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When it comes to policy, Mike McFadden’s Senate campaign is a blank slate

McFadden for Senate video screen shot
Although Mike McFadden declared his Senate candidacy last May, his slate remains, by reasonable standards, almost completely blank.

Second of two articles.

How has businessman Mike McFadden established such a dominant position in the GOP race to run against U.S. Sen. Al Franken?

It may have something to do with money. In fact, it’s hard to see what else it could have to do with.

McFadden, 49, of Sunfish Lake, has never run for office before. He was completely unknown to the general public before his name started floating as a possible Senate candidate. In fact he is probably still unknown to most Minnesotans outside of the politically obsessed.

Although he points out that his grandmother was a Minnesotan, McFadden grew up in Omaha. He came to Minnesota to attend St. Thomas University in St. Paul (where he played football), then got a law degree from Georgetown in D.C. He is married with five sons and daughter, was actively involved with coaching his kids’ sports teams. He serves on the board of Cristo Rey, a private Jesuit High School in the Minneapolis Phillips neighborhood that is getting amazingly good results getting underprivileged kids into college.

McFadden has been endorsed by former Republican U.S. Sens. Rudy Boschwitz and Norm Coleman. Former Sen. Rod Grams endorsed him last year shortly before he died. The list of prominent Republicans on his campaign “steering committee” glitters with the names of powerful and campaign-tested Republicans. A recent fundraising letter for McFadden was signed not only by Boschwitz and Coleman but also by former Republican Chair Bill Cooper of TCF, who represents the hard-line anti-tax wing of the party, plus top present and former executives of Cargill and Target.

In the financial disclosure required of federal candidates, McFadden reported a net worth of between $15 million and $57 million. He made his money as an investment banker. He is on leave from his job as co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, a division of the international firm Lazard Asset Management with offices in Europe, Asia and the United States.

So far, McFadden’s has raised about $2.2 million, roughly 10 times more than the amount raised by Ortman, the best-funded of his intra-party opponents. McFadden recently said that he had $1.7 million in cash still on hand. The more he raises, the more likely the pundits are to keep taking the race seriously, and the more they take it seriously, the more money he will be able to raise.

U.S. Senate candidate 2013 fundraising

Source: FEC
Total amount raised is for all of 2013. Cash on hand totals are from December 31, 2013.

None of those numbers should make you feel sorry for Al Franken, by the way. He is also a multimillionaire (most recent disclosed net worth in the range of $4 million to $12 million), and the most recent campaign-finance disclosure indicated he has raised $18.5 million during the first five years of his current term and headed into 2014 with $4.8 million on hand.

Franken now has five years of Senate votes to characterize his policy positions. National Journal just released its annual analysis of Senate voting and found Franken to be among the most liberal senators. He is also rated as one of the most pro-Obama. His Republican opponents will take every opportunity to exploit those facts, especially if Obama’s popularity continues to slide. There is certainly nothing unusual or unfair about that.

Sen. Al Franken
Sen. Al Franken

Even before he was in the Senate, Franken had been publicly expressing his political views for many years in books and on his radio show, oftentimes in a tone that has been used against him politically, and perhaps that will be used that way again this year.

By contrast, McFadden started his campaign as a blank slate policy-wise. And, although he declared his Senate candidacy last May, his slate remains, by reasonable standards, almost completely blank. As far as I can tell, applying a reasonable standard about how much you have to disclose about your thinking to be said to have taken a stand on an issue, McFadden hasn’t taken any.

I’m not sure what the record is for seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate without disclosing issue positions, but McFadden, who declared his candidacy nine months ago, may be giving it a run.

There is no “issues” section on his campaign website. He skipped the first three opportunities to debate his Republican opponents for the nomination.On Monday, he appeared at the fourth debate, but that one was closed to the press and public.

He has given a few interviews, including one to MinnPost and the Washington Post, but he has given a few, relatively non-specific answers on his issue and policy positions. His Facebook page contains some statements that relate to policy. But in every single case that I can find, the statements fall well short of giving an attentive Minnesotan a reasonable answer as to how he would vote on any matter likely to come up in the Senate.

Health-care case study

Here’s an example: McFadden says that he would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. What would he replace it with? He has said more than once that it would be a “market-based plan.” Does that tell you anything at all other than implying — falsely — that the Affordable Care Act did away with private insurance companies or their ability to compete in the market for customers? Without the benefit of a longer statement from McFadden, it doesn’t tell me anything about the replacement.

In a petition McFadden’s campaign is currently circulating online to repeal and replace Obamacare, he says that replacement he favors is one that “will help, not hurt, all Americans.” And that's all it says about the replacement plan.

