Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tammy Lee not running

You won't have Tammy Lee to kick around anymore. At least not between now and 2008. The former Independence Party candidate for Congress who lost to Keith Ellison says she is not seeking a rematch against Ellison in '08 or running for U.S. Senate. Here's her statement:
I want to state unequivocally, that I am NOT running for the U.S. House or U.S. Senate in 2008.

I am returning my focus to the business world and am very pleased to have accepted a position with Bernstein Global Wealth Management. I have joined Bernstein’s Private Client Practice located in Minneapolis as Vice President and Financial Advisor. The majority of my work will be devoted to investment management services for individuals and families.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Franken Runs-Kline and Walz Contrast

On today's podcast - audio of Al Franken's announcement that' he's running for U.S. Senate and a contrast between Minnesota's two military Congressmen. One reaches out for public opinion, the other apparently is not that fond of constituent input.

Newly elected Democratic Congressman Tim Walz is calling for a policy in Iraq based on fact and not ideology. (Audio in the podcast) Republican John Kline calls the proposal Walz supports “micromanagement”.

In response to public concern about deepening US involvement in Iraq Walz sets up a “Mobile Office” touring his congressional district seeking constituent input. In response to constituents for a dialog about the war Kline’s District Manager Mike Osskopp calls the police. Only after the Star Tribune reports on Kline’s arrogance does Osskopp sit down to meet with constituents and then says the earliest Kline can meet his constituents is April.

Its evident Kline is not a fan of facts and debates. Neither is Republican Chair Ron Carey who wrote that the constituents arrived at Kline’s office unannounced. If that’s so, why did Kline’s office call the Burnsville police the night before? It appears Kline’s office was aware and ready for the meeting. What Kline wasn’t ready for was the media scrutiny of his rude treatment of constituents and the uproar that followed.

Having a dialog about policy should be as simple as Walz makes it. Not as hard as Kline forces it to be.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bad Publicity Forces Kline's Office To Change Tactics

It's amazing what a little daylight will do to the process at Congressman John Kline's Burnsville office. Last week Inside Minnesota Politics and the Star Tribune reported how Kline's District Director Mike OssKopp had called the cops on constituents who wanted Kline to hold an open town meeting about escalating the war in Iraq. Groups of like-minded constituents visited nearly every other Minnesota Congressional office on the same day and were warmly welcomed. Osskopp must have taken some heat. This week when the constituents returned to again ask for a town meeting, Osskopp followed Congressman Jim Ramstad's lead and not only invited the group in, but offered them coffee and donuts.

Osskopp then took them to a conference room and proceeded to tell them at length how busy Rep. Kline is, working everyday from 7 a.m. until late at night. He’s all booked up for another two months or so and the soonest any public meeting could be held would be April. Kline could maybe meet with any constituent who flies to Washington DC but otherwise he’s booked up until April.

Contrast this to Rep. Tim Walz who has opened a "mobile office" to visit and talk with constituents about Iraq and other issues.

I may have an audio podcast update on this later.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Two years later-a different DFL party

Two years ago the DFL party was very divided in trying to select a successor to DFL chair Mike Erlandson. What a difference two years and winning a bunch of elections can do. This time the DFL unanimously re-elected Brian Melendez. In our podcast you'll hear from Melendez (download here runs 7:54) as well as a few other items that came out of today’s DFL business meeting in North Branch Minnesota.

First Presidential politics: John Edward’s campaign appears to be already well-organized. Ted Mondale, that’s former Vice President Walter Mondale’s son, was manning the Edward’s booth and is one of Edward’s main organizers in Minnesota. The campaign is already handing out buttons and signing up volunteers.

Senator Barack Obama also had a table, but only had post cards to hand out with a list of Obama campaign websites.

While we’re on the topic of presidential politics, newly re-elected DFL associate chair Donna Cassutt says the DFL will be doing more outreach to groups that want to get involved in the process of picking a presidential candidate. Cassutt told me that there are so many new people involved in the DFL she’s going to work on doing education about how the caucus process works. So look for more information on that soon.

