Monday, September 26, 2011

Redistricting: The Post-Citizens United landscape

Redistricting MinnesotaAll the way back in June MPR reported that:

Three attorneys for Briggs and Morgan have filed as "attorneys of record" for eight citizens in a redistricting case. The attorneys; former MN Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson, Elizabeth Brama and Michael Wilhelm, all filed the paperwork this morning to say that they would represent the eight Republican citizens who have filed lawsuits both in federal and state courts.

The Republican Party of Minnesota is working with an independent group, "Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting," on redistricting efforts.

And now comes this ProPublica article:

Minnesotans for a Fair Redistricting describes itself as independent, but it has much of its leadership in common with the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, a group with ties to the political empire of the Koch brothers, industrialists from Kansas who’ve spent millions funding conservative causes. The head of the Freedom Foundation, Annette Meeks, told ProPublica she has “no involvement” with Fair Redistricting. But both organizations’ tax filings list the same address: Meeks’ home address.

Fair Redistricting is registered under the name of her husband, Jack Meeks, who is also on the board of the Freedom Foundation. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Redistricting: Utz Fail!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTim Utz was last seen losing to DLFer Carolyn Laine by almost 20 points in the biggest Republican wave election in the history of whatever. Yet still featured on the front of his campaign website is this absolute jem of a passage:

Although we lost the election yesterday, the results of the campaign have much to be proud of. As in 2008, our campaign again put a hurt on the DFL stronghold in House District 50-A, breaking open the fortress perception of invincibility.

I don't know how you get from a 19.5 percentage point loss to "breaking open the fortress perception of invincibility," but than again I'm not Tim Utz.

In a sort of "where are they now" fashion we'll catch up with Mr. Utz, who these days can be found tilting at redistricting windmills. I am unsure of what outcome he expects, but his reasoning is pure as Tea!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Congressional Progressive Caucus is tired of being ignored

Rep. Keith EllisonThis is a good sign:

Over the past several months, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has begun formalizing ties to a number of outside groups and organizing internally to bring more pressure to bear on leadership.

“We’ve always been a great group, but in my opinion we’ve not punched above our weight; we’ve punched below,” Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chairman of the CPC, said in an interview last week.

It has seemed at times as though the liberals in the Democratic party were expected to stand in the corner and be quite while the "adults" worked things out. So it's encouraging to see an effort to change this dynamic.

The CPC held its first retreat earlier this year and released a budget proposal in April, which was drafted with the help of the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute. The caucus also recently hired a new executive director, Brad Bauman, whom aides describe as an aggressive and press-savvy strategist. Staff to Members within the caucus also are working together more closely, aides said.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some dude to challenge Keith Ellison

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBecause he represents what is easily the safest house district in the entire state Keith Ellison isn't going to attract any top tier Republican challengers. Instead he faces a series of some dudes and wackos who have little hope of winning.

Chris Fields, who announced his campaign last Wednesday, appears to fall into the some dude column. Even if he isn't stark raving mad though, he's still capable of regurgitating the standard GOP talking points, from his website:

Congressman Keith Ellison supports and represents economic policies that have hurt the people of our district and country. We have watched each day as factories close and our jobs are being exported overseas. We are told we aren’t competitive and the price of labor is too high. Policies he has defended have made it more attractive for our businesses to invest elsewhere.

When he says the price of labor is too high, what Chris Fields means is that those of us in the fifth district make too much damn money. If only we would accept lower wages, businesses would want to invest here!

Welcome to the race Chris, your challenge is to get more than 25% of the vote, something no one else has been able to do against Keith Ellison in the 5th district. I'd say good luck, but I wouldn't really mean it so what's the point.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Redistricting: Schedule for Public hearings set

Redistricting MinnesotaOn Friday of last week the Special Redistricting Panel released the public hearing schedule for redistricting. Why do we need public hearings for redistricting you may ask?

The preservation of "communities of interest" is a well-established redistricting principle. For purposes of redistricting, "communities of interest" have been defined to include, but are not limited to, "groups of Minnesota citizens with clearly recognizable similarities of social, geographic, political, cultural, ethnic, economic, or other interests."

Therefore, the panel seeks public comment about communities of interest that should be identified and preserved in the redistricting process. This input will aid the panel in evaluating plans that will be submitted by the parties and in establishing plans that will be adopted if the legislative and executive branches of the government do not reach an agreement on redistricting by February 21, 2012, as required by Minn. Stat. § 204B.14, subd. 1a(2010).

