Minnesota 7th Congressional District Outreach Officers Report for February 2019

CD7 Outreach Officer’s report for February 2019:

Elections are over, but the issues remain… Here’s an update on some of them.

Pipelines: We are about to see big investors making billion dollar bets on obsolete technology literally try to lay their pipelines over the bodies of thousands of citizens who realize that a passageway for oil to export is in no way the highest and best use of Minnesota’s northern lakes country. I’m a railfan and often see whole trains of still shiny coal cars parked in sidings for months and years as renewable energy has cut the demand for coal. The same overcapacity is happening with oil, again attested to by entire trains of near new short covered hopper cars built to haul frac sand and tank cars built to haul oil inhabiting the sidings. The oil and pipeline companies are hoping the whole world buys gas guzzlers to drive up the price of their too plentiful oil, but those emerging markets are going for transit, small cars, and electric cars. So it’s near impossible to build a business case for additional pipeline capacity.

That’s just the beginning of the arguments against the pipelines… Native Americans wisely retained hunting, fishing, and gathering rights in treaties just in case crops failed or the government didn’t fulfill it’s obligations to provide sustainence, both of which happened. Clean water is essential to agriculture and tourism, and it takes just a few parts per million of the high proportion of benzine and other toxins in Bakken crude to kill agriculture and tourism for years and decades after a major pipeline failure. Minnesota produces no oil and to the pipeline companies were just another state to conquer between the oil in North Dakota and western Canada and markets on the coasts and abroad. Our struggling farmers and biofuel plants can quite well make our own renewable fuels right here in Minnesota, so big oil has little to offer us and should be told to take their unneeded pipelines elsewhere.

Housing: In cities like Marshall a near monopoly of rental property owners have driven rents well above what working class citizens can afford to pay. That forces many folks to seek affordable housing in trailer parks, and what seems like a good deal turns sour as the trailer park owners increase rents while the tenants find the trailers they own become a liability as they rapidly deteriorate and are too expensive to move. It gets worse- The landlords are consolidating so competition between trailer parks is disappearing. And while working folks often end up in trailer parks because they’ve been denied home loans, I found a national chain of trailer parks with a 34 million dollar 20 year loan from Bank of America secured by a 200 site trailer park in Florida swampland!

Immigration: We are already seeing businesses cutting hours due to lack of workers and even closing entirely, yet the MAGA cult still believes a border wall is the answer to all the nation’s problems. Unfortunately this bigotry seems to be strongest here in CD7 and other rural areas where we are most dependent on immigrants to tend our livestock, process our foods, and care for our vulnerable citizens… We need to confront this MAGA hypocrisy head on!

Farm crisis: Our DFL led house had a very educational hearing on the farm crisis today, and though I learned a lot, I am still left wondering how this crisis will play out. There are mixed signals- While farm income continues to drop, many farmers still have a good equity position and are in no immediate danger of default. Throw in farmers planting/no planting? decisions and the weather and we know the farm crisis is about to truly become a crisis, but we don’t know how or where.

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter


Elizabeth Warren is too popular for Storm Lake… In Trump Country!

The line… It got twice as long, but that’s about all the lens could fit.dscf2180Elizabeth, speaking to the overflow crowd outside…dscf2220Now that we’ve had desert (What lefty can’t love the hip granny you’d love to adopt like Elizabeth), on to the background and a back story or three…

This is my seventh Iowa caucus, I remember 2000 when the top candidates of either party would have trouble filling a 20 seat cafe in a county of 20,000. Then Doctor Dean came along and upped our game in 2004, bringing in thousands of volunteers but not so many Iowa democrats to his side of the room on caucus night. But the high water mark was set by Obama campaigning for the 2008 caucus, when he would frequently draw 5% of a county’s population to a campaign event on a weekday. Locals tell me Obama drew 300-400 in Storm Lake which is only 2% of surrounding Buena Vista county’s twenty or so thousand population, but this is in northwestern Iowa where Trump won by double digits.

That’s a good problem to have, if the campaign can figure out that they need to rent bigger rooms. They can well afford small town Iowa’s biggest rooms, given that they had a least two $1000+ a day stage crews leapfrogging to stay ahead of  Elizabeth’s schedule. The Obama campaign figured that out quick, renting out the biggest rooms and even chartering not one but two buses for the media scrum. And the media was there in force, as well as the expected IPR there was at least one TV crew from the cities and even WGBH.

