The Weekly Wrap 3-29
♣ Michele Bachmann find herself in the news once again, this time not for things that she said, but rather things that she did or didn’t do on her way to finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses:
The Daily Beast has learned that federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign-finance violations. The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee.
And what exactly are they investigating?
Former staffers tell The Daily Beast that investigators have allegedly asked about allegations of improper transfer of funds and under-the-table payments actions by Bachmann’s presidential campaign, specifically in relation to the campaign’s national political director, Guy Short, and Bachmann’s onetime Iowa campaign chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson. Questions directly about Bachmann, they said, have been primarily focused on what she knew about those men’s actions and when she knew it.
Ah yes, the oh so very cut and dry question of what she knew and when she knew it. That should be easy to clear up right?
This part of the story though is priceless:
“She’s the Republican Dennis Kucinich,” says one longtime Bachmann senior staffer.
In that both of them put their political careers ahead of their party I absolutely agree with the sentiment.
♣ Eric Black, writing of course in MinnPost, linked to a Chris Cillizza post in The Fix, about the above mentioned Michele Bachmann and weather or not she could be beaten in 2014.
Most of that piece involves stuff we already know, but Black picked up on something about a recent article in the Stribs business section by one Jim Graves:
Graves ran in 2012 largely on the argument that Bachmann had neglected the district because she is so focused on her national ambitions. That Strib piece made me think that if he runs in 2014, it will be as a reformer.
♣ Al Franken has hired a campaign manager, and the fact that I’m linking to a story about the hiring of a campaign manager tells you how slow a news week it’s been.
DFL Sen. Al Franken has hired Matt Burgess, who most recently managed Democrat Maggie Hassan’s successful campaign for governor in New Hampshire. Hassan is the only Democratic female governor in the nation.
At the end of the post Tom Scheck rounds up the names of some Republicans who have been rumored as possible Franken opponents.
U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, U.S. Rep. John Kline, state Sen. Julie Rosen and conservative radio talk show host Jason Lewis have all been mentioned as possible candidates to challenge Franken in 2014. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann also didn’t rule out a run when asked by reporters last week whether she was interested in challenging Franken.
This is the first I’ve heard of Jason Lewis being a possible candidate and I would encourage Mr. Lewis to strongly consider getting into the race. Your party needs you Jason Lewis, don’t disappoint them.
♣ In the most politicized appointment to the state high court in totally like forever, or at least since Tim Pawlenty’s last appointment, but like totally way more political than that, I mean for reals this guy helped Al Franken steal a Senate seat, I mean, can you get more politicized than that.
Anyway, Mark Dayton made the completely unsurprising move of appointing one of the three people who’s names were recommended to him by the states Commission on Judicial Selection to the Minnesota Supreme Court seat left vacant by the retirement of Judge Paul Anderson. That would be former US Attorney David Lillehaug.
♣ Here’s a rundown of the very first Minneapolis Mayoral debate of 2013.
♣ Some big news of the week that had nothing to do with Minnesota Politics, but rather, with baseball geekdom.
There is a Baseball statistic called Wins Above Replacement (WAR), perhaps you’ve heard of it. It was at the center of the epic debate last year about who should be the American League MVP, an honor that eventually went to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera over rookie phenom Mike Trout.
If you are not familiar with WAR, and even if you are familiar with it, you might be surprised to know that there are currently two completely different formulas for computing WAR currently in use (and likely more than that, but these are the big two).
One of these is hosted by the good people at Fangraphs, the other is hosted by the good people at Baseball-Reference. And the disparities between the two have sometimes been cause for people to question the whole WAR endeavor.
Without getting to deep into the weeds on WAR, it is an attempt to measure everything a baseball player does on the baseball field in one simple number. There are many components that make up WAR and each component is subject to considerable debate about what is the right way to measure that component.
For position players there is a batting component, a fielding component, a base-running component and a positional adjustment. In addition to the combination of all of these components there is a replacement level adjustment.
Replacement level, what it is and why it’s used, might be one of the most misunderstood aspects of WAR and I’m not going to try and explain it in this space, rather if you are curious, read this. The big news though, such that anything concerning the calculation of a baseball statistic could be considered big, the big news is that the good people at Fangraphs and the good people at Baseball-Reference locked themselves in a room and came to a replacement level consensus.
♣ If you haven’t listened to it yet, last Sunday we talked to Stealing Home podcaster David Temple about the upcoming baseball season as it concerns the Minnesota Twins.
The regular portion of the Baseballing season begins this Monday!
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