Category Archives: Grams

Millionaire candidates

Here’s an interesting MSNBC News story on the limp record of millionaire candidates.

“the record of candidates who have poured $5 million or more of their own money into a race might be seen as “pathetic,” argues Jennifer Steen, an expert on self-funding candidates at Boston College.

Their election rate is only 37.5%, compared with 63.9% for candidates who raised at least $5 million for their campaigns, according to Steen’s analysis of elections from 1984 to 2004.”

Minnesota’s retiring millionaire Senator, Mark Dayton, succeeded in defeating Rod Grams six years ago. Doesn’t say much for Grams.

Grams campaign bankrupt in more ways than one

If the Democrats are right Rod Grams is out of money and out of steam. They report that he only has about $15,000 on hand which I must admit is $5,000 more than I’ll have spent in total.

I haven’t seen the flyer the Democrats are disparaging but it was obviously Rod’s last gasp. A letter to the Duluth News Tribune from my chimney Sweep, Jim Suttie, sums up its vote-getting potential for the Grams campaign.

“We recently received in the mail a political advertisement for the Rod Grams for Congress campaign. Up until that point, I had considered voting for Grams. Now, there is no way I would do so.

The flyer is composed to appear as a wanted poster. The heading states “Serial Job Killer Stalks Northern Minnesota.” Inside there is a mug shot of Jim Oberstar, as if taken in a police line-up. Beneath that there is an alias, “Big Shooter.” Oberstar is depicted as a common criminal.

If Grams authorized this, I think it’s way over the top and it’s despicable. Even if the charges leveled in this ad were true, and even if Grams doesn’t agree with the policies and actions taken by Oberstar over the years, he deserves more respect than what is shown him in this ad.

I hope that the voters of northern Minnesota show their displeasure at receiving such garbage by ultimately not voting for Grams for Congress or to hold any position of power. It’s this type of campaigning that gives such a negative impression of politicians to potential voters and that may contribute to low voter turnout.

If Grams hoped to get my attention, he did that. If he hoped to capture my vote, he failed miserably.”


The Welty campaign is leaking out

My wife and I went to a United Way fundraiser last night. I ran across quite a lot of people who rushed over to tell me that they had seen me on TV either on the Almanac program or in my recent ads. In an odd way no candidate is taken seriously until voters have seen him or her on the tube.

I’m still pulling for a 5% share of the vote despite my measly spending. I haven’t seen any Grams Ads on television but I’ve heard plenty of griping about his latest flyer.

Tantamount to a different voice

My braying about being ignored by the Tribune at the the televised debate they sponsored has borne some modest fruit.

First they gave me space to explain why I would be the best candidate. I’ve had a number of folks say my comments were the most sensible.

Then the editorial board gave me an interview, and today they assessed all the candidates in their endorsement of Jim Oberstar. They had only nice things to say about me as a “different voice.”

I can’t complain.

Harry Welty

Harry Welty had run for office numerous times before finally winning a seat on the Duluth School Board. During his service there from 1995 to 2003, he received praise as a moderate who could get things done.

A writer and former teacher, Welty describes himself as a 35-year moderate Republican who would caucus with the Democratic Party if elected to Congress. He offers realistic and sobering ideas on the war in Iraq and the economy, harkening back to the Republicanism of years past for whom fiscal conservatism was tantamount while allowing for social caring.

Welty’s quest is hampered, however, by his peculiar route to the ballot, in which he sought but could not obtain an Independence Party endorsement and discovered instead the Unity Party, a more-or-less online creation based in California. His motivations, nonetheless, appear sincere and he brings a different voice to the race.”

Grams should quit, say the unions

Tonight there was a silly bit of news about area labor unions which are calling on Rod Grams to quit the race for Congress.

Sure, Rod’s campaign has been drivel – complaints about trips to Paris and Jim’s home in Maryland. Rod’s recent story in the Trib about the poor farmers who were jailed for draining their swamp was patently absurd and slanted, but should he quit the race?

The unions are upset that Rod is trying to make the claim that Jim Oberstar has been a job killer. So what? Its just over the top campaign rhetoric. The public won’t be impressed.

I tried explaining while on Duluth Solutions today that economic development was more of a state matter than a fedral matter but my friend Mel has a much better take on a congressman’s limitations than I managed. Neither Oberstar, Grams or Welty can be expected to bring jobs, jobs, jobs to the Eighth District’s economy.l

Oberstar You Tubed

GOP apartchik, Michael Brodkorb, was quick to send the embarrassing video of Jim Oberstar huffing and puffing at Rod Grams to You Tube. Its not surprising that Jim has avoided debates so assiduously through the years if this is the best he can do.

What provoked this attack was Rod’s assertion that Jim lives in Maryland rather than Minnesota. Of course, this is true and has been so for forty years and more. Rod waved the titles to Jim’s Maryland home around and Oberstar had a hissy fit. Rod called the house “Jim’s million dollar mansion” which leaves me to wonder if Rod knows anything about housing costs on the East coast. My modest home in Duluth is a quarter that according to our property valuations and we bought it 19 years ago for a fraction of its current value.

Among the other big issues Rod keep raising are:

Jim’s repeated trips to France. Big Deal.

Jim’s rare returns to the Eighth District. Demonstrably false.

