Daily Reformer: Klobuchar gets her moment, but we need some #realtalk

Good morning. 

The Democratic primary got even more interesting Tuesday night after Sen. Bernie Sanders cemented his frontrunner status by eking out a win against former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. (Having lived in South Bend, I still struggle to write that without laughing.)

First, in the Reformer: 

The number of refugees being resettled in Minnesota is down sharply in the Trump era. Rilyn Eischens has a good refugees data primer, including a county level map.  

Sheldon Clay, who has made ads for Harley-Davidson and Porsche, shares some branding advice for progressives. It strikes me as both simpler but also more challenging than you might think. I have a particular interest in the lame messaging of most political campaigns, so I’m happy that Sheldon will occasionally give us his expertise on this subject. 

The big local story is Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who scored an impressive third place on the strength of a bunch of late deciding voters who apparently liked her debate performance, final weekend energy and electability. (Dem voters are all pundits now about who can beat Trump; it’s bizarre.) She also dealt a serious blow to both Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who lost her neighboring state — and V.P. Joe Biden, who finished in single digits and left the state before the polls even closed. 

I downplayed Klobuchar’schances in Nevada, but news out of the all-important Culinary Union there provides her with a glimmer of hope. AP: 

“Nevada’s most influential union is sending a warning over the health care stances of the two most progressive Democratic contenders, including the current front-runner in the primary race. The casino workers’ Culinary Union, a 60,000-member group made up of housekeepers, porters, bartenders and more who work in Las Vegas’ famed casinos, is distributing leaflets that highlight that the health plans of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would eliminate the union’s health care plan.”

The race is in extreme flux. Sanders wins again and is printing money, but he didn’t improve much on his 2016 New Hampshire or Iowa results. Buttigieg is, well, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. Klobuchar needs to ramp up her operation quickly, as Super Tuesday is just three weeks away, and she is still largely unknown in important states like California and New York. (Remember 2008: This is a fight for delegates, not positive press.) Biden is still formidable, especially with Black voters in South Carolina, though perhaps he’ll start to slide there, too. Then there’s the Bloomberg factor. The billionaire is spending like me on Record Store Day, and it’s paying off in national polls, which are more important to the delegate count on Super Tuesday.   

Klobuchar gets a positive op-ed and nicely timed and very friendly profile in the Washington Post that dutifully retells her political origin story. She got engaged in citizen politics after an outrageous incident of insurance company callousness via the “drive-through delivery” of her daughter Abigail in 1995. As the piece notes, “Insurance companies and hospitals, eager to trim costs, were sending women home after a maximum 24-hour stay, even when their babies required further treatment. Opponents of the practice called them ‘drive-through deliveries.’”

You may get the impression from the piece that she was just a new mom fighting the outrages of the insurance companies. Here’s the Post: 

“Five months after the birth of her only child, Klobuchar made the short drive to St. Paul, Minn., to the state capitol, where she made her first appearance before a legislative committee. The case she argued was her own.”

Indeed, you have to read the piece closely to see Klobuchar was a political animal long before she helped overturn the 24-hour rule. 

Klobuchar says in her stump speech that after her legislative victory over the insurance companies, “The next thing that I did is just kind of start running for office.” The Post gently corrects her. 

“Actually, she had announced the year before Abigail was born that she was running for county attorney, the chief prosecutor position in the area around Minneapolis. But she had withdrawn immediately when the incumbent, an ally of hers, decided to seek another term.”

But it’s more than just her hanging around Hennepin County DFL politics. She was a registered lobbyist with some blue chip clients. Here’s the Star Tribune when she announced her presidential run: 

“According to records from the state Campaign and Public Disclosure Board, she was registered as a lobbyist for eight clients at various times between 1986 and 1998, the Star Tribune reported during her first U.S. Senate bid in 2006. Klobuchar said at the time her work was related to her law practice at a prominent Minneapolis firm. Her clients included Ford Motor Co., Hearing Industries Association, MCI, the Minnesota Association of Community Rehab Organizations and the Minnesota Habilitation Coalition.”

(You may be too young to remember that MCI was a huge telecom that crashed in an accounting scandal a few years later.) 

She was a partner in 1998 with Gray, Plant (now Lathrop GPM) which at the time was representing both R.J. Reynolds — the tobacco giant — and Children’s Hospital. (Awkward.) You can find an interesting piece about all the big Twin Cities firms selling out to the tobacco industry during the famous 1998 tobacco trial if you look in the Star Tribune archives, Feb. 15, 1998. (The archives are soooo worth the money.) 

Another thing: Klobuchar must have had a nice reconciliation with the health insurance industry. She’s received nearly $115,000 from UnitedHealth Group, behind only Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in all time donations, according to OpenSecrets. 

Look: We all have origin stories. I’m Irish-American, so I allow plenty of poetic license. But the idea that someone who had Fortune 500 lobbying clients was some sort of political naif tests my charitable credulity. 

Moving on … Ricardo Lopez spent the first day of the Legislature roaming the halls of the Capitol and ran into state Sen. Jim Abeler, who figured prominently in Ricardo’s big story about the dozen or more lawmakers who are, let’s call them anti-vaxx-curious. Here’s Ricardo: 

“Despite scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective, anti-vaccination groups continue spreading debunked information that have caused immunization rates to fall in some pockets of the state. The World Health Organization estimates that at least 10 million deaths were prevented between 2010 and 2015 around the globe thanks to vaccinations.”

Abeler said Tuesday in a Reformer interview that parents should be allowed to have “informed consent,” and he said parents who are skeptical of vaccines are being impugned. 

“Most of the people who have concerns about vaccines never thought twice about it until their own child got damaged or their friend was injured by a vaccine,” Abeler said. “It turns out they’re not nearly as safe as they’re told, and they’re not even as effective as they’re told.”

He continued: “The research on vaccines actually is relatively poor, for all the talk that there’s tons of research.”

That’s not true, according to experts like Dr. Robert M. Jacobson, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician who focuses on vaccine delivery, effectiveness and adverse consequences. Jacobson said vaccines undergo a number of quality and safety assurances that aren’t required of vitamins, supplements, and even prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Immunizations also face stringent testing before receiving regulatory approval — as well as continuous monitoring of adverse side effects. 

Back to Coolican: Who you gonna believe? Some fancy pants expert from Mayo or your friendly Anoka chiropractor?!

Trump and his attorney general intervened to help his friend and political fixer Roger Stone get a lesser sentence after he  was “was convicted of obstructing a congressional inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness who would have exposed his lies.” 

Totally normal. 

More tomorrow on subjects more various than Klomentum and vaccines. 

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Have a great day all! JPC