Sunday, March 14, 2010


Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Me

I hit four conventions yesterday. Yes, that's right. Four. Now I have some vague inkling of what it must be like to be a candidate.

Yesterday morning I got up early, tried to ignore my whiny cat, and went online. I clicked on my saved MN DFL link and picked my conventions from the calendar. Someone from the MPP blog site said they were going to the SD50 Convention at Columbia Heights High School, so I decided to start there. Besides, it isn't very far from Lowry Central Bowling Supplies and Trophies. I could stop there afterwards and pick up my Eastern Division Spring Contest trophies that I had ordered.

Let's do the awards for the day first. Remember, I stayed the longest at SD50. That's where I heard most of the speakers. I only had brief encounters at the other three conventions.

Best Tie - John Marty
Most Enthusiastic Speaker - Keith Ellison
Speech with the Most Punch - Tom Rukavina
Best Wellstonian Type Speech - John Marty
Most Applause - John Marty and Keith Ellison
Most Noticible Absence - Mark Dayton
Best Proxy Speaker - Mike Gabiou (speaking for Rebecca Otto)
Top Candidate to Support - Tarryl Clark

                          Senate District 50 Convention

The Senate District 50 Convention opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the DFL Affirmative Action Statement. Next, the Associate Chair of the State DFL Party, Donna Cassutt, said a few words of welcome.

This was followed by quite a few speakers. I'll give my take on them, then I'll briefly include the highlights of my visits to SD52, 54 and 55.

                    Mark Ritchie, MN Secretary of State

Mark Ritchie - He's the Secretary of State, as we all know. He's up for reelection this year. He's running again because we still have a lot of work to do to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to vote. Mark is a good speaker who I enjoy listening to. This is the first time I've ever heard him or met him. He talked about his opponent. He will honor his opponent for his work but he will debate the issues with him. In other words, Ritchie will run a clean campaign. Ritchie wants fairness and transparency in the Secretary of State Office so everyone can feel proud of our state again.

Betty McCollum - She represents the 4th District in the U. S. Congress. She's very likeable and enthusiastic. She wants to keep Minnesota families moving forward. She voted to keep our country from sliding into a depression. We have to make sure this scenario never happens again. She wants to make sure that all Americans have access to health insurance. She doesn't want anyone to be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. McCollum did an excellent job. She was passionate in her presentation.

Matt Bostrom - He's running for Ramsey County Sheriff. He's been with the St. Paul Police Department for 28 years. His motto is that Community Changes Everything. He has the support of Ramsey County Board of Commissioners chairperson Victoria Reinhardt, Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum. Bostrom is endorsed by labor. He has the support of police chiefs all across the metro area. He's a fantastic choice for Ramsey County Sheriff. I highly recommend voting for him.

John Choi - He's running for Ramsey County Attorney. He currently leads a prosecution office. He's a big believer in diversion programs. He wants to get people out of the criminal justice system. He's experienced in homicide prevention. He won a top city attorney award. His endorsements are many. He wants to make a difference for public safety and the criminal justice system. On a personal note, Choi immigrated to Minnesota from South Korea with his parents when he was a child. He's an ok speaker.

               David Schultz (the gentleman on the left)

David Schultz - He's also running for Ramsey County Attorney. He started his presentation with the story of the child molester who was riding around in a white van dressed like Santa Claus and trying to molest children. This is the type of crime that Schultz will prosecute. He has three criteria for success in the Ramsey County Attorney's Office:
1. Experience
2. Leadership
3. Justice
He used to work under Skip Humphrey. Schultz has been called the best trial lawyer in the state. He currently runs a law firm that is as big as the Ramsey County Attorney's Office. He serves on the Council of Crime and Justice. He promises to be a working Ramsey County Attorney. His decisions will be based on what is fair and just and not what is politically expedient. I always enjoy David Schultz' presentations. If he could put just a wee bit more passion in his voice, he'd be perfect.

