Pingback: Convention Contention « Barataria – the work of Erik Hare

  10. Pingback: Move Ahead with Kelliher! « Barataria – the work of Erik Hare

  11. Pingback: Move Ahead with Kelliher! « MN Political Roundtable

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