New order unfolds in Minnesota’s 8th District

Pete Stauber accepts the GOP endorsement for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. (PHOTO: Stauber FB page)

On Saturday, Republicans endorsed St. Louis County commissioner Pete Stauber for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth District. Unlike the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s 10-ballot non-endorsement last month, Stauber won his blessing in a single-ballot coronation.

Stauber does not expect to face a meaningful primary challenge. His DFL opponents, on the other hand, face a potentially bruising four-candidate contest to be settled Aug. 14. Stauber has raised more money than his opponents, and has unified support of national Republicans and aligned groups.

Political watchers still predict a Democratic victory in the 2018 midterms. But such a victory in an election map full of structural advantages for Republicans also assumes a DFL victory here in the Eighth.

And that is not assured.

Meet the Candidates

Today I’m going to explore changes in the Eighth, but first let us acknowledge our interesting collection of candidates.

Stauber, a retired police captain and ex-hockey star, cuts the image of a polo-shirted spark plug of a man perpetually grilling meat and waiving at his neighbors from a well-manicured lawn. He calls you over and serves you the best cheeseburger you’ve ever tasted before telling you about something he saw on Fox News.

He’s an effective representation of the glimmering grins and sharp-edged policies of the Trump Era. However, Stauber’s strongest supporters argue that his everyman qualities will make all the difference in this race.

On the other end of the spectrum, Independence Party candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman presents a mellow sort of progressive radicalism, a speaking style that sounds like an audible wink, rooted in his Ojibwa culture, the ideal sort of candidate for the politically frustrated liberal. He might get 5 percent, but that would be enough to alter the outcome.

These two opposite candidates reflect the the needle that the eventual DFL nominee must thread. The DFL candidates debate minor (or, if you prefer, miner) policy differences, but each also presents a unique rhetorical style and personality.

Kirsten Kennedy is the mayor of North Branch, a rare progressive leader in the heart of the district’s fast-growing conservative southern reaches. She speaks of her Norwegian upbringing and divorce with a comfort that seems jarring in American-style politics. Kennedy looks like the kind of mom who comes home from work with the same energy as when as when she left for work. She asks you detailed questions about your college entrance essay while microwaving Hot Pockets. She’s the least-known, least-funded candidate in the race, but everyone seems to like her.

Michelle Lee is a retired Duluth TV news anchor from Moose Lake. Her face and voice thus seem vaguely familiar to anyone north of Sandstone. She speaks at all times as though she only has 45 seconds until commercial. But in this campaign she became a newswoman unshackled from political restraint. In fact, the tone of her campaign — from her DFL convention speech to her Facebook page — almost portrays her as a contemporary response to Howard Beale, the fallen news reader who was “mad as hell” and “not going to take this anymore” in Sidney Lumet’s iconic film “Network.”

State Rep. Jason Metsa of Virginia, Minn., sports the jagged, timeless face and distinct accent of a vaguely ethnic Iron Ranger. With a green-tinted visor on his head he would look like an extra from “The Sting.” His eyes trace a labyrinth into the unknown. Never fully at ease in a crowd, his electoral success comes from his ability to harness the sometimes stodgy, stubborn and sometimes secretive forces of Iron Range politics. People easily forget that Metsa has won more elections and raised more money than anyone in the race.

Former State Rep. Joe Radinovich of Crosby bounds across a convention hall like a latter-day Happy Warrior, some strange cross between Floyd B. Olson and Ryan from “The Office.” Underneath, he joneses for his smart phone the way earlier politicians might have yearned for scotch and Camels. A Cuyuna Iron Range mountain biker at heart, he aims to unify the DFL in a way that might not be possible, but nevertheless seems admirable.

It’s too early to say who boasts a definitive edge in the DFL primary. We’ll be sorting that out this summer. But winning that contest is only the warm-up to the melodrama that follows.

Sea Change

If you think of the 2016 election as a ship hitting an iceberg in Northern Minnesota, the 2018 election might rightly be called the moment *just after* that ship hits that iceberg. In other words, the ship is still above water. But things change quickly and irreversibly.

For one thing, political realignment continues to upend the Eighth District. Liberals assert themselves within the DFL party. They successfully incentivized retirement for outgoing Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) earlier this year. While they failed to endorse a candidate in at the DFL convention last month, liberals nevertheless seek to emerge a stronger force in the DFL primary.

I still argue that most of this is demographic destiny. A rural, natural resource-based region connected to agriculture, steel and manufacturing finds itself rearranged in the deindustrialization of America. A generational divide on matters of technology and culture creates an entire new political battleground.