Laura Goodman - She had a proxy speaker talk for her. This wasn't a very good speaker. Ho hum and yawn. Lots of double starts and dropped "g's."

Keith Ellison - He is currently representing the people of Minnesota's Fifth District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is up for reelection this year. He received a lot of applause just by appearing at the lectern. Ellison was the most enthusiastic, energetic and high energy speaker that I heard today. (I didn't hear Rybak today.) Ellison is a fantastic speaker. He definitely knows how to engage the audience. His best one liner was "The hardest job in the circus is picking up after the elephants." The audience loved that. Ellison is authoring legislation called "Put America to Work Act." It will create one million jobs across the nation.

Tom Rukavina - He has been the State Representative for the Iron Range for the past twelve consecutive terms. He's running for governor because he hates what Tim Pawlenty has done to this state. He believes in "made in America." He wears union made underwear. Trust him on that. He knows how to take on the big guys. He'll put the big insurance companies on crutches. He voted against tax cuts. He knows that it's tax revenue that pays for all the things that Minnesotans want to have, such as good roads and schools. He wants to help the needy, not help the greedy. (Good one, Tom!) Rukavina did a great job today. This was the best I have ever heard him. He was both passionate and enthusiastic. And of course, as always, highly entertaining. He got a lot of laughter and applause from the audience.

                                Senator John Marty

John Marty - Right away he told the audience, "It's time to stop working on watered down proposals and then diluting them even more." It's time for change. Marty's father is a theologian. John learned values at home when he was growing up. Those values have always stayed with him. He's been a Minnesota State Senator for 23 years. He doesn't take PAC or lobby money. John Marty gets better in his presentation every time I hear him. He's against war and the deaths of young soldiers. He's also against people dying because they can't afford health care. He got an abundance of applause from the audience.

Lori Swanson - She's a pretty good speaker. I'd like to hear her drop her tone about half an octave. She talked against "health care credit cards" that have 29% interest. This is a scam that she is prosecuting. She also files suits against phony health insurance policies.

Tony Palumbo - He's running for Anoka County Attorney. He's been the Assistant Anoka County Attorney for years. Thus he knows the job from first hand experience. He's a boring speaker, though.

R. T. Rybak - He had a proxy speaker, as he couldn't make it to this particular convention today. His proxy was Betsy Hodges. It was a bummer that Rybak wasn't there in person. Hodges was not a good stand-in for him. She doesn't have the enthusiasm, passion and energy that Rybak has. I took the opportunity to rest my eyes and yawn. Betsy should join Toastmasters to learn how to make use of her floor space. She was rooted to just one spot in her speaking area.

Rebecca Otto - She had a proxy speaker. His name was Mike Gabiou. He was quite entertaining. He first informed us that Otto is the same backwards and forwards. He meant the spelling of her name, but I'm guessing he was also alluding to "what you see is what you get." In other words, there are no hidden surprises with Otto. Gabiou then informed us that Otto got a national award for reducing energy costs in buildings and thus saving taxpayers money. Gabiou had excellent gestures, good voice volume and inflection and vocal variety. I want to hear more from him.

Dave Pinto - He had a proxy speaker too. It was Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. He was a decent speaker. Not the best of the day, but certainly not the worst. He told the audience to go to Pinto's website and look at his 8-point plan. Pinto is not just tough on crime; he's also smart on crime. Pinto currently works in the Ramsey County Attorney's Office as a prosecutor of domestic violence cases. He knows how the office works. By the way, I'm having a Meet and Greet for Dave Pinto on Sunday March 28 at 2:00 in the community room of my apartment complex near McKnight Road and I694 in White Bear Lake. For directions email me at

Brad Johnson - He's running for Anoka County Attorney. He speaks too softly. I could barely hear him. Another opportunity to snooze.

After that there was some district business. Good, I could get some shut-eye again. I woke up at 3:00 am and couldn't get back to sleep. Until now.

