the Seventh Senate Dist DFL Convention

This is a belated attempt to finish this post. I was only two sentences into it when the charging system of my computer failed. Let’s see what I can recall:

I went to the DECC (Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center) only to discover that I wasn’t needed. So I hopped in the car and drove over to Duluth’s new East High School where the DFL Senate Convention was being held. I spent an hour and half there. Two things vied for my attention. The new school that many have oohed and ahhed over. As an opponant of the Red Plan I was glad to see the “new” school for myself. Considering the cracker box size of the lot of land I’d have to say that the impression upon entering was pleasing enough. That’s a modest compliment considering the current fate of the school program. I was told that engineers could squeeze it all in to the small space. That was never in doubt. That’s what engineers do. Whether it should have been attempted is quite another question. Since the public never had a chance to weigh in on the decision with a referendum it remains to be seen how the new East High will play in twenty years. Perhaps no better than the short lived Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings.

As for the convention, I did not seek the DFL nomination. It would not have been given me. I merely wanted to make my presence known.

Ironically, most of the recently endorsed DFL candidates for the Duluth City Council have sided with our popular Mayor Ness and allowed him to circumvent the Duluth Civil Service Commission. As a result the local DFL leaders are having a conniption over their former favorites. So much for the DFL getting what they want from their endorsees.

I had no strong feelings on the subject so I asked Claudia what she thought of the Mayor’s being able to fast track his appointments without the hassle of a Civil Service Commission. She worked for a few years in the City’s personnel Department and at one time wrote most of the tests that job applicants had to take to get a job.

She said that during her era in City Hall – thirty years ago – it was generally agreed that the slower the hiring the better to prevent a Mayor from appointing a bunch of cronies.

I must say I think Maryor Ness is just the sort of fellow who will be inclined to hire competent employees for the City rather than hacks. The problem is that the next Mayor may not be so inclined. The fact that conservative (and I mean that in the positive way the word conservative should be applied) councilor Jim Stauber voted against the sped up hiring process leads me to believe our Mayor should not have gotten his way. In this rare case I’m inclined to agree with the DFL leadership and side with them against the Mayor. Besides, in this economy I don’t think competent job applicants are all that likely to be lost because of their frustration over a slow hiring process.

But this point says far more about what the DFL wants out of an endorsed candidate than what the candidate, me, would want from an endorsement. I’m not certain I’ll file. I’m still mulling that over. I’m convinced that however promising a DFL candidate’s chances in the Fall might seem that they don’t have the candidate handy that will defeat Chip Cravaack.

Nolan spoke at the convention before I left. He was only given five minutes but I swear he could have been given half an hour and been no more persuasive. It was like listening to Hubert Humphrey but not the Humphrey of 1948 that got Harry Truman elected. More like the HHH of 1970 that the state elected to take over Eugene McCarthy’s seat when the latter bowed out of politics to write poetry.

Jeff Anderson gave a much more spirited speech but he is damaged goods. I was going to mention this two nights ago but I didn’t want to be the messenger of unwanted information fated to be killed for bringing it. Upon reflection I’ve decided, What the Hell.

I have been surprised that so many local Duluthians have not rallied to Jeff’s cause. I’m pretty sure I know the reason. I’ve heard speculation about Jeff being gay since his election a couple years ago. I don’t know if its true but as recently as a week ago an old political buddy that I hadn’t spoken to in a year’s time repeated it to me suggesting that Jeff’s candidacy was a good as toast.

I have other reasons for not being enthusiastic about Jeff and they all have to do with the safe politics he hewed to as the Red Plan was forced down Duluth’s throat. That safe politics meant letting the School Board take all the heat while privately letting everyone know that he thought the School Board was being unreasonable. Well, now our public schools are cooked and I’m so pissed off about the cowardice of the City Council that Jeff Anderson could never get my vote – in a primary election.

As for his being gay I’ve only heard it rumored but if I’ve heard the rumors soon everyone will. Its better to get them out now than wait for some super pac to insinuate them into the campaign. Since the GOP is desperate to hang onto the Congress there is no way this issue won’t rear its head before November and wishing it away won’t make it go away. The problem for Jeff and the DFL is that it will be another ten years before this ceases to be a big deal. Even today it wouldn’t be in Minneapolis or St. Paul. But the Eighth District is rural, old and socially conservative.

The DFL wants to win this seat back and Jeff may have made the tactical mistake of being honest among his friends about is orientation so that he can’t deny it. This may not hurt him in the DFL primary but it will give Chip Cravaack a huge leg up on being reelected in what promises to be a bad year for Republicans.

I think a lot of influential DFLers know this and have, as a consequence, gravitated to other candidates. They expect the GOP to pull out all the stops to save Cravaack and if the rumors are true it probably will cost the DFL one seat in Congress. These rumors may not be true but they must be dealt with. Its possible that Jeff might even turn this speculation to his advantage but ignoring it will only be a drag on his campaign.

This reminds me of the Thomas Eagleton incident in 1972. George McGovern had been casting about for a good vice presidential running mate and chose Eagleton after asking him if there was anything disqualifying about his selection. Eagleton chose not to tell the Democratic Presidential nominee about his bout of depression and the electro-shock therapy that he had undergone to treat it. McGovern ended up getting a different running mate after a week of terrible national press.

I owe Jeff Anderson an huge apology for bringing this up if I am wrong about his sexual orientation but not so much if the speculation is correct. If it is true then Jeff owes the DFL a huge apology for not letting this side of his nature out in the open because it could cost them a precious seat with a majority.

I left before the third announced Congressional candidate spoke, Tarryl Clark. She was there before the convention began but an hour and half into the convention she did not ask to speak. She is planning to run with or without the DFL endorsement and I couldn’t help but wonder if she skipped speaking to the convention out of cowardice. She’s been criticized for planning to run without the endorsement and I don’t think she was willing to face some hecklers. Maybe she spoke after I left but I doubt it. She had good reason to leave early and follow Nolan because there was another convention in Ely going on. Cowardice is not much of a recommendation for a candidate for Congress. There’s a whole pack of them in Congress already. They’re called Republicans.

There were a few other things I meant to write about the convention but I’ll stop with this. Once again the DFL led a meeting by quoting Abe Lincoln describing our nation as being “of the people, for the people and by the people.” Thank goodness that at least one of our major political parties is not embarrassed by Old Abe.

I may file and run for Congress. If I do it will be as a Democrat. Even if, I get creamed doing so, I’ll have no difficulty in supporting this years’s DFL candidate for the Eighth District whoever it may be. Chip Cravaack may be a perfectly fine fellow, in fact that is what I’m inclined to believe. He is, however, a just one more cowering member of a political party that is too chicken shit to call out the demagogues, panderers, no nothings and hallucinatory paranoids that have taken over their party.