Minnesota 7th Congressional District Outreach Officers Report, December 2017

Sexual Harassment: We are stuck with a pretender president who has bragged about multiple incidents of sexual assault, and Alabama may soon afflict itself with a senator accused of multiple felony level sexual assaults. Our own U.S. Senator Franken has confessed to acts of sexual harassment, and one Minnesota legislator of each party has been accused of sexual harassment and resigned. Our state party chair Ken Martin called for the resignation of the DFL legislator and promised sexual harassment training for all candidates. As CD7 Outreach Officer and following the example of our state chair and the Outreach Committee in removing a local unit officer for comments insensitive to immigrants a few months back, I called for Senator Franken’s resignation.

That now appears to be a highly unpopular position, at least within our party. Yet I share that “zero tolerance” position with our party chair and many other DFL leaders, ‘cept Ken called for the resignation of a legislator. Clearly, we need a consistent response to sexual harassment. Mr. Trump’s and Roy Moore’s acts by Minnesota law appear to rise to the level of criminal sexual conduct, especially Mr. Moore’s as he abused a position of authority with minor victims. The legislators and Senator Franken’s harassing probably doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal offense, but as government employees and in some of Franken’s incidents a guest at military facilities and thus subject to military law, they probably violated the relevant sexual harassment policies to say the least. But under state, federal, and military policies the penalties (if any) assessed offenders are “all over the map”- Clearly our state DFL needs to adopt harassment policies that provide clear penalties commensurate to the offense rather than the current direction of the political winds.

Immigration policy: Pretender president Trump wants to kick every one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the country, about 8 million of whom are working. While Trump cites “jobs” to support his insane plan, unemployment nationally is down to around 4-5% and falling. That gives us maybe 5 million americans out of work, not enough to replace the 8 million undocumented workers. In most of our 7th CD, the worker shortage is even more critical- per the latest September ’17 stats, we have several counties with below 2% unemployment, and no county in CD7 has more than 5% unemployment. With more and more americans retired, we need immigrants to do the work, and Trump is chasing them out. Most troubling is Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program which allows students and young workers who came here as children to remain and contribute to our society. Many of these “dreamers” are college students in the medical, scientific, and engineering fields, and Mexico now has more engineering students than our country… And Trump wants to send them more? The insanity of Trump knows no bounds… Support our DACA youth and other undocumented workers!

Stats time: While as a whole CD7 is one of the most rural congressional districts, several legislative districts within it are classified as urban by the census… You might want to adapt your strategies to that factoid. On the other extreme of population density, former DFL legislator and candidate Ted Suss has suggested we campaign more in the townships. Ted’s proposal makes sense, in many legislative races we have won in the cities then lost when the township results come in. The townships with their 800,000+ residents are the GOP’s base, an even bigger base than ours with the 700,000 or so population of Minneapolis and St.Paul. And unlike the cities where hordes of DFL voters are concentrated in a few districts where they run up the score for local DFL candidates and seldom help us beyond statewide races, the townships are spread over dozens of legislative districts… Crack that republican base and we can win back the legislature. Ted and I are suggesting that each unit pick a representative township and target it with extra campaign efforts so we can compare it with other townships to assess the effectiveness of our strategy.

And while we’re on the subject of stats, here’s where I get mine. Top ‘o the list is our Secretary of States excellent site at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-results . Over the last few years the data has gotten richer with the option to download great gobs of it in spreadsheet friendly and GIS formats. The SOS gives us even more data in the last chapter of the legislative manual, broken down to the percent level for each candidate. You can download these at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/about-minnesota/get-a-blue-book/ . The blue books with the 2010 and earlier results probably aren’t available due to changes in Adobe that makes them unreadable with the current PDF readers, but I’ve got several older legislative manuals downloaded on an older computer if anybody wants them. And if you still lust for more data, try the demographic data geek’s playground over at http://proximityone.com/

Updates: No sooner than I write about pipelines but one springs a leak in South Dakota… As expected! I’ve been toying with the idea of making these reports weekly during next years election season, and I’m going to try out that concept with occasional updates as needed in December.

Respectfully submitted with best wishes for the holidays, Dyna Sluyter

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Minnesota 7th Congressional district Outreach Officers Report, November 2017

CD7 Outreach Officers Report, December 2017:

Sexual Harassment: We are stuck with a pretender president who has bragged about multiple incidents of sexual assault, and Alabama may soon afflict itself with a senator accused of multiple felony level sexual assaults. Our own U.S. Senator Franken has confessed to acts of sexual harassment, and one Minnesota legislator of each party has been accused of sexual harassment and resigned. Our state party chair Ken Martin called for the resignation of the DFL legislator and promised sexual harassment training for all candidates. As CD7 Outreach Officer and following the example of our state chair and the Outreach Committee in removing a local unit officer for comments insensitive to immigrants a few months back, I called for Senator Franken’s resignation.

