2018 Minnesota Secretary of State: John Howe vs. Steve Simon

In a democratic country where the people are supposed to have a voice in government, the vote should be sacred. It is a right that we should protect and encourage. We need to ensure only citizens are voting, but there should be no other hurdles to the voting booth.

That’s why voting for the secretary of state is pretty important. They safeguard our elections and are the frontlines of democracy.

The State of Voting

I’m not a fan of anything that makes it harder to vote. There have been efforts around the country, from requiring IDs to closing polling stations, to make it harder to vote. I shouldn’t have to remind people that these are similar to Jim Crow-era efforts to stifle the black vote through poll taxes, tests, intimidation, and all-out cheating.

Let’s be clear: Voter fraud is not a widespread problem. When Trump talked about millions of illegal votes, he was making it up. Study after study has shown this to be true.

It’s voter suppression, plain and simple. And anytime a political party wants to see fewer people vote, you should be worried.

Instead of making it harder to vote, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote. I’m thrilled that Minnesota has same-day registration and now no-excuse absentee and early voting. I’m a big fan of even more efforts to make it easier to vote, such as automatic voter registration and a national holiday on election day (though honestly, going to work is a nice distraction on election day).

So I’m in favor of any candidate who supports making it easier to vote (Spoiler Alert: That’s Steve Simon.) Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Secretary of State: John Howe vs. Steve Simon

2018 Minnesota State Auditor: Julie Blaha vs. Pam Myhra

What does the auditor do? They’re in charge of making sure local governments spend their money properly. Auditor is supposed to be a role focused on transparency and good government. That’s something we value in Minnesota and historically have had.

Rebecca Otto is the current auditor and has served since 2007. She opted to run for governor and dropped out after losing the DFL endorsement.

Fun fact: One of Minnesota’s early auditors when we were still a territory was Socrates Nelson. Now there’s a name!

The two candidates are Democrat Julie Blaha and Republican Pam Myhra (OK, yeah, there are a few other minor party candidates, but I’m ignoring them.) Continue reading 2018 Minnesota State Auditor: Julie Blaha vs. Pam Myhra

2018 Minnesota House 52A: Rick Hansen

Control of the Minnesota House is at stake this year, which could mean movement on issues such as gun safety, sexual misconduct, and the environment. In District 52A, I’ll be voting for Rick Hansen.

District 52A is West St. Paul, Mendota, Lilydale, and the northern part of South St. Paul.

I live in 52A and will be focusing on that race, though it’s not much of a race. 52B, on the other hand, is pretty tight. It was decided in 2016 by 121 votes. I think challenger Ruth Richardson will be a strong voice in that seat. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota House 52A: Rick Hansen

2018 Minnesota Governor’s Race: Johnson vs. Walz

I’ve been following the governor’s race in Minnesota for more than a year. Initially I liked Rebecca Otto, but after the DFL endorsement I supported Erin Murphy and became pretty involved in her campaign. The primary loss was tough, and I’ve been much quieter about the governor’s race.

We’ve got Jeff Johnson facing off against Tim Walz.

I’ll be honest: Another older white guy for governor isn’t that exciting to me (but let’s be more honest—excitement isn’t what we need in government). Though Walz’ service in the military and as a teacher is something to get excited about. I don’t know if he can follow through on his “One Minnesota” idea to bring people together, but that’s something I’m willing to root for. It reflects the #PoliticsOfJoy I loved so much in the Murphy campaign. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Race: Johnson vs. Walz

2018 Minnesota Senate Races: Klobuchar & Smith

There are two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot for Minnesota this year, thanks to the resignation of Al Franken.

Incumbent Amy Klobuchar is up for reelection and is facing state representative Jim Newberger (and Green Party candidate Paula Overby, whom I’d ignore except she served as a spoiler in the Second Congressional race in 2016).

Governor Mark Dayton appointed his Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill Franken’s seat, so Smith is sort of the incumbent. She’s facing state Senator Karin Housley to see who will fill the remaining two years in Franken’s term (so yeah, we have to do it again in 2020). (And careful with your Googling, there’s a fake “KarenHousleymn.com” site that’s an anti-Housley site—it’s an obvious [slogan: “Unprepared, uninterested on the issues that matter,”] but kinda dirty trick paid for by Smith’s campaign.)

