A little more on the author of the “Handsome Harry” emails

Jim is worthy of my attention.

For starters he seems to be extremely pleased that the Iron Range has become Trump country. Too bad for Jim but that’s just not true. As the Reader’s Richard Thomas pointed out.

Nope the old DFL DNA kicked in this year. Although the rest of rural Northeastern Minnesota stuck with Stauber the Iron Rage was a pretty solid swath of blue. Ironically, I came up to Duluth 43 three years ago as what Jim calls a “packsacker.” (I think that’s a combination of metropolitan nature enthusiast and carpetbagger) to be an evangelist for moderate Republicanism. Nowadays I’m thrilled that the Iron Range hasn’t fully succumbed to Trumpism.

Jim sent me a couple more emails today that hint at his peaking at my annoying blog. One is worth noting before I launch into a longish piece about Jim’s and my long political histories. His email is a hoot but not perhaps for the reason he sent it to me:


From: Jim
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2018 2:09 AM
To: Harry Welty
Subject: Fine upstanding African-Americans

Like my nationality Finnish-American, these Africa-Americans have assimulated into the American way of life. Maybe some “packsacker” from Kansas can learn (as an educator) from our journey?


My reply:

According to the Wikipedia entry you sent me Diamond and Silk seem very happy to take money from the highest bidder including the white supremecist Paul Nehlen who paid them $7,000. for an endorsement when he ran against Congressman Paul Ryan.

Were you a fan of Stepin fetchit too?


Jim is profoundly ignorant of the history of black America. Today he probably counts Martin Luther King as a good “assimulated” black man. But MLK was not always destined for memorialization on the National Mall. My wife shocked when years later she told me what her mother said when she heard King had been assassinated. It was “Thank God!”

I got a huge kick out of my mother-in-law and I consider her to have been profoundly ignorant about race relations too. I’d be willing to bet, however that she never used the “N” word that Jim enjoys throwing around a packsackers.

Growing up in all-white Iowa she had next to no experience with blacks other than what she heard from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI allegations that King was a communist dupe while the nightly news was full of Stokely Carmichael and the Detroit riots.

In the year 2018 Jim doesn’t have that excuse for the chip on his shoulder.

We both honed our political chops in 1978 which was a catastrophic year for Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party. Jim delivered the first blow. My Republicans followed up and the election was called the “Minnesota Massacre.”

The year began with a huge scandal that I’ve wanted to write about since 2006. Governor Wendell Anderson’s Administration was riddled with corrupt spending which I first encountered here in Duluth when my wife came home from her job in the City’s Personnel Department. When she went into work that day she found two FBI agents waiting to talk to Personnel Director, John Muldoon, a heavyweight DFL factotum and a heavy drinking bully to boot.

Then the DFL rallied around the late Senator Hubert Humphrey’s push to create the BWCA and limit the local use of boats and snowmobiles in “the wilderness.” This pitted metropolitan packsakers against locals who felt they were being frozen out of their backyard. In the face of this controversy a very Trump-like Millionaire, Robert Short, challenged and defeated the DFL nominee for the US Senate. This so destabilized the party that a tough Republican ticket, still recovering from the Watergate scandal, stormed the election and swept all the state-wide offices.

That year I was attempting to unseat Representative Mike Jaros for the second election in a row but I fell far short. Even so, the election night returns were sweet. Claudia and I had both been to the State GOP convention and were thrilled. I would get two more great Republican election experiences before my GOP bonifides began withering. They were the miraculous 1990 and 1994 elections of Governor Arne Carlson. The Wikipedia entries do not do justice to either story.

For Jim it was only half a loaf. he had been outraged by the Boundary Waters decision and became the leader of the Bob Short campaign to teach those metro environmentalists a thing or two. He served them up Bob Short but his candidate didn’t make it to the Senate.

Since that time Jim has waited for opportunities to serve up more revenge to the liberals of his old party who he also blames for standing in the way of expanding mining in the state.

I have some sympathy with Jim on this point and still recall one incident from my 1978 campaign with some chagrin. The campaign brought up the issue of “eminent domain” which the Federal government was using to take the homes and cabins of longtime BWCA residents. There was very little people could do but surrender their homes for whatever value the Federal Government decided was fair. I found that troubling.

At the same nursing home on Park Point where 27 years later I would bring my Mother I was invited to a candidate’s forum. The elderly audience was mostly made up of the infirm and the confused. I was asked about the BWCA and expressed sympathy for the people losing their homes. Afterwards, two younger women handed me a button with a monkey on it. They were fans of the BWCA and made it clear my reservations marked me as a monkey in their eyes. They thought they were very amusing.

I have an admittedly juvenile reaction to folks like Jim and the monkey women – “Takes one to know one.”

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