We’re at a moment in the election cycle when candidates are trying to distinguish themselves from each other, which requires a great deal of PR, and that ain’t cheap. As a result, at this early date, it’s actually a bit easier to see the money more than the message. So we end up with stories like “Minn. gubernatorial candidates burn through cash,” from the Associated Press, which is literally just an inventory of candidates’ finances.
Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press offers up the same information, but with a graphic that shows who is in what position in the gubernatorial horse race: Matt Entenza leads the rest by a considerable margin, with fundraising — and spending — of $3.95 million. Margaret Anderson Kelliher clocks in at $1.2 million. Tom Emmer takes third place with $900,000. And IP candidate Tom Horner trails the pack with $190,000. The early results did not include Mark Dayton’s numbers.
Salisbury also points out that as much as 90 percent of Entenza’s donations come from his and his wife’s own pocketbooks, a fact that is expanded into a full story in the Star Tribune, on Minnesota Public Radio’s Polinaut blog, and here on MinnPost. If we at the Glean were to offer career advice, we’d suggest getting into the business of making those faux-straw boater hats with red, white, and blue hat bands that are so popular at conventions, fundraisers and election night parties. We have a feeling those will be selling like gangbusters.
Now that we know the money is moving, what message is it trying to spread? Tim Pugmire of MPR offers an Entenza overview, if you will, which is a mix of the messages Entenza wants associated with his campaign (his childhood poverty, his connection with the Iron Range, his focus on education) and stuff he’d probably rather not have brought up all the time (his great personal wealth, his lack of union backing and his investigation of Mike Hatch back in 2006, about which he says that only reporters ever seem to bring it up.)
Kelliher gets a more focused story on one specific proposal: Pat Kessler of WCCO reports on her proposed property tax cap for seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes but just keeping having to pay more, some experiencing double-digit increases. Kessler interviews one senior who has struggled as a result: “[I]f it wasn’t for the Dollar Store, we wouldn’t be eating regularly, the senior says.
Kelliher also appeared on the program “Almanac,” where they made her demonstrate how she would handle the budget on a toy hockey table — by stacking hockey pucks. It’s something they call “Budget Slap Shot,” which leaves one worried that the Hanson brothers might storm the studio and check the House speaker against the side of the rink, as in this uncomfortably violent scene from the 1977 movie “Slap Shot.” Instead, as Mary Lahammer reports on MinnPost: “[L]ike every candidate she put most of her money in education with 48%. Health and human services followed at 29% which put her in the middle of the pack for spending.” She also raised the income tax, which is probably something we’re going to hear more about — mostly, one suspects, from her GOP rival Tom Emmer.
Emmer has his own campaign promises as well, though. He’s been a bit vague in the past, but, according to Dan Gunderson of Minnesota Public Radio, Emmer met with farmers at a Moorhead restaurant and promised to lighten their burden by cutting agricultural regulations. What regulations? According to Gunderson, “he has yet to release any specifics.”
Both Dayton and Entenza have used some of their money to release new ads to get their message out, and Patrick Caldwell of Minnesota Independent has the ads. So what are the messages? Dayton’s ad reminds us that he voted against the Iraq war — a war that is presumably now seen as universally bad by his constituency — and then reminds us he plans to raise taxes on the richest Minnesotans, which he would then invest in education. This is an interesting tactic on Dayton’s part — the “tax-and-spend liberal” smear has been so effective in the past that Republicans now turn to it reflexively, even when addressing Democrats who have actually lowered taxes, like Barack Obama. But Dayton is actually running as a tax-and-spend liberal. We at the Glean will be curious to see how that works out. Entenza’s ad, in the meanwhile, is exclusively about eliminating “No Child Left Behind,” and mostly consists of images of children happily tearing standardized testing forms in half.
A quick follow-up to the Lino Lakes English-only measure discussed in Monday’s Glean: Yesterday, it passed. MPR’s Laura Yuen has the story.
In arts: A flash mob of about 50 descended on the Paul Bunyan statue in downtown Bemidji, all dressed, more or less, like lumberjacks — story and video on MinnPost. It’s always so nice to see groups of people spontaneously form for something like this — oh, wait, it was a promotional stunt for radio station KBXE. In that case, a correction in terminology is required — this was not a flash mob, a term that is not applied to promotional stunts for businesses, although it seems that every idea-strapped marketing form in Minnesota is trying them. Perhaps the Vancouver Sun was correct about flash mobs when it wrote that they may “have ended up giving conformity a vehicle that allowed it to appear nonconforming.
In sports: Michael Rand of the Star Tribune wondered just what it takes to be a Timberwolves dancer, so he tracked one down to tell her tale. Her answer, in part: “Commitment is just as important as the talent and personality.” If you have none of these things, well, you could probably join a flash mob.