Thursday, January 28, 2010

First 2010 Major Party Gubernatorial Debate, January 27, 2010

I'm getting into a standard routine for these events. Brush teeth, put on face, leave work, remember where I parked my car, get in and hope I don't have to scrape ice off the windshield, figure out which cd to listen to. Tonight would it be Eric Clapton, Jelly's Last Jam or Asleep at the Wheel? Clapton won. Crossroads, Sunshine of My Love, I Shot the Sheriff, and other greatest hits. Now try to decide the best way to go. Shepherd Road to Hwy 5 to I494 sounds good. I should go that way more often. It's quick and direct. Not the safest way to go in my car, but oh well.

The first person I met up with was Orrie. Great to see him again so soon. He asked me so sadly what happened to the Rukavina button he gave me. He noticed I had the Dayton button attached to my purse again. What could I say? He looked so downtrodden about it. Sorry, Orrie. I just couldn't help it.

Holly was there. She sought me out right away. I like to hang with her at these events. I don't think she liked my hat, though.

Tonight I met TwoPutt Tommy. Live and in person. What a cool guy! What did we have in common? We were both wearing a hat. I love hats.

I made it into the reception after all and didn't even have to pay the $25. Ole Savior came to the rescue with some extra passes. Thanks, Ole!

Craig from TheUptake was there again, too. And another guy from TheUptake. Gosh, what was his name? Darn brain fog!

After hanging out for an hour, Holly and I made our way into the ballroom. It was time for the debate. Who were all those people sitting up on the platform? Those are all candidates? Good grief, there sure are a lot of them. Just think, only one is going to win. But each one thinks that it will be him or her. Each of them is convinced of it. Some of them don't have a chance in hell. Others have a high probability of being the One.

There were so many candidates tonight that each person did not get to answer each question. Five candidates answered one question, then five different candidates answered another question. And on it went.

Judy Stuthman from the League of Women Voters laid the ground rules and gave some background information. Later I introduced myself to her as a member of the Captain John Holmes chapter of DAR. I liked Judy and thought she did a great job with her role.

The host and producer of the evening was Gary Eichten. He did an excellent job. Some of the candidates didn't make it easy for him when they went over their time limit and wouldn't quit speaking.

There were nineteen candidates. Count them! Why would anyone want to be governor anyway? Whoever wins will sure have a big mess to clean up. There were a couple of candidates who didn't come. Matt Entenza wasn't there again tonight.

Because of the word limit on this blog, I'll try to keep the answers of each candidate short. That means mega paraphrase. If you want to know more about each candidate and his or her stand on the issues, go to their website.

I'll take each question separately along with each candidate's response. I'll add my own comments, too, because I can't help putting in my two cents worth. Well, with inflation, maybe 25 cents.

Question #1: Budget Deficit

David Hann (GOP) - Trim government costs. We don't need increased revenue. Priority is education.

Tom Horner (IP) - Define what goals MN has. Economic reform. Retain businesses through social and physical infrastructure. Increase sales tax and tobacco tax.

Tom Bakk (DFL) - It's a myth that taxes have not gone up. Property taxes have risen. Believes in progressive taxes. He's got his talk down perfectly for every event. Raising taxes alone won't be enough, he emphatically states.

Steve Kelley (DFL) - Balanced approach. Education is highest priority. Favors carbon tax. Cannot raise taxes enough to balance budget.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - Raise taxes on MN's wealthiest 10%. Source: MN Dept of Revenue. Fair taxes. Long term economic growth is essential. Put people back to work.

Question #2: Rising Property Taxes

Paul Thissen (DFL) - Rely on fair state taxes to fund education instead of property taxes.

John Uldrich (IP) - Commonweal (common good). Need new taxes as well as tax cuts. Recited a tax poem. (What's with all the tax poems? Are all the candidates going to write one?)

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - Fair farming. He's the Farmer Labor part of DFL. He's good on agriculture. I've heard him before. He knows what he's talking about.