That now appears to be a highly unpopular position, at least within our party. Yet I share that “zero tolerance” position with our party chair and many other DFL leaders, ‘cept Ken called for the resignation of a legislator. Clearly, we need a consistent response to sexual harassment. Mr. Trump’s and Roy Moore’s acts by Minnesota law appear to rise to the level of criminal sexual conduct, especially Mr. Moore’s as he abused a position of authority with minor victims. The legislators and Senator Franken’s harassing probably doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal offense, but as government employees and in some of Franken’s incidents a guest at military facilities and thus subject to military law, they probably violated the relevant sexual harassment policies to say the least. But under state, federal, and military policies the penalties (if any) assessed offenders are “all over the map”- Clearly our state DFL needs to adopt harassment policies that provide clear penalties commensurate to the offense rather than the current direction of the political winds.

Immigration policy: Pretender president Trump wants to kick every one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the country, about 8 million of whom are working. While Trump cites “jobs” to support his insane plan, unemployment nationally is down to around 4-5% and falling. That gives us maybe 5 million americans out of work, not enough to replace the 8 million undocumented workers. In most of our 7th CD, the worker shortage is even more critical- per the latest September ’17 stats, we have several counties with below 2% unemployment, and no county in CD7 has more than 5% unemployment. With more and more americans retired, we need immigrants to do the work, and Trump is chasing them out. Most troubling is Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program which allows students and young workers who came here as children to remain and contribute to our society. Many of these “dreamers” are college students in the medical, scientific, and engineering fields, and Mexico now has more engineering students than our country… And Trump wants to send them more? The insanity of Trump knows no bounds… Support our DACA youth and other undocumented workers!

Stats time: While as a whole CD7 is one of the most rural congressional districts, several legislative districts within it are classified as urban by the census… You might want to adapt your strategies to that factoid. On the other extreme of population density, former DFL legislator and candidate Ted Suss has suggested we campaign more in the townships. Ted’s proposal makes sense, in many legislative races we have won in the cities then lost when the township results come in. The townships with their 800,000+ residents are the GOP’s base, an even bigger base than ours with the 700,000 or so population of Minneapolis and St.Paul. And unlike the cities where hordes of DFL voters are concentrated in a few districts where they run up the score for local DFL candidates and seldom help us beyond statewide races, the townships are spread over dozens of legislative districts… Crack that republican base and we can win back the legislature. Ted and I are suggesting that each unit pick a representative township and target it with extra campaign efforts so we can compare it with other townships to assess the effectiveness of our strategy.

And while we’re on the subject of stats, here’s where I get mine. Top ‘o the list is our Secretary of States excellent site at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/election-results . Over the last few years the data has gotten richer with the option to download great gobs of it in spreadsheet friendly and GIS formats. The SOS gives us even more data in the last chapter of the legislative manual, broken down to the percent level for each candidate. You can download these at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/about-minnesota/get-a-blue-book/ . The blue books with the 2010 and earlier results probably aren’t available due to changes in Adobe that makes them unreadable with the current PDF readers, but I’ve got several older legislative manuals downloaded on an older computer if anybody wants them. And if you still lust for more data, try the demographic data geek’s playground over at http://proximityone.com/

Updates: No sooner than I write about pipelines but one springs a leak in South Dakota… As expected! I’ve been toying with the idea of making these reports weekly during next years election season, and I’m going to try out that concept with occasional updates as needed in December.

Respectfully submitted with best wishes for the holidays, Dyna Sluyter

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MN CD7 Outreach Officers Report, November 2017

CD7 Outreach Officers Report, November 2017:

Pipelines going nowhere and good jobs needed: Our state Commerce Department has found no need for Elmbridge’s proposed “Line 3” new pipeline. None the less Embridge is still pushing this billion dollar boondoggle and has even gotten the support of a few DFL legislators from the Range. They cite the need for living wage jobs, which emphasizes why we need to be the party that comes up with solutions that are wins for the environment and workers. While the simplistic republicans can’t chew gum and walk at the same time, we can find policy solutions that work for disparete and supposedly incompatible groups. So let’s be respectful of other democrat’s positions and work toward solutions that work for all of us. That’s how we win and govern- Our minorities in the legislature and congress are blocking regressive republican laws and preserving Obamacare and other programs with party unity while Trump and the republicans fight amongst themselves and waste their majorities.

