All posts by harrywelty

Oberstar supports Bush

As promised, Bush vetoes stem cell bill Having visited my Alzheimers riddled Mother last week, a woman who suffers from one of the dread conditions that plague mankind and for which a stem cell solution might one day provide a cure, I can’t say that I’m impressed.

Its Bush’s first veto. Up to now the President and the Congress have shared the same brain but now Oberstar has joined him at the hips.

San Fran Man II

Yesterday we got out of the car at our hotel in Novato and the temperature was a scorching 107 degrees. The last time and only other time I endured weather like that was when I visited Scottsdale, Arizona as a seventeen year old. That time I tried to play some tennis and learned some important lessons in human limitations.

We took the boat to Alcatraz on our first night in California. It was a very interesting tour and some of us in our party are not easily impressed. We took the last tour of the day and the heat of the day was still, uncharacteristically, in the air as the evening turned dark and the San Fran skyline lit up. A lot of the Rock was off limits in part, I suspect, because of the neglect of the Federal Park budget by the Bush Administration. Still, despite its ongoing crumbling away the stories were fascinating.

Alcatraz was never filled to capacity. Today we are still building more supermaxes for our worst of the worst. Is it something in the air or were those really simpler times?

Yesterday we spent half an hour parking by and beginning the walk across the Golden Gate. It was just enough time to get to the first suspension spire (I can’t think what its really called)from which the cables are suspended. We got to Novato and our hotel and jumped in the pool with the kids. It was probably the first time in ten years that we did this and very likely the last time. The water was warm from the baking temps. Afterwards we mingled with my side of the family at the reunion where the youngest generation puzzled over their connections.

We had a remarriage and a new family start up and the children from both sides were very unclear as to their interrelationships. I woke up at 6:30 well ahead of the rest of my clan and to my delight found that the hotel’s business center didn’t charge for this computer usage. I’d decided not to pack our laptop afterall because we only packed carryon luggage for convenience.

I’ve been able to exchange a couple emails with my campaign manager. He’s beginning to check in the FEC (Federal Elections Commission) rulebook and he’s still recommending me blogs to read. On this our last full day my little group of four is breaking away to travel the wine country and then come back on coast highway. Its supposed to be just as hot. Hope the AC holds up.

San Fran Man

I had a very productive flight out to San Francisco today; wife, son and daughter all in tow. I brought 4 Duluth Tribs to finish and then alternately dozed and woke up to jot down a to-do list which should last me for a month. If I complete it, it will go a long way to making my campaign a very formidible affair indeed. Its interesting how a little quiet time helps one focus.

We met my brother and his family and ate at Fisherman’s Wharf in Allioto’s. It was a wonderful meal with a view of the Golden Gate in the distance. Took a walk to Ghiradelli square. (sorry about the spelling) and had ice cream with hot fudge. Tonight we cruise over to Alcatraz. I was warned that the wind off the bay would be cold so I bought a jacket to keep me warm.

I had an email waiting for me when we checked into the Mark Hopkins. I’ve offered a very capable local journalist the position of being my press chief. The email from the journalist in question suggested that we get together to talk it over when I return next week. It would be very limited work to begin with but if we work something out it would be another coup for my campaign.

My internet clipping service noted that I had gotten a mention in the Hibbing Trib and that Al Franken was heading a fund raiser for Jim Oberstar in Brainerd. The comic is promoting the wrong candidate this year but when I run for reelection that will change.


Blog Spam

I’ve spent the day preparing for a family reunion in California. Because I want to hit the pavement running when I get back on Sunday I’ve been tidying up the accumulation of campaign debris that’s built up in my office.

One chore I’ve been doing today is blocking spam from my blog. Each post has a message box for readers to make comment on. The insidious spam world has discovered that they can jam up the message boxes with tons of links to the websites their promoting; stuff like viagra and downloadable ring tones. It was a tedious several hours but I’ve probably saved myself a lot of work in the future.

A number of intriguing opportunities have arisen in the past two days and I’ve got some important meetings planned for next week which will kick things up a notch. I’ll be taking the laptop with me to Califrnia to check email and the news and update the blog. I’ve subscribed to a new internet clipping service so I’ll know exactly what the opposition is up to as well as see where I’ve been making headlines. I’m still invisible to Minnesota punditry. On an MPR hour of analysis this afternoon they didn’t even mention the 8th District race. Of course, that reflects poorly on Rod Grams too.