That’s been happening slowly, but media and opinion elites fixate on one aspect of this change: mining and environmental protection.

Pro-mining interests continue to push people on the Mesabi Iron Range toward any candidate willing to soften environmental regulations. The “Range” is just one part of this sprawling Northern Minnesota district, but gets attention because its brawny labor-backed political power has so dominated the region’s recent history.

Why the fixation on nonferrous mining? For more than a decade a multi-million dollar public relations campaign has equated two relatively small copper-nickel mining proposals in Hoyt Lakes and Ely, respectively, with the survival of an entire region. That campaign has been wildly successful on a local scale.

A number of voters on the Mesabi believe in their hearts that our very future, even whether or not we can take our theoretical grandchildren fishing, relies on a stack of permits, a billion bucks in foreign investment, and completely docile government at the local, state and federal level.

The region’s labor history produced three generations of solid DFL rule. But the political class has been spooked by deindustrialization for at least the last thirty years. So they’ve created a unique caucus within the DFL, one that seeks to support labor by supporting company interests first. Indeed, one of the results of hard-earned mature labor contracts is the pairing of those interests. When labor and management can both afford a lake place, the equation changes.

More to the Story

But we are now seeing an election that might well prove the futility of this approach. Because when it comes to environmental deregulation you can’t beat the bathtub drowning capacity of today’s Grand Old Party. You just can’t. Republicans have no environmental caucus at all. Party regulars broadly accept at face value everything stated by private industry, no matter what.

That’s as far as you can go.

Meantime, Democrats have an environmental caucus and distrust big business the same way Republicans distrust government. In the narrative that’s been sold, the state DFL cannot and will not provide the perceived necessary acquiescence to the mines. Simple human reasoning drives mining supporters and opponents alike toward the fringes.

As I pointed out in a recent column, it’s not accurate to use the words “Rangers” or “Duluthians,” “environmentalists” or “pro-mining advocates” as though they are monolithic, unified groups of people. Yes, that’s what local TV news coverage sells. That’s what ends up in the political profiles of larger newspapers. But it’s simplistic.

Nevertheless, the effects of mining automation and economic stagnation create an all-or-nothing fixation on new mining for the declining power structure of the Iron Range. The old political norms, centered around economic justice, education and a social safety net, are now less important than putting shovels in the ground. The population of the Range shares that view widely, but not universally. Nevertheless, this will cause many more conservative former Range DFLers to vote for Stauber because he’s selling an undiluted version of what they want.

That will happen regardless of the outcome of the DFL primary. Prior to last Saturday’s GOP convention, four Iron Range mayors announced they would endorse Stauber: Larry Cuffe Jr. of Virginia, Shari Swanson of Buhl, Robert Vlaisavljevich of Eveleth and Andrea Zupancich of Babbitt.

These endorsements represent an earthquake in local Range politics. Just 20 years ago, an Iron Range mayor endorsing a Republican for Congress would have been considered a local crank with a political death wish. Anyway, Range political tradition discourages breaking ranks, no matter what. Most local officials wouldn’t try.

So not only did these Range mayors endorse Stauber, but that obviously indicates they are surrounded by people who agree with them. When asked what happens if pro-mining Iron Range DFLer Metsa wins the primary, they still say they’re sticking with Stauber.

Nothing is Settled

So far, this might suggest that Stauber is a sure thing come next November. Still, he isn’t. Improved turnout in Duluth could overcome the lost Range votes. That is, provided liberals stick with the DFL instead of leftist independent Sandman. Concern over the troubling ethical and legal lapses of the current Republican administration could soften GOP support in areas not obsessed by mining. We talked about that recently as well.

Sure, if Stauber wins, expect news vans to line up reporting the death of the blue collar DFL. But consider the possibility that a DFLer could win anyway. Or that even a Stauber victory could send the ex-hockey star turned mining darling into a GOP House minority. Perhaps this would be the most fitting result of all.

One thing is abundantly clear. The coming change is irreversible. We will mark this era as a major realignment of this region’s venerated political history. Candidates of all parties should avoid assumptions about the past and provide leadership and new ideas for the future.

That is, at least if they want to do more than just win elections and raise money for re-election. And, of course, if voters expect them to do more than scrap it out for their own political hides.

# # #

My name is Aaron Brown. I’m an author, radio host and college instructor from Northern Minnesota. Follow my continuing coverage of the MN-8 race here.


