CD7 Outreach Officers Report, March 2018

To win we need to build a coalitions, not cults…

What the heck is this Outreach Officer doing, prattling off topic again? Well, our duties include bringing underrepresented groups into the party process, and those groups often have belief systems that complement but are subtly different than our own. Examples: An unemployed miner and an environmentalist may have different views on mining. A senior surviving on social security and a young minimum wage worker may have different views on the program’s funding. Then there’s the differences of opinion arising from our diverse demographics and geography- Due to the high cost of living in the metro counties a real minimum wage is around $20 an hour, while $13 an hour will provide the same standard of living in many of our rural counties. And while “big ag” had little use for the BWCA and it was successfully protected, we struggle to protect both our lakes and family farmers from “big ag” in rural southern and western Minnesota.

So it’s tempting for these diverse groups to get cult like, adopt their own extreme dogma, and demand that the rest of the party agree. But it takes big tents of DFLers to win elections, and the ideologically pure inhabitants of the “pup tents” seldom win a primary, never mind a general election. And while an extreme candidate can turn off a goodly lot of DFLers in urban districts where DFL candidates routinely get 70% of the vote and still win, out here in CD7 and in much of rural Minnesota where darn near half the voters are loyal republicans we win with mainstream candidates that carry our core DFL values to win the votes of DFLers and independents as well. The whole of our DFL party is greater than it’s parts, and wins elections too!

And if you want organize with a group of like minded DFLers, we got these neat groups called Constituency Caucuses. Join one, organize and advocate for your group or cause, and we’ll all be working together for victory come election time!


Trolls, Bots, and the Hacking of Democracy…

The internet was designed to be anything but secure… Over a quarter century ago when I first dialed in nobody demanded proof that I wasn’t a dog, troll, or a bot that we only dreamed of then. Other than your ISP wanting assurance that you’re a paying customer, nobody seems to care if you’ve got a dozen or better yet thousands of identities… Heck, your driving up their ad revenue! Back in that heyday of usenet I witnessed not even a handful of activists use multiple identities to start a whole little movement that even succeeded in securing a six figure grant to fund their nonprofit.

They were mere amateurs by today’s standards of internet hijinks… A horde of shadowy operators will shamelessly sell you thousands of bots to puff up ratings of your products or bash a competitors. Thanks to the rise of increasingly cheaper computing capacity and smarter artificial intelligence, by 2012 foreign elections were being manipulated by social media trolls. Having honed their dubious skills abroad, Russia’s trolls attacked our 2016 presidential election, dragging most likely to fail candidate Trump to a technical victory while promoting derision between the Bernie and Hillary supporters and dragging Hillary down with serial lies that though unbelievable looked authentic enough to be believable by the gullible.  Even Daily Kos wasn’t immune… I used to have pretty good luck getting my diaries promoted to the Rec or Community Spotlight lists, but looked like Kos’ algorithms had been hacked and I got ban threats instead of recs.

So here we are in 2018, the trolls are smarter and the bots are cheaper, and all the publicity will probably make them multiply. The internet is as insecure and anonymous as ever, And here in Minnesota we’ve got enough enough competitive races to darn near flip the U.S. Hose and Senate alone, AND we’re electing the governor who will approve or veto redistricting. The social media manipulating trolls and their bots may have already orchestrated the take down of Franken and there’s been a suspicious rise in traffic attacking our leading candidate for governor lately. Our social media will be polluted with the misleading trolling of bots, our websites hacked, and the lazier traditional media will even echo the lies.

Get ready.


CD7 Outreach Officers Update, 2/8/18

We survived the caucuses… On to the conventions!

First, a plea for civility- Every one of our gubernatorial candidates is an upstanding and outstanding progressive DFLer, and none deserved to be called a “DINO” or similar epitaphs. Let’s vigorously advocate for our favorite candidate, and refrain from trying to elevate our candidate by tearing down another.

Second, winter weather and scheduling conflicts allowing, I’m going to make the rounds of some of our CD7 conventions. I’m not running for any party office (though I will serve again if asked), just doing my duty as a CD officer.

Finally, please remember to elect an Outreach Officer if your county unit constitution provides for one. If not, amend your constitution to add an Outreach Officer! If that doesn’t work, please remind the Vice Chair you elect that their duties include outreach. This is a huge district… Several counties will be having their conventions together in Thief River Falls on Saturday and I’ve love to make it, but a 600 mile round trip on two lanes in winter is pretty iffy. That assumes the current snow will stop so I can get the new car to Sioux Falls for an overdue oil change first. These geographical challenges are pretty common in this huge congressional district, which explains why we need Outreach Officers in every county and senate district!

