Charles Downey, Tom Rukavina and Me
Today I attended the SD46 Convention with my son Charlie. He lives in that district so he was willing to go with me. He's very interested in politics, and he has always voted DFL. He is, like many of us, fed up with Blue Dog Democrats.
Compared to the SD53 Convention, I thought SD46 had a rather low turnout. Plus they didn't have a boxed lunch, so people had to leave and then come back if they wanted to eat.
I met a new person. Her name is Eve. She's a delegate but was uncommitted/undecided. By the time it was her turn to subcaucus, I saw her with a MAK sign. I asked her how she made her decision. She said she got roped into it.
Candidates were given the opportunity to speak throughout the day as they arrived. Some candidates just couldn't make it so had a proxy speaker.
The first speaker was Bev Scalze. She's the SD54B state representative. She spoke on behalf of John Marty. She said that John Marty is the candidate for ethical leadership. He's the author of the Minnesota Health Plan. He's the only candidate who doesn't take PAC money or money from lobbyists. He has a reputation for being able to work with others to get things done. Scalze was an excellent speaker. She did a great job for Marty.
Next, Mike Nelson spoke for Tom Bakk. He emphasized that Bakk was a carpenter all his life. He told Tom's story of when he lost his job and had to figure out how to support his family. He said that Tom's big push is jobs, jobs, jobs. He will create jobs. (How? Charlie said that statement was way too vague. I commented that John Marty's speaker was much better than Bakk's. Charlie responded that Scalze had more to work with than Nelson did.)
Next there was a long boring discussion of convention rules with motions, more discussions and votes. Yawn.
Then R. T. Rybak showed up and everyone woke up. He got quite a bit of applause right away. He sure has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He brings enthusiasm and excitement with him wherever he goes. He was at his usual best today. He said we need a governor who is a strong manager and a progressive leader. That would be him. Look what he did in Minneapolis. He reminded us of all the successes he's had. He has chief executive experience. He loves to campaign. (The audience wildly applaused at this point. Rybak is going to get the DFL endorsement.)
Matt Entenza obviously reads my blogs, or his staffers do and then tell him about it. He listened. As a result, his presentation today was superb. He put passion and excitement into his normally mellow voice. He also emphatically told what he did in the House to stand up to Pawlenty, even though it was an unpopular move at the time. Entenza rose up ten feet in my estimation today. Not only for listening to darn good advice, but for carrying through with his speech delivery. Way to go Matt! Keep your eye on him as he prepares for the Primary. Also, Kudos to Matt for telling me that I have a really good blog!
Jim Meffert is running for Congress in the 3rd District. I was in the ladies room when he spoke so I'll give Charlie's comments about him. Charlie said he didn't have much to say for himself and he sounded whiny. He said that he loves his kids and joined the PTA. This wasn't enough for Charlie. My son was very interested in the race between Meffert and Hackett because whoever wins will represent Charles and Becky. Charlie has decided that he will vote for Hackett.
Maureen Hackett is someone I didn't previously know very much about. However, I met her when I was in the ladies room. She seemed a bit flustered about her glasses. Apparently she couldn't find the glasses that make her look younger so she had to wear a second pair she has. She wasn't happy. I could relate to her because I don't like looking older than I did when I was 28, either! Hackett told the audience that she's a physician as well as a forensics psychiatrist who is often called upon to testify. She's also an Air Force veteran. She can get things done. Charlie and I both like her. Charlie can vote for her. I can't, since she's not running in my district.
Mike Freeman had a stand-in speaker. I didn't catch his name. Freeman is running for Hennepin County Attorney. He wants to keep kids in school. He also works with DNA evidence, both for proving guilt and for proving innocence. He has worked hard on domestic abuse issues to make sure that the victims are heard.
Several people spoke up for Linda Scheid. The first was another woman named Linda. She told us how Scheid had served in the Peace Corps in Africa and that she works with children and teens. She wants to work to eliminate racial inequality and poverty and wants equality for all.