Phil Herwig (GOP) - Everyone but him is out of their minds.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - He's a rural guy. (I did not know that.) He wants to move government at all levels into the 21st century. LGS is equalizer. Not a hammock.

Question #3: Compromise Between Gov & Legislators

Bill Haas (GOP) - He wouldn't call a special session until there is a solution. Legislators want to go home. What a whiner! (Yes, he's a whiner, not a winner.)

Tom Emmer (GOP) - All I have in my notes is "mulch for dogs." I was busy grinning at Holly and gazing at Dayton and wondering why I have to go to work tomorrow for someone else instead of for myself. I think Emmer was making some kind of analogy. He should work on that.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - Governor and all legislators must respect each other. She has a track record of assurance in working across party lines. One thing she focuses on is the Legacy Amendment.

Rob Hahn (IP) - He sees a lot of anger between the DFL and GOP; that's why 3rd party is needed.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - Too much bickering. We need to get to work like he did in Minneapolis. Need to make government more efficient. Is he the One?

Question #4: Governor Perpich wanted to make education important and make MN the brainpower state. Do you share Perpich's vision?

John Marty (DFL) - We have to make MN the brainpower state. We need k-12 and higher education investments. Likes the New Minnesota Miracle.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - Drive by shootings = drive by news media. I don't think she likes the media's questions. Education is her top priority.

Ole Savior (DFL) - Still wants to bring in money from other countries. He doesn't want to raise our taxes. He wants us to keep our money in our pockets.

Leslie Davis (GOP) - There are brilliant people in Minnesota. We have good resources. So why are we broke? His Money Plan will solve all our problems. Go Leslie! (He did remember my name.)

Question #5: Our Aging Population

Tom Horner (IP) - He started out as a journalist. He learned to ask good questions and then listen to the answers. (And?)

Tom Bakk (DFL) - There is a bubble of people who are retiring. He wants to make use of a concept called spending silos. ("Bubble of people" is an interesting phrase.)

Steve Kelley (DFL) - We have the opportunity to come together as a state. He doesn't consider the aging population to be a problem. He sees it as a challenge and an opportunity.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - He told the story of a nurse he knows who is overworked and exhausted. Dayton always has a good anecdote to make his point. He wants to put people first. For example, health care dollars should go to health care, not for huge profits to the insurance companies.

David Hann (GOP) - The current tax system to support longterm care won't work anymore.

Question #6: Higher Education

John Uldrich (IP) - He's opposed to saying there will be X number of college graduates by X date.

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - Doesn't know if it's an obtainable goal at 50%. He set up scholarships at U of M. Says we must make education affordable.

Phil Herwig (GOP) - Too much money goes to U of M executives. He wants to disband the welfare system. Speech evaluation of Herwig: too loud and angry sounding. Too many double starts.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - It's not the job of the governor or the legislature to dictate whether kids should graduate from college. He does, however, want higher education to be affordable.

Paul Thissen - He doesn't want us to forget about nontraditional students. He'd like to see a tax credit for graduating students if they stay in Minnesota. Go Paul!

Question #7: Foreclosures/Affordable Housing

Tom Emmer (GOP) - Not my favorite candidate. Needs to work on his presentation skills. He thinks we have too much government. I think not.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - She says we have a jobs problem. She has an economic development plan. It came to me tonight that Kelliher enunciates her words too clearly. I never thought that was possible.

Rob Hahn (IP) - He wants government to work with businesses of all sizes to see what they need in order to hire more people. He wants to reduce capital gains taxes.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - He can handle all the issues. After all, he's done it in Minneapolis. Two of his main issues to focus on are jobs and health care. He's astonished by Tom Emmer's remarks. He told us exactly why. Ooooh, Rybak's getting feisty. Loved it!

Bill Haas (GOP) - He works with business owners all the time. They tell him they're about to move their businesses out of Minnesota. He maintains that we need to decrease government spending.

Question #8: Should state government decrease unemployment, and if so, how?

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - By providing physical infrastructure and thus creating jobs. By more and better education. By fixing the holes in the budget.

