The third DFL candidate in this series, done in alphebetical order, is Matt Entenza.
Here's how Matt Entenza fares on the questions that should help determine who to vote for:
1. How much experience working in government does the candidate have? Matt Entenza began his formal government experience as an attorney at the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. He then went to the Hennepin County Attorney's office, where he served as an assistant Hennepin County attorney prosecuting white-collar crime. He was elected to a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1994 (District 64A). By 2003, he became the House Minority Leader. In the 2004 election, he coordinated all House DFL campaigns under a common platform of refocusing the state on quality education and access to affordable health care. In 2006, he stepped down to focus on the attorney general's race. He withdrew from that race on July 18, 2006.
2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? Most people I talked to had no idea who Matt Entenza is. Most voters don't follow politics very closely. His name is known to the political crowd and to many attorneys and judges, but it doesn't go much beyond that except for within his own district. I don't think he has much of a chance of getting elected unless he spends a fortune on ad campaigns.
3. Does the candidate have viable ideas about how to fix the crisis that Minnesota is in? Does the candidate have an actual plan for tackling most of the issues, or does he/she only talk about one or two issues? Does the candidate whine that the new governor can't do everything so has to concentrate on one or two things, or does he/she appear eager to get right to work on a plan to solve all the most pressing issues? Matt Entenza is not good on all the issues. His platform mostly consists of two issues: education and a clean energy economy. He wants to turn Minnesota into the Silicon Valley of clean energy. That's very nice, and it's a great idea, but that will take years. What will he do to get Minnesota out of it's crisis in a timely manner? He does whine that the new governor can't do everything so he has to pick an issue or two to concentrate on. (There are several candidates who are actually good on almost all the issues. Think Mark Dayton and Paul Thissen.) I don't think that Matt Entenza has any plan to solve all the issues that Minnesota faces. He's concentrating on his pet project of clean energy. It's just not enough to win this election.
4. Is the candidate popular with voters? Entenza has his supporters and has some voters, but he's not all that popular. Most voters don't know who he is. Everyone I asked just said, "Who? Who's he?" Perhaps Facebook and Twitter will help him get his name out to voters across the state. It'll be interesting to see what kind of print, radio and tv media he uses once the campaign really gets under way in 2010. According to a comment left by a reader of this blog, Entenza is not popular with the voters. See comment section below this blog post.
5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? Yes, definitely. The Lumpy Crowd will pounce on the reasons he stepped down from the attorney general's race. There were two things that happened at that time. One, he got in trouble with the Campaign Finance Committee. Critics had raised concerns of a conflict of interest due to Entenza's wife's high ranking executive position at UnitedHealth Group. Entenza's campaign committee was fined $28,000 by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board on August 15, 2006, for exceeding the legal amount for contributions. And two, he hired a private investigation firm to look into the affairs of his opponent Mike Hatch. All of these concerns will undoubtedly come out during the campaign. It will be interesting to hear what his opponents dig up and how he will respond to them. Here's an interesting website about Matt Entenza. And here's another website that not only claims that Entenza is unethical, but gives reasons to back up that statement. Read it and make your own judgment call.
6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? See the Minnesota State Legislature website. For other years, click at the top of that page on Legislature Home, and go from there. An even better website for his voting record is Votetracker. When you get there, click on one of the years listed to see his voting record for that year.
7. Does the candidate have the type of personality that can get along with the legislators well enough to work with them and get things done? Does he or she have a history of getting along well with others? I don't see any reason why Entenza wouldn't get along well with others. He's soft-spoken and appears to have a pleasant personality. It seems that he got quite a bit done when he was Minority Leader. On the other hand, he wasn't able to get along with Mike Hatch. Was he? Read here to find out. I did find one website that said Entenza had a good ability to work with Republican members of the House. Tim Pawlenty doesn't like Matt Entenza, to put it mildly, but on the other hand, I don't know of a single DFLer who likes Timmy Boy. If Entenza can refrain from being sneaky and underhanded on various occasions, he should be able to get along well with and work well with everyone.
8. What is the public image of the candidate? How do others see him or her? Sometimes what you see is what you get; other times how you perceive a person is not at all how they really are. It seems that with Matt Entenza, people either like him or they don't like him. I've seen bloggers write about him in both favorable and unfavorable ways. On the surface he seems like a nice guy because he's soft-spoken and doesn't appear angry about everything like Bakk does. He's not the candidate with the most charisma (that award goes to Rybak), yet he does seem like a guy you might want to get to know better and count as one of your friends. Maybe. Read about public image here.
9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money? Entenza is not the top candidate in this field. That honor goes to Bakk and Dayton. However, he does have an incredible amount of money, so hopefully he knows how to use it and budget it wisely. On the other hand, it's his wife's money, so maybe she's the one who takes care of it and handles the investments. I have no idea. He did work in the Attorney General's Office regarding the scamming techniques of some charities, so he must have some idea of how financing works. He took the role of public watchdog. I assume one must know something of money, how it works, and how it's used and misused and abused in order to be an effective watchdog. On the other hand, here's an article that suggests Entenza might not always be wise in how he deals with money issues. The campaign ethics board once fined him for taking lobbyist money. This act violated the state law that says candidates for governor can't accept lobbyist contributions while the Legislature is meeting. Entenza did say that as far as the gubernatorial race, he would spend whatever amount of money it would take to win. Read the article. Is it right of him to use his wife's blood money to win the election? At one point Entenza claimed that he didn't have a budget for his campaign. What? No budget? That doesn't sound very financially wise. Will he also try to run the state without a budget if he is elected governor? Scary. Finally, although Entenza has an incredible amount of money, it's new money. He didn't grow up with money. People don't usually know how to handle new money. Old money, on the other hand, such as Dayton has, is passed down through several generations in which the older family members teach the younger ones how to use it and what to do with it.