He told MinnPost’s Devin Henry that the replacement plan should include something for people with pre-existing conditions but said nothing about what it would be or, more awkwardly, how he would pay for that or how he could square it with “market-based.” Market-based logic would steer private companies away from wanting to insure those with pre-existing conditions unless they could charge extremely high premiums.

Recently, he has started adding the word “state-based” to his health-care statements. In a radio interview last week, he said that Minnesota should be allowed to develop its own plan and then he would “scream to the rest of the country to follow our example.”

I’m not an expert, and I’m sure there have been — before Obamacare and since — many federal mandates on states relating to health care, but I’m also sure that there has always been an opportunity — before Obamacare and since — for states to develop their own health-care systems as models for the nation. In fact, isn’t that how we got Obamacare, which is substantially based on the Massachusetts health-care plan that Mitt Romney signed into law when he was governor?

McFadden did say that he is working with health-care policy experts on a proposal to replace Obamacare with something better. So we may just have to be more patient to find out where McFadden on health care and a whole lot of other things. Of course, Republicans who participated in precinct caucuses have already had to take the first step without the benefit of knowing much about McFadden’s policy preferences. The McFadden card that I picked up at the registration table at my neighborhood caucus committed him to five pledges of what McFadden would work to accomplish as your U.S. Senator. One of them: “Repeal Obamacare and replace with a market-based plan.”

The other four were:

  • Grow a healthy economy that puts Main Street first;
  • Reform and simplify the tax code;
  • Cut spending and balance the budget.
  • Improve our schools – put students, teachers and parents first.

If I had an interview with McFadden, who has said that education policy is one of his major interests, I would ask him whose interests are currently being put ahead of students, teachers and parents.

I asked for an interview with McFadden three weeks ago. His press guy said it would have to wait until after the precinct caucuses. After the caucuses, I renewed the request, but the campaign now says he will not give me an interview because it already gave one to another MinnPost reporter. Meanwhile, I’m still looking for policy specifics wherever I can find them.

Four videos

McFadden has four videos posted on his website, in which he alludes to issues, or some things that bother him about the direction he sees the country heading, but not to the degree that he associates himself with any known concrete policy that he would propose or support.

(I’ll link to the videos below, so you can check my work.)

The longest of the videos (three minutes) is titled “Meet Mike.” Narrated by his daughter (who says her dad is a “pretty cool guy” who would make a good senator). It is understandably heavy on autobiography, although with its emphasis on his family (and no mention at all of his career, other than the self-description “business leader”), he has less than 30 seconds for issues and takes no concrete positions that separate him from anyone else, as in:

I am very concerned about the direction this country is headed. We have a very stagnant economy and have amassed an enormous amount of debt, which will be pass on to our children unless something is done. Our education system is broken. We spend more money than any country in the world other than Switzerland, and we get subpar results. We need to set our expectations higher. We need to demand better. I will make sure this gets done.

The other three videos, one minute each, are pretty much substance-free. In the first, he explains why he is running:

We’re concerned about the American ethos and the loss of the American dream and what it means to be successful and the concept of earned success… We can do better as Americans. We can do better as America. And it’s never been more important.

The second one is about “opportunity,” the opportunity to pursue earned success, which, he explains:

That means you have to earn it. You’re not given it. You have to work hard. And one of the things [his wife] Mary Kate and I have learned as parents is that we to allow our children to fail. I mean they have to fail. We can’t do everything for them…

Government has become so intrusive. To try to control every part of our life. To take care of us. I believe in limited but effective government. We are so far from that. Government’s not limited. And it’s clearly not effective.

“Limited but effective government” is a recurring mantra in McFadden’s public statements so far. Maybe you can figure out how it would translate to actions as a U.S. senator. I don’t know of any senators who advocate a government that is either unlimited or ineffective. If I could have interviewed McFadden for this piece, I would have asked him whether “limited” means “smaller,” and, if so, whether he could identify some of the ways he would seek to shrink the government.

I do assume that he will eventually supply something along these lines. I also assume that “limited” is included to show that he is conservative, without giving away much about how conservative, and “effective” is meant to separate him from some on the extreme right who sometimes seem to believe that everything government does is an attack on freedom.

The most recent of the “Minute with Mike” series is about coaching kids sports teams. McFadden has six kids and he says he has coached them all and he really likes it. As in: “I love to coach” and: “That hour and a half that I get each night coaching the little scrappers, there’s nothing better.”

Maybe my expectations are too high. I am locked in on the belief that a serious candidate for the U.S. Senate is obligated to divulge his policy thinking. But it's possible to sympathize with the risks of doing so. The other Republican candidates would certainly like to have more opportunities to portray McFadden as a RINO. As it is, one comment McFadden made in the Devin Henry interview to which I alluded above is being used by his opponents to portray him as a Second Amendment wobbler. What he said was:

McFadden: "I’m a strong believer in the Second Amendment, and the right to bear arms. It does concern me that someone that’s not allowed to buy a gun at Wal-Mart because they didn’t pass a background check is allowed to go and purchase one at a gun show. I would be open to looking at expanding background checks."

