Thursday, August 11, 2016

Primary Dust Has Settled.  We now have the formal match-ups in the legislative races after Tuesday's primaries eliminated challengers in a number of legislative districts.  The highest profile primary saw Minneapolis neighborhood activist Ihlan Omar defeat 44-year legislative veteran Phyllis Kahn and former Minneapolis School Board member Mohamud Noor by slightly over 10 percentage points in the three-person race (41% for Omar and just under 30% for both Kahn and Noor).  While this race garnered the most attention in statewide pre-primary discussions, just to the west of this district, another refugee--Fue Lee--defeated 10-term incumbent Joe Mullery by a 56%-44% margin.  The biographies of both Omar and Lee are very inspiring and history buff that I am, I see these events in the same light as breakthroughs by other immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries.  While both of these candidates face general election opposition, it is expected both will win in November and the perspectives they will bring to the Legislature will certainly be new and interesting.

Two other incumbent legislators--these from SEE country--were also unseated in the primary, as Senator Sean Nienow and Representative Tom Hackbarth were defeated by Mark Koran and Cal Bahr respectively.  Both Nienow and Hackbarth were denied the endorsement of their local Republican party activists, which made for an uphill battle in the primary.  Nienow was defeated by a 64%-36% margin, while Hackbarth came out on the short end of a 57%-43% vote spread.

There were several other primary battles in the heart of SEE country, as House Speaker Kurt Daudt staved off a challenge from Alan Duff, winning his race by a 72%-28% margin.  In House District 15A, House Education Reform Committee Chair Sondra Erickson defeated challenger Tom Heinks by 74% to 26%.  There was also a primary in the Senate District 15 to replace the retiring Senator Dave Brown, with GOP-endorsed Andrew Mathews defeating former Princeton School Board member (and SEE rep) Dan Whitcomb by a 64% to 36% margin.

Here is a of story on the primary results:


All results available here:

Secretary of State Unofficial Primary Results

So now it is on to November.  One of the interesting things about Minnesota this election season is that it appears three of our Congressional Races--the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th--will be receiving national attention.  Get ready for lots of ads (and I am sure most of them will be of one candidate extolling the virtues of their opposition).

I plan to be busy during the election season and hope to get out and visit with as many candidates as I can.  Obviously, I will clear that with local SEE members before I do that and I welcome any invitation by SEE member districts as they stage legislative fora or schedule visits with candidates.  My goal is to elevate discussion of our tax equity message and the need for funding adequacy during the campaign season.

ESSA Panel Begins Its Work.  MDE has convened the ESSA Accountability Advisory Committee with a seven-meeting schedule taking place between early August (first meeting was August 2) and November.  The goal of the meetings is to develop a broad-based set of accountability measures that will fit with the requirements of the new federal law.  I am serving on the committee and I will be polling many of you to garner ideas of what our organization would like to see included (or not included as the case may be) in Minnesota's network of accountability measures.

Reading List Suggestions.  Avid reader that I am (and it's so much fun not to be reading spreadsheets and bills so far this summer), I've been catching up on some interesting books over the summer.  One thing I've been trying to do is make sense of the current political climate, so I've delved into some off-the-beaten-track tomes to try to get a better handle on things.  Here are a few suggestions:

This is a book from the late-1990s that was updated to include the results from the 2000 Presidential Election, but it documents the movement of the white working class away from the Democratic Party.  Teixeira leans left in his sensibilities, but what he outlines in this book eerily portends what we are seeing in 2016.  Four stars!

Here's a link to the book:  America's Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters

This is a very interesting book that outlines the causes of the economic meltdown of the late-aughts and provides some insight about what might have been done to alleviate the effects of the collapse in housing prices instead of what was done.  If you have econophobia, mathophobia, or are allergic to academic jargon, the book can be a bit of a slog, but it is interesting.  As those of you in SEE districts recall, the collapse of the housing market was especially keen in your districts and this provides some insight as to why.  I'll go 3 1/2 stars on this one.

Link:  House of Debt

Conservative Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale College D.G. Hart provides a very interesting history of the involvement of evangelicals of both the left and right in his From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin.  Like Teixeira's book on the white working class, this book provides solid history.  While Teixeira's book looks at elections since the 1970s, Hart's work goes back much further in American political and social history to map the effects that evangelicals have had on our political process.  4 stars all the way.

Link:  From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin

How About Reading Something More Fun?  I am now living with a published author, as my wife Randi has had a short story published in the recently-released collection Cooked to Death.  Color me proud!  Without sounding biased, I just want to say this is a really great collection of works by local mystery writers.  Having been to a reading and perusing some of the other stories on my own, this is a great set of little mysteries all revolving around the theme of food (and murder!).  Like all great works, it's available at Amazon.

Here's the review from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:  Cooked to Death Review  (Note that my wife's story is mentioned).

Link:  Cooked to Death