Ole Savior (DFL) - With a new Vikings stadium. With a State Fair that lasts all year. With $5 billion that we'll get from oil companies by suing them like we did the tobacco companies.

Leslie Davis (GOP) - His Money Plan will save the day. Says you can't buy debt with debt to get out of debt. Why does that make sense? I really should read his Money Plan and blog about it. That should at least be entertaining. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't understand it. Finance is not my forte. My talents lie elsewhere.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) - I never heard of him before so know nothing about him. He came with a young lady who was his spokesperson. He wants more low income housing. He knows what it's like to be poor and struggling.

John Marty (DFL) - We need a good health care system. How about the Minnesota Health Plan? I'm all for that. Maybe another WPA like they had during the Depression. I grew up on a farm in Vadnais Heights. Our neighbor across the street had a huge stone retaining wall that was made by the WPA. Marty also advocates for rebuilding what we have, such as old houses and other buildings.

Question #9: What is the best way to raise state taxes?

Tom Bakk (DFL) - The economy was humming along so Pawlenty decreased taxes. Now we need consumption taxes. He wants to get the public to buy into increased taxes. (He's got good phrases tonight. I like "humming along.")

Steve Kelley (DFL) - Property taxes are regressive. They also cause disparities. He wants an energy efficient economy. He wants Minnesota to be energy-independent.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - Says our current tax system is ridiculously unfair. Wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent of Minnesotans. They can afford it. He won't raise taxes on those who can't afford it. He always gets lots of cheers for this one at other forums. Tonight the audience was more prim and proper than at other events I've been to. Remember this about Dayton: he's good with money. He used to be the president of an investment company.

David Hann (GOP) - He won't raise taxes at all. He will reduce them further. He wants tax reform. He's for a flat tax. He wants to stop tax withholding and just have everyone pay their taxes on election day.

Tom Horner (IP) - He wants us to look at what kind of state we want to live in. Say, listen, Tom, have you ever heard of reNEW Minnesota? Look at their website: Take a peek and see what kind of state we want to live in.

Question #10: Cleaning up the Lakes

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - Minnesota lakes are our jewels. (Good metaphor.) He thinks that some of the Legacy Amendment funds could be used to clean up our environment.

Phil Herwig (GOP) - He says he's not an expert on everything. (Mark Dayton is; maybe you could get advice from him.) Herwig says he knows where he can get answers, though. (From Dayton?) Claims that when he signed up to run for governor, he didn't know he would be asked questions like this. Oh, quit whining! We'll have to call you Mogen David, too.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - He will veto any legislation that tries to use Legacy Amendment funds for anything other than the environment. He had a good phrase that caught my attention: "When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority." I guess that if I had to choose a GOP candidate for some utterly strange and unfathomable reason, I'd have to go with Seifert over any of the other candidates in his party. Gosh, what an awful thought, to have to vote GOP. Now is that a backhanded compliment for Seifert or what? I have to make it clear, though, that I have never in my entire life voted Republican and I never will. My Granny taught me that from a very early age.

Paul Thissen (DFL) - He says we need to have a conversation about the environment. Ok. Wanna have it over tea and scones?

John Uldrich (IP) - He instructed us not to forget Lake Superior. He asks what effect global warming is having on our lakes. (Doesn't he know that the current proper name for it is climate change?)

Question #11: Public Policy Innovation

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - Too much that is done in the legislature is based on emotion. We need a big database system with evidence-based date. Say, Margaret, I just happen to know the database queen. She currently works in DHP at MDH. She's the expert you need.

Rob Hahn (IP) - He says the same sex marriage issue is not a religous issue but a human rights issue. He also wants to see joint custody of children worked out in divorce cases. That's a nice idea but not in all cases, such as when one of the parents is abusive or has a drug addiction. Talk to Susan Gaertner about it. She's more than likely got a good take on it.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - Wants a New Food Economy. He wants to quit importing so much food. He's into grass fed beef. He likes Minnesota apples, too.