Winter weather meeting cancellation policy, a modest suggestion: If the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Warning or similar for the location of a party meeting or event, the event should automatically be rescheduled for another date. No need to wonder if anyone will be there and get lost in blizzards just in case the event is on.

Engineering a victory: Strategy for the 2018 “off year” elections

When planning strategy we tend to get all emotional about issues and candidates. But elections are won by the candidate and party that gets the most votes, and we thus need to let the numbers guide our strategy. I’d like to use the stats for our whole congressional district but we’ve only had one off year election since redistricting and I’d like to have data from more elections. So I’ve taken data from 2006 through 2016 elections from our 3rd most populous county, Kandiyohi, which is fairly representative of the congressional district. Here’s the election results:

Year GOP votes DFL votes Swing voters Total votes 18+ population

2006 6000- 9248 7423- 11488 4622 19054 30223 (2000)

2008 6709-11319 8007-14493 7269 21985

2010 7458- 8835 6751- 8484 3338 17447 32082 (2010)
2012 6990-11240 9805-13033 4751 21546 32078 (2012)

2014 7117- 8349 6709- 9000 3024 16802 32269 (2014)

2016 10313-13099 7266-10872 4459 21970 32343 (2015)

By now you’ve read the numbers crosswise, but to see the trends best you have to read the numbers top to bottom. The lowest vote for a party’s candidate is a good measure of the party base, and the GOP base has been around 6000 to 7500 voters, rising to over 10000 only in 2016. The DFL base has been around 6700 to 7500 in off year elections, rising to nearly 10000 in 2012. “Swing” voters cross over between parties, and about 7200 of them voted in the 2008 presidential election year, dropping to less than 4500 in the hotly contested 2016 race. In off year races the swing voters have dropped from around 4600 in 2006 to barely 3000 in 2016. Total vote in off years has dropped from around 19000 to a bit under 17000, while the voting eligible population has been stable at around 32000.

Time for some analysis… Finding a “win number” like they teach at Camp Wellstone, we find that 9000 votes would have won Kandiyohi County in 2010 or 2014, what with voter turnout barely besting 50%. So we need to find at least 2300 voters to add to our off year base of 6700 or so to win. CD7 has a reputation for swing voters and I like a persuasion strategy that emphasizes them, but we’ve lost a third of them somewhere since 2006. To find those 2300 votes to get us to our 9000 vote “win number”, we’d have to win around three quarters of those swing voters- the GOP is pretty dislikable and we’re good persuaders, but not that good… So swing voter persuasion alone probably won’t win for us in 2018.

The other strategy is a labor intensive “base GOTV” strategy. Nearly 10,000 DFL base voters turned out in Kandiyohi County in 2012, which would easily push our candidates to victory. I’ve done the same analysis in Lyon County and Nobles County in CD1 with similar results- poor off year election turnout and declining numbers of swing voters are pushing us to a “base” strategy. Just finding those over 3000 “drop out democrats” in Kandiyohi County and over 60,000 CD wide will be a challenge, plus all the new DFL voters who aren’t even in our databases yet. Would help if the state DFL would share their data, but the latest they’ve given us was for the 2014 cycle. In the meantime, I’ve got some hunches on how we can use public data to find DFL voters, more on that later…

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter

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Is the Democratic Party a waste of time for rural democrats?

Lovely weekend here in southwest Minnesota, and lotta things to do. There’s the big weekend party down at Baxter Cycle in Marne, Iowa- They’ve the typical earthy small town cycle shop that’s hosted both the old and now reborn Triumph motorcycles. Or within a hundred miles of home I’ve got my choice of two great old tractor shows at Montevideo or Butterfield. But noting that our democrats were doing a parade the next county over, I stayed home and headed over to do the parade with them today.

Got to the parade start and found we weren’t even entered. Didn’t see any of our local democrats at the parade start, so I checked the party booth at the county fair cross town… Booth was nicely set up, but nobody there. Not surprising, in this county of around 10,000 we’re down to a handful of democratic party regulars. County on the other side of mine is doing even worse, barely seen them since the party conventions last year. Couple weeks back I got asked if I could work a shift at the county fair booth 60 miles away, and the congressional district chair ended up driving over 100 miles there to cover a shift. This in one of Minnesota’s most diverse counties where the Democratic Party should have a year round office and full time organizers, but they won’t because it’s rural.