  1. Gerald S says

    The one very important factor that will have an impact is Trump supporter buyer’s remorse. That has been a major factor in several interim elections around the country in the last few months, including Wisconsin Senate District 10, directly across the St. Croix from a huge part of the GOP base in CD8, and a section of the district that Stauber not only must win, but must win by a large margin. If Stauber has poor numbers down there, or, even more remarkably, loses outright, as a very viable GOP candidate in WI SD10 did, then any number of Iron Range renegades or angry environmentalists will not have a significant impact.

    There are still several months to go, and something may happen to change the equation, but so far the GOP efforts to end the Affordable Care Act, the GOP tax bill, and Trump’s personal style have all been pushing voters away Actual voters in actual elections, not just the strong impact seen in polling. Flips of formerly solid red districts, and near flips, amounting to a shift of about 15-20% in voters toward the Democrats, have been the rule across the country.

    Stauber has made a public commitment to both Trump and to his major initiatives in health care, taxes, and so on. It will be interesting to see just how that works out.

  2. Change is coming for certain however it will not necessarily be irreversible. Aaron I am afraid you are missing the deep dissatisfaction the left is feeling toward the DFL and the Democratic party as a whole. The misogynistic treatment of Leah Phifer is only the latest incident in a long list of manipulations (local and national) that are ripping the party apart. The hypocrisy of the party declaring the need to build a new bench and seek out new, young candidates with fresh ideas and perspectives only to debase and attack those who step forward is untenable. The combination of Trump supporters voting for Metsa in the Democratic primary,as a hedge against a Stauber loss, and progressives turning their noses on a DFL 8’th , that is living decades in the past, will guarantee a Republican victory in November. But there will still be a victory for the left….. the end of the DFL chop sticks factory. Perhaps after this we can sort out the Republicans from the Democrats and maybe even have the opportunity to vote for a candidate who is something other than less bad.

    • Gerald S says

      Just a couple of things:

      Since Minnesota does not allow ballot splitting in the primary, for Trump voters to cross to the DFL CD8 primary they will have to give up their right to vote in the governor and senator primaries, both considerably more important offices. So that is probably wrong.

      The left faction of the DFL definitely has the chance to elect Stauber. I am very dubious that the result would be to cause a reunification of the DFL along lines that would be attractive or even acceptable to the left, but suspect it would lead to even deeper and more permanent animosity. So the chances of this leading to a candidate that is “something other than less bad” is also probably wrong, since it would just focus the anger on both sides more intensely.

  3. Thanks, MinnesotaBrown, for your description of the 8th CD race and the candidates!

    I want to correct one thing though. Microwaved Hot Pockets are gross. Oven-baked or toaster oven is the way to go!

    All fun aside, many of us, me included, who live here in the 8th CD are single-parents who work full-time and still find time to give back to our communities. We live here, raise our kids here, and die here.

    We are working-class families who often times live paycheck-to-paycheck to get by. We can’t afford to save for retirement or for emergencies.

    With the cutting of benefit programs at the state and national level, a stagnant federal minimum wage (that hasn’t kept up with inflation), and the recent Trump tax cuts, our struggle has become more real.

    We need to champion our working and middle class, not stifle it. We need to support single-income families, not make it harder for them.

    This is why I am running – we need someone who has been through and still is in the trenches to fight for us in Congress. I am that person!

    Together, we can get it right.

    #teamkennedy #keepcd8blue (crossposted to FB)

    • I almost went with an Instant Pot reference instead. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, Kirsten. I look forward to catching up when we’re in the same town.

    • David Gray says

      If we care for our children we need fewer single parent families, which I’m sure you would agree with.

      • Gerald S says

        Unfortunately, we are forced to live in the real world. Divorce is very real these days, and actually more common among conservatives than other people. I am puzzled as to how you think that comment is relevant or sensible, unless you propose to outlaw divorce.

        Reality forces us to consider the needs of people, not to offer platitudes.

      • David Gray says

        That is the kind of corrupt, erroneous and cruel comment that no longer surprises me. If you really want to deal with the real world you’ll agree that children are better off with both of their parents present and that this is both highly desirable and often achievable. Making excuses for selfishness is not noble.

        • Gerald S says

          David, I would say that your decision to point fingers and blame at single mothers is the corrupt, cruel, and erroneous comment in this exchange.

          I am very sorry that the world no longer meets your standards for how other people should behave. Of course, there are many things that could be better, including all children being raised in two parent families, but unfortunately — right, left, or center, Catholic, Protestant, or Mormon, religious fundamentalist or atheist — a large number of parents end up as single parents of children, a large percentage through no fault of their own, other than perhaps an unwise choice of spouse. Only a return to making divorce largely unavailable or socially condemned could change that. Perhaps that is your goal. The 19th century may be your dream era.