Bill Haas (GOP) - Let's reform government. Let's make the governor and the legislature work together to get the budget done. Then let's go to a legislature that is only in session every other year. He thinks we need to change the fundamental way that government serves the people.

Tom Emmer (GOP) - He slammed Rybak. Therefore Emmer is icky. He was also name dropping.

Question #12: What separates you from the other candidates?

Ole Savior (DFL) - As soon as the moderator asked this question of Ole, the audience all laughed for awhile. Not at him, but with him. No one is really sure why he runs for everything all the time. Is it for publicity for his art? I don't even know what kind of art he does, but I would be glad to take a look at it. My oldest son majored in studio art. He has a BFA from the University of Minnesota. Now he owns his own business. Roll Music Systems. It's a Minneapolis based business, but he takes it to Germany with him when he's there. Ole says that he's pro-life, anti-gay marriage, but all for gay rights. Just not gay marriage.

Leslie Davis (GOP) - He wants to be the GOP chiropractor in that he will move GOP in a better direction (by manipulating them into shape?). He claims to be a Compassionate Republican.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) - He keeps everything organized and he knows what it's like to struggle.

John Marty (DFL) - He stood up to powerful interest groups. He stood up for marriage equality. He's the author of the Minnesota Health Plan. He has the courage of his convictions. He's one of the DFL's most progressive candidates. The other two would be Mark Dayton and Tom Rukavina.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - A Fresh Start. Fresh Start sounds like a morning deodorant. Could you please pass that over to Rob Hahn?

Question #13: Corn Based Fuel/Ethanol

Steve Kelley (DFL) - Talked about algae that can grow on sewage waste. Algae oil can be used for energy. Turn corn into plastics.

Mark Dayton (DFL) - We need to feed our own people as well as help with global starving. For energy he likes wind, geothermal and solar. Will improve energy conservation.

David Hann (GOP) - Agriculture is a big deal in Minnesota. The government should not be the one to decide. I guess he wants energy to be made and controlled in the private sector.

Rob Hahn (IP) - We can't just cut spending without looking at subsidies. Promote new crops and technology.

Tom Bakk (DFL) - He said, "Everything that sustains life comes from the ground." (That's profoundly and fundamentally awesome when you think about it.) He has always been a supporter of ethanol, but there must be a better way to energy than depending on food for fuel, i.e. corn turned into ethanol.

Question #14: Health Care - Is it the state's responsibility to provide it for the poor?

Phil Herwig (GOP) - He thinks we should get government out of our health care. He asks why government should make insurance companies pay for treatment for drug and alcohol addiction? Phil. Try. To. Think. It's called compassion. I'll quote the late great Senator Paul Wellstone for you: "We all do better when we all do better." I urge you to go immediately to the reNEW Minnesota website ( ) and see what kind of Minnesota people with a heart want to live in. Your kind of mentality, Mr. Herwig, is exactly why the next governor will be DFL. People are so sick of having a governor who just doesn't care. You don't get it, though, do you? And that's why you don't have one single chance of winning this election.

Marty Seifert (GOP) - He thinks that the majority of ER visits are not made by ER patients. Most of these visits, he says, are made by people with colds or flu or scraped knees. Hey Marty, where did you get the statistics? I agree that it's a problem, but I'm not so sure that it's the majority of patients. Seifert wants to send these patients to urgent care or primary clinics instead. Ummm...Marty...did you know that the reason so many people use the ER is because they don't have any insurance? The ER has to take them. Also, if a baby starts screaming in the middle of the night and is in obvious pain, where are you going to find a primary care clinic or urgent care that is open at 3:00 a.m.? Sheesh!

Paul Thissen (DFL) - Stated that many people are too sick to get health insurance. Either they are too sick to work and therefore can't afford it or the insurance companies turn them down for preexisting conditions. Paul is on the Health Care Committee at the Minnesota House of Representatives. Listen to him. He's very, very smart. He knows whereof he speaks. So does John Marty.

