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January 08, 2008



Great post--as always.

After you explain caucus rules, I'd love to hear how you think the Senate primary will work out.

fascinating post Sara. Really interesting.

You nailed it. I'm staying in Massachusetts with an "Older Feminist," a veteran of the abortion rights movement. She hates how the media is trashing Clinton as a cold bitch, essentially as an inappropriately assertive woman.

But she just doesn't feel Clinton really has any right to the mantle she helped construct. She leans to Edwards.

Emptywheel, The Senate endorsement will be decided at State Convention in June, based largely on the strength established in the February 5 Caucuses, because I suspect they will be more about the Senate Race than the President. Right now it is four way, with Al Franken just announcing that he did 1.9 million in the last 07 quarter, about half a million better than Coleman's take. All of the DFL candidates have pledged to support the party endorsement, thus no primary. Hopefully they all keep their pledges.

I have a commitment in this race, I support Franken. I remember back in 1990 when our Wellstone campaign faced having the lights and phones turned off due to lack of money, and Al came to town and did benefits and pre-paid those bills. I am not someone who forgets stuff like that. But then the idea of Al running came out of one of the first board meetings of Wellstone Action, Maybe 4 months after the plane crash, when during a break Al and Molly Ivins and Mondale were talking, and Molly ordered Al to move back to Minnesota and run for Paul's Senate Seat, and Mondale seconded the motion. I have long agreed. And he moved back, and has been all over the state for now three years, marched in every town's little parade, and it is a month from cruch time. Franken and Mondale developed a comic and straight man routine that has been done at DFL dinners all over the state, at least since Walter made it clear that he supported Franken's Candidacy back in 2005 at a Carter Center event. As Walter puts it, there are lots of Politicians in DC who think they have a comic streak or talent, but they don't. Time for Minnesota to send them the real thing.


I think you've doubted in the past that Franken will have the support to win the endorsement. DO you still think that's true?

No, I think he has done the work to come in somewhere around 45% on the first ballot at State Convention, and it will take him 5-6 ballots to get to 60% and endorsement. No one else will come in with that strength. It is not unusual to go a number of ballots to get to endorsement at a DFL State Convention. In 90, Wellstone started at 42% on first Ballot, and it took us five ballots to get to 60. The push this year is to absolutely Hang, Draw and Quarter Norm Coleman -- and the Convention will endorse what they see as electorial strength. No one wants to waste money in a primary and a party fight over next summer. Franken's State Office is not far from here, and went by recently to drop off a small check, and the place was filled with intense volunteers. Good mood.

re ". . . and got her Husband elected first to the State Senate . . ."

Just a nit, but IIRC Don Fraser was in the Minnesota House, not the Senate, and was the leader of the "Liberal" caucus. At the time MN law did not allow formal party affiliation in the legislature. The father of one of my closest lifetime friends was our state senator who caucused with the Conservatives, and I recall him frequently decrying the Liberals and Fraser their leader in the House.

I don't think any of the above has influenced her crashing in the polls, it's actually more simple than that. One as my beau pointed out last night the men have a take on her that she's brow beating them due to direct way she speaks, and secondly women in a primal instinct want to always bring down another woman. Obama, has this wave of optimism that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon on...it's more of underlying psychology than facts...sad...but true...only more caucuses and primary's will show.

Minnesotachuck -- for some reason Arvonne's book is all about Don's career in the State Senate. He challenged the incumbent, Duempke (from NorthEast) in the 1954 caucus (In those days we caucused by ward), and he represented what then was the 49th District. Don won in 1954, and served till he was endorsed for Congress in 1962. You have to remember the district lines changed dramatically after the 1960 Census, and the Baker v. Carr decision that required State Senate and House districts to be equal in population, giving the cities the the burbs many new districts, and our cows and corn in Greater MN, a little less representation. Professor Arnold Rose replaced Don in the Senate in 1962. The 5th Congressional District was essentially created in the redistricting of 1961. Prior to that S Mpls and the western burbs were in one district, and North Mpls in a different district. Putting all of MPLS into one district made it a Liberal or DFL district, making it possible for Don to challenge Walter Judd, who led the Evangelical China Lobby in the Republican group in the House. When Don was in the State Senate, representing District 49, his congressman would have been Gene McCarthy, then in Congress for the 4th District. Not sure, but I suspect pre-1961 the CD district line was the river, with SE and NE in the St. Paul dominated district.

The end of the Liberal/Conservative designations came in the early 1970's when the DFL finally had both houses, and we had a DFL Governor. At the same time, we divided House districts into the A & B side. Dividing the districts meant Progressives had a much better chance at House Seats. My personal Guru in DFL Political History was Alpha Smaby, who was in the House for two terms, but lost in 1968 when she supported McCarthy on grounds of the Vietnam War. She was the first elected official in the whole country to come out against that war. Divided districts meant we could elect someone like Phyllis Kahn and keep her there for decades. Likewise, the same district elected the first Gay Man to the State Senate -- Allan Spear served 20 years plus, eventually becoming President of the Senate. (yes, he moved to another district in mid career, but we got him reelected once in NE even after he came out and became an advocate for Gay Rights.) (NE for those who don't know MPLS, was mostly E. European Ethnic Catholic in those days.)

