Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Don't You Wish It Could Go on Longer? Well, election day is finally behind us (except for the recounts) and my guess is that most Minnesotans and Americans are relieved. Some may not be pleased with the results, but the die was cast with high turnout and little mention of voter impropriety, so it's difficult to argue that somehow things could have turned out differently.

The thing that struck me most, especially after the bitter campaign season, the grace and dignity with which both Senator McCain and Senator Obama carried themselves as they conceded and declared victory respectively. I've been listening to speeches for what seems like forever (I'm not sure I was actually at the Gettysburg address, but it sure feels that way some days) and I cannot recall two more inspiring and moving speeches delivered within such a short time frame. Both speeches were magnificent and really laid out the challenges facing this nation clearly. Further, the message coming from both men--reminiscent of their campaign themes of "Country First" and "Yes, We Can!"--spelled out the shared vision that although differences exist in the "hows" of building and maintaining our nation, the "what"--our United States--is something we all share.

And the Winners Are. I don't know how many of you out there are wrestling fans or can remember the booming voice of wrestling announcer Rodger Kent, who would utter in total disdain after a villian (usually Nick Bockwinkel or someone of that ilk) would defeat another opponent through dastardly means, "There's your winner, like him or not." Well, we have declared winners (in all but a handful) of the 136 legislative races held yesterday. There were some close ones.

The results for the two state senate races can be found at this link:

On its face, Princeton School Board Chair Lisa Fobbe's 86-vote victory over Alison Krueger is an upset, but there was the issue of the write-in campaign for former State Representative Mark Olson who garnered the Republican endorsement for the seat this summer after incumbent State Senator Betsy Wergin was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission. Olson lost to Krueger in the primary, but Olson's supporters vowed to commence with a write-in campaign and they did. It is difficult to determine whether or not the write-in totally did in Krueger, as one can never tell whether or not voters writing in Olson or someone else would have voted or voted for Krueger. Needless to say given the political complexion of that district, the Republican tends to win. Lisa Fobbe is, however, an excellent candidate, so it is difficult to discern how things would have turned out in the absence of the write-in effort. Needless to say, the write-in didn't help the Republican cause.

The House DFL caucus picked up two seats, but fell short of the 90 needed to make the House veto-proof. As I predicted yesterday (we'll get to those predictions later), I expected the DFL to pick up a few seats, but also believed that they would not maintain all of the seats they gained in 2006. While picking up six seats--Kulick Jackson over Erickson in 16A, Kath over Kuntz (vacant seat) in 26A, Sterner over Lindsay (vacant seat) in 37B, Obermueller over Wardlow in 38B, Rosenthal over Schneider (vacant seat) in 41B, and Newton over Cimenski (vacant seat) in 49B--the Democrats failed to hold onto four seats they won in 2006. Those seats were in 28A where Kelly defeated Wohllschlager, 31B where Davids (in a return to the Legislature) defeated Tschumper, 37A where Mack defeated Madore, and 51A where T. Sanders defeated Hamilton (vacant). Two things are important to note: (1) two of the DFL pick-ups (41B and 49B) were districts where Republicans who overrode the Governor's veto of the transportation bill either retired or were defeated in a primary, and (2) all four seats taken by the Republicans were against first-term DFLers--it's nit-picking, but 51A's first-term DFLer Scott Kranz chose not to run again--who took over a Republican-held seat in 2006.

The House race results can be viewed at:

About Those Predictions. Needless to say, I won't be heading to Vegas this year, as I used up all my luck with my predictions yesterday. I undershot on Obama's electoral vote total and the Coleman/Franken race was closer than I expected (and may be reversed after a recount), but other than that, my guessing skills were pretty decent.

Apologies. In my haste on Monday, I neglected to mention that St. Cloud school board member Joanne Dorsher, another candidate with SEE credentials, was also a candidate for the State House of Representatives against incumbent Steve Gottwalt. Three of our four candidates with roots in SEE did not win yesterday. In addition to Dorsher, Sue Bruns, and Otto Luknic all lost their races. Jerry Newton, as mentioned above, was successful in his race.

More tomorrow!

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Great Swami Sees All, Tells All, and is Occasionally Correct. Well, we're about nine hours away from seeing an advertisement for something other than a political candidate. I know that you are all dying to know what is rolling around inside my fifty pound head (Yes, you are! Admit that you are!) and I am about to tell you. The spirits of elections past are being summoned and they will speak through me to give you the lowdown so you can rent a movie tomorrow night instead of staying up until 6 AM to see who won the Ramsey County Judge race.

