August 2006

Latest fund-raising numbers: Klob: $979,983, Kenn: $825,000

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Candidates for U.S. House and Senate have to update their FEC reports two weeks before a primary election in their state, which for the Minnesota candidates means by midnight tonight.

They’ve mostly appeared on the FEC website by now, but one big one is still missing: The figure for how much Michele Bachmann netted from the recent visit of the fund-raiser-in-chief. Hope to have it soon.

The reports cover new contributions received between July 1 and Aug. 23. With no further ado, the numbers:

U.S. Senate:
Amy Klobuchar: $979,983.
Mark Kennedy: $825,000 (round number contained in a Kennedy press release. The official number hasn’t hit the FEC yet.)

Kennedy has still outraised Klobuchar in the campaign to date, by $7.6 million to $6.6 million.

House, 6th District:
DFLer Patty Wetterling: raised $504,952 during the reporting period; $1,345,251 campaign to date; has $800,450 cash on hand.
Republican Michele Bachmann: raised $419,241 during the period; $1,159,847 to date; $666,257 on hand.

But here’s the issue with those numbers. The proceeds from the Bush-Bachmann event, which Bachmann has said exceeded $500,000, are not included. They are in a special joint account that will be divided between Bachmann and the Minnesota GOP. They will almost certainly give Bachmann a higher total take during the brief period, and quite likely put her in the lead in funds raised to date and cash on hand.

House, 5th District DFL:
———————–Raised this period/total raised to date/on hand:
Ember Reichgott Junge: $184,171/$417,453/$102,863.
Keith Ellison: —————- $150,594/$317,842/$74,075
Mike Erlandson: ———– $143,665/$314,678/$78,670
Paul Ostrow: Hadn’t filed as of this writing.

Indep. Partyite Tammy Lee $29,913/80,662/$34,040.

Republican Alan Fine —–$75,448/$154,377/$113,607
The Fine campaign proudly notes that he has the most cash-on-hand.

New Klobuchar Ad: Fairness

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

The Amy Klobuchar campaign has unveiled its fourth TV ad, called “Fairness” and viewable on the campaign website.

I’ll add the text shortly. There are no factual statements in the ad that can be checked, nor any concrete proposals that you can be for or against.

It’s got references to what Minnesotans believe in (“hard work”), things regular folks are having trouble affording (gas, college, health care) and bad guys (big oil and drug companies.)

The argument is: “Washington’s been tilting the playing field against the middle class for the past six years. I think it’s gotta stop. But that’s never gonna happen with this crowd in charge.”

What do you think of the ad?

MoveOn.org is caught red-handed

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

FactCheck.org finds MoveOn.org guilty of using a double standard. MoveOn airs ads attack three Republican House members for supporting money spent on Halliburton contracts and wasteful Iraq projects.

But, FactCheck says:

“A majority of Democrats voted the same way on most of the same measures, usually overwhelmingly. MoveOn endorses one Democratic House member who voted the same way 10 out of 14 times, and two senators who voted for the same measures every time they reached a recorded vote in the Senate.”

Ostrow on Iraq

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

In a letter to the editor in today’s Strib and in a press release, 5th Congressional District DFL challenger Paul Ostrow announces a new Iraq policy.

He proposes that Iraq take on a new form as three largely autonomous regions, Kurdish dominated in the north, Sunni Arab in the middle, Shiite in the South, with a weak Baghdad-based federal government.

Why don’t Congressmenpay into Social Security? Because they do

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

The folks at factcheck.org have another good piece up this week. In addition to factchecking campaign ads, they’ve expanded, in this case, into checking emails that are circulating widely.

When you think about, in addition to their many wonderful uses, emails are powerful new ways of circulating misinformation, and they normally fly below the radar of the factcheckers.

In this case, Brooks Jackson takes up the oft-heard canard that members of Congress don’t participate in Social Security. I’ve written a (very big) lot about Social Security. I have heard the assertion many times, usually tied to a sense of outrage, that Congress forces everyone else to pay into, and rely on, Social Security, but exempts itself.

