Michael Brodkorb, David Schultz, and the well-known photobomber Andy Dawkins
by Steve Timmer
Oct 8, 2016, 10:30 AM

Drinking Liberally talks politics

Update: I should have mentioned in the original story that there is one statewide race on the ballot: Justice of the Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Natalie Hudson is challenged by Michelle MacDonald, no stranger to the LeftMN pages. MacDonald also ran for the Supreme Court in 2014 and got, as Michael Brodkorb reminded us, over 680,000 votes.

(Andy Dawkins wasn’t really a photo bomber; he came for the presentation, and he was visiting with our guest speakers before the program started; I asked him to be in the photo.)

At Drinking Liberally on October 6th, we put two of our popular guests together and let them talk about politics. Professor David Schultz, a professor at Hamline University, and a frequent local and national commentator on politics (I said that he had worn out a couch on Almanac all by himself) was joined by Michael Brodkorb, a former vice-chair of the Republican Party in Minnesota and a former senior staffer in the Minnesota Senate; Michael writes a column at MinnPost. (I am interviewed in the one I linked to; forgive me.)

As I knew it would be, it was an informative and entertaining hour. But it wasn’t always filled with good news for progressives. You can read the LeftMN twitter feed of the presentation here.

To kick the hour off, I asked our guests what the partisan split in the U.S. House delegation from Minnesota would be after the election.

Consensus: five to three, just as it is now. But maybe not split the way it is now. Walz, Paulsen, McCollum, Ellison, Emmer, and Peterson all hold their seats. The DFL picks up Craig in the Second, but loses Nolan in the Eighth. The Seventh probably goes Republican if Peterson ever retires. The First might, too, if Walz ever retires (or decides to run for governor, ed.)

Professor Schultz said that Craig had a slim lead in recent polling, but third parties had some support in college town like Northfield. Most of that support should break for Craig in the congressional race. Michael Brodkorb thought that Craig would win.

LeftMN pal Tony has told me that Minnesota will lose a seat after the redistricting after the 2020 census, so perhaps (my words) you ought to look for a big northern Minnesota district, combining parts of Seven and Eight, and an expanded First, and the suburban districts expand, too.

In Minnesota, neither chamber of the legislature changes hands. There will be some nibbling around the edges, but not enough to shift control of either body. Again, a consensus conclusion between our guests.

There was a question from the audience about a leadership challenge in the Minnesota Senate for Tom Bakk. He survived a leadership vote in 2015 by a single vote. A Bakk operative, also in the audience, opined “No way.” So, we’ll see.

To me, the congressional and the legislative discussion here is evidence of the increasing rural-urban tribalism that is also increasingly Republican-DFL.

Professor Schultz recounted a story where Steve Sviggum, when he was Speaker, was asked, “When will you start to care about urban issues?” He replied, “When we have a single urban Republican legislator.”

Sviggum had a point, but you could just about make the inverse argument about rural issues. It is really a chicken and egg thing, though. If you don’t express a sensitivity to urban issues, you can hardly expect to be elected in urban areas.

At the recent League of Women Voters’ joint appearance for House District 49A, DFLer Ron Erhardt’s challenger, Dario Anselmo, was asked about the southwest light rail (well, Ron was, too, but he’s for it).

I had this image of Anselmo, tied to a chair, in a pool of light from a single overhead bulb, with the shadowed figure of Kurt Daudt standing over him holding a length of rubber hose.

Seriously, this is a no-win deal for Dario, and it perfectly illustrates the dilemma of the suburban Republican candidate.

Dario can give the answer that helps his constituents get into downtown Minneapolis for their jobs, or he can give the answer that pleases the guy who he would report to in the House, Kurt Daudt.

Predictably, Dario waffled.

It is really fun when you know exactly what is going to happen. I could have written his answer.

Okay, that was a diversion. Back to cases.

On the presidential level, both David and Michael believe that Hillary Clinton will win Minnesota and the presidency, although as the professor says in a MinnPost article, we are flying a little more blind, because the media are not doing anywhere near the level of polling they used to. But in any event, it’ll come down to about ten counties in the whole country, and maybe 400,000 votes.

Perhaps it is too late to move to Hamilton County, Ohio, or Jefferson County, Colorado, but maybe you should check into it. Time is of the essence, though!

There were plenty of anecdotes and observations about polarized and tribal politics have become. Urban areas are Democratic, and rural areas are Republican. That’s always been true to an extent, but it is really almost uniformly true now. One recent poll found that 30% of people would be upset if a family member dated a person from the opposite party. Our guests agreed that this was a post-issues campaign, which you would readily conclude is true if you watched the debates held so far.

Professor Schultz wondered aloud whether this would prove to be a “critical election”—not the most important election of our lives, as we’re told they each are, every cycle – rather, a critical election is one that signals a significant realignment of identification with the parties, with a lasting impact.

The movement of the Solid South to the Republican Party in the Civil Rights Era is probably the realignment that comes most quickly to mind.

Now, that’s food for thought. These are my thoughts now, but if groups that reject the neo-liberal, free-trade agenda — the working class, millennials, environmentalists (because of the diminution of national sovereignty to enforce environmental regulation caused by free trade agreement dispute resolution mechanisms) — bolt the Democrats, and the neo-liberals (and the neo-cons, too) bolt the Republicans because of its nascent anti-trade stance, a major realignment may be underway.

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