John Uldrich (IP) - It's the commonweal again. At least he agrees that we must take care of those who are not able to take care of themselves. He agrees that it's a moral issue. He does say, however, that it's a major challenge to address.

Tom Rukavina (DFL) - He stated that the market based approach doesn't work. He also informed the audience that Governor Pawlenty just announced that people will have to pay for their own anesthesia before they get their teeth pulled. What??? Does Pawlenty spend his sleepless nights thinking up new ways to torment Minnesotans?

Question #15: Transportation Infrastructure

Rob Hahn (IP) - Light rail is important to him. He'd also like to see passenger rail from here to Duluth with a stop in Hinckley. Let the casino pay part of the bill. Yes! A train to Duluth! I would take it as often as possible. Can we get one to Lutsen, Grand Marais and Thunder Bay, too? Thunder Bay would connect with the Canadian rail system.

R. T. Rybak (DFL) - He's already working on getting passenger rail to Duluth. He also insisted on having transit capabilities on the new 35W bridge. See, Rybak looks to the future. Go RT!

Bill Haas (GOP) - Fix the metro roads first and fill up the pot holes. Then do the rural areas. We have to have priorities.

Tom Emmer (GOP) - We must set prioriites. He claims that the state subsidizes 80% of the North Star line. He doesn't want more rail. Too bad. We're going to have it whether you like it or not. Go DFL!

Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) - Told the audience that MNDOT says that Minnesota is billions of dollars behind in transportation infrastructure. We need to catch up.

Question #16: How should Minnesota increase productivity as Baby Boomers retire?

Leslie Davis (GOP) - We have no money for all this stuff that we want. We need his money plan. The Davis Money Plan.

Rahn Workcuff (IP) - He passed on this question.

John Marty (DFL) - He wants to make sure that everyone has what they need in order to be productive. People need health care. Minnesotans need the Minnesota Health Plan. They also need sick leave.

Susan Gaertner (DFL) - She noted that Miss America contestants are given more time to respond to a question on world peace. (So why did she just take up half of her time to tell us that instead of using the time to answer the question?)

Ole Savior (DFL) - He apologized for not saying this sooner: the poor and elderly and children do come first with him. Ole seems like a nice guy. He knows he's not going to be the next governor. I think he has a good heart, though.

That was the end of the questions that required longer answers. The next set of questions was the "lightning round" and only required a yes or no answer. Some of the candidates had a problem with that, but most were pretty good about it.

That was the end of the debate. After that people, mostly media and bloggers, went to the Spin Room to talk to individual candidates. I mingled awhile before I left. This was a good event, although not as high energy as the Macalester forum on Monday night.

I seem to have misplaced my glasses again. So I drove home without them. No problem. I heard a voice saying "Use the Force." Must have worked. I got home safely.

One last thing: I have a few awards to give out.

Best Ties: David Hann, Tom Horner, Steve Kelley and Rob Hahn.

Best Presentations: Mark Dayton, Rob Hahn, John Marty, Tom Rukavina, R. T. Rybak, Marty Seifert and Paul Thissen. This was based on public speaking skills, thinking on feet and good ideas. Also on who was nicest to this blogger this time around.

I can't believe I stayed up all night to write this. It's almost time to go to work. I'm just going to lie down and close my eyes for a few seconds...


  1. I'm exhausted just scrolling through all of this so I can't imagine how you must feel! Thanks for keeping folks updated.

  2. Excellent stuff! YOU must have taken notes. And you stayed up all night. That is awesome. Just like a young kid.

    There's 20, RT and Rahn weren't in the photo I sent (oops).

    Well, I kinda liked your hat. I like the idea behind your hat, anyway. Mostly I wear blah things.

  3. Oh yeah sure, you saw me taking notes. I wish I was a young kid again. I had more energy then. I got 19 candidates from counting all the individual pictures of them in the brochure we got at the event. I hate wearing blah things. I like some color in my clothes. Of course black is a color.


Comments on my blogs are welcome.