Saturday, November 14, 2009


Today I attended the MN DFL Veterans' Caucus in Minneapolis. There was a gubernatorial candidate forum with each candidate answering questions presented to them by the moderator. Here's my impressions of the candidates who attended.

Most of the candidates agreed on what is currently wrong in Minnesota and the things that need to be done to fix it. I'll comment on the presentation skills of the candidates as well as how I feel about their probable success in their candidacy for Minnesota Governor.

The candidates were seated in alphebetical order by last name. That's how I'll list them here.

Tom Bakk - has a strong and powerful voice and good presentation skills. He has a good knowledge of the budget crisis that MN is in and knows that whoever the next governor is will have to work closely with the legislators to accomplish what needs to be done. On the down side, Tom doesn't include any humor when he talks. He's dead serious. I didn't even see a hint of a smile. He sounds angry. Tom needs to lighten up and mellow out. He seemed a bit frightening. I'm not sure he has the personality needed to be governor.

Mark Dayton - definitely has a good sense of humor. He's got a nice voice that would be easy to listen to all day. I heard good voice projection and volume and saw excellent hand gestures. It's obvious that he has the experience necessary to be an effective governor. He understands how state government works because he ran three state agencies over the course of his career. He knows how money works, too, probably more so than any of the other candidates. If anyone can get us out of a budget crisis, it would be Mark Dayton. He's very sincere about wanting to make Minnesota a better state. With his experience, sincerity and deeply caring attitude, he's my top choice for governor. He's also got a lot of supporters all over the state, which makes him very electable. People love the idea of having a governor who actually cares about them.

Matt Entenza - also has a personna of deep sincerity...almost as deep as Dayton's. Matt's a person you can't help but like. He's the boy next door type. He's a good speaker. His ideas are sound. He's knowledgeable about the issues. He's also one of my top four choices. I'm not sure, though, that a prosecuting attorney background would make the best governor. A lot of people have the idea that you can't trust lawyers, so the question arises whether the people of Minnesota would elect one for their governor.

Susan Gaertner - admits that she's tough and not afraid of a fight. I think she'd be able to deal quite well with the job of governor. I like the way she presents herself. On the other hand, I'm not sure she is aware of all the ramifications of all the issues. She's good on crime and good on child support, but the governor has to be good on everything. Again, she's got that prosecuting attorney background. Her presentation was good...much better than it was at the AFSCME endorsement. She should stand up straighter and work on pausing instead of using crutch words. In spite of my reservations, I still have to put her in the top four candidates category.

Steve Kelley - definitely has a loud booming voice. It was so loud that it hurt my ears. He needs to tone down the volume by about half. The sheer loudness was distracting. Steve was good with gestures except for his habit of pointing his finger at the audience. That habit won't get him elected. Steve has good DFL answers for the issues. I didn't really hear anything new. There was nothing shattering to read his lips about. Also, he's got an attorney background. What's with all the lawyers running for governor?

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - is a very good speaker (no pun intended) as far as delivery, enunciation, volume and not using crutch words. So what's missing? Personality, perhaps? She's no nonsense and right to the point, but a governor needs a bit more than that. She seems very opinionated. I'm not sure if she would listen to others and be able to work effectively with both parties at the Capitol. She is not one of my top four choices.

John Marty - is another candidate who sounds good but has something missing. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe he's just too serious. Can a governor be too serious? Certainly. A governor needs to have as close to a perfect balance as he can get. He or she needs to be serious about the issues and about fixing Minnesota, but also needs to be personable and be able to insert humor now and then. The people of Minnesota need to know that the governor is a real person, not just a political powerhouse. I didn't see that deep sincerity and compassion for others that is so apparent with Dayton and Entenza.

Tom Rukavina - You gotta love Tom Rukavina. He's just adorable. He's got so much humor that he'd be great at standup comedy. He should definitely join Humor Mill Toastmasters...what a great addition he'd be. I don't think he's the best choice for governor, though. Wait a minute...didn't I previously say that these candidates need to have some humor? Well sure, but if there's too much, people won't take you seriously. There's a fine balance. Tom reminds me a lot of Lt. Colombo in mannerisms. I really like Colombo, but not as a governor.

R.T. Rybak - gets the best speaker award. He's a fantastic presenter. He's got energy and charisma, charm and intelligence. He knows how to work a room. He's good looking and fairly young as far as politicians go. Wait a minute, lots of people think Tim Pawlenty has all those things, too, and look what happened to that governorship. Not to worry, Pawlenty is a Republican and Rybak is a Democrat. That should make all the difference, right? One would hope. So I'll say that R.T. is in my top four choices for the next Governor of Minnesota.

There are two other candidates who did not attend the forum. They are Paul Thissen and Ole Savior.

Here's my top four candidates for Minnesota Governor in order of my preference.
1. Mark Dayton
2. R. T. Rybak
3. Matt Entenza
4. Susan Gaertner

I plan to attend other forums and write blogs about my impressions. Check back for updates.

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