Weber excited about McFadden’s chances

Vin Weber, the former congressman, lobbyist and permanent heavyweight in Minnesota Republican politics, is on the McFadden team and very excited about McFadden’s chances and gives McFadden full credit for putting the race on the map. At this point, Weber said, nominating any of the other candidates “would amount to giving the race away.”

Weber is aware that there are ideologues in the party who would rather nominate a candidate who shares their position on every issue than one who can win. “But those people have had absolutely no success in achieving their policy objectives. And there are more and more Republicans who understand that that thinking cost us control of the Senate.”

Weber doesn’t dispute, in fact he emphasized that, so far, McFadden’s impact on the race has been almost entirely about money.

Said Weber: “A year ago, nobody that I talked to thought the Minnesota Senate race was going to be competitive. Today, I would say that Franken is the favorite, but only a slight favorite. That’s almost entirely because of Mike McFadden willingness to call everybody he’d ever met and asking them for a contribution… That’s how he spent the past year. Just raising money.”

McFadden will let Minnesotans know where stands on the issues, Weber said. But his first priority had to be convincing Republican donors and PACs that there was a candidate who would have the resources to make this into a contest.

I’m sure Weber is right. And I’m sure that McFadden will eventually give Minnesotans more clues about what he is for against and explicitly within the context of things he could effect as a senator. I also suspect that over the nine months he has been in the race, McFadden could have divulged more policy-wise but that he would prefer to postpone that as long as possible, especially in hopes that he can avoid taking positions that might help him secure the nomination but that would be politically inconvenient when it was time to compete directly with Franken for persuadable voters.

Perhaps that just me being cynical. But McFadden’s spokester Tom Erickson implied as in a recent statement to the Pioneer Press about why McFadden was skipping so many debates: “Mike isn't running against any other Republican, he's running against Al Franken. And that's how we approach this campaign every day."

Here's the video: "Meet Mike."

Here's the video, titled "Sense of Duty," in which McFadden explains why he felt compelled to run:

Here's the one about the opportunity to earn success:

And here's the one about coaching:

Comments (57)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/12/2014 - 08:55 am.

    From Lazard:…Founded in

    From Lazard:

    …Founded in 1848, we operate in 40 cities across 26 countries around the world. Our deep roots in local business centers form a global network of relationships with key decision-makers in corporations, governments and investing institutions….

    A business that is all about advice, access, and influencing “key decision-makers”.

    Is there any question as to how being a Senator ties into that?

    Can there be any curiosity as to how he can raise significant money with few, if any, disclosed positions?

    As a Senator:

    * Whose interests will he serve?

    * What advice and access will he provide?

    * What will he influence?

    *Who will he influence?

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 02/12/2014 - 09:48 am.

      I think we have the same takeaway

      If he doesn’t have any positions and he’s just raising money then it follows that his positions will be those of his donors. Maybe we should ask his big donors what their positions are on policy.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/12/2014 - 09:03 am.

    It’s easy to state goals

    That’s what McFadden is doing.
    The hard part is actually designing a program to achieve them.
    As a good businessman, I assume that McFadden’s plan is to buy a plan from someone once he’s elected. Because he’s a business man, we should trust him to know enough about health care (and other aspects of statetscraft) to make a competent purchase.

    Of course, along the way he will have to debate Franken, who -does- make it his business to know the answers, and the questions that need answering.

  3. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/12/2014 - 09:25 am.

    Can Republicans clone Coleman?

    A very good pair of pieces on McFadden.

    Thank you Mr. Black.

    The title of this comment is also the title of a piece that has just appeared on “The Hill.”


    This piece very much nails the strategy being used by the McFadden camp. Namely, to avoid taking concrete postions for as long as possible and in the mean time try to figure out what will “sell” best.

    Prevarications on the gun issue are on the record. And Mr. McFadden will face the music on this and other issues once he actually has to campaign.

    It should be interesting.

    I will be extremely surprised if Mr. Franken does not crush him in the election.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/12/2014 - 09:30 am.

    So what?

    All he has to do is proclaim that he would vote to repeal Obamacare and that’s good enough for most republicans and independents (Gallup 12/03/13). What he would replace it with is irrelevant at this point.

    Expect to see a flood of TV ads this Fall of Franken saying “People who are happy with their current plan, wouldn’t need to change it.”

    No clearer choice needs to be seen.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/12/2014 - 02:03 pm.

