Sunday, January 24, 2010

Minnesota Young DFL (MYDFL) Convention Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Yesterday I attended two events. In the morning I drove on icy roads to Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota for the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition Gubernatorial Candidate Forum. It ended at noon. I drove from there to South High School in Minnesota for the MYDFL Convention's gubernatorial forum.

I'll blog about the MYDFL event first. I'll write a new blog a bit later about the event at Coffman.

I arrived at South High about 12:30. Upon entering the caferteria area, I took a quick glance around to see which candidates had campaign tables. Almost everyone did, including Mark Ritchie, Rebecca Otto and others who are candidates for other offices. After chatting briefly with those I already knew, and meeting new people, I went into the auditorium where those running for congressional office were speaking. I came in at the tail end.

Dan Powers, who is running in the 2nd District, was the first speaker I heard. He used an analogy from the movie The Matrix. He told the audience not to try to bend the spoon because the spoon won't bend. He said that the spoon does not exist. The box does not exist either. I think he meant that we shouldn't try to bend the Republicans to fit our needs. The Republicans don't exist (grin). Powers is a very good speaker who knows how to make use of his floor space and who knows how to add the impact of metaphors and analogies to his presentations.

Next was Maureen Hackett. She's running for Congress in the 3rd District. If I lived in the 3rd Disrict I would definitely vote for her.

Next up was Jim Meffert, who is also running for Congress in the 3rd District. He is the current president of the MN PTA. He's an excellent speaker.

Senator Tarryl Clark (state senator of District 15) also spoke. She also displayed high excellence in speaking. She really knows how to raise the excitement of an audience. That's what we need; candidates who can create excitement and passion in a crowd. She's running for Congress now.

Opposing Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District is Maureen Reed, who, along with Elwyn Tinklenberg, is seeking the DFL endorsement for that office.

After that it was break time. I used the brief interval to network. When we returned to the auditorium, it was time to hear the gubernatorial candidates. They each presented for four minutes. Missing were Mark Dayton (he's on his 87 counties in 87 days tour)and Susan Gaertner.

Here's the order in which the DFL gubernatorial candidates spoke. I've included my comments.

Tom Bakk - He has been in the legislature for 15 years. He's very concerned about where MN is heading. He stated that he is the candidate who best understands the budget, taxes and the deficit. He tells the exact same story he always does. He reiterated that the deficit is not the problem, but a symptom of a deeper problem: an economy that is performing very, very poorly. He exclaimed that we need a governor who will make creating jobs his number one priority. He said that we can't tax our way out of our deficit problem. Taxing the rich is just not enough. Bakk gave a very good, very powerful speech today.

Matt Entenza - Entenza seems like more and more of a pretty good guy to me in spite of what happened a couple of years ago in the AG's office. He's got a pleasant reeks of Minnesota Nice...and he seems quite congenial. He should, however, learn to put more passion and enthusiasm into his voice. I would suggest getting World Champion of Public Speaking Craig Valentine to coach him on that. Entenza can afford him and it would definitely help him win. If anyone would like to hear Craig Valentine in person, he'll be at TELI - Toastmasters Education and Leadership Institute - at the Doubletree Hotel in St. Louis Park on February 20. (Sorry, Matt, for the TM advertising on your paragraph.) Anyway, back to Matt's speech...he said that the Obama voters in Massachusetts stayed home on voting day and now we have a Teabagger in the U.S. Senate. That's about right. Matt was talking to the young MYDFLers to get them to become active and get out and organize so we don't have another Republican governor. Matt wants to build a new state. It was nice of Matt to acknowledge me today. He even asked if I was ready to join his campaign. I gave a political answer...(grin). The impression I came away with is that Entenza is a likeable person. (Even though I don't really believe that Entenza is Norwegian for governor...)

Steve Kelley - He's still way too loud. He started out with such a booming voice that the girls sitting behind me jumped. Facilities had to turn his mike down. I've blogged about that before but he doesn't listen to me, even though I've earned the prestigious DTM award. Kelley wants us to know that under his governorship, everyone working together will change first Minnesota and then change the world. He then told the previously humorous story about asking Pawlenty to be in his budget class but he didn't because he doesn't like to flunk students and Pawlenty doesn't have the prerequisites anyway. Gosh, that was a really funny story the first couple of times I heard it, but now it's overdone. Time for a new joke. On the positive side, Kelley wants opportunity and justice for everyone. He wants students to be able to get an education without going deeply into debt. He's in favor of gay marriage. He said that if Iowa can have gay marriage, then so can Minnesota. He said that he will be one governor but there will be five million heroes in Minnesota.

