Polymet promises to create lots of value for shareholders and also destroy our clean water (www.newyorker.com).
by Tony Petrangelo
Feb 23, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Weekly Wrap 2-23

♣ Another Minnesota legislator has announced her retirement:

Longtime Republican state Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, a conservative leader on privacy, budget and other issues, announced Saturday morning that she would not run for a ninth term.

Holberg represented house district 58A, centered in Lakeville. 58A is an R+11 district according to hPVI, so most of the action that matters will be happening among Republicans.

♣ The 2013 vote in the Minnesota house to legalize marriage between all consenting adults has claimed it’s first victim, Republican David FitzSimmons:

Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, lost the endorsement to Eric Lucero in the District 30B contest. Lucero was harshly critical of FitzSimmons’ 2013 vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

The only other Republican who is still potentially in jeopardy because of their vote is Jenifer Loon who will be up for endorsement next month. Pat Garofalo also voted in favor of the issue, but he was endorsed for re-election and Andrea Kieffer is retiring.

♣ GOP Senate hopeful Mike McFadden has been facing a lot of criticism over his inability to articulate his stance on a variety of issues. So this little bit from a story about McFadden’s response to those criticisms is hilarious:

McFadden, though, is pushing back.

This week, he added an issues section to his campaign website. In an extended MPR News interview, he staked out some of the specifics critics accuse him of avoiding.

Mike McFadden has been in the race since June of last year, but only now, nine months after his announcement, has he put up an issues page on his website. And not only that, but he’s touting it as a thing. I can certainly understand the appeal of someone who can self-fund to a large degree and has the capacity to raise a bunch of money, but beyond those two qualities, Mike McFadden appears to have very little actual political acumen.

Even when he was ducking questions from caucus goers, he had issues that he supposedly wanted to talk about:

Then came a question about his view on the Patriot Act and its power to hold people indefinitely without being charged. The GOP candidate for Senate left the room without answering, telling caucus-goers, “I’ve got to run to another meeting.”

Pressed by a reporter in the hallway, he offered an answer that had nothing to do with the Patriot Act. “Once again, my focus is on the economy, education and health care.”

He was so focused on the economy, education and health care that he didn’t even know what his positions on those issues were. But he was focused!

Seriously, how can it take a candidate nine months to add an issues page to their website? I’ve been bullish on McFadden’s chances of securing the GOP nomination, but this is seriously making me rethink that position as the guy clearly has no idea what he’s doing.

♣ James Nord and Briana Bierschbach over at MinnPost do a great job of providing some of the back-story as to what happened at the now infamous Cedar-Riverside caucus brawl.

The DFL caucus that ended in a brawl and sent a woman to the hospital earlier this month is at the center of allegations that threats and bullying were used to disrupt the political process and that some people were paid to attend the caucus.

Further, Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame’s involvement in a contentious state House race that prompted the caucus fight has swept up City Hall and fractured the East African political community.

The whole article is worth a read for anyone who still thinks caucuses are a pure expression of Democracy. They are not. For all of the supposed problems that primaries have, the problems that caucuses present are ten fold.

♣ The StarTribune sent Mason-Dixon on a polling expedition in the state of Minnesota earlier this month, and as is their style, they’ve been slowly releasing the results throughout the week. I have already covered the Mark Dayton and Al Franken parts of the poll. In this particular web log post I’m going to go over some of the rest of the polled topics.

Mason-Dixon (2/17, no trend lines):

Last year, Minnesota lawmakers raised income taxes on married couples making more than $254,000 and singles making more than $152,000. Do you think they made the right decision or the wrong decision in raising those taxes?

Right 65
Wrong 24
Not sure 11
(MoE: ±3.5%)

Of all the subgroups that makeup the cross-tabs in these polls, only one subgroup thinks that raising taxes on high income earners was the wrong thing to do. I’ll give you one guess who that subgroup is.

It was Republicans. And even 28% of them thought it was the right thing to do.

It’s going to be very difficult for Republicans to get any traction on the issue of taxes with numbers like these.

Mason-Dixon (2/17, no trend lines):

Do you think that Minnesota’s minimum wage of $6.15 per hour should be:
Kept at its current level of $6.15 per hour
Increased to $9.50 per hour
Increased to a rate between $6.15 and $9.50 per hour

$6.15 16
$9.50 42
Between 37
Not sure 5
(MoE: ±3.5%)

79% of Minnesotans want the minimum wage to be raised. That is a huge number. And the largest contingent in the poll wants the wage raised to $9.50. Of course, you wouldn’t know that if all you did was read the Stribs headline for this portion of the poll, which goes like this:

Minnesota Poll: Minimum wage hike is popular, but $9.50 target isn’t

Again, 42% favor raising the minimum wage to $9.50. For this question that was the most popular answer. More people chose that answer than chose any of the other answers available, but somehow, the most popular answer is something that the headline writers at the Strib decided was a thing that wasn’t at all popular.

That headline is utterly baffling, and only makes sense if the Strib is trying to drive a particular narrative. Their own poll shows that raising the minimum wage to $9.50, far from not being popular, is in fact the most popular of the options that they presented.

Even though there is a partisan divide on this question a plurality of Republicans support raising the minimum wage, even if they don’t support raising it to $9.50.

Mason-Dixon (2/17, no trend lines):

Do you think Minnesota should approve or reject the application from PolyMet for a new copper and nickel mine on the Iron Range?

Approve 46
Reject 21
Not sure 33
(MoE: ±3.5%)

The results of this question are disheartening for those who are against this project. More than twice as many Minnesotans approve compared to those who don’t and there’s not a whole lot of room for growth in the reject category despite the large number of people who are unsure.

48% of those who are not sure are Republicans, and the Republicans who have an opinion are overwhelmingly in favor of the project, by a 49%-3% spread. What this means to me is that the more Republicans make up their minds, the more that the “approve” number will grow.

Mason-Dixon (2/17, no trend lines):

Do you think Minnesota should or should not repeal the state law that requires liquor stores to close on Sunday?

Should 49
Should not 44
Not sure 7
(MoE: ±3.5%)

This may actually be the most surprising result of the entire poll as I don’t think I’ve ever seen this issue poll this low before. Like most of the questions I’m covering here, this one also has a big partisan divide, with Democrats favoring allowing Sunday sales and Republicans insisting that the Government tell people they can’t buy alcohol on Sunday. Because Republicans are all about big government, or something.

Mason-Dixon (2/17, no trend lines):

Do you support or oppose legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes in Minnesota?

Support 51
Oppose 41
Undecided 8

Do you think Minnesota should or should not follow the example of Colorado and legalize marijuana for recreational use?

Should 30
Should not 63
Not sure 7

Have you ever used marijuana?

Yes 26
No 69
Refused 5
(MoE: ±3.5%)

There is majority support for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, which is a thing that will likely come up during the current legislative session. But there is not much support at all for going the Colorado/Washington route and fully legalizing it. Not surprisingly the numbers for that question closely mirror the numbers for the “have you ever used” question.

The cross-over between these two groups isn’t total, but it is strong, as those who have reported using marijuana favor legalization by a 61%-33% spread and those who have not used marijuana overwhelmingly don’t favor legalization, to the tune of a 17%-76% spread.

The other interesting aspect is the partisan nature of the breakdowns. As it concerns the question of medical marijuana Democrats are in favor 77%-17%, while Republicans oppose 23%-69%. Republicans don’t think the government should be telling people what to do, unless they’re telling people not to use a plant, the government should be doing that. Consistency!

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