      Mr. Tester

      I think you are dreaming if you think Obamacare will ever be repealed.

      Unlike the GOP which did NOTHING about this mess, the Dems did something. If you think people are going to buy Obamacare repeal as a solution to our health care problems, then you will be sadly mistaken next November when Mr. Franken is handily re-elected.

      My best.


      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/12/2014 - 09:37 pm.

        The President

        Seems to be repealing the law single-handedly, piece by piece it’s implementation is being postponed.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/12/2014 - 04:23 pm.

      That’s pretty superficial

      “All he has to do is proclaim that he would vote to repeal Obamacare and that’s good enough for most republicans and independents (Gallup 12/03/13). What he would replace it with is irrelevant at this point.”

      And pretty rich coming from someone who thinks women are too facile to have been given the vote.

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/12/2014 - 10:00 am.

    A Pretty Face and No Policy Positions

    just means that, given the chance, Mr. McFadden will demonstrate the typical wealthy “conservative” attitude:

    I was able to rise to my tremendous wealth completely because of my own efforts. Anyone else who wants to do so can do the same. Those who have difficulties in their lives only have them because they are not just exactly like me,…

    therefore, anyone who NEEDS help certainly does not deserve it.

  6. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/12/2014 - 10:17 am.


    After my first comment was submitted …

    Mr. John Gilmore has a rather snarky post up that includes some commentary on Mr. Black’s post from yesterday, the first post of this series.

    Local politicos and ordinary MinnPost readers may find it amusing:

    Nowhere Man: Mike McFadden’s Empty Candidacy


  7. Submitted by Stu von Wald on 02/12/2014 - 10:41 am.

    Another (yawn) plutocrat?

    Me thinks what we have in Mr. McFadden is more of what we have too much of now: wealthy, powerful politicians who want to ensure that the middle class keeps paying their taxes so big government subsidies keep rolling their way. Are there any candidates who look like the majority of folks: living paycheck to paycheck hoping to squirrel enough away to enjoy a retirement?

  8. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 02/12/2014 - 10:43 am.

    For real is he?…or

    Is this a spoof on the Minnesota Nice Conservative candidate with all the appropriate ‘appointments’ as God and country and duty to same creating a unbelievable caricature?. I am amazed at its simplicity..and then again,,,

  9. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/12/2014 - 10:43 am.

    McFadden’s right – his positions on issues don’t matter.

    Reminds me of Jerry Brown in the old days, when he was “Governor Moonbeam” and when asked for his policy on a difficult issue: “It will emerge.”

    Really, the Senate races are mostly about the money. McFadden shows no confusion or illusions about it. Here we are again with a race between millionaires, recruiting huge donations from outside of Minnesota…from OTHER millionaires.

    What kind of government can we expect from this kind of choice ?

    I don’t mean to say it’s Tweedle Dum vs Tweedle Dee, not exactly. Let’s say the real winners will be those entities that have enough money to donate in significant amounts to BOTH sides.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/12/2014 - 12:55 pm.

      Look at Franken’s record

      You can see the kind of issues that are important to him.
      And he made them clear during his campaign.
      We have seen what is important to McFadden (spending whatever it takes to win).
      Looks like a clear choice to me.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/12/2014 - 03:29 pm.

        Yes, Sen. Franken is a known quantity, and there appears…

        …to be a clear choice. Sen. Franken appears to represent MN well, according to its people’s wishes.

        Yet it still bothers me that a sufficient personal net worth seems to be a pre-qualifier for seats in the national legislature.

        Average net worth of U.S. Senators (2011): $14,013,596 (includes departing as well as incoming)

        Average net worth of Congressmen (2011): $ 6,594,859 (includes departing as well as incoming)

        AND the average net worth of Democrats in the Senate is quite a bit higher than the GOP. See in the tables at the link below the interesting TOP 10 and BOTTOM 10 in each body by net worth. Personal wealth is not a party issue.


        So even though a wealthy Senator can represent his whole state well, the system is rigged so that the seats are going to be occupied, for the most part, by wealthy persons. This has a lot of attendant problems.

        Effective full public campaign financing could change the weight of the factor of personal wealth, but the energies arrayed against it are impressive indeed, including Supreme Court rulings and the fact that the very beneficiaries would have to vote against their interests and surrender their advantage.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/12/2014 - 03:46 pm.

          Citizens United

          One can set all the campaign spending limitations one wants, but as long as unnamed third parties can spend all they want on ‘issue’ ads that clearly support (or more usually attack) a particular candidate without naming her, political circumstances will favor them that’s got.

        • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/12/2014 - 09:41 pm.