John Marty - He crowed that he's the author of the MN Health Care Bill, advocated for GLBT rights for a long, long time, worked hard on the Marriage Equality Bill, and wants equal rights for everyone. He's also good on environmental issues. He stands up for his convictions because he really believes in what he says. I can vouch that John Marty is very sincere and passionate in his belief that everyone should have health care and everyone should have equal rights. He truly believes that health care should be a basic right. I notice that he's getting a lot better in his speech presentations now. He's got excitement and enthusiasm in his voice. He's portraying his passion for these issues much more vehemently now. I think that if John Marty does win the governorship, Minnesota will definitely get his health care bill passed.

Tom Rukavina - He informed us that if people have good jobs, a lot of other things in their lives will take care of themselves. A good education will prepare young people for a good job. He has fought at the legislature for a long time to keep the cost of tuition reasonable. He has been advocating for the use of mineral rights owned by the University of Minnesota to go for Freshmen scholarships. The young audience of students applauded him for that. He then told us that his suit and his underwear are union made right here in America. He opened his suitcoat so those with excellent vision could see the label. That left me out. He didn't offer to show us his underwear, so I can't say for sure whether they were American made or not. Rukavina also stated that he's been a blue collar worker all his life and that both he and John Marty have voted against tax cuts. He wants to provide a place in the economic sun for all Minnesotans. He then reiterated the legendary story of how he is the love child between Jesse Ventura and Paul Wellstone (don't even attempt to visualize that). That means that he can relate to the strongest Progressive as well as to the Independent voters. The audience loved Tom Rukavina. They gave him applause and cheers.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher - Apparently MAK did very well in the MYDFL straw poll. She got quite a bit of applause from the young audience. I could tell they really liked her. She identified herself with them by saying that she, too, got involved in politics at an early age. She spoke directly to the audience. One of the first rules of Toastmasters is to know your audience. Kelliher definitely achieved that. As always, she gave an excellent speech with clear and concise enunciation, great use of her floor space, viable gestures, appropriate voice volume and projection and an interesting array of vocal variety. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her speaking technique. I give her a 10. I've heard others say that they're not sure about her sincerity. The current Toastmasters District 6 Governor told me just the other day that one of the reasons he joined Toastmasters in the first place was to increase his ability to put sincerity into his speeches. Regardless of that, this audience loved her. The evidence was all the claps and cheers.

Paul Thissen - First he told us that he's not going to talk about his campaign because we can check that out on his website. We can find out where he stands on the issues, what he's done and what he's doing. Today he wants to talk about where we're going. He stated that most politicians are still using the politics of nostalgia and looking at the past to create a future. He thinks that those days are over. Now the world has changed and we need to change along with it. The old way of engaging in politics will not work for our new global economy. He wants to breathe new life into the DFL party. Politics as usual won't work anymore. If anyone can give Minnesota politics and the governorship a fresh new start, it's Paul Thissen. He's fresh, young, honest and very smart. He's a great choice for governor. (There's far too many great DFL candidates. Now what? I've always heard it said that you should go with your first hunch.) Thissen concluded by stating that the new governor will need to talk to the people and remain in conversation with them.

R. T. Rybak - As governor, Rybak wants to use the model of the Minneapolis Promise to create the Minnesota Promise. Go R.T.! He was an excellent speaker today, as always. He knows how to capture the attention of the audience. He knows how to raise enthusiasm. His mantra is that grassroots got him elected as mayor of the largest city in Minnesota as an unknown candidate and grassroots will get him elected to the governorship. He said that his campaign is an entire generational movement for changes in Minnesota. I wouldn't mind having R. T. as governor.

Of course I wouldn't mind having Dayton, Thissen, Marty or Rukavina, either. If I keep going to these forums and debates, I'm going to have to start all over, because lately MAK and Entenza have been growing on me too. (No, not like warts.) I think it's because they've been nice to me at these events. Being nice to us bloggers goes a long way.

As far as today's audience, I heard some wondering where Dayton and Gaertner were. They were missed. Maybe we'll catch them next time. Which is when? Let me check my calendar...okay, there's a gubernatorial forum at Macalester College on Monday evening, January 25, and a big gubernatorial debate in Bloomington on Wednesday January 27. Then on Sunday, January 31, reNEW Minnesota/TakeAction Minnesota has its annual meeting. That's when members will vote for their top three candidates.

I bet you're all looking forward to seeing me again. Right? Yeah, sure, you betcha!

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