No surprise that democrats are leaving the Democratic Party here in rural Minnesota, thanks to decreasing support from our state Democratic Party. We got a couple staffers in tiny campaign offices for the 2010 election, and even less in every election since. The Minnesota Democratic Party is a ten million dollar plus operation during election years, but most of those millions are wasted “running up the score” in urban counties to eek out a narrow victory for Hillary while we’ve lost first the state house and now the senate too. Officially they’re the “Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party”, but most of the farmers long ago gave up on them, and labor is increasingly following suit. They’re a mini-DNC, lead by pretty much the same people that gave us last year’s defeats.

So no surprise that no democrat has been elected to the legislature from southwest Minnesota since the 2012 redistricting. And no surprise either that the party’s ranks are thinning- My county’s chair quit and dozens of losing democratic candidates in rural Minnesota permanently shut down their campaigns after the Democratic Party produced their 2016 electoral disaster. And democratic candidates aren’t going to win out here in rural Minnesota and America until the Democratic Party invests here like they have in the big cities.

Having blown half this weekend, the Democratic Party has my next weekend booked too. Saturday’s meeting is at least nearby with my fellow rural MN 7th CD democrats. But sunday I’ve been summoned 180 miles distant to MN Democratic Party HQ for an Outreach Officers meeting and  “Inquisition”, can’t give any more details lest I become the second “guest of honor”. Wouldn’t mind if I had nothin’ else to do, but that’s the weekend I get together with a bunch of my motorcycling friends from Florida while they’re on their annual trip home to rural Illinois.

Maybe I’ll feel better if I see some Co-op tractors at the show tomorrow, or maybe I’ll finally come to my senses, forget the Democratic Party for a while, and ride to Illinois next weekend…

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Rural Strategies to Fight Global Warming

First, lose the ‘lectrik cars and solar panel status symbols…

Why? Urban solutions are often inappropriate for rural environments, just like a 600 horsepower tractor is overkill for mowing a small city lot… Heck, will a 600 horsepower tractor even fit in a small city lot? Electric cars make sense for short urban trips, but when you need to haul a literal ton of feed, seed, or tractor parts a hundred miles you need more kilowatt hours than even the biggest Tesla battery can supply. As for solar, we got more and cheaper renewable energy from wind- rooftop home solar costs around $3/watt and produces around 20% of the time, megawatt class wind turbines cost $1.50 to $2/watt and produce power around 40% of the time. Nothin’ wrong with solar and over hundred meter tall wind turbines are kinda impossible to site in the city, but out here we got the space for wind, giving twice the renewable energy for half the price of solar.

Ok, so we got wind that kicks solar’s butt and kicks coal right outa the market, but how do we cut greenhouse gasses without electric cars? Unless we’re able to recharge an electric car entirely with renewable energy, in reality we’re reducing carbon use and greenhouse gas production rather than eliminating such pollution entirely. So how do we do that in a rural environment? For a start we don’t buy new electric cars, maybe not even hybrids, ’cause massive amounts of greenhouse gasses are produced just to make a new car or whatever. Rural folks are resourceful, given how unprofitable farming has been we’ve had to be- So fixing stuff forever is a big part of our skill set, Thus instead of tearing down an old house to build a new totally passive energy powered new home, we’ll rehab the old home with recycled materials, lotsa insulation, and heat it with a stove that burns renewable biomass fuels. In the same manner, we can rebuild an old truck to run on renewable fuels and reduce greenhouse gases more than a dozen hybrids. We can reduce farming energy inputs and greenhouse gas outputs by reduced and even no tillage and use waste energy from one process to power another like my dairy farmer friend does. Still want ‘lectricks? We got railroads, they already emit only a fourth of the greenhouse gases trucks do, and using fixed tracks, they’re easily electrified!

Not only can rural folks reduce greenhouse gases, but our rural environment can suck ’em up to- It’s called sequestration, and while it doesn’t seem to work for coal plants, it works on our farms and forests. We are just beginning to research the potential of bio sequestration, but we know that healthy soil, grasses, and even corn headed to the ethanol plant suck up greenhouse gasses. That’s why the National Farmer’s Union and even Congressman Colin Peterson are promoting cover crops to keep rural america green year round and protect the soil while sequestering greenhouse gasses and reducing fertilizer use.

In conclusion, pushing solar status symbols that cost more than we make in a year and electric cars that cost more than our house fail at best and provoke backlash at worst in rural america. Taking advantage of rural assets like our conservation ethic, rebuilding skills, vast spaces, and biomass assets will motivate rural folks to do their part and then some to stop global warming.

 

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