The other question is whether Liz is drawing Bernie’s progressive crowd or the mainstream dems and indies more common in rural Iowa? Iowa is nice enough to list your county on your license plate, and most I saw were from Buena Vista or neighboring counties, but I wasn’t the only Minnesotan that’s trekked near a hundred miles into Iowa to catch Elizabeth. That said, you have to give Elizabeth credit for kicking off her (exploratory) campaign in more conservative western Iowa instead of the well worn democratic campaign trail through eastern Iowa.

And finally, what dem Iowa caucus event would be complete without a Trump thug loosing it… Thanks for the Secret Service and local police for promptly taking him into custody when he got violent before he could assault anything more than our eardrums…dscf2249



Elizabeth Warren Overflows in Trump Country…

I finally  became about the 200th person in line and I’m amazed they got darn near that many in the room. Add in the folks waiting outside and Liz drew 300-400 people in a county of 20,000 where Trump got over 60% of the vote… Locals told me that at least matches Obama’s turnout in 2007.

So Elizabeth is a seriously popular candidate… Problem is her campaign seriously mismanaged crowd expectations. Good thing temps were in the 40s, it was obvious for some time that half the crowd wouldn’t fit in the room but they were left standing outside for a good half hour before Elizabeth came out and addressed the overflow crowd outside. The media were tipped off, why wasn’t the crowd of loyal supporters? In 2007 the Obama campaign quickly figured out they were drawing big crowds and rented big rooms, will the Warren campaign figure it out? They got the money for multiple staging crews, they can afford bigger halls!

I’ll post some photos when I get home, hopefully I got some good ones of the Trump Thug who “cooked off” next to me…


MN Senate special election coming & SD GOP tries to keep elected native dem legislators outa the house…

Incoming Minnesota Governor Walz has wisely appointed DFL state senator Tony Lourey to head the Department of Human services. Tony is the son of Becky Lourey, one of the “mothers of Minnesota Care” who flipped her house district from red to blue in 1990 and did the same with her senate district in 1996, unseating notorious anti-gay bigot Florian Chmielewski and twice came close to winning the DFL endorsement for governor. Becky did not seek re-election in 2006, leaving the seat to Tony who has easily run it ever since.

SD11 will thus have a special election to fill Tony’s seat on February 5th with a primary date on January 22nd if needed. The GOP holds a slim one seat majority in the senate and while a DFL loss won’t change that, it will make it harder for the DFL to retake the senate in another special election or the 2020 general. This CD8 district runs from Lake Mille Lacs to the edge of Duluth and like surrounding CD8 has become a swing district- Trump won it by a double digit margin in 2016 with DFL congress member narrowly ekeing out a win, and in 2018 Amy Klobuchar won with a double digit margin while the GOP narrowly won the congressional seat in the district. Look for this to be a hard fought swing district race in both this special and the 2020 general election.

Meanwhile in South Dakota the GOP party that seems so concerned about what addresses native americans live at is threatening to refuse to seat two duly elected democratic native women legislators, claiming they aren’t residents. Residency requirements in the Dakotas have always been lose for good reason, given the brutal winters and frequent need for citizens to leave home for work in distant places. But if anyone is a resident, it’s a native! Cory Heidelberger, SD’s best blogger, has the deets here.

See you tomorrow from Storm Lake for my first report of the 2020 Iowa Caucus season.


MN CD7 Outreach Officers Report for January 2019

CD7 Outreach Officers Report for January 2019

Greetings and best wishes for another year of DFL victories!

It’s supposed to be an “off year” but one major democratic presidential candidate has already jumped the gun with a new years eve “exploratory” campaign announcement. She’ll be in Iowa this saturday with appearances in Storm Lake and Sioux City in case anyone wants to carpool down. FFI: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ElizabethWarren/events/ . Here in CD7 we need to get a head start too- Our Congressmember Collin Peterson will probably face well funded GOP attacks and challenger while we need to narrow the GOPs double digit margins of victory in many legislative races and start winning back districts. And while they’ll probably be easy victories, we have a Tina Smith to re-elect and a new democratic president to elect.

All of the above will not be easy… We need to organize and especially fundraise! Besides helping fund Collin’s campaign we need to max out our legislative candidates donations in the competitive districts and raise the six figure “outside spending” war chests needed to win competitive legislative districts. The state DFL and their legislative caucuses aren’t going to do that for us, if anything their near accidental retaking of the state house via suburban districts will cause the state DFL to ignore us even more. We need our own million dollar cash hoard, and the way to do that is to pound away with our progressive rural issues and a link to our ActBlue page on Kos and every other democratic online forum.