          Faced with the reality of 21st century life, we can chose to pontificate about the standards that we believe other people (and somehow it’s always other people) should meet. Or we can, as Ms. Kennedy suggests articulately, deal with reality as it exists and show real concern for the welfare of children. You are certainly free to make your own choice, but perhaps “he who is without sin should throw the first stone.”

          • David Gray says

            OK Gerald, you didn’t read what I wrote.

            Why do you hate children?

          • David Gray says

            And I’m sure most readers here are sufficiently literate to note that I never decided to “point fingers and blame at single mothers .”

            Par for the course…

    • independant says

      I am curious how the Trump tax cuts were a bad thing for working class families? My family and friends who are a majority blue collar working class seem to enjoy having a larger percentage of their paycheck stay in their pocket?

      • lucky you will be able to use your $200 tax cut to pay a small part of your Trump gas and heating fuel tax…otherwise known as failed economic policies and stupid machismo gestures that the “short fingered vulgarian” thinks make him look tough.

        • independant says

          I’m not concerned about anyone’s finger length, however If you are getting a $200 tax cut your combined household income would be about $30k. If your families total income is $30K you are hardly paying any federal income tax as it is and now getting a couple hunded dollars more would be a great thing. The actual tax savings varies due to many things but every household with a combined income of more than $30k will save significantly more that what you may want to admit. I thought the tax burden may actually increase significantly on those making $1M annually (fair share?) due to eliminations in state tax deductions against federal income tax? However I’m not sure as that definitely doesn’t apply to my family. Eliminating the AMT for small business owners is also huge and will help keep more money to reinvest into assets, equipment and employees.

          • Gerald S says

            The impact of the tax law on high income people will vary depending on exactly how they make their money, but for the most part, the changes in handling of LLC’s and other small corporations, the reductions in the rates, the end of the Alternative Minimum Tax, and other changes will allow them to get very large reductions in tax.

            The problem with the program is not that it does not offer some tax reduction for low income and middle income people, but that that reduction is quite small, especially compared with high income people. Paul Ryan briefly publicized the impact on a specific working class woman, but took down the item when it emerged that she was saving enough to buy a cup of coffee a week, while reporters calculated that one of the Koch brothers was saving over $30 million a week. The benefits of the large reductions in corporate tax are also accruing overwhelmingly to the rich, with the highly publicized initial bonuses at a few companies giving way to the evidence that companies are almost exclusively using the money for stock buy backs, corporate acquisitions and mergers, and other activity that almost exclusively benefits shareholders and top executives, who in turn are mostly drawn from the highest percentiles of income. This is all made even more problematic because the benefits to working class and middle class people have a sunset, whereas the benefits for the wealthy are permanent.

            As a result, the tax bill has not had the desired impact on politics so far that Republican strategists had hoped for. The RNC, in fact, last week suggested in its communications with candidates that they de-emphasize the discussion of the tax law in their campaigns, since polling results suggested that at best they did not work and at worst made things even worse after Democratic responses. Stauber had this experience himself, when he chose to submit an op-ed to the DNT boasting about the tax bill, and was systematically refuted on a point by point basis by DFL state rep and professional economist Jennifer Schultz in an op ed response. Among other things, she noted an error in confusing “mean” and “median” in discussing benefits to CD8 residents, an error that appears to be being propagated, deliberately or otherwise, in GOP discussion of the tax bill.

            The final problem with the tax bill is the huge deficit it is generating. The GOP and Trump have been forced to either accept that the debt will increase by record numbers for a time not during either a significant war or a significant recession or to make deep cuts in spending. The recent headline already noted above reporting that Trump wants to cut funding of children’s health care coverage is just the first blast of negative news that will accompany attempts to reign in the deficits created by the tax law.

            So yes, many if not most families will get some benefit from the tax law. But for most people making under the 90th percentile or so, the benefits will be small, especially compared with massive benefits for the wealthy, including Trump himself and his family. An extra cup of coffee a week might be welcome, but pales in comparison to the millions some people will see. This all makes it a very hard sell politically, and so far seems to be backfiring on GOP candidates who try to use it as a focus.

          • independant says

            Gerald. Classic B.S. Bringing up the Koch brothers makes any argument work right. Ha.

          • Gerald S says

            The Koch brothers reference was calculated by reporters and was widely circulated in the media in the gleeful mocking response to Ryan’s miscue. For a while there was a video out that first showed the woman Ryan cited celebrating her free weekly cup of coffee, followed by a parody picture of Charles Koch celebrating his tax windfall and saying he would use it to buy 10 more congressmen like Paul Ryan (no mention of Pete Stauber as one of them.)

