Minnesota State Capitol
by Steve Timmer
Nov 2, 2016, 1:00 PM

Ron Erhardt is still the guy

Update: I point this out in the body of the story, but it is irony too rich to ignore. Dario Anselmo, the Great Moderate Hope that the Republicans are running against Ron Erhardt, is a Donald Trump supporter. In the attack ad described in the story, the House Republican Campaign Committee complains about Ron’s treatment of women. You can also read in the story about some of the things that Ron has done to support — and honor — women. I am sure that Ron Erhardt would be happy to compare his record with Donald Trump’s.

There will come a time, probably about next Tuesday, when the anonymous big money donors, and the lizards and wizards of dark money conjuring who put this thing together, will figure out that bringing up the treatment of women in 49A was not such a swell idea.

o O o

In District 49A, the Republicans — not having learned their lesson last election — are running the empty suit Dario Anselmo again. Anselmo will tell you how moderate he is — in the mode of Ron Erhardt back when Ron was a Republican, he told a gathering I attended this spring — and apparently, some people actually believe it.

But really, do you know what Dario Anselmo is?  He’s a policy naif on many things, including transportation (the link is to a LeftMN story from last cycle). He opposes the SWLRT and an increased gas tax.

But maybe more important than Dario’s ignorance is the fact that he is not only an empty suit, but also an empty vessel into which Kurt Daudt can pour all of his hopes and dreams.

A vote for Dario Anselmo is a vote for Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt and obstruction, nothing more.

It is silly almost beyond imaging to think that Anselmo and his “moderate” views would carry the day on anything. Unless he voted with the DFL once in a while, and then the Republicans would throw him out, just as they did with Ron Erhardt.

So think, people in Edina. Think while you sit seething in traffic trying to get into or out of downtown for a job. Think when Republican committee chair Tony Cornish reintroduces “stand your ground” handgun legislation again, or opposes universal background checks for gun purchases. Think when the Republicans try to chip away at a woman’s right to choose, or at the rights of gay and lesbian citizens.

And think about the callow empty suit Dario standing up to his caucus. It is to laugh.

Ron Erhardt has gotten the NARL endorsement many times; he was the last pro-choice Republican in the Minnesota Legislature; the species went extinct when the party threw Ron out. Ron’s an implacable foe of conceal and carry or expanded gun rights like “stand your ground.” He’s always been on the side of gay and lesbian rights. Oh, and he sponsored a bill for special license plates for women veterans, too. (He was a command sergeant major during the Korean War; you knew that, right?)

These things are why the Republican Party reviles him so. But they have nothing on Ron on the issues that people in 49A care about. The Republicans can’t even touch him on the tax bill raising the income tax, because Ron voted against it.

This is why the lizards and wizards of dark money have descended on 49A.

There is an ad running on cable television. If you watch the Cooking Channel or the ghost documentary on the History Channel, you have probably seen it. I am not going to recount the whole thing — it’s really too tedious — I will let Jon Tevlin do that:

Last session, Rep. Debra Hilstrom, D-Brooklyn Center, introduced a bill that would make the act of putting bodily fluids into someone’s food sexual assault. The bill was discussed late one night, when everyone was obviously tired and punchy. But that’s no excuse for what happened next.

Rep. Ron Erhardt, D-Edina, invoked a scene from “Friends” to raise questions about the potential reach of the bill. To demonstrate, he held up his coffee cup and began to lick the rim. At some point, he burst into hysteric laughter.

The tut-tutting dark money lizards and wizards, and apparently Jon Tevlin, too, think this was “lewd.”

The censors at NBC didn’t think the Friends scene was lewd, and I am sure it got a laugh on the show, too. And it did illustrate a point about the potential reach of the bill and unintended consequences.

I would agree that the point was not brilliantly made, but Tevlin explained the circumstances in which it was made, too.

But now, a woman who suffered an admitted indignity, well, it was a form of assault to be sure, but who doesn’t live in the district, and who is a self-admitted political naif, is being trotted around by the dark money lizards and wizards as a political philosopher king telling residents of 49A that Ron Erhardt shouldn’t be in office.

I don’t know about you, but I find this rather remarkable. Jon Tevlin finds it remarkable, too:

But to see Republicans feign indignation at lewd behavior is almost comical given that the guy who heads their national party’s ticket and congressional candidate Jason Lewis seem to share the same joke writer as Erhardt.

And Edina “moderate” Dario Anselmo is a Donald Trump supporter. Imagine that.

I submit the woman complaining here is being used by the Republicans, whose agenda is inimical to women. It’s one of the most cynical political hit pieces I’ve ever seen.

o O o

We don’t know where the money came from, but we know at least one person who channeled it: Ben Golnik. Golnik is one of the highest ranking employees in the Minnesota House, a man who owes his sinecure to Kurt Daudt. He was interviewed by Jon Tevlin in the linked piece.

Golnik has been tweeting and retweeting about the Erhardt hit piece a lot the last few days, including during the day, that is on company time — which means our time, since he’s a state employee.

I actually called Ben Golnik today — and reached him at his office at work — and asked him if he also gave the interview to Jon Tevlin on company time. He wouldn’t tell me.

Naturally, if the Republicans lose control of the House, Kurt Daudt is no longer Speaker, and Ben loses his rice bowl. This would be bad for Ben. So you can understand his motivation to cut up a video badly and scare up the money to put it on the teevee.

Further update: Here is a letter prepared by Rep. Erhardt responding to the video smear ad:

Erhardt Letter Re Smear Video by Steve Timmer on Scribd

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