10. Does the candidate have a history of going out of his or her way to help others? Does the candidate truly care about the people of Minnesota, or is the candidate only out for himself or herself? Matt Entenza does want to help Minnesota be a leader again. One wonders whether his reasoning is that if he does so, he will also stand out as the governor who did it. I can't get a handle on how much of Entenza's campaign is for himself and how much is for the people of Minnesota. He doesn't appear to have the deep sincerity that Dayton has. On the other hand, he doesn't come across with anger or a personna of selfishness. Entenza is a bit hard to read. The main reason I think that perhaps he does want to help others is his response to a question put to him by Politics in Minnesota (see bottom of the page). He said, The first thing I recall wanting to be was a firefighter. Then I wanted to be a veterinarian, and sometime when I was in high school–after I’d gotten to know Gary and spent time with him and his family–I decided I wanted to be a lawyer, because I thought lawyers had the ability to represent people and help people who were being ground down by the system. I think coming from a family that had lost everything–we had lost our home, and we were pretty impoverished for a long time–I was pretty impressed by what he had done for a lot of people in our town. On the other hand, I can't find any information about how he went out of his way or dug into the depths of his own pocket to help the less fortunate. No blind women with stolen laptop computers; no taking seniors to Canada for cheaper prescription drugs. If anyone has any stories where Matt Entenza helped someone out of the kindness of his heart, please let me know and I'll post it here. I don't think Entenza has ever explained how he has helped people or how he is going to help people. My gut feeling is that he cares more about his own advancement that he does about the people of Minnesota. I could be wrong.
11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? Here's Matt's take on why he's running for governor of Minnesota. And here's a video from The Uptake.
Watch Matt whine about his poor childhood. I know lots of people who had worse childhoods, but they don't use it to gain sympathy from voters. Most of them don't talk about it at all.
12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? I've heard that Matt Entenza was a debater in college. He even debated against Lois Quam, to whom he was not yet married. She won the debate. I've heard him at DFL forums and debates. He wasn't the best debater by any means. I don't think he would do that well against his opponent in the general election next fall. He doesn't seem to have much passion in his voice. His arguments are rather weak in presentation style. He should think about joining a Toastmasters club to get helpful evaluations and learn how to add pizazz to his speeches. From what I currently see, I don't think he would win a debate.
13. Does the candidate like children and animals? Entenza has three kids of his own and he seems to have survived the experience intact. However, I don't see any pictures at all on his website of children or animals. If they were important to him, wouldn't there be pictures of him with them? His 128 Facebook photos are mostly of him. I don't see any of kids or pets. I guess it's all about him, so Matt loses on this question.
14. Does the candidate often say what he or she thinks the audience wants to hear or does he/she tell the truth no matter how unpopular that truth might be? Is the candidate honest with the audience or are there half-truths and embellishments? Matt Entenza mostly says what he himself wants to hear. He doesn't seem to embellish anything. As far as half truths, he tells of his childhood growing up in Worthington, although he only lived there for three years. Apparently he did spend some summers there prior to that. He's honest about his meager platform. He says he has one main message, and that's the clean energy economy that he wants to build in Minnesota. How many other issues will take a back burner while he concentrates on that? He is concerned about education, so I guess we can say that his plate has two entrees on it. Where are the rest? What will he do for homeless veterans? What will he do for immigrants? How will he alleviate the growing gap between the rich and the poor? How will he overcome the many disparities in Minnesota? No one knows. I don't think Matt himself knows. I don't even know if he cares.
15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? I guess he knows that any governor has to be accountable to the people. Yet I've never heard him actually come right out and say so the way Mark Dayton has.
16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? Matt seems like the kind of candidate who would be putting a list together, at least in his mind. I haven't heard anything about who might be on that list. Maybe some of his endorsers will be. He likes to name drop quite a bit. Maybe he'll drop those names right into a cabinet, advisory or commissioner position.
17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? I don't really feel a strong connection to Matt Entenza, although I do more so than with some of the other candidates. I like his manner of speaking and his Minnesota nice personality. He's too young for me to have much in common with. I can kind of relate to the childhood that had some problems, although there was no alcoholism in my family except for a first cousin.
18. And last but not least, what has the candidate done in his/her career to help various communities of people, such as Seniors, Veterans, Children, Disabled, GLBT, etc.? Entenza helped pass some legislation in favor of some of these communities (see voting record in one of the previous questions), but I can't find anything in particular that stands out. He believes in the DFL platform of equality and fairness, but he's probably not the candidate that an organization like reNEW Minnesota is looking for.