            The sorry fact is that the impact of the tax law is exactly what I said. You are correct in saying that most people will receive some benefit, but the perceived lack of “fairness” in the distribution of the benefits of the law seems to be the main reason its approval hovers around only 25 to 30%, and why the GOP strategy planners are suggesting that candidates not feature discussion of the law.

  4. tom whiting says

    Thank you for this most interesting analysis. The take home money quote: “The region’s labor history produced three generations of solid DFL rule. But the political class has been spooked by deindustrialization for at least the last thirty years. So they’ve created a unique caucus within the DFL, one that seeks to support labor by supporting company interests first. Indeed, one of the results of hard-earned mature labor contracts is the pairing of those interests. When labor and management can both afford a lake place, the equation changes.” Describes the land of snowmobiles, 4-wheeler’s, pontoon boats on trailers and SUV’s to a T.

  5. I was able to attend the RPM CD8 endorsing convention, and I saw Pete Stauber as a fairly low energy candidate, but a low energy candidate that rather well off RPM delegates queued up to make large cash donations to, after Kurt Daudt started a donation train by handing Stauber a $100 dollar bill on the stage.

    Kurt Daudt would be a much more impressive RPM candidate for CD 8, and we are lucky that he didn’t know it would be an open seat at the beginning of this caucus to convention cycle.

    At the RPM CD 8 convention there was some typical bickering by delegates about fairness of representation on the various committees and the process by which the Call of the convention was shared with delegates. One delegate asked why the CD 8 RPM organization did not post its constitution to its website. Pretty standard. It’s hard to organize political parties, and its rare to find people in the Eighth CD that really know enough party process to get fair representation for their area, what ever party they’ve chosen to engage with.

  6. David, how should we care for our children whether there are two parents or one? Two parent families are not a magical guarantee the children in the family are better off. One in four children under the age of 18 are being raised by single mothers. That’s quite a gap in numbers of single fathers raising their kids. Some women are parenting all by themselves, some have exes that are very involved and the kids are better off, some and their kids have just been abandoned by the fathers. It’s the struggling single parents, male or female trying, to make it from paycheck to paycheck in low income jobs, high costs of childcare and inadequate health care coverage who should have some help if we really care about our kids.
    If it was so simple for single parents to find good partners who also would be good parents to their kids (if they even want a partner), perhaps there would be fewer single parents but not by much, imo. I know enough single parents, majority female, who have their hands full working and raising their kids. They don’t want to risk bringing someone into their family that would not be a responsible, reliable fit for everyone and the right fit doesn’t come along very often. Perhaps men should do a better job at sending their best people.

  7. The “Iron Range” does not encompass all of NE MN. We are a Lot more than the holes in the ground on the Mesabi Range. The Radinovich camp is very keen on pivoting the conversation away from sulfide mining. However Sulfide Mining and Pipelines snd refineries are glaring examples of the drown it in the bathtub deregulatory world being foisted on the United States. The fun and construction that result will leave a mess for future administrations. Stauber wants a wall almost literally to keep Radinovich’s Latinx caucus advocates out, to the horror of every rational, decent person. A wall. He wants Trump’s friggin wall and to spend our money on it. Why on earth would folks in NE MN want to simultaneously attract young workers and build a wall literally barring youthful workers and literally throwing youthful workers out, not letting them earn citizenship.

    • glad to see someone else attributing that Latino caucus to Radinovich. They and he(joe) certainly did a disservice to all Latinos by acting as macho, underhanded, sexist, agitators for hire. We certainly do not need a wall on the southern border but we sure do need a wall to keep out the political dirty tricksters from the Minneapolis mayors office.

    • Ranger47 says

      Why on earth you ask? First of all, those coming here illegally have broken the law. They should be prosecuted.

      But also, mass illegal immigration to the U.S. has contributed to stagnant wages, and increased public costs. Illegal immigration costs the American taxpayer approximately $8,075 each, totaling a burden of roughly $116 billion annually.

      Every year, we, the legal taxpayers shell out $45.8 billion in costs on illegal aliens and their children – including expenditures for public education, healthcare, social justice initiatives and welfare programs.

      In addition, if illegal aliens were given amnesty to permanently remain in the U.S., it would cost American taxpayers about $2 trillion. That’s why we need to enforce our existing immigration laws and build Trump’s wall.

