Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The tenth and final DFL gubernatorial candidate in this blog series, in alphebetical order, is Paul Thissen.

Paul Thissen was born on December 10, 1966, in Bloomington, Minnesota. He graduated from the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minnesota, in 1985. He graduated from Harvard University with high honors in 1989. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1992. Thissen clerked for the Honorable James B. Loken of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and then worked at the Minneapolis law firm of Briggs & Morgan. He specialized in general litigation and appellate work. He also worked for the Minnesota State Public Defenders Office. He served as Chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee. During his tenure, the firm more than doubled the hours of free legal services it provided to low-income individuals and non-profits. He also founded Access for Persons with Disabilities, a group of lawyers dedicated to providing legal services to people with disabilities. In 2006, Thissen was named one of "Forty Under 40" top business professionals in the Twin Cities by the Twin Cities Business Journal. In 2008, Thissen was named one of Minnesota's 100 Influential Health Care leaders and one of the Twin Cities Best Brains. In 2002, Thissen was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in his first run for public office. He was reelected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. In 2007, Thissen was appointed Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. He also sits on the Health Finance Committee, the Biosciences Committee, the Telecommunications Division, the Finance Committee, the Rules Committee and the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement. He also served as Speaker pro tempore of the Minnesota House. Thissen was Chief Author of HF 1, the Children's Health Security Act. The proposal, which would provide health coverage to all Minnesota children in families who make under $60,000, passed off the floor of the Minnesota House. Thissen served on the Health Care Access Commission and also served on Governor Tim Pawlenty's Health Transformation Taskforce. In 2008, he was instrumental in passing health reform legislation that the Minneapolis Star Tribune named the prize of the 2008 session. He is married to Karen Wilson. They have three children.

Here's how Paul Thissen measures up on the questions that I think are so important in deciding who to vote for:

1. How much experience working in government does the candidate have? Paul Thissen only has seven years of legislative experience, but he's a fast rising star. He's young, but he's fresh and eager and has an abundance of positiveness and idealism. He's also highly intelligent. He's accomplished more in seven years than some legislators have in two or three times that long. During his first two terms, Thissen served as a member of the minority party. Nonetheless, he developed a reputation as someone who could work across party lines. He was a key player in passing significant legislation including major changes to Minnesota's eminent domain laws to protect the rights of individual property owners, the merger of the insolvent Minneapolis Teachers Retirement Fund into the statewide teachers pension fund, a nation-leading law to curb abusive tax-preparer practices and an overhaul of state campaign law. Source. Keep your eye on Paul Thissen. He'll be moving up fast. Maybe even to the governor's office.

2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? He doesn't have state-wide name recognition yet, but he's working hard at it. Those who now know about him are very impressed. He's quicky becoming very electable. During the 2006 election, Thissen served as Finance Co-Chair of the House DFL Caucus and succeeded raising more dollars than the Republican opposition. The DFL picked up nineteen seats and a strong new majority. Politics in Minnesota named Thissen one of the big winners of the 2006 election in its November 9, 2006 edition. He's big on Children's Health issues and Health Care Reform. He's also big on communities. He communicates wonderfully. He's a fresh face with good ideas. His focus is on economic security and fairness. He is an excellent communicator. He says he can get the independent, swing voters. I rate him in the top three as far as electability. This list includes Dayton, Rybak and now Thissen.

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? Paul Thissen is definitely not a whiner. He's far too busy accomplishing great things and figuring out how to solve all the crisis issues. He doesn't have time to whine and isn't the type to do so anyway. How will he solve the issues? Watch and listen to this video to find out:

4. Is the candidate popular with voters? Paul Thissen is quickly becoming very popular with the voters, at least those who know who he is. Everyone seems to like him. Will the majority of voters like him enough to elect him as the next governor of Minnesota? Keep tuned...

5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? Not a thing. He's even cleaner than Pat Boone. He's the boy next door type who you would have trusted with your daughter. He could have been elected kid most likely to succeed.

6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? Check out Paul Thissen's voting record at Votetracker.

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? Paul Thissen has a great personality. He appears to be kind and thoughtful of others. He appeals to his opponents through reason and logic as well as with facts. He has a history of getting things done at the legislative sessions.

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. Often the public image of a candidate reflects the candidate's views of the issues. Here is where Paul Thissen stands on the issues affecting Minnesota: Thissen's priorities involve preparing Minnesota for the needs of its aging population and providing quality education and health care for its residents. Another big issue is sustainability; he recently introduced a bill to to establish a statewide policy that would promote the use of thermal energy. In a June candidates forum, he argued for "places of solitude and quiet in our state" and linked environmental issues with personal health issues. On his campaign website he says, “We need to expand transit statewide much more effectively and do that in ways that fit the various regions that people are living in.” Source. It's my opnion that with Thissen, what you see is what you get. I don't think he has any hidden agendas or any hidden aspects to his personality. His public image is one of high energy, enthusiasm, integrity, empathy and positive attitude. Click on the link to find out more about Paul Thissen.

9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money? Paul Thissen has a plan of sorts for fixing the budget crisis. Read about it here. He also discusses his plan with Joe Bodell at MN Progressive Project. Thissen has good ideas and appears to grasp budget issues nicely.

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? Watch Paul Thissen's response to the reNEW Minnesota vision.

This video shows that Thissen doesn't just think about himeself. On the other hand, I can't find anything about whether he has had hands on activities with charity organizations such as the Salvation Army, local food shelves, Habitat for Humanity, etc. I don't see any articles or pictures. This seems to be a shortcoming among most of the candidates. The only one I see certain proof for in this area is Mark Dayton and to a lesser extent, R. T. Rybak. Come on, candidates, go volunteer. Get your hands dirty for a good cause.

11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? Paul Thissen explains in this video.

12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? I strongly think that he would be able to win a debate against most opponents because of his high intelligence, his use of reason and logic and his ability to think quickly on his feet.

13. Does the candidate like children and animals? I don't really know, but there seem to be a lot of children at his campaign announcement party.

Does Goldie Gopher count as an animal?

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? Paul Thissen appears to be honest and sincere. I don't think he uses those old political tricks that were used by so many politicians in days gone by when they just said whatever would bring the most votes. It's this Blogonian's view that the two candidates with the most sincerity, honesty and integrity are Mark Dayton and Paul Thissen. Neither of them has even given me any reason to think otherwise.

15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? Please ask him the next time you see him. Or email him with the question. I'm sure he will say yes. He has embraced the reNEW Minnesota vision, so I think he understands that accountability will definitely be expected of him.

16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? I have not yet heard anything about this from Paul. Hopefully he will keep us informed.

17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? The candidate I connect most strongly with is Mark Dayton. The reasons can be found on my blog post "A Closer Look at Mark Dayton." However, I do connect with Paul Thissen's character and with his ideas of good leadership.

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.?

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