          About the other half of the MN population

          When Senator Franken was elected he mentioned the very narrow margin of victory and how he was going to make sure that he represented ALL Minnesotans. And he has represented conservatives how?

          • Submitted by Tim Walker on 02/13/2014 - 07:57 am.

            Well, Tom, here’s how:

            When a Minnesota resident calls Sen. Franken’s office seeking help from his staff on some matter such as overcoming bureaucratic red tape, for example, Franken’s staffer does not ask the caller his or her political ideology or whether he or she voted for Sen. Franken.

            No, the staffer offers what help is available regardless of these factors.

            Unlike a certain GOP Minnesota House Representative who did have such a political litmus test in place …

            • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/16/2014 - 09:01 pm.

              Hopefully your problem was resolved

              Meanwhile, during the Supreme Court nominee hearings our Senator launched into a diatribe on the Roberts court instead of asking questions that half of the State wanted asked.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/18/2014 - 10:32 am.

                What questions were those?

                I don’t recall “half of the State” demanding answers to any questions, but I’m not in the “half” that feels they aren’t represented if Senators don’t do exactly what they want them to do. Care to share those questions with us now (and remember, Benghazi and the IRS “targeting” those non-partisan tea partiers hadn’t happened yet)?

  10. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/12/2014 - 11:30 am.

    And now he’s selling himself.

    Of his work, McFadden said, “it’s pretty simple. If you want to sell your house, you hire a Realtor. If you want to sell your business, you hire me.”

  11. Submitted by Daniel Olson on 02/12/2014 - 11:34 am.

    He’s the Minnesota Mitt Romney!

    Wow, a wealthy investment banker who runs on a vague business friendly platform and avoids taking policy positions?

    I bet he’s divulged plenty about his positions to wealthy donors behind closed doors, but I’m sure he doesn’t want the right wing to know what a crony capitalist he is and he certainly doesn’t want the rest of us to know who he’s running to represent.

    I love how he talks about making his children “earn success,” but I’m sure he’s given them every opportunity he can afford. Franken may be wealthy as well, but at least he recognizes that America lacks equal opportunity, and we need to level the playing field to restore meritocracy.

    This man comes across about as authentic as Romney himself. He’s trying to be tight-lipped, but sooner or later his derision for the rest of us will come through loud and clear.

    My money’s on Franken.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/12/2014 - 12:23 pm.

    Mince meat

    The guys a banker, they took and industry where people actually pay you to take their money and managed to go bankrupt. He’s a mini-me Romney.

  13. Submitted by David Frenkel on 02/12/2014 - 01:52 pm.

    Ugly campaign

    McFadden will lay low until the last couple weeks of the campaign and then come out swinging with some ugly ads aka Karl Rove style. Who needs policy positions when you have dirty politics.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/12/2014 - 02:19 pm.

    The senate

    Republicans in Congress aren’t for anything. As a result, it’s difficult to have anything to campaign on. MacFadden would be pro life, anti spending pro tax cut. He will support various goals while opposing any measures which would actually achieve them. He will be firm in the support of the impossible, and just as firm in his opposition to the possible. It will never be the right time, in MacFadden’s view, to do anything meaningful.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/12/2014 - 02:59 pm.

    Attack ads

    I do expect the usual g&g ads, grey and grainy. Like all Democratic senate incumbents running this year, Al will be accused of casting the decisive vote in favor of Obamacare.

  16. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/12/2014 - 03:02 pm.

    It’s amusing

    to see all the posts referencing to Mr. McFadden’s earned wealth while there’s another article on this site that details Franken’s rich Hollywood pals who are contributing to his already bulging campaign fund.

    Limousine liberals working together to raise taxes on the working class.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/12/2014 - 04:54 pm.

      As opoosed to

      Private Jet Conservatives working together to bury the working class? See, aren’t rash generalizations and pointless hyperbole amusing Mr. Tester?

      In all seriousness, however, that anyone would believe that a person with the background of Mr. McFadden has any concern for the working class is mind boggling. He is, like every corporate Republican candidate and office holder before him, a bought and paid for water carrier for the plutocracy. Any vote for him from working class Minnesotan is a vote to sink everyone outside the uber wealthy into an inescapable morass of inequity.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 02/12/2014 - 11:49 pm.

      More honest Tester

      Than the Wall Street boy friends of McFadden. BTW McFadden “earned” nothing by shuffling paper.

  17. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 02/12/2014 - 03:30 pm.

    Self-inflicted wound

    If Republicans choose Mike McRomney because he has bags of money and no ideas, don’t blame DFLers. Republicans are inflicting this guy on themselves. Some variation of “He’s rich so he must know everything” doesn’t usually win elections.

  18. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/12/2014 - 04:14 pm.