The seats were nice but not conducive to napping, so I retreated to the hallway where all the candidate tables were. I mingled with those who are by now old friends. I found my way to the Entenza table and engaged in a long conversation with staffer Jason Hitchcock. That is, he talked. He wasn't as good at listening. He kept interrupting me when I tried to say something. I couldn't get a word in edgewise. That rarely happens to me. Oh well, at least I got a whole new perspective on Matt Entenza's campaign. I never knew half the stuff that Jason told me regarding Matt's campaigning all over Minnesota and how he goes about it. It seems that Matt is abiding by the first rule of Toastmasters; Know Your Audience. After listening to Jason ramble on and on and on, I've come to the conclusion that we can't dismiss Matt Entenza as a force to be reckoned with at the Primary. So now it's Dayton and Entenza with either Rybak of Kelliher.

                           Margaret Anderson Kelliher

Speaking of Kelliher, do you remember my recent blog in which I said that Margaret should try wearing pink or peach instead of dark colors? Guess what? She showed up in a deep pink suit jacket today! I was so impressed! She listened to me! I think. I don't really believe in coincidences. Synchronicity, of course. I shook her hand and told her how nice she looked. She did. It's amazing what colors other than black or navy can do for a person. Not that I want Mark Dayton to start wearing pink. His purple tie is cool, though.

                 Mark Dayton on his 87 x 87 County Tour

Ok, here I go talking about Mark Dayton again. How did that happen? Oh, I know. Various gubernatorial staffers kept wanting me to wear their candidate's pin or sticker. I kept telling them I'm an ardent Dayton supporter. Some were okay with that. Some are apparently very irritated with him for not participating in the endorsement process. Oh well. Too bad, so sad. Mark Dayton can do no wrong. Well, maybe sometimes, but this issue is not one of those sometimes.

I finally got away from Jason after agreeing to show up at the Entenza office for phone banking. Not sure how that happened, either. If all Entenza staffers are like Jason, Matt will win the election just because voters will do anything Jason says just to get him to quit talking! On the other hand, he was an excellent one-sided conversationalist and I did learn much.

                                   Me and Karen Thissen

Back to the auditorium. I was told that I had missed Laura Bakk speaking for Tom Bakk. I got back just in time to hear Karen Thissen speaking for her husband Paul. Karen is an excellent speaker in her own right. Great voice volume, vocal variety and all the other things that make a good speech. She is positive that Paul is going to be the next governor. She spoke of the great reception he is getting all across Minnesota.

It was now time to move on to the next convention. First, I had to stop at Lowry and Central to pick up my trophies. First and second place trophies for the Tall Tales Contest; first and second place trophies for the International Speech Contest. These trophies are beautiful. If you need any trophies, award plaques, bowling supplies, etc., go see proprieter Tom Reed on the corner of Lowry and Central in Northeast Minneapolis. He'll engage in political conversation with you, too. So will his pet parrot. Today we talked about the health care reform bill and the Blue Dog Democrats. I told him about the SD50 Convention I had just come from. He told me that he writes emails to Keith Ellison and gets responses. Which made me think of Mark Dayton again. If getting a candidate's name out there is akin to getting him elected, he'll have no trouble winning the Primary. (Hi Mark!)
                   Mark Dayton, Me and My Son Charlie
            at TakeAction MN Annual Meeting, 1-31-2010

Next stop: Roseville High School for the SD54 Convention.

I arrived around noon. Most of the speakers had already spoken, although I did get to hear a few. I heard John Marty again. It was basically the same speech he had given at SD50. He got even more applause. Indeed, he got a standing ovation. This is, after all, his home district.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher had a proxy speaker. It was Chris Coleman's brother. He had way too many ums, ahs and ers. He kept stumbling with his words. He was going to vote for his brother, of course, but when Chris dropped out of the race he decided to endorse Kelliher. She was the first one to send him an email describing her platform. He was impressed by that. He said that he's been watching Pawlenty dismantle the state that he loves. He believes that Kelliher can fix everything that Pawlenty has broken.

