Saturday, November 28, 2009

reNEW Minnesota Campaign

I've become involved with the reNEW Minnesota Campaign. It's all about putting forth a new and progressive vision for Minnesota. It's about choosing a gubernatorial candidate who will uphold this vision and bring it forward into the governorship. It's about electing a governor who will work with others to embrace and uphold the vision. The reNEW Minnesota Campaign believes that everyone is deserving. It wants to work with the governor after the election in order to make sure that Minnesota is made more inclusive. It's all about the people of Minnesota working together.

Take a look at the website in which reNEW Minnesota interviews the ten DFL gubernatorial candidates. This is our first step in determining which candidate will best lead Minnesota with the reNEW Minnesota vision. There will be more forums and debates. Then reNEW Minnesota will determine which candidate to endorse.

Here's my impressions of the candidates just from how they responded on these videos.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - She states that the reNEW Minnesota vision matches very well with how she was brought up on the dairy farm. (Huh?) She claims that she therefore resonates with this vision. She wants the state to be based on a justice model. She says she's a trained organizer who believes strongly in taking this reNew vision and making it a reality. She maintains that her style is one of working together. This is where she starts to sound as though she's saying exactly what she thinks reNEW wants to hear. This is too canned.  I think she's done her research on what reNEW Minnesota wants.

Tom Bakk - Has a good presentation but let's look closer. He keeps talking about his life as a carpenter. He says his childhood was different. He spent summers at summer camp. He says his values were shaped at summer camp. Oh oh. As someone who also went to summer camp once or twice, I know that one can take that statement many different ways. I don't really see that his childhood is any different from that of most people. He does agree that the reNEW Minnesota Campaign goes a long way in breaking down barriers. He says he believes in a progressive tax system.  He thinks that all Minnesotans believe in the reNEW Minnesota Campaign principals. I don't know why he would think that. There's lots of Republicans in Minnesota who wouldn't care much about it.

Mark Dayton - Now here's someone who has been a progressive almost forever. He was progressive before it was even called that. Mark Dayton could arguably be called the Father of Minnesota Progressives. He's been involved in progressive political causes for forty years. He started out protesting the Viet Nam War. (As did I.) He watched television one night and saw his political hero, Bobby Kennedy, assasinated. He saw how Kennedy gave his life for his beliefs. This profoundly and fundamentally changed Dayton's life. He dedicated his life to progressive political causes. He lived with a welfare family in New York City in order to understand how people lived who did not have the privileges that he himself had known. This says a lot about the progressive dedication and the inner strength of character of Mark Dayton, even from an early age.  He's got a long history of helping those less fortunate than himself and fighting for equality for all.

Matt Entenza - Again (and yet again) relates how he grew up poor because his father was an alcoholic who ran off and left them with nothing. His childhood took place in Winona, in a working class farming community. His grandmother took them into her little tiny home. He talks about all the opportunites he was given by the community and now wants to make those same opportunites available to all Minnesotans. He believes that we should have the diversity that Minnesota needs and that we should value education. He believes in health care for everyone. He opposes the idea that some people should be in and some people should be out. Matt seems to grasp the reNEW Minnesota vision very well. I just wish he would quit talking about his sad childhood so much. It almost seems that he wants the voters to feel sorry for him and thus vote for him.

Susan Gaertner - She states that the reNEW Minnesota vision relates to her personal experience in so many ways. Her father was a social worker. He worked with families and kids at risk. Thus she learned from a very early age that  government has a responsibility  to help those who need help. As a prosecutor, she has seen first hand the consequences of what happens when the vision doesn't take place. She thinks opportunities should be open to all across the state and not vary depending on color, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. She agrees with reNEW Minnesota's vision of fairness and equality and then making it happen. She says this will only happen with all hands on board and not just by the governor and/or the legislators. She reiterates that we are all in this together. This is the best I've ever heard from Susan Gaertner. She obviously understands the reNEW Minnesota vision very well and already embraces it.