Dan Ryan also spoke up for Linda Scheid. As a speaker, he was not as good as the woman named Linda who had just spoken. He merely read his speech and stumbled over it. He should speak from his heart and not from the printed page. He was a boring speaker but could be helped immensely by joining Toastmasters. On the good side, he spoke up for a candidate he really believed in.
Linda Scheid then spoke for herself. She is running for reelection as State Senator from SD46. She knows about education. She knows about the achievement gap. She's working to eliminate it entirely. She thinks that education spending is a smart investment. She believes that health care is a right, not a privilege. She is bipartisan in her ability to work together with GOPPERS to get things done while still adhering to DFL values.
Bill Davis had a man named Tim speak on his behalf. Davis is running against Scheid for State Senator. Tim told us that Bill is a friend to labor and that he is a good listener.
Next, Mattie Davis spoke. She's the mother of Bill Davis. She raised him to be a good citizen with values. The audience liked her. They applauded loudly for her.
Bill Davis then spoke up in his own behalf. He had excellent voice projection. He has two masters degrees. He was taught to get a good education and to work hard. (Bill, throw away the written speech and talk directly to the audience right from your heart. Just like Rybak does.) Davis said that he believes in giving people a hand up, not a handout. He wants to make people responsible for their actions. I thought he had good ideas for what to do with Brookdale Mall, which is mostly empty now. He wants to make it into a big Technological Center with several schools, including Dunwoody, Brown and some others. (Charlie liked Scheid's idea better of putting in businesses that would cater to Brooklyn Center residents. Charlie said that if it's made into a school, there would be no retail area for Brooklyn Center to speak of, except for Kohls. Charlie said that he will vote for Scheid because she has seniority and is already the chair of some committees. Davis would have to start at the bottom.)
Margaret Anderson Kelliher said that our best days are yet to come. She's a proven effective leader. (Huh.) She is emphatic that education needs funding. She will make sure it gets it. She believes in progressive taxes. (Charlie was not impressed with her presentation at all.)
Richard W. Stanek is the current Hennepin County Sheriff. He's running for reelection. As a speaker, he was very good. He made excellent use of his floor space. He did not use any notes. He spoke from his heart. He's been a Minneapolis police officer for 25 years. He has successfully worked to reduce violent crime. Charlie and I both liked him.
Karen Thissen spoke for her husband Paul Thissen. She's an excellent speaker. I can't say enough good things about her. She said Paul is clear on leadership, on health care and on education. She emphasized all the reasons that we should vote for Paul. One of the reasons is that he can win. I really liked Karen and think she would make a great First Lady of Minnesota. (I've never met any of the other candidates' wives.)
Tom Rukavina arrived after the subcaucusing had already begun. He was still allowed to speak when the subcaucus round in progress had finished. He had already been to seven conventions already. After this one he would attempt to reach two more before they closed. Tom gave his usual speech with the references to union made and to the lovechild of Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura. That was the first time Charlie had heard him. Kudos to Rukavina for greeting me with a big smile and a big hug. He sure has a lot of enthusiasm. He knows that he can win this race. He might be able to if he can only get his name out there.
Let me give out a few awards now:
Best improvement in presentation: Matt Entenza
Best speakers of the day: R. T. Rybak, Matt Entenza, Richard Stanek, Karen Thissen and Tom Rukavina
Best ability to work a room: R. T. Rybak
Linda Scheid won the endorsement over Bill Davis.
Then it was time for the subcaucus routine. There were 23 called. Here's the scoop. These are the number of subcaucuses at the first round, not the number of delegates.
Uncommitted - 10
Rybak - 5
Kelliher - 3
Entenza - 2
Bakk - 1
Marty - 1
Thissen - 1
After the first round and after Rukavina's speech, Charlie and I decided to leave. We were getting hungry. We met Rukavina in the foyer so I was able to introduce them to each other. Charlie liked him. He also likes Marty, Thissen, Rybak and Dayton. Hey, that's all the ones I like. Could it be genetic?
I took pictures, but unfortunately, I left my camera in Charlie's car. He might bring it over tomorrow. Then I'll post them.