I'm guessing that Obama wins the presidential race, comfortably but not overwhelmingly. My estimate is that he'll get 338 electoral votes to McCain's 200 and probably roll in between 52% and 53%. If you want to play along, a good place to put together your final prediction is at There you can designate a state for a candidate and have a running total.
There are still a ton of states in play, but I just don't see how McCain can make a run on undecideds that is going to tilt them all this way. A lot of Democrats scoffed at Howard "Arrrrrrrrrrrrgggghhhhhh" Dean when he became head of the Democratic National Committee and insisted that the party try to run everywhere instead of staying within their electoral citadels and dig deeper for votes there, but that concept appears to be paying off, as Obama has made considerable inroads in the West, particularly in Colorado and Nevada. That alone wouldn't have been enough to put Obama in the White House, but I believe Dean's strategy is one of the underreported stories of the campaign season.

Moving on to the Minnesota US Senate race. I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to think that these guys like each other as much as they seem to by the looks of their commercials. Talk about mutual respect and warmth toward your opponent. I've never seen a set of campaigns that have taken to the high road and stayed there throughout the dialogue. . . . Oh, sorry! Nodded off there. I was dreaming about a land of milk and honey. Let me see what I wrote.
Hey, that's not right! As most of you know, I've been in this business for 30+ years and I don't think I've ever seen a campaign quite like this one. I wouldn't call it scurrilous and both parties have been taking their shots. It all kind of reminds me of this great scene from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," which rivals "Gone with the Wind" and "The Godfather" as the greatest American movies ever made. The clip can be viewed here: The cinema at its finest!
Seriously, I'm guessing the incumbent, Senator Norm Coleman pulls it off with about 42% of the vote. I think challenger Al Franken will come in around 40% with Dean Barkley netting the remaining 18%. I think the latest allegation against Senator Coleman, regarding some supposed campaign financing shenanigans that alleges a Washington insider funneled money to the Coleman campaign through his wife's job may actually help the incumbent, as there are some attacks that backfire (anyone else here remember former Senator Rudy Boschwitz' ginormous blunder in 1990--the last week of the campaign "Wellstone isn't Jewish enough" letter to his supporters). Same thing could be at play here.

But Dr. David Schultz of Hamline University (pictured at the left) not to be confused with Dave "the Harmmer" Schultz, former goon for the Philadelphia Flyers (pictured at the right), pointed out on Tom Hauser's show on Sundary morning that the Bachmann race in the 6th congressional district is probably going to spike turnout by Republicans in that district and he equated the current 6th congressional district for the current crop of Republicans with the traditional support for Democratic candidates in the 8th congressional district. Schultz believed that this turnout would, in his estimation, put Coleman over the top.

Speaking of the 6th congressional district, I'm guessing that the incumbent there, Representative Michelle Bachmann will also prevail. The Minnesota 6th is one of the most reliably Republican congressional districts in the country with strong representation in both the libertarian and cultural conservative segments of the Republican Party.

One place where the national Democrats should have put a little more concentration is this congressional district, as Tinklenberg wasn't even on the radar until the Bachmann faux pas while being interviewd by Chris Matthews on "Hardball." Tinklenberg is the perfect Democrat to run in this district, with a solid resume in both local and state government on issues of importance to the 6th district.

This race will be tight and had Bachmann made her misstep a bit later, she may have not been able to get enough commercials on the air to stop the bleeding. As it is, Bachmann has had time to respond and her ads have been solid overall. Further, Bachmann is a tireless campaigner and my guess is that she'll be working until 11:59 tonight to try and get every single vote she can possibly get. (In a late note, I see one national service has this one at 46-45 Bachmann right now and that means it's anyone's game.)
In a final national note, I believe the Democrats will pick up seats in both the House and Senate, but will not reach the magic number of 60, so get ready to be able to spell the word filibuster in your sleep.

Onto the Minnesota House. When the dust settles tomorrow evening, I believe the DFL will still control the House and will maintain a similar margin, maybe up or down a seat or two. This is all going, like two years ago, depend on who wins the close races. In 2006, DFL candidates won an inordinate amount of the close races and that might even out, especially in races in districts that are characteristically Republican where Republican turnout will likely be higher. Further, there are always some surprises on election day, which tend to even things out. In the Democrats favor is that there are interesting open seats which may fall their way.

In a side note, three candidates for the House have been heavily involved in SEE over the years. Former SEE president Sue Bruns is running in House district 35A against incumbent Mike Beard. Anoka board member Jerry Newton is running in the open seat formerly held by Kathy Tingelstad in House district 49B. Faribault board member Otto Luknic is running against incumbent Patty Fritz in House district 26B. Good luck to all of you!

I don't think I have to remind each and every one of you how important, and precious, the acitivites of tomorrow truly are. Everyone pretty much knows I am a big-D Democrat due to my sentiments, but I have always taken greater pride in the fact that I am a small-d democrat as well. All voices need to be heard and appreciated for a democracy to flourish, so get out there tomorrow and vote and remember to do the whole ballot!

I pledge to work with whoever is elected to promote the cause of our organization professionally and effectivley and I know the remainder of the organization feels the same way.