Steve Kelley - He says he connects to the reNEW Minnesota vision because he served as the chair of the Senate Education Committee and had an opportunity to create a youth advisory council. He wanted to act out the idea that we govern best when we govern together and engage and empower people to be part of the solution in their own lives. He wants opportunities to be extended to everyone. He likes the reNEW Minnesota vision because it begins with values. He has a good presentation in this video and he's not yelling. This is the tone he should take with the forums and debates. He's not the most progressive of the ten candidates, but he's on board.

John Marty - He says the vision of reNEW Minnesota connects with him because he believes in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being with no exceptions. He has a progressive view of society. He wants to work with people from every corner of the state and of every economic status. He wants to work with everyone from the beginning and not bring them in later as an afterthought. I'm not sure what he means by bringing everyone in. Does he mean representatives of all the people of Minnesota, or does he mean every Minnesotan? He'd sure need a big table. I think Marty understands the reNEW Minnesota vision very well. I wish his voice would sound more sincere, though.

Tom Rukavina - He says he loves this vision because that's how he was raised. His parents were union organizers. He was taught that everyone has to pull together as a community. He's lived that way all his life and that's the way he's been at the capitol as a state representative. He says his past record at the capitol shows that he includes everyone with no exclusions. This is the way he was born and raised. He would include people in his cabinet who have lived an ordinary life and have learned from life experiences. (Hey, that would be me....) I did notice that in this interview Rukavina didn't even crack one joke. He was very serious. That's what I wanted to hear. (Well, one joke might have been okay.) This presentation shows me that Tom Rukavina most likely would be a good governor. Besides, Orrie told me that he might let Dayton be his Lt. Governor. I said or vice versa. What a team! Speaking of Orrie, I couldn't find a picture of him and his wonderful smile on Rukavina's Facebook page. None of the candidates could do all that they're doing without their fantastic campaign staff. I notice that Dayton has lots of pictures of his great staff.

R.T. Rybak - He loves the reNEW Minnesota Campaign because it says that we're not going to allow fear and scarcity to divide Minnesotans. He was a community organizer who was unknown, then got elected as Mayor of Minneapolis. He didn't stop with the election, but kept organizing communities to stand up against violence and to mobilize around the environment. He made sure he didn't just sit behind his desk but got out and mobilized citizens. He believes the reNEW Minnesota vision is about all of us coming together to say that we're bigger than we've been and we can be far better. He plans to do in the governor's office what he did in the mayor's office, where he gets out of the office and goes out into the communities, both in the metro area and in rural Minnesota to bring people into the vision where we can all work together to create jobs, fix our schools, create health care, bring back the environment and manage the budget. He believes that by working together, we can accomplish all these things. Rybak did have a bad double start in the presentation, but he recovered very nicely.

Paul Thissen - He says that the reNEW Minnesota vision is about how he was raised. He was born and raised in Bloomington by two school teachers who sacrificed to give him and his sister educational opportunities. He wants all kids to have health care and wants every Minnesotan to succeed in life. He thinks we should call on the best of Minnesota and think of abundance instead of limitation. He believes that our policies should reflect our values. He wants to make sure we don't have discrimination in our communities. He wants to make sure that all Minnesotans can do better. He wants to make retirement secure. It all comes back to his parents, he says. Paul Thissen is a fresh young idealistic voice. I don't think he is the most profound progressive in the lineup, though.

Now that I've watched the videos of all ten candidates and gave a brief evaluation of each, I've come up with my own top four candidates. You may notice that this list is different than previous lists I've posted. That's because this was a one-on-one interview with each of the candidates. Most of them come across a bit differently than when they're engaged in a forum or debate. Here's my top choices just from the reNEW Minnesota candidate interview videos. These are in order of my preference.

1.  Mark Dayton
2.  Tom Rukavina
3.  R.T. Rybak
4.  Susan Gaertner

Please post your own preferences in the comments section below.

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