And this is one of Arvonne's points in her book -- that it really is diversity that produces quality political leadership -- in her mind, that has to include women, who raise and color their own issues.

By the way, I tend at this point to agree with Josh Marshall. Hillary got the women's vote out in a significant way because the media (Chris Mathews in particular) had taken joy in writing her off. Likewise, I suspect that Chuck Todd is right, Racism could be a factor -- people will express intolerance behind the voting curtain, but when they have to declare in a public caucus, they catch themselves. Well, we'll see. Hillary got a life line tonight.

Hi Sara,

I disagree with playing the racism card. We should be very careful in implying or suggesting that subtle racism may have been at work in NH unless there is evidence to support the supposition.

My mother and sister, who are both supporting Edwards, felt that the Hillary pile-on was unfair and that things had been said about her that would be unacceptable to say about any of the men in the race. They are both successful, well-educated, businesswomen. It reminded them so much of what they had faced and continue to face in the workplace. Women leaders seem to always be held to a much higher standard and any sign of humanness is immediately transmogrified into weakness.

Based on the exit poll results, it was women voters who helped Hillary defy the polls. I believe that it is not helpful to the national debate to throw out the "racism card" with absolutely no evidence of that in play. The pre-election polling may simply have been wrong b/c a "significant" portion of voters made up their minds ... in the voting booth. And there is also the independent vote. John McCain appears to have been successful in soaking up a lot of the "indie" vote which the conventional wisdom held was the holy grail for how large an Obama blowout would be. And it's important to not forget that Obama has never been held to a front-runner's scrutiny. The Clinton campaign began to point out the gap between his soaring and lofty words and his lack of significant experience and skimpy track record of creating significant change. This could also have played a factor. What we do know is that either the pollsters, all of them, had a terrible sample or methodology or that there was a late movement of voters, women voters in particular, to Hillary. The exit polls seem to suggest the latter if we accept the exit polls and the pre-election polls as given.

The Minnesota history is very interesting.

It sounds to me, morning after reflection, that the polls made a huge error in dealing with how the undecided's would break in the last 48 hours. Apparently there was still about 30% undecided two or three days prior to Tuesday, and the key question is how and why they broke the way they did.

The second factor seems to be good ole GOTV -- Hillary had her voters ID'ed, and they had the resources to check the voter lists mid-afternoon, and go and fetch their voters who had not yet voted. I don't think any other campaign had that sort of ground organization. With the outcome somewhere between two and three points, that sort of organization pays its way.

I disagree on race. I think it is quite important to talk about it openly because it is an issue. Last year in 5th District we had an open seat (Don Fraser's between 1963-1978, and Martin Sabo's from 1979 - 2006.) It is perhaps the most Democratic District in the whole country -- normally we win it by about 73-75% of the vote. Last year we endorsed Keith Ellison, both a Black Lawyer with 3 terms in the Legislature, and a Muslim. We did this intentionally, knowing that we had the kind of electoral margin to take risks, and put forward someone who would add to the diversity in Congress. Now it is impossible here to seperate race and religion, but we did have the phenonema of the Greens putting forward a candidate who picked up about 20% of the DFL vote -- a Green Candidate who accepted campaign money from the DLC and who used the fear of Muslims in the campaign. While Ellison won, he got only 56% of the vote in that three way contest, and I am just suggesting that it is better to know the risk is there, and have a strategy for dealing with it, than to be blind to it. This year, Ellison probably will have no such opposition, and his results should be back up in the high 60's or low 70's as he is clearly now well liked and trusted in the district. But without question hidden racism or religious prejudice is a voting issue.

When you do your endorsements, as we do in a Caucus, where supporters and opponents have to stand up in public and declare themselves, it plays somewhat less of a role, but when decisions are made behind the curtain in the voting booth, it shows up. The 5th District results in 2006 are a good case study, because we had over 40 years or election results, precinct by precinct, with a well known and popular DFL incumbant to compare to Ellison's -- and you can pick out those where Ellison's margin was way down from the norm, and use other races and what you otherwise know about neighborhoods to comprehend it.

I am all in favor of this kind of political risk taking, but the states and districts that need to put forward candidates who contribute to diversity need to have a strategy, know what they are doing, and have a cushion to absorb the difficulties. These days folk in Minneapolis like the fact that their representative can go to Iraq, join tribal leaders in first prayer and then a feast of Goat, Rice and Dates -- and come home and report the conversations. Condi doesn't have anyone who can do that -- and locally one hears that another Progressive Norwegian Lutheran couldn't do that either. Events such as this really shift the dynamics. But I would not recommend it in a district that is very evenly divided between R's and D's, and where campaigning on fear and unfamilarity are common.

Really interesting what goes on behind the scenes when all we see are the interviews and rallies.



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