Finally, I will not be running for re-election. I never really intended to run for this position, I screened for another office, they put me on the slate as Outreach Officer, and then you kept re-electing me. But over the years the pushback from the state DFL has worn me down and burned me out to the point I dread campaign season. After I was temporarily purged from the party for supporting the candidates who actually won the general election I realized I could do more to elect democrats from outside the party than within. Truth to tell, with candidates now raising more money through ActBlue than the democratic party raises, political parties need to find a useful role soon or they will fade into obsolesence. So if your feel in any way somewhat qualified to be Outreach Officer, please screen at our upcoming CD7 convention this spring and I will be happy to assist our next Outreach Officer in their duties.

But I am not leaving democratic politics. While purged between the state convention and primary I started another media effort outside the party where I wouldn’t be censored. I’ve been a fairly successful blogger for several years with my auto/motorcycle blog http://www.GearheadGrrrl.com so it was frustrating seeing my http://www.Sassy.Democrat blog fail to take off. After that frustration I was ready to retire to Florida for a long winter instead of chasing democratic presidential hopefuls through the snows of Iowa in search of a scoop. Then I lost my Florida trailer park lot lease and remembered Minnesota’s friendly people make up for the winter weather and unlike Florida real estate promoters they’re pretty much honest, too. Looking back, perhaps that URL was too slick and I should have stuck to rural politics. So I’m going to reboot my old http://www.BlueOutHere.com “Rural Issues, Viewed From the Left” blog and use it to cover upcoming races and promote our democratic candidates and party in CD7 and surrounding rural areas. See you on the campaign trail…

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter


DFL CD7 Outreach Officers Report for May 2018

DFL CD7 Outreach Officers Report for May 1, 2018:

Happy May Day, and hope you’re enjoying this International Worker’s Holiday and day of protest! Followed by the celebration of Cinco de Mayo, Mexico’s Independence Day- There are celebrations in Pipestone on May 12th and Willmar on May 19th, and probably a few more I ain’t heard of. Please have your local DFL units make these events, with Cinco and all the Pride Celebrations and Pow Wows there’s thankfully more events than I can make! Parade season starts in May too, followed by county fairs in July, August, and even at least one in September.

Convention… Wasn’t this the best ever? I was impressed by the incredible turnout and dedication of the delegates and alternates, and we had plenty of candidates and visiting DFLers too. I was on the nominations committee and was impressed by the quality of our candidates for party office. We had some tough choices to make and I think all the applicants got a position, although it may not have been their first choice. And thank you for re-electing me, I’ll do my best to reward your vote of confidence. We also amended our constitution to have odd year meetings to elect officers so we’ll have more time to make congressional endorsements and national convention delegates at the even year conventions.

What if the GOP got their wet dream and all the minorities and Hispanics moved out of rural America? GOP, be careful what you wish for… In the redistricting following the 2010 census the average district had to have around 711,000 population, and CD7 was able to slide by with 668,000 odd souls. But take away people of color and Latinos and were down to just short of 594,000, which means the redistricting map makers would have had to add a bunch more counties to get enough white non Hispanic people to number that 711,000 to make a district, requiring extending our already oversized district all the way south to Iowa and damn near to downtown St.Cloud. It gets worse- Current 2020 population projections say that we’ll need around 769,000 to be a congressional district, and population in the rural mid west has barely increased in the last century. Minnesota’s two rural districts, CD7 and CD8, together have a white non-Hispanic population of around 1,203,000, good for a seat and a half in congress after the 2022 redistricting. To get 3 seats in the post 2022 congress with no minorities or latinos we’d need to add the only 30% or so rural current 1st and 6th districts to the 7th and 8th and every Minnesotan more than an hour’s drive from downtown Minneapolis would have to share 3 instead of the current 4 representatives with a lot of suburbanites, Rochester, and Duluth. The GOP’s rural “vision” of a white english speaking rural America would have similar consequences in other partly rural states- The 2012 redistricting left only 34 districts that were mostly rural, and if the GOP had their way at best a dozen would survive after the 2022 redistricting. You’d think the 30 odd GOP congress members poorly representing these rural districts would be rolling out the red carpet for minorities and Latinos just out of survival instinct… But that may be too much to expect from a party whose leaders think they can pass a farm bill without the food aid needed to draw the support of the other 401 congress members from urban districts…

Respectfully submitted, Dyna Sluyter


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.