    That this guy, who has no qualifications to be a U.S.Senator other than his personal wealth and his having spent the past year dunning others for several millions of dollars, is considered a viable candidate speaks to the ideological bankruptcy of the Republican party. They have no solutions, no ideas about what to do to move America forward, so they come up with blank slates like McFadden.

    We should keep in mind that, for people who have been paying attention, Sen. Al Franken has impressed with his ability to get things done–probably one of the most effective first-term Senators there has been in recent memory. He works hard, he has picked areas of expertise (cyber issues and telecommunications, for instance, where he’s become a go-to expert), and has shown the ability to work with sensible Republicans on a number of significant initiative. He’s effective. He’s also very, very smart, and while he laughs a lot, he’s considered an admirable member of the Senate.

    Why in the world would a self-respecting state like Minnesota trade in an admired senator for a blank slate?

    I beg the journalists out there, like Eric, keep pressing this point about there being No There There with McFadden on policy questions.

  19. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/12/2014 - 04:43 pm.

    ‘Twas ever thus…

    Perhaps what I find most annoying about the upcoming senate campaign is embodied in a brief comment by Steve Titterud: “…Yet it still bothers me that a sufficient personal net worth seems to be a pre-qualifier for seats in the national legislature.”

    Mr. McFadden certainly appears to be an empty vessel, waiting to be filled with ideas and policies from ALEC, but even worse than that is the apparent necessity of a “serious” candidate to have truckloads of money available in order to mount an effective campaign. Call me old-fashioned, but buying a political office doesn’t strike me as especially democratic (with a decidedly lower-case “D”). One could make the argument that a wealth-based system is going to favor the wealthy, and that people in power tend to promote policies that benefit themselves, so if the wealthy are the ones in power, they’re likely to devise and enact policies that benefit… the wealthy. I think Steve’s numbers tend to support his case, as well as Paul Brandon’s and several others.

    What we’re so far getting from what appears to be the leading Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate regarding health care isn’t even well-reasoned cant from the “conservative” viewpoint. It’s simply boilerplate, and it means, almost literally, nothing.

    As for the videos…

    “We have a very stagnant economy and have amassed an enormous amount of debt, which will be pass[ed] on to our children unless something is done…”

    Investment bankers are largely responsible for much of the economic stagnation and enormous debt of the past few years. What does Mr. McFadden think about that?

    “We spend more money than any country in the world other than Switzerland, and we get subpar results…“

    Forgive me. For a moment I thought he was talking about our current health care system. What kinds of results are *his* kids getting, educationally? They *are* attending public schools, are they not?

    “That means you have to earn it. You’re not given it. You have to work hard.”

    Presumably, the McFadden children will (or are) all attend nearby public schools, and, even though Dad is the coach, they’ve paid for their athletic equipment themselves via wages from the part-time jobs they’ve taken so they could earn the opportunity to play… whatever sport it is they’re playing. Mr. McFadden, as is often the case with the wealthy, would have us believe that every dime he’s accumulated has been entirely through his own labor.

    “We’re concerned about the American ethos and the loss of the American dream…” Many thousands of Minnesotans who lost jobs and homes in the recent “recession,” in significant part because of the activities of investment bankers like Mr. McFadden, are equally concerned about the loss of the American dream.

    And so on…

    The one positive I saw was his tentative – and apparently, since retracted – support for expanded background checks. McFadden’s opponent, Mr. Dahlberg, is apparently of the opinion that access to firearms is not a significant problem in this country.

    Be that as it may, the last 3 paragraphs of Eric’s piece seem to get at the heart of the matter, and comments suggesting a resemblance between McFadden and Mitt Romney also seem to me to have at least a grain of truth. We won’t find out about policy positions until the money is in the bank and the TV ad time has been lined up. Revealing too much too soon might not only spook some of the deep-pocketed supporters that appear, sadly, to be necessary, but would also let voters know that what we’re looking at is simply another self-congratulatory rich guy who doesn’t really *have* any worthwhile policy ideas that haven’t been taken from the ALEC cabinet.

  20. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/13/2014 - 08:18 am.

    Generic Republican

    I see a generic Republican. I don’t see anything fundamentally wrong with that. We’ve had two generically Democratic Senators for the past few years. What positions will he take? Generally Republican ones. I can see why that would make him unfavorable to the generally left leaning folks who read here, but I don’t see why that would stop those that aren’t already committed to voting for Franken.
    And for all of the hand wringing, Obamacare is not a very market based solution. Companies in markets are usually free to set their prices independently and choose what they offer. Neither is true anymore. In markets, consumers can choose whether or not to buy a product. Not true anymore either. It’s easy, ridiculously easy, to think of a more free market approach than what we have now. I take McFadden’s statements to say that he would be in at some agreement with various Republican proposals that have been floated so far.
    This really isn’t that hard to suss out.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/13/2014 - 09:46 am.

