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Old DWIs and American-made underwear spark governor’s race

Most of us have cleaned up the yard from a winter’s worth of dog mess, but GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, arguably the front-runner, got hit with something old and smelly when his most serious opponent, Marty Seifert, sent out a letter to Republican delegates written by a woman whose family had been injured by a drunk driver. In it she reminds … delegates … that Emmer has two DWIs on his record, albeit 29 and 19 years ago. MPR’s Tom Scheck notes that the Strib has covered this some time ago. He quotes the Emmer campaign responding: ” ‘We’re all used to October surprises by the Democrats, but we never thought Marty would sink so low to launch this April surprise against a fellow Republican at the last minute before the convention,’ said Rep. Mark Buesgens, Chairman of the Emmer for Governor Campaign.” The Scheck piece also includes a comment from Emmer saying: “I understand my colleague Marty Seifert and his desire to win at any cost, and I know that politics can be a contact sport for many. But even I have to say this attempt to smear my good name (in light of the fact that I have long been public with my past) reaches a new low and ignores the understanding and compassion for others in Minnesota who, after making the same mistake, have gone on to be some of the best leaders and teachers in this state.”

A Strib team, bylined by Pat Doyle, notes the dredging up of the DWI charge and a surefire vote-getting move by DFLer Tom Rukavina. On the Emmer DWI business, they write: “Seifert’s campaign defended releasing the letter. ‘Sandra’s letter provides factual information about a vital issue for the delegates to consider: the electability and credibility of candidates,’ campaign manager Kurt Daudt wrote in an e-mail. ‘At her request, the Seifert campaign distributed her letter.’ ” [Riiiight.] Seifert said the letter and Emmer’s legislative record on DWI laws are ‘fair game.’ He said Emmer’s past drunken-driving arrests are not a disqualification but are ‘relevant to the delegates.’ ” As for Rukavina, his “campaign said it will sell boxer shorts with a union logo to underscore the message that Rukavina buys American — right down to his underwear. The skivvies will bear his campaign slogan, ‘Refreshingly Honest.’ ” Did they consider the old Burger King gag, you know, “Home of the Whopper”?

The New York Times Dealbook blog has news of the big, proposed telecommunications merger that will have CenturyTel buying up Qwest (and its nearly $12 billion in debt). It notes: “As of last December, the two companies were operating in 37 states and serving about 5 million broadband customers, with 17 million access lines,  as well as 1,415,000 video and 850,000 wireless clients. They expect to save $625 million within three to five years after the deal closes. Glen F. Post III, CenturyLink’s chief, said the scale attained through the deal would ‘enhance our ability to deploy innovative IP products and high-bandwidth services to business customers, expand broadband availability and speed to consumers, and offer superior, differentiated video products.’ ” I’ll believe when they connect fiber optic to my modem for less than $75 a month.

It was a slow-ish day on the Denny Hecker front. The biggest news nugget was the $15,000 someone put up to keep the bankruptcy trustee away from Hecker’s $1.9 million Medina home (which is obviously several major rungs down from his $12 million Cass Lake compound). Like the mysterious donor who gave him $125,000 to re-pay the 401(k) fund he shares with ex-wife, Tamitha, this good Samaritan is anonymous for the time being. Dee DePass’s Strib story says: “Hecker says he has no money, but has been accused by the bankruptcy trustee of hiding assets. Hecker still must turn over Toyota and Jeep trucks discovered in Aspen, Colo., a commercial leaf blower and several watches, [trustee attorney Matthew] Burton said. A “commercial leaf blower”?

Whoa! A machete attack in Hudson?
Andy Rathbun of the PiPress tells the tale of a, uh, feud with big knives. “The incident appears to be ‘domestic related,’ [Hudson Police Chief Marty] Jensen said, adding that one of the suspects used to date the female victim. Both victims suffered some bruising, Jensen said. The male victim, who had cuts from the machete, was taken to a hospital and later released. ‘The machete was not very sharp, so it did not do a lot of damage that way,’ Jensen said.”