It happens to be false. Used to be true. But that ended with the 1983 Social Security revisions, an act, one notes, of Congress. Since 1984, members of the House and Senate have paid Social Security taxes. In retirement, or other circumstances that trigger Social Security benefits for most of us, they get benefits.

I know this falsehood is frequently circulated and widely believed. Please, if you hear someone repeat it, set them straight.

And speaking of Social Security, what plans to our federal candidates have to save, strengthen, privatize, reform and/or protect it? I plan to ask.

Bachmann the Anti-Totalitarian

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Good Wednesday morning Fellow Seekers,

Here’s another example of state Sen. Michele Bachmann’s possible rhetorical overreach, consistent with the theme of “Is Bachmann too Extreme? Is Wetterling coherent enough?”

While covering the May 6 convention at which Bachmann gained the GOP endorsement for the Sixth Congressional District, I was startled to hear her describe herself as presenting voters with an alternative to the “totalitarianism” that was offered by her opponent.

Was Bachmann portraying Patty Wetterling, or Democrats in general, as totalitarians, a word associated with Stalinist dictators?

During the break after her speech, I asked her Bachmann if that was her intent. She assured me that she had not said it, but had only used the word as part of a quotation from Ronald Reagan’s famous 1964 “a time for choosing” speech in which, on behalf of Barry Goldwater’s presidential candidacy, Reagan did indeed describe “totalitarianism” as the alternative America faced if it did not choose correctly.

That wasn’t what my notes indicated, but Bachmann was insistent and I mushed up what I wrote for the next day’s paper because I lost confidence in my transcription.

Later, I acquired a tape of the passage. Here’s what Bachmann said:

Bachmann: “I will offer you a clear choice between the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism.
It’s just like Ronald Reagan said in his famous ‘Time for Choosing’ speech, and it still is our issue for this day.
‘Will we either choose between up or down. Will we choose going down to the ant-heap of totalitarianism where government makes our choices for us, or will we choose to go up for economic freedom and for prosperity.’

“I will be that voice for you this November. And to the voters of the Sixth District, I will be the articulate clear choice between failed government solutions on the Democrat side and the positive voice that we have on the Republican ticket.
I’m a woman on a mission. I’m on a mission to preserve freedom. And I want you, I ask for your vote this morning to send me there on that mission.�?

It’s clear enough that Bachmann quoted Reagan in the second and third sentences of that passage. But the first sentence plainly states that she, Bachmann, in 2006, represents the clear choice against “the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism.”

And since there is no Communist Party candidate in the race and she is running against Wetterling and John Binkowski (and, at that time, Elwyn Tinklenberg was still a possibility), who else could she have meant by “the central planners, with their philosophy of totalitarianism?”

After acquiring the tape, I told Bachmann that she had, apparently quoted Reagan, but also, in her own voice, had described herself as the contemporary alternative to totalitarianism.

Bachmann said that she had meant to use “totalitarianism” only as part of the Reagan quote. And she did not think that contemporary Democrats represented totalitarianism.

But she does believe that her approach to government represents freedom and individual choice, while the other (Democratic) approach is “a bureaucratic central planning approach” that “tends toward socialism.”

More uninsured Americans

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Speaking of health care, the big annual Census Bureau report on health insurance (and income, and poverty) is hot off the presses (or whatever it is that replaces the presses in the Internet Age).

It shows that, as it has every year since 2000, the percentage of Americans who have no health insurance is up again, from 15.6 percent (the 2004 figure) to 15.9 percent (the just-released figure covers 2005).

That’s 46.6 million people. The biggest portion of the uninsured are working adults who either have jobs that don’t offer health insurance as a benefit or don’t make use of that benefit because they can’t or won’t pay the employee share of the premium.

The big findings on the economy were partly positive (median household income in the United States rose by 1.1 percent, reaching $46,326)

and partly flat (the nation’s official poverty rate remained statistically unchanged at 12.6 percent).