      So in other words

      McFadden and the Republican party will take us back to the broken system we had before, great. I certainly hope he runs on that platform.

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/13/2014 - 11:12 am.

        Yes indeed.

        In a broken system, they stand to gain much off the backs of the average person from the middle class down to the poorest. They now hope we have short memories. They needn’t worry about their poorer republican base because they don’t follow real news, just Faux News. My hope is the majority of the people are intelligent enough to realize who’s policies caused our recession in the first place. It certainly wasn’t the Democrats, if anyone needs reminding.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/13/2014 - 12:21 pm.

          How quickly we forget

          The housing crash caused the recession, and it was the result of the democrats in congress *demanding* that banks make mortgage loans to people who had no chance in hell of ever paying them back.

          I don’t know how you missed that, it was in all the papers.

          “How The Community Reinvestment Act Led To The Housing Bubble’s Lax Lending”

          • Submitted by jason myron on 02/13/2014 - 04:23 pm.

            How conveniently we ignore

            all of the fees those lenders and financial institutions eagerly pocketed by pushing out ARM’s that were “demanded” of them… or the securitization practices of the Big Banks…..Nah…that couldn’t be it. That doesn’t fit your narrative.

          • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/14/2014 - 08:44 am.


            The Banks ‘took advantage of..!’ How could we miss that? If there’s a way, they’ll take it. Come on now. That’s just defending the fact that the banks went wild with it because they could. And Bush just added fuel to the fire is all? And all the banks did is recognize a perfect Laissez-faire situation? And then we learned what a perfect Laissez-faire opportunity leads us to…nice. See…that’s what we don’t want.

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/13/2014 - 01:17 pm.

        Broken System

        I’d think that with the absolute trainwreck of Obamacare, Dems and the left would become a little bit humble when it comes to health care policy. I guess not. There were big problems with the pre-Obamacare system, of course, but our health care system was in better shape before it. More people were insured and at lower rates. True, some policies (gasp!) didn’t cover birth control but somehow people still bought them. And I guess we solved that big problem of 25 year olds, not covered under their parents plan. I’m sure the economy will really take off now!
        I’m sure that a return to the previous system will be very popular with those people who are faced with huge price increases and narrower options.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/13/2014 - 03:40 pm.

          Oh yes it was wonderful

          Our family loved it when my sister was forced to beg for charity when her health plan dropped their family. Her daughter was diagnosed with CF. That was a WONDERFUL system we had there. I’m sure it was never a problem for you though so everything must have been swell.

          • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/13/2014 - 09:04 pm.


            Did you miss the part where I said there were big problems before? It’s right in the comment that you replied to. Look again.

            • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/14/2014 - 08:31 am.

              You then immediately said it was still better.

              • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/14/2014 - 11:12 am.


                It was better.

                • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/14/2014 - 12:47 pm.


                  Well then, in the vein of this thread, that reads like an implicit endorsement of denying sick people health-care coverage. Do you think that people with cystic fibrosis should be denied access to health insurance? Should someone who is pregnant be denied access to coverage of labor costs because the pregnancy was already engaged prior to applying for coverage? Should ambulance service be paid exclusively by an injured party because the insurance provider did not pre-approve the service?

                  • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/14/2014 - 07:50 pm.

                    Better Before

                    ‘reads like an implicit endorsement of denying sick people health-coverage’. That’s not even a little bit reasonable. Are the defenses of Obamacare an implicit endorsement of brazen lying from politicians? An implicit endorsement of cronyism to the insurance companies?
                    I’ve never heard of ambulance service being pre-approved. Can you give some examples of that happening? It’s certainly not typical.
                    I’m not sure how pregnancy was really determined regarding as a pre-existing condition. Can you give me some numbers as to how often women were denied acces in that situation? I can tell you this, new policies here in Minnesota mostly had deductibles over $10,000. This means that a normal pregnancy, even to a couple who is working, can be a financial disaster.
                    And that’s the one of the biggest problems with Obamacare. Tough cases like cystic fibrosis were very hard before, because an insurance set up isn’t really built for things like tough cases. We may have fixed that (and I say ‘may’ because very little of the ACA has lived up to its promises), but the cost has been to make the normal and routine very difficult. I mean higher costs, of course, and let’s not minimize that. But we’ve also seen a narrowing of markets and reduction in available doctors.
                    As I said, there were big problems with the previous set up. Instead of simply focusing on those big problems, Obamacare messed with other things and made them worse.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/15/2014 - 10:09 am.