  8. Don’t know who jg is , and I certainly wonder where he/she is getting their information Joe Radinovich was responsible for the Latin caucus. Perhaps he/she could enlighten us? Is this another Phifer supporter looking for any rationale to explain her fall from grace?
    The fact is she may have gathered a lot of delegates for the conventions, but her poor fundraising was evidence she was not widely accepted outside of her core supporters.
    I am an old woman, and I did not support her because she entered a race , with no real prior political experience , against a seated, well-respected Democratic Congressman. Her buzzing around on her motorcycle,touting her FBI experience, including ICE, didn’t impress me one whit. However, it did indicate to me this was more of a role than the reality of what is really needed to be an effective member of Congress.

    • Fall from grace? I think not. Try mugged and beaten down by a special interest driven machine. As far her fundraising, it is indicative of a grass roots effort unlike Jason and Joe who are being purchased wholesale. As far as Phifers running against Nolan…it’s called democracy.

      • Gerald S says

        Amid all the talk about fund raising and Phifer, I think that the key fact is that Phifer did not try all that hard to raise funds. She seems to have, as she says herself, planned to go to the endorsement and not any further if she failed at that level, and counted on being able to tap into DFL funding if she was the endorsed candidate.

        I am on just about every DFL fundraising list there is, based on my past record, a fact that is readily available by consulting past election data easily accessible on the internet. I received direct solicitations by email, regular mail, and/or by actual personal phone call from all four other DFL candidates (plus for Nolan when he was still in,) but did not hear a word from Phifer or her people on any medium. I attended a Phifer event, at which she spoke for almost 90 minutes, but did not devote one word to fundraising. A friend of mine attended an event actually billed as a fundraising event for her. The fundraising consisted of having a donation table at the door, again without a single word by either Phifer or anyone from her campaign about giving money. Donation info was not emphasized on her web site or any of her social media. By comparison, the entry page of Radiniovich’s site was a plea for money.

        Given this, I think her raising $90,000 over the six months or so she was running was fairly impressive, since people practically had to force money on her. I think if she had chosen to go on, she could have easily raised several hundred thousand by being more aggressive in soliciting her highly motivated (see “jg”) backers. This would have been in smaller donations than Radinovich and Metsa used to jump start their own campaigns, but it is worth noting that Bernie Sanders actually outspent Clinton in the primaries and caucuses using money almost exclusively drawn from small donations.

        I still don’t exactly understand what Phifer was actually up to overall, especially since she was surrounded by several experienced DFL regulars who know how campaigns work. She seems to have been much more interested in the process of discussing issues and interacting with crowds than in the nuts and bolts of campaign organizing and fund raising, which is of course the much less interesting and much less fun part of campaigning. I also still am suspicious that her shock at the vehemence with which Latinos were reacting to her background and her MN Post op ed was a major factor in her dropping out of the race, since i suspect she took a direct hit to her self image in that.

        But I remain convinced that the Latino effort, although certainly welcomed in a somewhat hypocritical way by some other candidates, was not effective in influencing the results of the convention and was certainly a spontaneous effort on their part, unrelated to any other campaign. They were allowed to speak only because Phifer instructed her delegates to vote to allow them to speak after initially rejecting them. Conspiracy theorists who see them as puppets of the white union and DFL regulars, IMO, are embracing a white superiority view that the Latinos were incapable of deciding to make their point on their own, rather than representing a valid spontaneous protest in the tradition Fannie Lou Hamer and other minority activists in the Democratic Party.

        Of course it is democracy for Phifer to run against Nolan. It is also democracy for people to reject her run against Nolan and her candidacy, for whatever reason they choose.

        • just for the record Gerald the people did not reject Leah…she won all 10 ballots. The DFL machine rejected her. Perhaps come November there will be another rejection.

          • Gerald S says

            I did not say that “the people” rejected her. I said that “people” rejected her — Jackie among them, apparently.

            In fact, Phifer was backed by a minority of people at the convention on all ballots except two. She consistently held enough votes to block anyone else from being endorsed, but her opponents all together always had enough votes to block her from being endorsed. It was obvious on the first ballot that the only way she could win the endorsement was if Metsa’s people played some “inside baseball” by switching all their votes to Phifer in order to give her the endorsement, thereby causing Radinovich and Kennedy to drop out as promised, leaving Metsa (who had evaded directly promising to honot the endorsement) and Lee (who refused to honor the endorsement) in a primary with Phifer. That would give Metsa sole ownership of the “DFL regular/union” support in the upcoming primary and a good chance to win. It was probably too Machiavellian and way too organized for the CD8 DFL to expect that would happen, and it didn’t, with Metsa’s support dividing among several positions.

