I attended the 1st CD DFL convention this morning in Owatonna. It was interesting, to say the least. My comments in italics.
First up, Sen Amy Klobuchar congratulated herself on passing healthcare, and said that the GOP was just the party of no, which doesn't inspire anyone. She said we need to move away from being a 'consuming, importing, debt ridden nation', and that the Democrats have a plan to double the American economy in the next five years. Consumption is capitalism, and it drives most of our economy, so why would we move away from it? And we could import a lot less oil if we could drill in ANWR and off the continental shelf of our own country.
Franni Franken spoke next, and she started out by complimenting the sergeant at arms for stopping her at the door and asking why she wasn't wearing an ID. She responded by pulling out her official Capitol Police ID, and said having a card that says US Senator wife is the best photo she has ever had. She says the bill Al helped pass mandates that 85 cents on every dollar paid in health care premiums will by law be spent on health services. Are you serious? Go into a room full of people wearing name tags and then brag about how you don't have to wear one because you are married to a senator? But then Franni launches into an interesting story. "When we lost Ted Kennedy's seat, things looked grim." She went on to say that it was Al Franken's idea to get the House to vote on the Senate bill, and then make changes later. When he called up Rep Walz about his idea, she says Walz said 'hell yeah'. Best line of the day-she says that Walz then said if 'I go down for giving 32 million people health insurance, I wont lose any sleep over it.' With a little luck, Walz will be out of office and watching the health care bill be repealed.
Between speeches, much of the administrative agenda was rudely ignored by the delegates. Although some level of chatter is likely at a convention, I had a hard time hearing the speaker on the microphone at times because people were so loud.
RT Rybak called Tim Walz the best Congressman in Congress! He said that the DFL needs to support the endorsed gubernatorial candidate and that he is pledging his support right now for whoever is endorsed. I think this was a pretty transparent shot at Mark Dayton, who was the only candidate who did not appear and had no signage.
Paul Thissen said Governor Pawlenty has been using a slash and burn strategy for 8 years, and we need to replace him. Obamacare was the deal we had to settle for, and every Minnesota child has a right to health care insurance. He said that the problem with the DFL in terms of the governor's race the last 20 years is that the DFL has been playing to not lose, rather than to win, and nominating the establishment candidates over those who have ideas and can win. Just like in 2008 when Democrats ran against Bush, the DFL seems intent on running against Pawlenty who will not be on the ballot.
John Marty talks about his accomplishments over his 23 years in state government, and says he will use Obamacare as a starting point for single payer in Minnesota, and that you don't win elections by being a centrist. Kind of redundant to say you will make Minnesota a socialist state and then talk about not being a centrist.
Matt Entenza spoke about losing his dad, house, and his insurance when he was 15, but that Minnesota was such a wonderful state back then that he could overcome it all. He says he is the only person in the room who ever rolled Tim Pawlenty, when he forced him to not cut the budget in (2004?). Says we need to put solar reflectors and wind turbines on every school in Minnesota to help schools with their energy costs. Hard to understand how you can claim to have rolled T-Paw when you lost to him in the last election. And what the hell is a solar 'reflector'? Maybe he meant solar panel, but still, how much will it cost to put all of this equipment on Minnesota schools? Will the state or the schools pay for it?
Mark Ritchie says he has accomplished a lot so far, but since more remains to be done he has decided to run for re-election. He notes that his opponent served honorably in the military for 20 years and he wants to run a positive and honorable campaign against him. He also says that the whole country was proud of the way Minnesota ran the recount. Considering who funded Ritchie's first campaign, positive and honor are two words they might have trouble understanding. And the only ones proud of the recount were the lawyers paid handsomely for representing Franken.
DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez says that he is working to make sure that every DFL candidate at federal, state and local levels are all working together and in the same page. I guess this means we will see the same talking points all across the state, with the DFL walking in lock step with each other.
Final credentials report-106 full vote delegates, 56 half vote delegates. I counted a total of about 230 people in the room at 10:25, which was the point where the most people were there. At least were staff for the gubernatorial candidates, and they left soon after their individual candidate spoke. The DFL could only muster 230 people out of 615,000 in the congressional district, and nearly a fourth of those were campaign staff.
After being nominated, Rep Walz's wife Gwen comes up to introduce him. Mrs Walz says that things in this country are getting better day by day because of 'Obama in the White House, a Democratically controlled House and Senate'. She says 'that rocket scientist Sarah Palin says drill, baby, drill' and it is a terrible oversimplification of a complex issue. She asks the convention to 'come walk with us in search of justice and equality'. She says her husband helped pass the largest middle class tax cut in the history of this country, and that the health care bill gives 'every family in America the same health care my family has'. I would not normally say anything about a candidate's wife, but Gwen speaks for 12 minutes, attacking the GOP and giving a rousing campaign speech. Taking a personal shot at Palin and implying that she is stupid has become the norm from the left, but from a woman who is not a politician it is incredibly ironic. All sympathy I had for her as a politician's wife just disappeared. And it her comment about the biggest middle class tax cut in history (if it is even true) was ironic considering her husband's comments on tax cuts. And having been a federal employee, I am well aware of the options for health care plans-Obamacare gives people nothing close to that.
Tim Walz finally speaks, with his daughter standing next to him. Again, I don't like to talk about politicians families, but his daughter stood next to him for the entire 19 minutes of the speech as a campaign prop. I found that to be pathetic. He says this country was founded on compassion, empathy and helping others, and that he doesn't take ideology to DC, he takes ideas. I don't think empathy or compassion are mentioned in the Constitution, the Declaration or the Federalist Papers. The GOP is not the party of no, it is 'the party of hell no!' He says every time the budget has been balanced it has been under a Democrat president, and he absolutely stands by Pay Go. He stands by Pay Go until we actually have to pay for something, and then we will pay for it later. Walz voted in favor of raising the federal debt ceiling. Those who are now critical of the federal debt should have been talking when the GOP passed medicare part d, and passed the Bush tax cuts that went only to the wealthiest 3 percent, and also the two trillion dollar wars. Walz does not account for the fact that we paid for all of those things in 8 years and still never broke 500 billion in a deficit, while Obama has quadrupled the deficit in one year. He says Obamacare will reduce the deficit by 1.5 trillion over the next 2 decades. He says if he had called the president a liar on the floor of the Congress, he would have seen his contributions dry up and the folks at this convention would have been saying 'you should be ashamed'. 'Doing something about carbon is morally right, it is ethically right, and it will be great for our economy'. If by great for our economy you mean great for destroying it, then he would be correct. If every company in America were energy efficient, he says, we could break our dependence on foreign oil 'overnight' and we could create 20 million jobs in the next 2 decades. We will never be energy independent until we use the resources we already have in ANWR and off the continental shelf, not to mention the shale formations across the Dakotas and Colorado.