Today saw a few interesting twists in Minnesota state politics, including the Republican-controlled Senate ousting a member of Governor Tim Walz’s cabinet and a DFL House member disclosing that he had COVID-19. But no twist was bigger than Republican Representative Jon Koznick of Lakeville mistakenly emailing strategy talking points to his Democratic opponents instead of his Republic colleagues. Oops.
It’s more than embarrassing, however. On the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, when we’re reminded to ‘never forget,’ the Minnesota Legislature debated whether or not to override an extension of Walz’s emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,800 Minnesotans have died, more than 190,000 Americans have died, and we’re debating whether or not this is an emergency.
It’s the content of Koznick’s strategy that goes beyond embarrassing. He was attempting to urge his Republic colleagues to stay on message in the debate:
Continue reading MN House 58A: Koznick Reveals Fear-Based Strategy, Preese Offers Hope
“COVID issues are not our winning message. PUBLIC SAFETY is our ticket to the majority, let’s win with that.”
We had a competitive and heated election season in West St. Paul, Minn., in 2018. That hasn’t always been the case, but it also means an increase in costs.
Let’s take a look at the cash spent in recent elections in West St. Paul.
Most Expensive Election?
2018 at nearly $37,700 total. Only one race was uncontested and there was an extremely expensive primary in ward 3 where all four candidates spend over $2,000.
I only looked at data going back to 2008, but given inflation and the rising cost of campaigns, it’s likely the most expensive election season in West St. Paul history (I don’t quite have the data to verify it, but I’m pretty confident). Continue reading How Much Do Election Campaigns Cost in West St. Paul?
After feeling somewhat despondent after the 2016 election, I decided to focus on local politics. I couldn’t do much about things at the national level, but I thought maybe I could make a difference at the local level.
I wasn’t alone.
An army of volunteers and supporters came forward, and together we worked for change. People tried to join city committees, we supported a local trail, put on a bike rodeo—we got involved.
Then the sexism controversy exploded and West St. Paul made national news. And not in a good way.
People were already starting to pay attention, but that issue galvanized people like never before. A progressive advocacy group, Women of West St. Paul formed, and they organized voter registration efforts, rides to the polls, and multiple candidate forums.
On April 23, 2018, West St. Paul’s first female mayor, Jenny Halverson, expressed frustration at what she saw as sexism, and declared, “This will not be forgotten, folks.”
On Nov. 6, 2018, it was not forgotten. Continue reading West St. Paul Wins: 2018 Election
After the 2016 election, I not only felt defeated, but I felt raw and shocked and a bit stupid. I hadn’t done a damn thing to advocate for the causes I cared about, so it was no wonder they lost.
That was a bitter lesson.
After the 2018 election, I feel empowered. Winning certainly helps. But I was also involved in these races. We had major wins in our local races, which is where I spent most of my volunteer time. And I think that sense of empowerment is greater than any sense of victory. Because I also know what empowered loss feels like. We lost a hard primary, one where I thought I would regret all the effort wasted.
But you know what? A loss isn’t a wasted effort. All that energy, all that enthusiasm, all those connections—they can build something that lasts, even in defeat.
So let’s do a “quick” (ha!)
morning day after review of the 2018 election. (I laugh because I was awake until 3 a.m. last night, unable to sleep as all the storylines kept playing in my head.)
Blogging My Ballot
Not to brag (OK, I’m totally bragging), but every race I supported when I blogged my ballot won last night. Every. Single. One. Continue reading The 2018 Midterm Post-Mortem
For the past several years I’ve been blogging about local elections. I’ve tried to stay quiet about broader politics and avoid stupid comments, but this year I couldn’t help myself. Well, I hope I avoided most stupid comments, but I couldn’t stay quiet about what was happening in our democracy.
So this year, instead of just blogging about West St. Paul’s races, I found myself blogging about the entire ballot. From city council to U.S. Senator, I covered it all. 18 posts in 18 days (plus a lot of posts before that).
Let me offer an obvious disclaimer: This is my opinion. I’m biased. Take it for what it’s worth. Do your own research, make up your own mind. Then vote. Please vote. Continue reading Blogging the Ballot: West St. Paul 2018 Voter’s Guide
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
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
With the coming general election on November 6 and the mayor and three city council seats on the ballot, I’ve been asking our local candidates some questions.
Earlier we covered Robert Street debt, so now let’s move on to Pride flags:
At the June 25, 2018 city council meeting, a citizen asked about the possibility of displaying LGBTQ Pride flags along Robert Street for Pride Month next year. The city council would need to approve such a move. Assuming the logistics can be worked out, would you be in favor of displaying Pride flags on Robert Street?
I sent that question to [most of] the candidates on September 5 and gave them September 26 as a deadline. Here are their responses: Continue reading Pride Flags: Where Do 2018 West St. Paul Candidates Stand?
A sexism controversy erupted in West St. Paul this spring. Men challenged women who stepped forward to serve, and then sat silently, refusing to explain their issues. Men ignored the concerns women raised.
And something very similar has happened in the primary campaign. Two men and two women are running for the ward 3 city council seat. The men have refused to answer questions. They skipped out on a candidate forum. They haven’t even put forth a platform or taken positions on issues. They’ve just put their names out there and assumed that voters will hand it to them.
It’d be ironic if it weren’t so sad.
I’ve said this primary election is a moment of truth for West St. Paul. And I believe that. It’s a referendum on this lazy, sexist approach to politics. It’s a turning point—will we accept inappropriate behavior or do we want something better?
I’ve written plenty about this primary, so let’s not rehash it. My many posts are linked below.
And yeah, I’m a big fan of Erin Murphy for governor.
As we approach the 2018 elections, people in West St. Paul are engaged. It used to be that nobody knew anything about local elections and finding information was an exercise in futility—especially in our first-ring suburb of 20,000 people. But now my neighbors care. And that’s so inspiring.
It started with a sexism controversy that flared up in April, resulting in packed city council chambers and nearly two hours of citizen comments. The TV news showed up and residents donated money and feminine hygiene products to a local nonprofit—earning national attention. The issue even launched two city council campaigns (here’s the speech launching one of those campaigns)—creating a four-way primary that will be narrowed down next week.
But when the cameras went away and the hype died down, people kept showing up. Council meetings used to have paltry attendance at best, but every council meeting since has had a large crowd. Continue reading Unprecedented Voter Energy in West St. Paul