Today’s Daily Reformer. Democrats: Be very afraid

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Democrats: It’s time. All of your submerged anxieties are entirely reasonable, and you can scream into the pillow and no one will think you’re crazy. 

“What a (expletive) clown show,” a DFL operative texted me last night. 

“I’m very worried about this election,” a prominent Democrat told me Thursday, putting it rather mildly. “If you’re betting, the money is on us losing,” he told me.  

If the impeachment saga showed anything, it’s that Republicans will hold together under almost any circumstances. (Using instruments of American foreign policy to dig up dirt on your political opponents would have been unthinkable just a couple years ago for people like Sens. Marco Rubio or Susan Collins. Now: It’s fine.) They know their political survival is at stake; if the Senate GOP caucus followed Sen. Mitt Romney’s lead and voted to convict, the party would face the worst electoral defeat since 1974, so they had no choice but to stick with the Great Orange God.

Democrats do not value unity the same way, and they’re not in a position to anyway — they’ve just begun what looks like a long, bruising nomination battle. 

The disunity of 2016 wound up costing them the election — 10 percent of Democrats voted Republican or for someone other than the nominee and a fair number stayed home altogether. 

“Nothing gives me any indication we learned our lessons and that we’re going to come together to beat Trump,” the Democratic source warned.    

I’m usually one to dismiss inside baseball imbroglios as meaningless in the grander scheme, but the Iowa fiasco has real consequences.

National Dem Party Chair Tom Perez reversed course less than 10 hours after announcing that he was “calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass.” He told Rachel Maddow last night he had actually been calling only for isolated recanvassing of areas where irregularities had been reported in the caucus results: Times.

The problem with the Iowa chaos (results and roundup from our sister site at Iowa Capital Dispatch) is that it lends itself to the kinds of conspiracy mongering that was common in 2016, ready made for the social media era in which misinformation can spread like fire in a drought-stricken forest. 

And in Nevada, which also has a caucus, Democrats are worried that similar snafus will bedevil their own vote count, our sister publication Nevada Current is reporting.The Nevada Democratic Party paid $58,000 to Shadow Inc, a tech company affiliated with the Democratic nonprofit group Acronym, for collecting and reporting caucus results in August for ‘technology services.’” That’s the same app developer that messed up in Iowa. 

The bigger problem than the internal mismanagement, chaos and finger-pointing, however,  are the candidates. 

As Jonathan Chait points out, moderates and liberals are not united around a single candidate, while the left seems to have coalesced around Sen. Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden is limping into New Hampshire, a notoriously provincial state that often backs locals (like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren). Pete Buttigieg is already surging there. The Nevada caucus will again favor the kinds of organization that Biden lacks and Sanders thrives on. Which means Biden goes into his supposed firewall of South Carolina having lost three straight contests and an organized effort by Republicans to help Sanders in that open Democratic primary, in which GOP voters are being urged to cross over to help Trump. Biden, it seems, just isn’t up to the task. And it’s unclear that Buttigieg, the former mayor of a small Rust Belt City, can really rally the party around himself and take out Sanders. 

As I argued in this space recently, Sanders is not as unelectable as many imagine. You can picture him winning the non college whites so crucial to the contests in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Carpenters lobbyist and longtime DFL operative Adam Duininck noted to me that Sanders has strong appeal among the blue collar workers in the Midwest like the ones he represents. The other candidate they like, he told me, is, naturally, Trump. (The carpenters have not endorsed, however.) 

If it seems crazy that people would vote Obama and then Trump and then Sanders, then you haven’t talked to very many actual voters, who are not ideological in the same way that most readers of this newsletter are. Given the tenor of the times, it’s easy to imagine the country swinging from a right wing populist to a left wing populist. (See all the labor unrest below.) From an ostentatiously wealthy New York hustler to the son of an immigrant paint salesman. We tend to elect people who are the opposite of their predecessor.   

But let’s not be naive. A 79-year-old Vermont socialist who had a heart attack six months ago and went on a 10 day honeymoon to the old Soviet Union will not be an easy sell in the suburban districts that were so important to the Democrats’ 2018 election victory. 

Moving on: 

Results of SEIU Health Care Minnesota strike vote today. Another SEIU local will announce results of an even bigger strike vote tomorrow. 

That Mary Franson tweet I noted yesterday about Bill and Melinda Gates being somehow involved in the development of bioweapons was straight outta InfoWars, so that’s cool. 

Also, regarding yesterday’s bit about 1st District Rep. Jim Hagedorn living in Saint Louis Park — as stated on a campaign finance filing — Strib Hot Dish reports this morning that “a Hagedorn spokesman (says) that the Congressman ‘has a house in Blue Earth and spends a large majority of his time in the district’ when back in Minnesota.” So I’m sure the DCCC won’t run ads calling him out for living in Saint Louis Park. Crystal Ball moved the race from likely to lean R. 

Today on the Reformer:

  • Rilyn Eischens has a deep dive on the Page-Kashkari proposal to put quality education language in the state constitution. There’s debate in the education community about whether the legal mechanism can really work. This is the most complete examination of the debate I’ve seen in Minnesota media. Take a look.
  • Continuing the education theme, Windom H.S. teacher Lee Carlson offers a guest commentary on an emerging problem in Minnesota schools: Lack of quality administrators. Dozens of school districts are in need of superintendents every year. 
  • Minneapolis Council Member Abdi Warsame’s move to become executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority will require a waiver from federal HUD, otherwise he has to wait a year. Did people know this? Why aren’t Minneapolis and Warsame returning calls from reporter Max Nesterak

Your Friday long read: Unscrupulous maker of child safety seats exposed in this devastating ProPublica report. 

“Evenflo tests were anything but stringent, internal company documents show. The company’s tests show that when child-sized crash dummies seated in Big Kid boosters were subjected to the forces of a T-bone collision, they were thrown far out of their shoulder belts. Evenflo’s top booster seat engineer would later admit in a deposition if real children moved that way, they could suffer catastrophic head, neck and spinal injuries — or die. Yet Evenflo gave its seats passing grades.”

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Have a great day and a great weekend! JPC