Thursday, August 05, 2010

DFL'ers dancing with MN Forward?

One of the primary defensive claims of Target as they've been pummeled over their contribution to MN Forward is that they're not partisan, that they give to pro-business candidates in both parties. Of course, the problem is that to this point MN Forward has only spent money in support of one candidate, retrograde Republican Tom Emmer.

If MN Forward were smart, they would have picked moderate and vulnerable DFL incumbents, like Sen. Lisa Fobbe or Sen. Dan Skogen. I say smart because these folks would actually benefit from that kind of endorsement, and would be hard pressed to say "no, thanks." If they aren't they'll pick safe seat long-time DFL incumbents who are running meaningless races that they are bound to win anyway.

Well, this morning MN Forward put forward a number of endorsements, including 3 DFL legislators:

Sen. Terri Bonoff
Sen. James Metzen
Rep. Gene Pelowski

Of the three, Sen. Terri Bonoff is probably the most vulnerable incumbent, but she's consistently tracked toward the pro-business side. She was one of the Senate DFL'ers who voted against the tax increase bill (forcing Tarryl Clark to cast the deciding 34th vote). She's already signaled that she'd be more than happy to get MN Forward's endorsement, considering her full-throated acceptance of the Chamber of Commerce endorsement. She was one of two DFL'ers given the endorsement of Chamber (the other was Sen. Ann Rest.)

Sen. Metzen is the longtime Senate President, and has been in the legislature for 36 years. He won his last election in 2006 easily, but was convicted of DWI in 2007 which may make his re-election more challenging. EDIT: He faces Robb Soleim in the general election, who has taken the Minnesota Taxpayers League pledge to not raise taxes.

Rep. Gene Pelowski has a clear path to reelection now that he's shed his intra-party challenges from earlier this Spring - he received over 2/3rds of the vote in 2008, and faces the same Republican he crushed in that election. EDIT: And supporting Pelowski isn't likely to mollify LGBT groups angry at Target, since he was one of the DFL legislators who voted in favor of the constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman in 2005.

Well, Tommy over at MN Progressive Project asks "what to do" if you are endorsed. Here's my answer:
Visibly refuse and criticize MN Forward. Say that you "don't want to be the cover story for a Republican organization run by Pawlenty's flack Brian McClung." For good measure, "this type of independent expenditure is exactly what's wrong with the Citizens United decision, and I don't want anyone to think that I'm endorsing that kind of campaign finance system."
But here's what will happen:

Metzen will have to criticize MN Forward. He has a leadership role and a pretty safe seat. Bonoff will take whatever she can get. If she's happy to get Chamber support, she'll be over the moon with MN Forward's support. I don't know enough about Pelowski to make any prediction.

But let's be clear - do you really want to be Tom Emmer's kind of DFL'er?

I'll go Two Putt Tommy one better:

The DFL legislative caucuses ought to disavow MN Forward, they should make it clear that MN Forward's support is not welcome. Other independent groups like Education Minnesota, unions, etc. should pull their support of any legislative candidate endorsed by MN Forward unless that candidate visibly breaks from MN Forward's support.

One of the tricky parts is that MN Forward is a group outside the control of a candidate. You can be unwillingly endorsed, but you can also make your displeasure known. Endorsing a handful of pro-business Democrats doesn't get Target and Best Buy off the hook. They're bankrolling a large TV ad buy for Emmer, and some glossy mailings in 3 legislative districts hardly constitutes balance.

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