Among the issues Rod doesn’t raise:

Jim’s wife’s lobbying Jim while he was the top Democrat on the  House Aviation Committee. Maybe because Rod became a lobbyist himself after he lost his Senate seat.

Jim’s close cooperation with Tom Delay and Denny Hastert on issues appealing to socially conservative voters like Terri’s Law. Perhaps because Rod is just as conservative.



I’ve gotten a lot of nice feedback in the last week. Many people said I sounded good on Almanac last Friday. None were impressed with Grams or Oberstar. Many of these people were folks I didn’t know at the Reif Center for the second debate.

This morning a fellow from church that I’ve hardly ever said a word to came over and smiled and said the same thing. Another fellow and his wife came over to tell me they agreed with me one hundred percent on my essay in the Duluth News Tribune. My neighbor was there as well and she commented that the last time she put a sign for me up in her yard all her Democrat friends gave her grief. She told me she can’t vote for me this year. I presume that’s because as an avid Democrat she feels compelled to vote for Oberstar but she told me that the debate last night wasn’t good.

I may be headed for disaster but there seems to be a heckuva lot of people pulling for me.

I’ve been getting quite a lot of google alerts about Rod Grams from people writing very unflattering letters to their local papers about him. A couple of editorials have decried his radio ads. If both candidates are perceived as being unappealing what will people do with me as the alternative? Folks in the south and west of the district don’t know me but they might like to cast a protest vote for somebody with the “unity” party lable behind their name. Folks in my part of the district do know me. They might do the same and do it for the same reasons.

Oberstar and Grams are the only ones who have any polling data to dig into. Grams said he’s doing better all the time in his polls. I think that’s bravado. Oberstar and Grams are also the only folks who know how I’m doing in their phone calls. They aren’t talking.

Find your candidate

I just filled out a questionnaire for Minnesota Public Radio so that viewers can find the candidate who most matches their views on the issues. Its called Select a candidate.

I just took it (it took about two minutes) and Harry Welty matched me with a 15. Jim Oberstar was only an 8 and Rod Grams was a 1. I know who I’m voting for.

Why should Harry Welty be elected?

The consolation prize for not being invited to the debate was getting to answer this question and see my answer published in the Trib. I wasn’t going to put it online immediately but what the heck. It begins like this:

“Every day that I’m in Congress I’ll think of Andy and Robin. As school kids these big-hearted boys went with me on church mission trips to help repair the homes of people in need. As young men they put their lives on the line by serving in Iraq, a war which seems to have been fought more to keep Republicans in political power than for the nation’s security. Their welcome home gift is the privilege of paying off an $8.5 trillion dollar Federal debt.”

Read the rest.

The Reif Debate and the WDSE Debate

Last night I had my own entourage as Chris and Mel went with me to Grand Rapid’s Reif Center to hear the first debate I wasn’t invited to. I was given permission to hand out my flyers by Roger Moe and was pleased when half a dozen of the people there said they’d seen me on last week’s Almanac program. All said they were favorably impressed. Even more people expressed displeasure to hear that I was being excluded from the Reif Center debate.

The three of us wrote down questions on slips of paper provided us and passed them to the moderators. One of the moderators, Larry Oakes, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s reporter in Duluth asked the candidates whether they would be willing to have me included in future debates. Jim said nice things about my presence last week and both of them said that it would be OK with them if I joined in. (It was my question surprise, surprise) There was really no other graceful answer that they could have given but it was nice to hear them say what had to be said. It gives me a little more fodder for my continued campaign to get on WDSE this Friday. My push to be included will boost the debate’s viewership just as my exclusion will be a black eye for its sponsors.

The folks to email on my behalf are:
Editor Robin Washington and/or
Publisher Marti Buscaglia

Please remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The Fourth Estate will require solid, logical reasons to change their mind and include me. Be firm but be polite.

A “hard core” Democrat’s impressions

My sister in law just emailed Claudia from Texas and reported the following:

“Rumor has it……….
Larry’s sister called Sunday and announced that she had just watched
Harry Welty on TV.    She is a hard core democrat and she said that she was
quite impressed with Harry.  Who knows, maybe Congress will get him this
election year!”

I didn’t even tell my kids I was going to be on Almanac so I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback on my appearance but what little I’ve gotten has been positive. It ocurred to me while I was on the set that I didn’t think many viewers would find either Oberstar or Grams very appealing. Maybe I can get some hard core Democratic votes, I’m sure I’ll get moderate Republican votes and Independent votes too. I just need 35% of the vote to go to Washington.


Red Alert – The Duluth Trib is freezing Harry out of its debate

Email the Publisher of the Duluth News Tribune and tell her to let me participate in the congressional debate that they are hosting this Friday on Duluth’s public television. They only invited the “major party” candidates” Rod and Jim. It seems a shame that Minneapolis Public Television saw fit to include me while the Duluth Newspaper has chosen to exclude an independent voice from their forum. Perhaps this is what ownership by a Moorhead based company means for Duluth. How ironic that the new owner of our newspapar calls itself the Forum!

Those who watch the first televised debate will see me turn the debate from bickering over the subject of Jim’s trips to France to the War in Iraq and the National Deficit. Rod and Jim only proved how bent they are on keeping the nation divided along partisan lines The Trib’s coverage of this very national debate has been pretty pathetic. Just look at their pathetically brief and parochial questionnaire for congressional candidates. Basically the Trib wants to know if we can have a Bridge to Nowhere too.