                      Yes pregnancy was

                      It led to many folks, my wife included, to maintain health plans that may or may not have been ideal in order to keel coverage until after the baby was born. You mention “tough cases” as though they are somehow the outlier. Look, the problems.with healthcare was always about the “tough cases”, never about the routine care, or about those folks who were paying little or nothing thanks to their good health (however fleeting it may be). Fact is, there is no market based plan that’s going to cover the “tough cases” because it would require essentially asking either insurance providers or health care providers to in essence to lose money. Not going to happen. Beyond my personal case this applies across the board to preexisting condition coverage. Unless you have a larger insurance pool (ie ACA) or single payer, it simply doesn’t work. The right has been silent on this topic because they know this, and they know what will happen when the general populace grows wise to what the implications are. This is simply a good illustration of a situation where the free market is unable, or unwilling, to provide a needed service. Charity is not up to the task of filling the gap and as such it falls to the government to ensure the at the needed service is provided. It might grate against one’s ideological bent, but its simply the facts.

                • Submitted by jason myron on 02/14/2014 - 01:17 pm.

                  right up to the point when you get sick

                  and find out your coverage is worthless and you’re wiped out financially. Yup…great system….

                • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/15/2014 - 09:31 am.

                  For who?

                  The people who couldn’t get health care coverage?

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/14/2014 - 10:09 am.

              Big problems

              That the meager trickle of “alternatives” put forth by the GOP have thus far failed to address. So I should put my faith in, and my vote towards, a person and a party who has failed to put forth ANY working solution to what I see as a major issue (personally as well as communally) for what reason exactly?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/13/2014 - 03:53 pm.

          I believe that

          more people have health care insurance now than did before the ACA went into effect. This is complicated by the effects of the recession which started in 2007, and resulted in people covered by their employers losing insurance when they lost their jobs, so the number of people covered now might still be a bit below that peak.
          Fox News talks about a ‘trainwreck’, but the numbers don’t back it up.

          • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/13/2014 - 09:17 pm.

            Total Insured

            We won’t have final numbers until after April but right now it looks like there are fewer insured than there were a year ago. There is a higher amount with Medicaid coverage, but some part (maybe a large part) is simply part of the demographic process where we constantly have more older people. The reluctance of the Obama administration to release any kind of running total makes me think that the numbers aren’t favorable to them. And of course, the administration is counting people that haven’t actually paid yet too.
            From what I understand, total insured number is about the same as it was in 2007. I don’t know how that matches the exact start of the recession since there are lags and delays in all kinds of numbers that would complicate that measurement. Of course, our population is higher now than it was seven years ago, so if that number hasn’t moved higher, then a lower percentage is actually covered now.
            Again, we don’t have the final numbers yet, but it looks like fewer people covered and at higher prices. Many networks are also much narrower which has caused some large number of people to be forced to different doctors and hospitals and such. And the deductibles on some of these plans are simply outrageous.
            You folks like to bring up Fox News (or hahahahaha Faux News) a lot.

            • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/15/2014 - 09:42 am.

              Totally Insured

              Republicans should be pressing for universal health care for a couple of simple reasons.

              -It makes the work force more mobile.
              -It takes the cost and administration off the backs of businesses.

              Universal single payer care is something that people from all political spectrums can and should push for.

            • Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/16/2014 - 07:37 am.

              Faux News yes

              What a bunch of… we know the Republicans want Obamacare to fail. Faux news wants it to fail. They are who you are parroting.

  21. Submitted by Jon Lord on 02/13/2014 - 08:46 am.

    Conservative thinking

    Conservatives by and large feel that they shouldn’t have to pay for anything even when they owe it because they are conservatives. That’s their policy in all things. The wealthy conservatives don’t value people who ‘work’ for them and regard most of the American people as ‘sheep to be fleeced’. Unfair practices are just business as usual for them and they think that’s how it should be. Caveat Emptor!

    McFadden is just another recessive Conservative ‘no nothing’ candidate with lots of money behind him. He can be bought. His arguments will be Straw Man arguments…when he gets around to it in the usual ALEC attack ads. Like his stance on Obamacare is.

  22. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 02/14/2014 - 09:05 am.

    Climate change?

    I would hope that in the very near future it would become regular journalistic practice to inquire about a candidate’s views on climate change. It’s perhaps the defining issue of our time, and if we hope to do anything about it, we need scientifically literature politicians.

  23. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/15/2014 - 10:41 pm.

    No Achilles Heal

    My guess is that he will well do with most Conservative and some Moderate voters, as long as something doesn’t crawl out of his closet. As readers here tend to point out, often the GOP’s candidates are their own worst enemies.

    However if the GOP can field a relatively Conservative Bright businessman who actively volunteers… The specifics may not matter too much if he can reach the Moderates and get the Conservatives out to the polls.

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