At the moment all eyes are on Matt Entenza’s departure from the race for Attorney General. Who killed him? Was it Mike Hatch? Hmmmmm. Well, he’s a well known back stabber and the two didn’t like each other.

No wonder my Mom didn’t want me to go into politics.

The “none of the above” candidate

I’m in ecstasy. There are only three candidates for 8th District Congress. That’s what I’ve been hoping for. Now all disaffected voters will be able to focus their votes on a single candidate.

In 1992 when I also ran as an independent for the same office I had to split this vote (which was ten percent of the total) with Floyd Henspetter. My party was the “Perot Choice” party and his was the “Term Limits” party. I got better than 70 % of the none of the above vote but not all of it. In fact, that’s what I jokingly told folks when I gathered my petition signatures. I told them that I was the “none of the above” candidate.

More than in 1992 none of the above will look good to people who want a little purple put back into an America split into Red and Blue.

Conservative Civil War

Andrew Sullivan tips his hat to fellow Conservative George Will for calmly calling Bill Kristol unhinged for urging America to attack Iran.

For anyone wondering why Iran would enjoy the quagmire George Bush Junior has gotten America stuck in its worth remembering that twenty years ago we urged Saddam Hussein on in a war between Iran and Iraq that bled both nations white and killed a million people.

Seeing America embarassed must be very gratifying to the Persians.

Oberstar the Goliath of the 8th District

I just read the MPR analysis of the titanic James Oberstar and his battles with mighty Republican oponents. I had to laugh.

“He had few serious challenges in his subsequent re-election bids. In 1984, he lost a primary bid for the U.S. Senate.His district is one of the nation’s largest. It stretches north from Chisago and Isanti counties in east-central Minnesota, through Duluth and the Iron Range to the Canadian border. He opposes abortion and is against the death penalty.James Oberstar was elected to the U.S. House in 1974 with 62 percent of the vote. He has been re-elected 14 times, all with ease. Oberstar’s three most recent contests are prime examples. In 1998 he defeated Republican Jerry Shuster with 66 percent of the vote in a race that also featured Stan “The Man” Estes. In the 2000 general election he faced another nicknamed challenger, “Cowboy” Bob Lemen, a native Texan who has settled in Grand Rapids. He beat Lemen with 68 percent of the vote. He outspent Lemen $1 million to $22,000. In 2002, he again beat Lemen by a 69-to-31-percent margin.

In 2004, Oberstar faced Mark Groettum, a Republican, and Van Presley, a member of the Green Party. Oberstar cruised to re-election, capturing 65 percent of the vote in the three-way race, the 5th straight election in which he captured at least 65 percent of the votes cast.”

The operative phrase here is “serious challenges.” I know these challengers. $22,000 for Cowboy Bob Lemon and Oberstar couldn’t do better than 65% of the vote? Back when Oberstar was first elected Democrats routinely pulled 85% of the vote. By the way. I just read that Jim only started this campaign with $300,000 in the bank. What did he do with the other $700,000? Must be payroll. It figures.

186 grand for Grams from Insurance

My son took a call for me yesterday from a Grand Rapids pharmacist. I called him back this morning and he told me a tale of woe; how the insurance industry monopoly was nailing him and his industry to the wall. After I’ve researched the anti-monopoly Fair Trade Act of 1941 and set up a travel itinerary we’ll have coffee to talk about it.

Coincidentally my manager sent me a link to Open Secrets which lists Rod Grams’ major contributors for the years he was in the Senate. Coincidentally, the Insurance industry was number two on the list at $186,000.

I asked the fellow how it happened that he’d heard of me and he told me he’d read about me after picking up a Reader Weekly in Grand Rapids. I had no idea they were distributed that far away.

Press Releases

On July 5th, when I began my petitioning I sent an email press release to all the newspapers, radio and TV stations in the District that I could find. A number of the emails were returned because the address was old or faulty. I sent another release today to the same list as before and once again some bounced back to me.