It looks as though Team Pawlenty may have to think about tweaking its message
if it wants to find some traction in New Hampshire. The good news is that the governor is polling ahead of Rick Santorum and Haley Barbour. The bad news is that he’s closer to their marks than GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. Public Policy Polling has Pawlenty at 3 percent among the state’s Republicans.
Says the polling group: “Romney is by far and away the favorite of voters in the state at this very early point, with the support of 39% of Republicans in the state. Sarah Palin comes in second at 13%, with Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich tied for third at 11%. Ron Paul is fifth at 7%, and if anyone out of the unlikely trio of Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and Rick Santorum was somehow able to win the state they’d be able to say in their victory speech that they started at nothing — Pawlenty registers at 3% with Barbour and Santorum at just 1%.” The gov may have to take out a new nine-iron on New Hampshire voters.

We’re still baffled at how the driver of the ’96 Toyota Camry in the terrible, fatal crash on Snelling
four years ago got eight years in prison — with no impairment issues, prior record, etc. But progress is being made getting the guy a new trial. Inspections of the car appear to showthat he was applying the breaks and not the accelerator, as the prosecution argued at his first trial. Emily Gurnon’s PiPress story says: “Michael Padden, an attorney representing the victims’ family, said his expert told him the inspection disclosed clear evidence that Lee had stepped on the brakes as his Camry sped up the off-ramp from Interstate 94 approaching Snelling Avenue on June 10, 2006. Padden said his expert, James Cook, ‘absolutely confirms that the filament in the brake lights does support the contention that the brake lights were activated at the time of impact,’ Padden said. ‘The filament explodes if it’s on.’ ”

At 90, most of us will be lucky to simultaneously recognize our own name and digest Jell-O
. Still, since the Strib’s venerable legend, Sid Hartman, has been doing this sort of thing for years, you have to laugh when sports editor Chris Miller, interviewing Hartman about the NFL draft on one of the paper’s webcasts, has to correct His Sidness about which team and sport they’re talking about. For the record, it’s football.

Karl Rove is in town today, talking first with students at the U of M, where only modest protests are expected, and then signing books out at the MOA. City Pages’ Hart von Denburg offers a brief round-up of thought on Rove’s book, which as you may have heard, “corrects” everything most of the planet believes about the eight years he served as George W. Bush’s brain in the White House. One quote is pulled from the Los Angeles Times: “Much has been made of his admissions of tactical error — failing to push back against charges that the administration misled the country into the Iraqi war; botching the post-Katrina response; predictable score-settling with prominent Democrats. More interesting are the vague and largely unexamined origins of Rove’s conservatism. As he tells it, he holds the views he does largely because he grew up in the mountain West, where self-reliance is prized, and because when, as a 10-year-old Denver boy, he put a Richard Nixon sticker on his bike, a little girl down the street whose family supported John F. Kennedy beat the heck out of him.”

Another kudo for von Denburg for walking his readers through Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s 180-degree “misunderstanding” of “net neutrality” —- you know, the belief that the Internet should remain free and open to anyone and not regulated by ISPs as they see fit. Somehow the lady has construed openness for “censorship.” He quotes her on Sean Hannity’s show, saying: ” I mean, let’s face it, what’s the Obama administration doing? They’re advocating net neutrality, which is essentially censorship of the Internet. This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them.” The liberal blog The American Prospect is as boggled as we are. The Colorado Independent, another lefty site, writes: “Yesterday, [Bachmann] veered into the net neutrality debate, predictably taking the anti-net neutrality position, which holds that communication corporations built the phone and cable lines and so should be able to regulate the content that flows through them, giving high speed bandwidth to preferred customers who can pay for it. Let the market decide! Except that Bachmann doesn’t seem to know that’s her position. She thinks net neutrality somehow amounts to censorship.”

Minnesota Democrats Exposed is nothing if not reliably anti-anything brushed with the scent of a Democrat. And that means being opposed and indignant about Minneapolis (i.e., R.T. Rybak) replacing 20 year-old parking meters with the modern ones that can take debit cards, etc. They jump on a KSTP-TV story about the city (catching up with places like Seattle, etc.) but see only crazed, out-of-control spending. “When will RT Rybak and the City Council finally come to their senses and use some fiscal restraint?” Yeah! And stop wasting our tax money filling potholes!

In the end, the Proctor police only got $3,700 for the infamous motorized lounge chair
, the one seized in the DWI case 20 months ago. An AP story says: “A Duluth-area resident placed the winning $3,700 bid Tuesday night. Bart Kyte, sales manager for the business that organized the sale, would not disclose the top bidder’s name. Kyte said 15 people took part in the auction at Proceeds will go to the Proctor Police Department, which seized the chair in August 2008 after its former owner drove it into a parked car. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving.”

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