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter



CD7 Outreach Officers Report. 2/18

This Black History Month we honor Frederick McKinley Jones, African American inventor from western Minnesota who gave us mobile refrigeration, made silent movies talk, and invented a bunch of other neat stuff. Wikipedia link:

February in an even number year is… Caucus Time! So here’s some sorta serious tips for a hopefully painless caucus:
1.  Expect near 2008 or 2016 attendance. Look at the full houses the gubernatorial forums have played to- Interest is high despite having neither Barack or Bernie contending. We need to expect to be overwhelmed with caucus attendees, and hopefully we will be. The preparations we make will make the difference between a thrilling caucus and a “never again!” Caucus.
2.  Assume that the Secretary of State’s caucus finder website, the DFL’s, the DFL’s web based caucus attendee registration app, and maybe the whole internet will slow to a crawl or crash. Have precincts maps, sign up sheets, etc. ready.
3. Bring a printer so you’ll have plenty of those paper backups.
4. The internet being fully functional pre-caucus, expect someone to bring a whole packet of resolutions. Someone else will bring another packet of similar but differently worded resolutions. Appoint them the resolutions committee and hand them a copy of the DFL platform so they can verify that half their resolutions are already in the platform.
5. If it’s 9 pm and they’re still hotly debating resolutions… Announce a blizzard warning and remind them that the caucus site loses power and more importantly internet access at the mere drop of a snowflake…
Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter

MN CD7 Outreach Officers Report Update, 1/17/18: Dems take back WI SD10!

Western Wisconsin’s 10th senate district was a classic swing district ’til over a decade ago when the GOP’s Senator Harsdorf took possession of the district. The district’s wrong turn to the right continued with Romney and Trump winning the district, and it appeared to be permanent property of the GOP.

Until yesterday… democrat Patty Schactner won a special election to fill the seat with 55% of the vote, despite being vastly outspent by the GOP and their “dark money friends”. More heartening, this is the kind of exurban and rural district that democrats have had difficulty winning- The census says this is a rural district!

So far I’ve only seen results broken down to the county level posted, and I’m looking forward to a deeper dive into the data when the precinct results come out. Our democratic candidate won the most exurban county, 53% rural St.Croix, with 55% of the vote. We won 54% rural Pierce county that includes dairy farms and University of Wisconsin- River Falls with a whopping 72% of the vote. 59% rural Dunn County, more rural and less exurban, gave 68% of it’s votes to our democratic candidate. Our democratic candidate lost only 85% rural Polk county with 47% of the vote and 100% rural Burnett county with 40% of the vote.

Their is good news here for fans of both urban and rural democratic strategies- Our democratic candidate Patty Schactner performed best in both exurbs and regional center/college small cities of 10,000+ population that are far beyond commuting range of the metro centers. This means exurban districts in the twin cities outer ring suburbs as well as “micropolitan” districts around cities like Willmar, Marshall, Detroit Lakes, and a bunch more I forgot are now winnable by democrats… Provided we campaign hard!

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter


MN CD7 Outreach Officers report, 1/1/17

CD7 Outreach Officers Report, January 1, 2018:

Actually comin’ out a day early, ‘cause wanted to remind folks that we still got a few hours to make a 2017 contribution to our candidates & party units! Get online or run over to your campaign or unit treasurer while there’s still time to get a 2017 political contribution refund. Or better yet, run up our candidate’s fundraising for the first report in February and make the GOP blow bricks when they see they have over a hundred well funded DFL opponents!

The year ahead- After our year of discontent we finally get to unelect some GOoPers! First up we get special elections in districts 23B and 54, 23B is a take back opportunity and we need to hold onto 54. 23B is close to CD7 so please help campaign for our candidate there if you can, and there will be virtual phone backs set up so we can help both candidates from home. Next up will probably be a special election in district 13 whenever GOP Senator Fischbach figures out that she can’t weasel out of her duty to succeed to the office of Lt. Governor. Given that it takes a bit over 2 months to fill a legislative seat by special election, Fischbach’s stupid theatrics may leave the senate tied 33/33 for most of the session. That will produce even more theatrics from the GOP, but they won’t be able to do much damage.

Candidate recruitment (Don’t make me run again!)- We’re doing well in places like SD16 with great candidates on both sides of the district, but in some districts we’re drawing a big zero. Filing for office ends early on June 5th so we need to have candidates out fundraising and campaigning NOW. By starting early our state house candidates have more time to raise the $1500 in donations needed to qualify for public campaign funding.

General strategy- As we now have 2 senate races as well as constitutional officers up for election, these statewide races will dominate our campaigns. That’s why we need state house candidates in even the “hopeless” districts to bring out DFL voters for our congressional and statewide candidates!

Outreach issues: Diversity- Great 2 have 2 women at the top of the ballot, and thanks Tim Walz for choosing native american woman Peggy Flanagan for your running mate. But we still need more diversity on the DFL side of the ballot, please encourage and support diverse DFL candidates!

Is you’re district really rural? Per the Census, 4A (Moorhead) is 97% urban, 16B (New Ulm and Redwood Falls) is 55%, 17B (Willmar) is 59%, and 18A (metro exurbs) is 51%… Campaigns may want to try more metro style strategies in these districts.

Township Project: At the other extreme of density former DFL legislator Ted Suss wisely suggests we look into how we can win more votes in the townships. There are more voters in the townships than in Minneapolis and St.Paul together, and while they favor GoOPers, many are “swing” voters. Readers in SD16 have already seen Ted’s proposal, for the rest of you I’ve attached a PDF.

And finally, see you at the caucus!

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter


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 . 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 . 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

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