            It must be remembered that the caucus/endorsement process, while open to anyone to participate, is only loosely democratic, being dominated by highly motivated people who hold deep beliefs about the issues and the Party and are motivated to participate in the sometimes exhausting and almost always annoying process, giving up valuable free time to do so (at least the Holiday Inn had more comfortable chairs than usual.) Primaries are more democratic on the face of it. The advantage of the caucus system, which I personally am a supporter of, is that it gives extra impetus to candidates and to policies that have intensely committed supporters and less emphasis to money (although people who recall 2008 and the well organized semi-professional Franken endorsement effort can attest that money can have a significant impact on the caucus/endorsement system too.) This is true in both parties, and makes caucuses a favorite of the Tea Party right and the Social Democrat left, since their impact is often very significant in the caucus/endorsement process, to the eternal pain of the more “regular” members of both parties.

            I would also point out that endorsement is by no means equal to nomination and never has been, since Minnesota has a rich history of candidates ignoring the endorsement to go on to the primary, in many cases defeating endorsed candidates. Had there been an endorsement, I have no doubt there still would have been a primary, with the main difference being that there would most likely be only one, not three, “regular” DFL candidates, whether Metsa or some unknown person coming out of the woodwork to represent the union/regular faction.

  9. But Gerald what ever happened to “by the people for the people”? No longer valid in the DFL 8″th?

    • Gerald S says

      Once again, I will make the point that those who voted against Phifer are people too. They just are people who disagree with you.

      “The people” in the 8th district are badly split on some issues, especially non-ferrous mining, but, as others on this page have indicated, also immigration, tax policy, foreign policy, and others. It is common for members of a faction to believe that they have a monopoly on “the will of the people,” but that belief is rarely true in the sloppy mess of American politics. If Phifer had truly been backed by “the people,” she would be a sure thing to win the primary, since “the people” will be the ones voting.

  10. Just for fun Gerald here is what you said ” in fact Phifer was backed by a minority of people at the convention on all ballots except two” Another perfectly correct way of explaining what happened is to say….Phifer won every ballot.
    I wonder where the saying…”lies, damn lies, and statistics” comes from? How about you?

    • Gerald S says

      Both statements are true. One celebrates Phifer’s achievement in running an insurgent candidacy and coming within 80% of the delegate votes she needed to win the endorsement, and the other explains the facts as to why she did not win the endorsement and makes the point that, although the leading candidate, she remained, with all the others, a minority candidate. The top minority candidate, but a minority candidate. The DFL rules require, I think correctly, that an endorsement be made only if there is a supermajority of people supporting the candidate, not the “first past the post” rule of elections in which a candidate opposed by the majority can win. Otherwise, the process is deferred to a primary and “the people.”

      What you are saying really is that Phifer did very well. I agree. What I am saying is that she fell short, something that was obvious from the first ballot, and is inarguably true. What she is saying is that she has no taste for the process of fighting out the primary. None of those things are wrong in any way.

      Your problem is not statistics, it is hard fact versus high hopes.

  11. Cyndy Martin says

    Here are some facts:
    Joe Radinovich was not, NOT behind the Latinx caucus. They have been unhappy since she tried making light of her job at ICE.
    Leah did NOT raise $90,000. Her campaign admitted to the DNT that they misrepresented the amount.
    It was Leah’s choice to discontinue her race, they all had the option to move forward or not. 4 chose to stay in the race.

    • Gerald S says

      Pretty sure that what the DNT said in the end, based on Phifer documents and her campaign’s correction of their initial statement, is that she raised $90,000 from the beginning of her campaign in mid-2017 until the convention Her federal financial filings indicate she had raised just under $77,500 by the end of March, and I would easily believe that she raised a few more thousand after that, since she held several specific fundraising events in early April — her first ever real fundraising efforts. She did not, as she initially reported, raise $90,000 in the first quarter of 2018, while both Metsa and Radinovich reported over $100,000 raised in that quarter — and really in about half that quarter since both activated their candidacies only after Nolan announced he would retire. They probably also raised additional money in the immediate run-up to the convention.

      Phifer had spent a large portion of what she had raised on various campaign expenses over the months she was active, and had only about $12,000 to $14,000 on hand at the time she resigned her candidacy.

      Nonetheless, given her extremely low energy fundraising efforts, I remain pretty impressed at her raising that amount, since, as I noted, people practically had to force money on her, as opposed to well oiled fundraising machines run by Metsa and Radinovich.

      And you are absolute right about the Latinx Caucus. Pushback against her began before she even declared her candidacy, with public denunciations in print starting almost as soon as she published her op ed, continuing during her motorcycle tour and early candidacy, and becoming more vigorous as it emerged that she was a major candidate for the endorsement following Nolan’s announcement. I was not at all surprised to see the Latinx Caucus people at the convention, continuing the pushback she had been targeted with for months. The only reason this came as a surprise to many people is that the media, and especially the DNT, was essentially commiting journalistic malpractice in its lack of coverage of the DFL race, devoting most of its coverage of the CD8 race — then as now — to the aggressive promotion of Pete Stauber, most likely at the behest of their owners in Fargo.