Next: US Senate Politics –two candidates who have indicated an interest in running against Norm Coleman were there. Attorney Mike Ciresi and his wife were meeting and greeting DFLers, several who said they hope he runs. Ciresi of course wouldn’t tell me if he is going to run or not. But he did say he was evaluating such a run and indicated he’ll talk to our Inside Minnesota Politics audience when he reaches that decision. So keep listening.

Another potential US Senate hopeful is State Representative Joe Atkins of Inver Grove Heights. He’s coming off of a 44-point victory this past November. Atkins has ruled out running for Congress against Republican John Kline, but is considering making a run against Coleman. While the legislature is in session, Atkins says running for Senate is on the back burner. But you can expect to see him make a decision sometime after the session ends.

Notably missing from this DFL fest was Al Franken who has indicated he’ll make his political intentions known on February 14th when he signs off from his Air America Radio show. Franken has been in contact with DFL officials. He was at DFL headquarters a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

DFL alleges anti-Hatch contributions illegal

The DFL has filed a Campaign Finance Board complaint against “Stronger America- Minnesota”. This is the group that financed many last minute attack ads against DFL candidate for Governor Mike Hatch. The actual wording of the complaint is complex, but the basic issues are pretty simple. In our podcast (download here) DFL Chair Brian Melendez explains the issues and how this complaint puts groups on notice that in the future they can't operate like that in Minnesota.

According to the DFL, corporations that may have made illegal contributions include Badger Liquor Company. Tex Par Energy LLC, Builders Supply Corporation, North American Mechanical Inc and Capital Consultants inc.

If I remember correctly, a corporation that contributes to a Minnesota campaign can be fined up to $10,000.

Here is a link to the DFL’s official complaint.

Now a follow up to yesterday’s big story.
It turns out Congressman John Kline’s office was the only congressional office in Minnesota that kicked out constituents who showed up to express their displeasure with president Bush’s proposal to deepen our involvement in Iraq.

Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad staff greeted the constituents with water and coffee. Even Representative Michele Bachmann’s staff was civil and gave the constituents a room to stage their sit-in.

The satellite office for Democratic Congressman Colin Peterson in Marshall was closed for the day, so the peace group was not able to go in.

So only John Kline’s staff was rude to constituents. That shouldn’t be surprising. Kline has a pattern of constituent abuse… particularly to those who don’t agree with him. If you want to see his district director Mike Osskopp yelling racial slurs at Kline’s constituents , the video is on the IMP website. I’ve documented that constituents that don’t agree with Kline often don’t get responses their phone calls , emails or letters.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Surging against the Bush plan

Download podcast here
Today on the Senate Floor Minnesota US Senator Amy Klobuchar asked for a surge of diplomacy instead of a surge of troops in Iraq. In our podcast you'll hear from her as well as an organizer of a peace group that's staging a peaceful sit-in at all of Minnesota's Congressional offices today to express its displeasure with the Bush proposal.

Twin Cities Peace Campaign organizer, Marie Braun, tells us the sit-ins have been going without any problems with one notable exception. (As this podcast was published she had yet to hear from CD 6- Rep. Michelle Bachmann's office) Representative John Kline's staff booted the group from its Burnsville office after an hour. Kline's office had called police even before the group arrived. Kline spokesperson Mike Osskopp (who has been featured here before on video shouting racial slurs) met with the group of about 17 CD 2 residents for about an hour. He abruptly ended the meeting when the group gave him a petition asking Congressman Kline to hold a town hall meeting on Iraq and potential military action against Iraq.

RELATED COVERAGE: Nick Coleman Column
Lakeville Dad:Kline calls cops on constituents

Osskopp then asked Burnsville Police to remove the group. Police officers found no need to do so because the group was peaceful. Group members were allowed to fill out "comment cards" to Congressman Kline and then heeded Osskopp's order that they leave.