I have to run to a Klobuchar how-I-would-reduce-the-deficit event (more later) and don’t have time to dig into this report until later.

I’m sure these Census numbers raise all kinds of great questions for our candidates for federal office. Feel free to suggest the questions, or your own first attempt at the answers.

Upper with Peoplers

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

If you missed Doug Grow’s column this a.m., you may be unaware that history is being made in Minnesota this campaign year. We have the first-ever (actually, I’m just assuming it is, because it must be, congressional race involving two alumni of the very enthusiastic and positive singing group “Up With People.”

Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s the race for the Sabo seat in the Fifth Congressional District. DFL challenger Ember Reichgott Junge and Green Party endorsee Jay Pond are both Up alums.

As you were.

Rothenberg upgrades Wetterling’s chances slightly, Dems overall chances significantly

Monday, August 28th, 2006

The issue of the Rothenberg Political Report that will be mailed to premium subscribers today (Tuesday) will nudge the Bachmann-Wetterling race slightly closer to a toss-up, and it will for the first time project enough Dem pick-ups to give them control of the House next year.

Stu Rothenberg is a veteran Washington insider, political handicapper, frequent TV pundit. Like several other such services, he rates the competitiveness of every House and Senate race in the nation.

Through May, he had listed the race for the open (Mark Kennedy) seat in the Minnesota Sixth District as “Leans Republican.” Unlike most of the others who attempt this exercise, Rothenberg has a category between “leans” toward one part or the other and “pure toss-up.”

This in-between category is called “Toss-up/Tilt.” And that is where the new issue rates the Bachmann-Wetterling race, specifically “Toss-up/Tilt Republican.”

That means Rothenberg and his helpful and able Political Editor Nathan Gonzales perceive a slight advantage for Bachmann, but obviously, slighter than they perceived before, and no longer enough to characterize as a “lean.”

Here’s Rothenberg’s comment on the WetterBach race:

“Wetterling, who drew 46% against incumbent Kennedy (in ’04) initially announced that she couldn’t win this district and therefore would run statewide. But she changed her mind, and Democrats are very optimistic about her chances. The Republican nominee is Bachmann, a personable, high profile conservative who has proven her campaign skills by defeating two incumbents.

“The district is quite Republican (Pres. Bush won it with 57% in 2004), but Wetterling appears to lead in early polling, in part because of her better name recognition. Bachmann has a chance of overtaking her by painting her as too left for district voters, but even GOP operatives are worried about Bachmann’s strongly indeological reputation and her combative quality.

“The question here is which candidate becomes the main issue in the race, Wetterling or Bachmann. A very competitive race that Republicans can’t afford to lose if they have any chance of holding the House.

The much more consequential thing about the new Rothenberg ratings, if they turn out to be correct, is that he now projects an overall Democratic pickup of 15-20 seats in the House. Fifteen is the minimum the Dems need to take control.

In May, the last time Rothenberg rated all the House races, he projected a Dem. pickup of 8-12, which would mean that Repubs keep control.

Senate and Guv poll results

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Take these with as much salt as you need.

The Zogby polling operations put these results out Monday morning on the online-Wall Street Journal:

Klobuchar: 50
Kennedy 42

Hatch 43
Pawlenty 41.

Margin for error in both cases: +/- 3.9 percent.

Zogby uses an online methodology that is highly controversial in the polling industry. Basically, they conduct the polls by e-mail, and they draw their sample from a large group that has volunteered online to be part of it. There’s a lot more to it than that, especially in how they decide which of the volunteers to poll via e-mail. You can find a lot more about the methodology on the link.


This is a place where open-minded critical thinkers of all political persuasions encounter information and arguments that both support and challenge their preconceptions. The goal is not to eliminate differences but to narrow and clarify them. We begin with a bedrock agreement that the search for insight and clarity is important, serious - and fun.

We ask commenters to be civil and substantive and, if possible, good humored. We reserve the right to delete comments that disregard this request.

Follow The Big Question on Twitter Do you use Twitter? Follow The Big Question.