    • Oh Cindy…don’t worry, everyone knows where the Latino caucus came from, why they came, and whom they came for. Everyone involved should be ashamed. It was a hit job…plain and simple. Every Democratic voter in America should be aware of these cheap divisive tactics. Just because it is coming from a Democrat does not mean it is not BS.

      • Cindy,,,,,We call BS

        • Gerald S says

          jg, I am afraid I have to call BS.

          Your notion that the Latinx Caucus is a hand puppet of the CD8 DFL union/regulars is offensive on the face of it. The Latinx people had their own grievances, expressed long ago, before Phifer was even a candidate. Believe it or not, non-Anglo people are capable of coming up with ideas on their own, reacting to events on their own, planning responses on their own, and acting on them on their own. They do not just serve at the behest of their masters in the party.

          The Latinx movement against Phifer is just one more step in the long history in the Democratic Party of minorities calling BS on the white members of the Party who espouse offensive positions. I was very sorry to see Phifer double down on her participation in ICE in the now notorious op-ed, and even more sorry that she did not move proactively a year ago to get in front of that issue and to defuse it. She obviously thought it was unimportant enough that she could not just ignore it. The Latinx people tried to prove to her she was wrong, and that they could not be ignored.

          In the reality of things, I think they failed. First, I don’t think the issue had any impact at all on the vote at the convention. The votes were cast in stone from the start, with Phifer voters and the union/regular voters both adamant against any change, and both stuck short of the numbers needed for endorsement. Second, they do not seem to have had any impact on the thinking of many people, including yourself, who continue to argue that they did not have the right to make their position clear and that they were just the puppets of white politicians in CD8.

  12. Well you guys are very good at spinning the idea that the DFL anointed are super heroes based on their ability to raise funds from multinational billionaires. You are so correct. Joe and Jason are in fact the best fund raisers in the DFL 8″th…. GOOD FOR THEM! We don’t need fund raisers……we need leaders ant these two are sheep.

    • Gerald S says

      No. I think Phifer raised an impressive amount considering the lack of emphasis on fundraising in her campaign, almost certainly a decision based on her plan to work only for the endorsement. I also, as I said, think she could have raised more than enough to be viable in the primary, simply by rallying her extremely committed supporters.

      I do not think money was an impediment to her campaign for the endorsement, nor do I think it would have been a problem in the primary, had she chosen to continue.

      • Gerald S says

        It is also worth noting that the funds raised by Metsa and Radinovich reported to date are not nearly enough for a strong run in the primary, so it is way to early to be touting their success at that. A good primary run will cost at least $1 million.

  13. Ranger47 says

    Joe has never had a real job his whole short life yet he’s a DFL primary candidate to represent folks who’ve worked in real tough jobs all their lives. It’s a twisted world we live in. Sad

  14. What do you consider a real Job, Ranger? If someone gets paid, regardless of what field , I think it qualifies as a real job. Do you really think running for office,being a campaign manager are pieces of cake? Once again , you just like to sit on the sidelines and take cheap shots, knowing not whereof you speak.

    • Joe has had contact with laboring folks all his young life, and he has overcome terrible tragedy in his family . That alone has given him maturity beyond his years.

    • Ranger47 says

      Running for office, “managing” a campaign”… other words, Joe runs around promising free stuff for everyone….by spending other peoples money. That takes no skill or maturity whatsoever, just balls.

  15. Just don’t have a clue, do you, Ranger?

  16. Ranger47 says

    My dearest friends,

    I hope you’ll be able to join us on Sunday afternoon for a potluck party along the shores of Lake Superior! I would like to thank all of you for all your hard work and dedication to my campaign.

    Date: Sunday, May 20
    Time: 2:00 – 4:00 pm
    Location: Northshore Retreat (my Grandma’s place!)
    5359 N. Shore Drive, Duluth, MN 55804

    It will be a casual afternoon of friends, food and fun. The weather looks like it will cooperate and our party will be held outdoors. Please bring lawn chairs if you have any! We have lots of people bringing food but if you’d like to contribute as well, please RSVP on the Facebook event or email Kathleen with what you can bring. Looks like we’ve got lots of desserts coming, so if you need an idea, side dishes, salads and snacks are always welcome. Team Leah will be providing the beverages and paper products.

    I hope you can make it. I look forward to seeing you all there!

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