These meetings are open to the public, so if you want to have your concerns heard about where new lines should be drawn, these are the places and times you can go to do just that.

Minnesota Special Redistricting Panel Public Hearing Schedule
Day Time Location City
Wednesday October 5th 6:30 - 8:30pm Minnesota Judicial Center Courtroom #300 St. Paul
Thursday October 6th 6:30 - 8:30pm John B. Davis Educational Service Center Minneapolis
Friday October 7th Tuesday October 4th 6:30 - 8:30pm Bloomington Civic Plaza Bloomington
Monday October 10th 6:30 - 8:30pm Fond du Lac Tribal Community College Ampitheater Cloquet
Tuesday October 11th 6:30 - 8:30pm Beltrami County Administration Building Bemidji
Wednesday October 12th 6:30 - 8:30pm Moorhead City Hall Moorhead
Thursday October 13th 6:30 - 8:30pm Stearns County Administration Center St. Cloud
Friday October 14th 6:30 - 8:30pm Blue Earth County Justice Center Mankato

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

About that State Fair poll

MNPrideYesterday, The Big E went over the results of the State Fair poll on the Anti-Family Amendment as it pertains to the task ahead.

Today, I will use the same poll to point out the uncertain nature of the outcome of that task and why organizing will be the key to winning.

First, though, the results of the poll, conducted by the Minnesota House of Representatives, one more time.

"Should the state constitution be amended to define marriage as "only a union of one man and one woman?" This question will be on the November 2012 ballot."

Yes 29.8%
No 66.5%
Undecided 3.7%

What you see is that unlike with normal polls, this poll has no margin of error (but it has insignificant digits!). That's because it's actually not a poll at all, it's a straw poll.

There are two key differentiating factors between the State Fair poll and a poll from, say, Gallup; the nature of the sample and weighting.

At the State Fair anybody can just walk up and take the poll. In a traditional survey every effort is made to get as random a sample as possible. And by random I mean everyone who makes up the sample frame should theoretically have as equal a chance of being a respondent as anyone else.

Additionally, even though you go to every effort to get as random a sample as possible, the final result is often a little different from the actual demographics of the sample frame. To alleviate this, pollsters will weight their samples based on immutable characteristics like age, gender and race. The State Fair poll doesn't do any of these things.

So, the State Fair (straw) poll violates two of the most fundamental aspects of traditional public opinion polling, but just because it's a completely unscientific survey doesn't mean we can't do a little bit of analysis right?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kyle Wilson replies

Kyle WilsonIn today's morning take, Blois Olson reports on the email he received from Kyle Wilson in response to his reporting on Friday that Wilson used to be a Republican organizer.

Do you want the long answer or the short answer? The short answer is that I am not a Republican anymore and do not support the party. I consider myself pretty progressive these days actually and I would say that Bernie Sanders matches my views the closest out of any sitting politician.

If Kyle says he's a Democrat - and if he is claims to be most similar to Bernie Sanders that technically makes him a socialist - then I take him at his word.

I do, however, think that it's disingenuous to fail to disclose beforehand that he used to be a Republican. This is the point I made in the comments of my post on Friday in response to this comment from fellow contributor EricF:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Candidate in SD61 DFL primary has a GOP past

Kyle WilsonIt appears as though Kyle Wilson, a candidate in the DFL primary to replace the state Senate seat vacated by Linda Berglin, has a curious political history. From this morning's take, by Blois Olson (if you're not a subscriber go here):
A Republican tipster has informed morning take that SD61 candidate Kyle Wilson, who is running as a DFLer, has been a GOP supporter and operative since 2004 and as late as 2010.
Blois provides a few bits of linky proof, this article from MNDaily in 2004:
"It's really nice to be the best College Republican organization in the nation," said Kyle Wilson, a University sophomore who was made the club's state technical director. "You really feel like you're making a difference."
And there's the above photograph of Kyle at an Elephant Club event. The outfit tells the whole story, the brown jacket and black turtle neck, only Republicans (excluding Marcus Bachmann) have fashion sense like that! None of which quite vibes with this statement from Kyle's campaign announcement:
I want to be a strong advocate for progressive change in Minnesota.
Sure you do Kyle, sure you do.