Saturday, December 12, 2009


The fifth DFL gubernatorial candidate in this alphebetical series is Steve Kelley. 

Steve Kelley was born on January 8, 1953, in Minnesota. He grew up in the Minnetonka/Hopins area. He graduated from Blake School in 1971, from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1975 with a BA in Political Science and Political Economics, and from Columbia University in 1978 with a JD in Law. He has been an attorney, a legislator and a professor. He was elected to the Minnesota House in 1992 and reelected in 1994. He served in the Minnesota Senate (District 44) from 1997 to 2007.  Now he's a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute in Minneapolis. He's also the director of the Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy. He's teaching a class there called Public Budgeting. He is married to Sophia Bell Kelley. They have two grown children.

Here's how Steve Kelley 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? Steve Kelley has 17 years of experience as a legislator. He's been both a Representative and a Senator. He thus has a well rounded background in how the legislature works and how Minnesota government is run. He served on the following Senate committees: Education, Health and Family Security, Jobs, Energy and Community Development, Telecommunications and Education Budget. He also served on these national committees: No Child Left Behind Task Force, Executive Committee, and the Identity Security Task Force for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). He's obviously got a lot of experience in a lot of different areas.

2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? He was electable in his District when he ran for Representative and Senator. However, when he ran for Governor in 2006, he dropped out because he did not get the DFL endorsement. He then ran for Attorney General that same year but lost to Lori Swanson. He even ran for the U. S. Senate in 2000 but lost. He definitely does not have a good history of winning elections. Apparently, even now, there are a lot of Minnesota voters who don't know who he is. I don't see him as being very electable this time around, either. In his kickoff campaign at Mahtomedi High School, he said that 2010 voters won't be thinking about electability, geography or gender politics when they go to the polls: "They're going to ask who will be the best governor. The answer is that I will be the best governor of Minnesota." Not.

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? Steve Kelley lists six issues on his website: education, LGBT, sustainable energy, jobs, health care and reproductive health. I've never heard him whine about anything. He states that he will dramatically increase funding for education, but he doesn't say where the money will come from. He, like Entenza, wants to create jobs with clean energy. That will take money to get started. Where's the money coming from? Kelley has a plan for exactly what he wants to do, but I don't see a plan as to how he will implement his ideas financially. The money just isn't there. We're having a huge budget crisis, remember? Kelly teaches a college budget class. I want to see the budget he has in mind for Minnesota. Don't forget to list income as well as expenses.  Kelley thinks that he can handle the budget difficulties. When interviewed by the Minnesota Daily and asked that question, he replied, "No governor can do it alone. The governor’s got to provide the leadership. But I understand both the broad outline of the challenges that we face, the background of how we’ve dealt with these problems … and I’ve also got a chance to look at how other states have addressed those challenges. I think I’m well prepared." This is vague and general. It's a typical politician's answer. Most of the candidates beat around the bush as to how, exactly, they will solve the budget crisis. Dayton said he will raise taxes on the rich and tells how much money that will bring in. I'd like to hear what, exactly, all the candidates will do.

4. Is the candidate popular with voters? Steve Kelley certainly has his supporters, but I don't see him getting enough votes to win. He didn't win in 2006 and he won't win now. He doesn't have anything new to add to his campaign this time around. He is confident he will win. All the candidates are confident that they will win. Nine of them won't win. I did read one blog from 2006 that said Steve Kelley ran a classy campaign that year. I'm not sure what the blogger meant by classy. Did he mean no dirt, or did he mean it was informative and focused on the issues? Here's what one voter said in the comments section of the Star Tribune: I voted for Obama and Franken and believe in progressive politics AND fiscal responsibility. Therein lies the problem with Kelley. He doesn't seem to be able to separate spending that is good for the state from spending for spending's sake. He throws money at the arts, sports, etc. I wonder if there is ever any spending to which Kelley could say no. I think that the ridiculous spending Kelly supports is bad for the environment and bad for the people.

5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? I'm tired of looking for dirt. If there were any, it most likely would have come out by now. I don't think Steve Kelley has any. I'm sure the Republicans will dig up something, though. They always do, whether it makes any sense or not. I suppose they will make something of the fact that Kelley authored a bill in the legislature that supported medical marijuana. They will also bring up the fact that Kelley once compared a Pledge of Allegiance requirement to the rituals of Nazi Germany.

6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? See Kelley's voting record on Votetracker. Scroll down to the years listed and click on one.

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? Kelly seems to get along well with his students. I don't see any reason why he couldn't work well with the legislators and commissioners. He's had over a decade of experience working with other legislators. The only thing that might get in the way is his booming voice. It always sounds like he's yelling. He needs to tone it down.

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. As far as I can tell from talking to voters, most don't know much about Steve Kelley. Candidates need to remember that most voters are not politically inclined. Many just go in and vote for a  name they recognize. Personally, I see Kelley as a guy who does the best he can and who wants Minnesota to improve. I don't see him as having a lot of charisma or being able to sway enough voters to win the election. He's no Rybak or Dayton or even Rukavina.

9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money? I wouldn't think that Kelley would have any trouble understanding the budget. He teaches a class on government budgeting. I've never sat in on it and even if I did I probably wouldn't understand a word of it. Finances are not my strong point. From what I understand, the subject is Kelley's strong point.

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? Steve Kelley is concerned about the plight of children. He wrote a commentary about it for the Star Tribune.  I can't find anything on specific people who he has helped or causes that he has donated to. I'm sure there must be something. Right?

11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? To find out, watch this video:

12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? This will depend entirely on who the opposition is and what the question is. Of the ten DFL gubernatorial candidates, he's not the best debater. He's not the worst, either. The biggest thing is for him to learn to be more specific in his answers. Too many politicians speak in generalities when asked a question. Their answers are often vague. Do they learn this in Political Candidacy 101?

13. Does the candidate like children and animals? I have no idea. I can't find any pictures of Steve Kelley with either children or pets. Maybe he just doesn't have time for them.

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? He appears to be honest without extending himself too far on unpopular issues. Except for GLBT. He's open about his support of that issue. I haven't heard him embellish anything or give half truths. Instead, he just remains vague on many parts of his platform. I guess it's better to be silent than to speak up and alienate voters.

15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? So far Mark Dayton is the only candidate I have heard come right out and say that he will be accountable. I'm sure Kelley knows that the people of Minnesota will hold him accountable for everything he does if he is governor.

16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? No idea. If he has, he hasn't revealed who they are.

17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? I don't connect with Steve Kelley at all. I don't really know why. I just don't. I should, since he's Irish (I'm Irish, Scottish and English with a wee bit of French, Swiss and Prussian). I think that perhaps it's the way he presents himself. I mostly connect with Rybak, Dayton, Gaertner, Thissen and Rukavina.  Maybe because most of them have gone out of their way to be nice to me. After all, I'm only human.

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.? Read about these various communites and Kelley's involvement in their issues here:
Health of Minnesotans
He doesn't have anything on his website regarding what he has done or will do for seniors, veterans or the disabled.

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