In some ways these races are very much split down the party lines. But there are some issues that stood out to me. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Senate Races: Klobuchar & Smith

Minnesota’s Second Congressional Race: Angie Craig vs. Jason Lewis

I’ve written a lot about the 2018 election, but it’s mostly been local races. I’m hesitant to write about the federal races just because so much ink has already been spilled. I’m not sure I have a lot to add. But I guess I’ll wade in and say why I’m voting for Angie Craig.

Minnesota’s Second Congressional District

In 2016 I was not very fired up about Angie Craig. I agreed with her on the issues, but I didn’t see a lot in her campaign that excited me. I’m not sure how much of that was simply me not paying attention.

After the 2016 election, I was paying attention. And I saw more to like in Craig’s campaign. I think she’s been more present and vocal, and I have a better sense of who she is. Heck, I’ve met her and she’s talked to my kids and I. Continue reading Minnesota’s Second Congressional Race: Angie Craig vs. Jason Lewis

2018 Minnesota Judicial Races: Statewide & 1st District

Voting for judges is always kind of weird. Usually it’s the back of the ballot and there are a flood of names in uncontested races. It often feels like it doesn’t matter. But then there are a few contested races, and it definitely matters. Unfortunately, no one has talked about it, so if you haven’t done your research (and brought it to the polls), these judicial races can be challenging.

I’m looking at the specific judicial races on my ballot. This does not cover all judicial races in Minnesota, so if you live somewhere else, you’ll have to do your own research. You can visit the Secretary of State site to see what races are on your ballot. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Judicial Races: Statewide & 1st District

2018 Dakota County Commissioners: Kathleen Gaylord vs. Todd Podgorski

County commissioner? Now there’s a race people don’t know much about and aren’t very excited about. While this can be a snoozer of a race, it’s important because county services really fill in some of the gaps between the state and the city.

Here in district two (West St. Paul, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and parts of Inver Grove Heights), incumbent Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord is facing South St. Paul city council member Todd Podgorski.

I won’t pretend to be thoroughly up to speed on all the ins and outs of county government. But I did attend the League of Women Voters candidate forum held in West St. Paul. I came away with a clear and simple verdict: Kathleen Gaylord is an impressive public servant and she gets my vote. Continue reading 2018 Dakota County Commissioners: Kathleen Gaylord vs. Todd Podgorski

2018 Minnesota Attorney General: Keith Ellison vs. Doug Wardlow

I’ve tried writing about the Minnesota attorney general race, and I haven’t been able to do it justice. We have extreme conservative Doug Wardlow or accused abuser Keith Ellison.

Unfortunately, I think that’s what this campaign has come down to. While I think Ellison is an inspiring candidate, all that matters is what I believe about the allegations against him.

And so I’m a reluctant vote for Keith Ellison. I didn’t vote for him in the primary. I don’t want to vote for him now. But it’s a binary result, and the other choice seems far, far worse.

Others have written better posts about this than me, so I’d encourage you to read those (this one is really helpful, if lengthy; so is this one; this is a good look at Ellison on the issues—including video of him directly addressing the allegations). I wish I could marshall my thoughts into a more coherent argument, but I just can’t. However, avoiding this race entirely feels like a cop out, so I’m going to wade in and lay bare my inadequacies. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Attorney General: Keith Ellison vs. Doug Wardlow

2018 West St. Paul Ward 3 Race: Wendy Berry vs. David Meisinger

The 2018 West St. Paul Ward 3 city council race is an open contest since incumbent John Bellows is not running. After a heated four-way primary, Wendy Berry and David Meisinger are vying for the seat.

No shock to anyone who’s been following along, but I’m voting for Wendy Berry.

The Candidates

Wendy Berry has a decade of experience in human resources and leadership. She is a mentor and volunteer. She completed the Citizen Police Academy shortly after moving to West St. Paul, showing her commitment to the city. This is her first run for office.

David Meisinger (no campaign site) previously served on city council (first elected in 1996, again in 2002 and resigned in 2003) and served two non-consecutive terms as mayor (most recently losing to Jenny Halverson in 2016). He runs a residential and commercial contracting business. Continue reading 2018 West St. Paul Ward 3 Race: Wendy Berry vs. David Meisinger