R. T. Rybak also had a proxy speaker. I didn't get her name. Her speech on his behalf was very short. Gosh, I sure missed hearing Rybak himself today.

David Schultz gave the same speech that he gave earlier at SD50. See above.

Tom Rukavina also gave basically the same speech as at SD50 but he added some quips. He's so good at that. He said that Tim Pawlenty wants to shrink the government of Minnesota until it's small enough to be drowned in the bathtub. (Oh oh Tom. You better not use drowned in the same sentence as the name Pawlenty. You'll get in trouble.) Rukavina ended his speech by telling us that we know we want to vote for him and endorse him. He said that John Marty will make a good Lt. Governor. (I thought he'd previously said Mark Dayton would be his Lt. Governor. Or was that Orrie who had said that?)

                                           Matt Pollas

Tom Bakk had a proxy speaker as well. It was his staffer Matt Pollas. Matt did a fine job. Well done.

I ran into one of the managers at MDH. He used to be my supervisor but got promoted. He's an active DFLer. He likes Rybak and Dayton. It was good to talk to him. We never have time for conversation at work.

I also ran into Elizabeth Lienesch, my friend from reNEW MN and TakeAction MN. I always enjoy talking to her.

The walking subcaucuses were starting. It was time to go on to the next Convention on my list. That would be SD52 at Mahtomedi High School. I knew just where it was.

                  Minnesota State Senator Tarryl Clark

The first thing I noticed when I entered Mahtomedi High School was the abundance of red t-shirts. Tarryl Clark staffers. I just love that team. Tarryl herself was there so I had an opportunity to talk with her. She's the greatest. And she's going to beat Bachmann. Especially if Bachmann continues to say so many stupid things. Tarryl's husband and son were also there. I took a picture of the three of them.

          Doug Clark, Tarryl Clark and their son Nathan

           Steve Rogness, reNEW MN and TakeAction MN

Steve Rogness from reNEW MN was at the SD52 Convention. He has the delegate list from the walking subcaucuses. I looked over his shoulder at his sheet. One of the subcaucus names jumped out at me. Tarryl Clark/Bachmann Is Nuts. LOL.

Today on Facebook someone said they were going to name a subcaucus "Anyone but Dayton." I took great exception to that and told the person whose wall it was that it was a cheap shot. I then posted a link to my April Knight blog that is all about Dayton's Senate years. It tells all the good things he did as Senator.

I ran into Chris Knopf's campaign manager today. We discussed how many letters to the editor were in this past week's issue of The White Bear Press. All these letters expressed disappointment about Carol McFarlane's nay vote on Pawlenty's GAMC veto override. My own letter to the editor was one of them.

It was time to leave this convention. I headed back toward White Bear Lake. I stopped at Festival Foods on County Road E and the East County Line to buy some pumpkin seeds and a Diet Coke.

Next stop: SD55 Convention at White Bear High School South Campus. Dave Pinto was coming out as I was going in. He gave me a big hug. He had to leave for another convention. I went inside the school. SD55 had just closed the floor and shut the doors to the auditorium. The subcaucus was in process. I talked to the ladies at the registration desk. No use hanging around here. Time to go home.

This was a rather productive day. I also learned about a Gubernatorial Forum that will be held at North High School in Minneapolis on March 18. I hope to see some of you there.

Here's some more pictures I took at these conventions.

                                            Rybak Staffers

                                      Entenza Staffer

                                 John Choi Volunteers

                         Matt Bostrom and David Schultz

                         Victor Rukavina and Girlfriend

                Karen Thissen, Matt and Another Staffer

                                     SD52 Convention

                               Orrie Salper and Friend

                                Orrie Salper and Me

                              SD55 Registration Table


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