I just asked my new campaign manager to check out each venue and find out what the best way to send them Press Releases. 14 years ago when I ran I did all the press releases by fax. Before that it was by mail. Email today is so simple but I’m afraid that news editors have email boxes jammed up with newsie stuff. If so they may not give very close scrutiny to all the stuff that passes over their “desk.”

After Chris Grams inquiry about the Lincoln-in-thought t-shirts I added her Little Falls radio stations to the media list because I’d missed them before. I noted that the news of her husband Rod’s filing for office was the first item on the list of news stories even though it was already six days old. Well, there are some advantages to owning your own media.

I also sent a copy of my letter to Mary Kiffmeyer to the big three the Pioneer Press, the Strib and the Duluth News Tribune. After I sent it I noticed a mangled sentence toward the end. Tsk tsk….editing.

Kennedy poll numbers

The Minnesota Poll which is routinely panned by the State GOP shows Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy trailing his DFL opponent, Amy Klobuchar, by a whopping 20%. It should be remembered that the GOP rebuffed Rod Grams as a has-been when he began agitating to regain the seat that was taken from him six years ago by the retiring Mark Dayton. Kennedy was the GOP man on the move but his poor showing is striking and one more sign that the Bush and Delay Republicans have soured Minnesotans. If Kennedy’ the rising star, is falling so short statewide what does this portend for Rod Grams? Perhaps the exSenator’s private polls are more promising but I doubt it. 

The Grams campaign makes an appearance.

When I got back from my second trip to Secretary of State Kiffmeyer to turn in even more petitions I was surprised to find an email from Chris Grams who, I believe, is the Senator’s significant other. She asked where she could buy two Lincoln t-shirts. I sent her off to the home page of It would be cool if the Oberstar folks did the same. That would be better than asking me to remove graphics from my blog.


1171 signatures????? I hope!

I’ve been counting and recounting my petition signatures. Because the Secretary of State may be treating this like a first grade teacher grades a handwriting worksheet I’ve gotten a little paranoid. Had I turned in my petition next Tuesday instead of Friday I’m sure she would have found more than 140 of my signatures invalid and I wouldn’t have made the ballot.

On Friday, upon returning from St. Paul, I looked up the phone numbers of about 110 people who only listed their year of birth as “50” or “29” or “86.” While it seemed obvious to me that they meant 1950 and 1929 and 1986 I’d been warned that that might not cut it. I found phone numbers listed in the directory for about half these people. I’ve contacted about 40 of these signers and the numbers checked. Only one person had put down their age instead of the year of birth. In every case all the signers would have been 18 either way.

The petition clearly states that everything on the petitition must be filled in by the signer unless disability prevents them. Since I’ve just written in the 19 on these petitions I can imagine that the forty names I’ve recovered could be disqualified. I hope that the inability to reach through a telephone line will be considered one form of disability.

In addition many people who live in Duluth did not put down St. Louis County as their county of residence even though its the only county Duluthians live in. For all I know some of them may not have known the county and were too embarassed to ask. It could cost me another slug of signatures if the Secretary of State objects. Not counting the absence of a County or the number 19 on the year of birth I should have 1,171 legitimate signatures. That’s about 111, I can’t count on.

I should be able to turn them tomorrow without fear but tomorrow I’ll collect another fifty or sixty in the morning to be on the safe side before driving back to St. Paul.

I’ve got a Campaign Chairman

Chris Correia is my new campaign manager. I’ve known Chris and his family for a long time and when he sent me an email a few weeks ago I realized he’d be somebody who could vouch for me from personal experience. I asked him if he would consider taking on the unenviable task of managing an unruly candidate. He sent me a list of issues where he thought we disagreed so that I wouldn’t presume we walked in lock step. Yup, we disagree but this is not a problem.

Chris was playing bass during our outdoor church service at the Lester River Park today. The Presbyterian church is principally where I’ve known Chris. He worked for our city’s Central Hillside United Ministry for years which helps the poor, homeless and transient population in Duluth.

He also is a small businessman who runs a martial arts center in Cloquet, Minnesota. Over the past six months we’ve attended a men’s discussion group at our church biweekly except that I keep missing it to attend to miscellaneous projects. Chris is a thoughtful man and after reading my comments about Senator Grams being an “ambitious” and “self-righteous prig” he emailed back a little taken aback at my vehemence. I told him that the voters want civility but they don’t want milquetoasts to represent them.