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24 August 2004

More news from Lake Woebegone

So I got my absentee ballot (for the state primary) and I was puzzled by the Democrat column. It turns out it was just my fading memory; I forgot about a certain "perennial candidate" who is challenging Martin Olav Sabo, our very capable 5th District Congressman. (Note to Brits: perennial candidates is what we have in America instead of the Monster Raving Loony Party.) But I wrote an e-mail to my friend L, who is something of an insider in Minnesota DFL politics (Note to non-Minnesotans: DFL is Democratic Farmer-Labor party, what we have in Minnesota instead of Democrats). Armed with all that knowledge you can now read and appreciate a long excerpt from her reply. But first my query:

I am voting this year by absentee ballot. When I first moved here, I was going to turn my back on US politics but obviously subsequent events have forced me to rethink this. So I got an absentee Partisan Primary ballot for the 5th district seat and I am not sure what to do. Sabo I know of course, and I know nothing special about him pro or con except that I have seen him smoking guiltily at the caucuses and conventions but I would hardly vote against a guy just because he smokes. This ballot has 1 IR and 2 DFL. The other DFL guy is one "Dick" Franson, and although the name sort of rings a bell, I don't remember who he is. So my questions to you are 1) why is Sabo being contested, and 2) is there any reason not to vote for him, and 3) who is "Dick" Franson anyway and is the fact that he is called "Dick" with quote marks significant? Are they saying he is or is not a Dick? Why not say Richard "Dick" Franson and Martin Olav "Marty" Sabo? And doesn't poor old "Dick" Franson have a nice Scandahoovian middle name he can use to rope in the surviving Ole and Lena's in the state? God, how I miss Minnesota politics. It just ain't the same over here.

Here is L's reply:
MN Politics just isn't what it used to be. The ultra Right Conservatives with their single issue politics have gotten the worst of the worst into our MN House of Reps.
Now to the answer your question. The only reason you might remember this "Dick" is because he has run for something every year. Governor, Senator, etc. etc. etc. I truly do not know why the quotation marks and why he is a "Dick". I have seen none of his literature and know nothing about him.
Sabo has the DFL endorsement and there is no reason not to vote for him. In fact, there are many reasons to continue to vote for him as long as he will run. He is very good, and if the Dems ever get the House back, he'd probably be chair of Budget. This is because he memorized every one of the House members and if they did anything that he thought was good, he went to that individual and said so. This made it possible for him to get things passed, because he was then remembered. The one thing that I really appreciate, is that he has made the country aware of the huge disparities between CEOs salaries and their employees salaries and has introduced several bills to try to bring some equity back to workers. He truly understands the budget, and has influence, which a newcomer would not. Smoking bans are springing up all over Minnesota right now, so I suppose he feels guilty. He's Norweigian so that would make him feel twice as guilty. That makes him human without all the excesses that some other congresspeople may exhibit.
St. Paul put in a smoking ban in all bars and the Mayor vetoed it. That wretched mayor (Randy Kelly,Dem. former Senator) has endorsed Bush of all things! He wrote a piece and put it in the paper! The DFL'ers then got so upset that they threw out his friend and cohort, and took over the City Council and now a woman named Lantry is running the City Council and they're trying to impeach the Mayor, and overturn the Mayor's veto, among other things. [Former St. Paul mayor] Coleman switching from Democrat to Republican is one thing, but to have the 2nd Mayor stay a Democrat, and endorse Bush is too much!
Minneapolis is looking at a Smoking Ban in Bars and Restaurants, but they haven't decided yet. There is pressure for the State to pass the ban, but then we didn't pass much this 2004. The Republicans in the House refused to appoint a conference committee on any of the major bills so we ended session without a Bonding bill, or anything else of substance either. Governor Pawlenty wanted the legislature to pass a bill to change the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. (Even though, in statute, no gay person can get married in Minnesota now) This is what President Bush feels might assure him re-election because all the far Right would come out and vote for him if it is on the ballot. The Dems then (even those that are Right of Atilla the Hun) wouldn't let there be a vote on the Senate Floor - procedural nightmares for over a month, in which all Republicans refused to do anything except try to get that consitutional marriage amendment passed.
Then, all Summer Pawlenty refused to call a Special Session unless that marriage amendment would be included. Our Senate Majority Leader, Dean Johnson said that was not necessary, so we never had a Special Session to fix all the things that went wrong with legislation from last year, and all of the stuff we worked on for 6 months.
Now unless we have a change in the make-up of the House, I don't know how we're going to survive another year with that narrow minded bunch of bigots that are in charge in the Minnesota House.

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