Daily Reformer: Klobuchar takes credit for Minnesota civic activism

January 15, 2020 11:45 pm

Good morning! 

New this morning: In an unsurprising hit to the presidential campaign of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, TakeAction Minnesota has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. The lefty grassroots groups boasts 50,000 members — a strong army of volunteers for Sanders campaign here. 

The Dems debated with less than 3 weeks until Iowa. No one really won and TV got its dumb “moment” but not until after.  

Minnesota’s own Klobuchar said this: “I have won every race, every place, every time. I have gotten the highest voter turnout when I’ve led the ticket.”  

Apparently she’s been saying this down in Iowa, about voter turnout when she’s on the ticket. “And as for a fired up Democratic base — because you might have some of that in Iowa City — I have gotten the highest voter turnout when I led this ticket in the country. Sorry, Iowa,” she said in December, according to the Daily Iowan. She said something similar to the Times editorial board

It’s the small things that often bother us, right? What she’s saying is factually correct. Minnesota had high turnout in 2006, 2012 and 2018, and it’s also true the DFL had good elections in those years, when of course they had blustery national winds at their backs. 

But it’s also deeply misleading — we all know Minnesota traditionally has one of the highest voter turnouts in the country, every year. It’d be like saying the State Fair gets great attendance when Amy’s there. 

We have high voter turnout because we believe in citizenship. Our social movements go back generations. She’s trying to take credit for something that belongs to long dead Minnesotans, and those of us here now who believe deeply in self-governance.  

End rant, though obviously more to say about Klobuchar in the weeks and maybe months ahead. She was fifth in the Des Moines Register’s vaunted poll released last weekend, ominously behind two other moderates, as Stephen Montemayor notes in this sober take in the Star Tribune.

The Times breaks down the debate, which featured foreign affairs, electability, the new NAFTA, health care and, of course, the row between Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over who said what to whom. 

DFL operative Ashley Fairbanks tweeted on Monday: Please someone just put me into a coma until we have a nominee.

In today’s Reformer: Joey Peters and Alex Wittenberg, a couple of talented writers, look at why the city of Minneapolis — and specifically Mayor Jacob Frey — shut down discussions of a safe injection site. That’s where drug users ingest in a medically supervised facility, monitored and nudged into treatment. It’s been shown to work elsewhere in the world.

The latest GOP health care fad is to get patients to shop around for their medical care. The idea is that with skin in the game — forgive the pun — patients will create competition and force down prices. Rep. Jennifer Schultz is a UMD health economist who is going to regularly write about health care policy for us, and she takes a look at the idea. Spoiler alert: Health care is not like shopping for a TV. 

More on the Senate DFL minority leader race that we talked about in Tuesday’s inaugural Daily Reformer. A DFL operative and another DFL source close to the situation say a major criticism of Sen. Tom Bakk is that the Senate DFL campaign strategy and tactics are out-of-date. Campaigns have undergone massive change in the past decade with the use of social and other digital media and vast troves of psychographic data. The Senate DFL has not caught up, these Dems say. 

In December, the Senate DFL campaign hired Laura Vance, a digital and small donor pro who managed the successful campaign of Mitra Jalali Nelson for St. Paul Council. A DFL operative points to heavy digital spending in the 2018 special Senate election as evidence that the Senate DFL is catching up, though it was ultimately for naught. 

Another interesting fact about the caucus election: If it’s 16-16, tie goes to Bakk.

Gov. Tim Walz is doing more infrastructure events today, 10 a.m. Department o Public Safety, Emergency Operations Center. They’re getting extremely friendly coverage out of this bonding bonanza. Later he has a closed press meeting with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire. (What? Why?)

Sam Fettig, the former press secretary to former Gov. Mark Dayton, is not pleased that Walz took a pass when the Star Tribune asked him about Beltrami County refusing refugee resettlement and whether it could affect state funding. Walz said, “I’m not interested in that. These are our neighbors. We’re one Minnesota.” 

Now Fettig: 

“Can’t stop thinking about how disappointed I am in this response by Gov. Walz … Sacrificing the wellbeing of our most vulnerable to the demands of nativists isn’t unity, it’s cowardice. Compare and contrast to Gov. Dayton in 2015: ‘This is Minnesota and you have every right to be here. And anybody who cannot accept your right to be here, and this is Minnesota, should find another state.’”

It’s a classic and — for Republicans — infamous Dayton quote. 

The DFL family has a Dayton crew and a Walz crew. There’s some crossover, obviously, but they feel pretty distinct to me. 

We’ll have more on Walz soon, as I get back up to speed. Here’s Peter Callaghan with a Walz Q and A on his first year, “edited and condensed for clarity.”  Capitol press corps is all LOL. 

Back to the refugee issue, MPR’s Riham Feshir has a good story about the rumors and misinformation that flooded the Beltrami refugee debate. 

“Like any rumor, it’s difficult to pin down where this one started. It began a few months ago when some residents saw social media posts saying 2,500 Syrian or Somali refugees would resettle in Bemidji and in housing specifically built for them.”

Paul Novotny will likely replace Nick Zerwas in the MN House after winning a GOP primary. He’s a Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office sergeant. 

Interesting: MN Senate Republicans rolled out their legislative agenda Monday and it includes a voter ID proposal. Which Minnesotans rejected in 2012 in a ballot referendum, but state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer will not be denied

Brian Bakst reports via Twitter that two of the most endangered Senate GOP incumbents due to the changing districts, Sens. Karin Housley and Paul Anderson, will both report more than $100K on hand. These will be extraordinarily expensive races. 

More evidence that President Donald Trump sent his people to lean on the Ukrainians to help him in his reelection campaign, plus some menacing details about the U.S. ambassador there being surveilled. Not cool. 

When’s the going away party, madam chair? I still have to pay off that bet I lost. 🙂 

During my hiatus Peter Beinart flagged something that I have harped on — politicians who are insulated from good faith criticism, even from their own staffs. It’s a huge problem for VP Joe Biden, and it was for Hillary Clinton, as well. If you’re making a wrong move, you need people on your team who can tell you. That’s what they’re there for. 

Back to Jill Lepore’s “These Truths.” (If you’re just joining us, it’s the one volume history of the United States I’m sharing a little bit of each day.) Here she describes 1619, when the colonists formed their first legislative body, the House of Burgesses, while a month later 20 slaves arrived after being taken by Portuguese slave ship in Africa before captured by an English privateer. 

Twenty Englishmen were elected to the House of Burgesses. Twenty Africans were condemned to the house of bondage. Another chapter opened in the American book of genesis: Liberty and slavery became the American Abel and Cane. 

Have a great day all! 

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children