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Minnesota voters split on both marriage and voting amendments

Minnesota Orchestra contract problems; Ventura opposes amendments; Obama leading in Wisconsin; Quist raises “death panels” issue; and more.

In case you missed it … Baird Helgeson of the Strib reports on the latest Minnesota Poll: “The increasingly costly and bitter fight over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is a statistical dead heat, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll. Six weeks before Election Day, slightly more Minnesotans favor the amendment than oppose it, but that support also falls just short of the 50 percent needed to pass the measure. Among likely voters, 49 percent would approve constitutional language that defines marriage as only the union of a man and woman. Another 47 percent oppose the measure, while 4 percent are undecided. Minnesota law requires any change to the Constitution to capture a majority of all ballots cast. … Hennepin and Ramsey counties are strongholds of opposition, with 58 percent saying they would vote no. Head to the suburbs outside those two counties and the numbers flip, with 59 percent saying they would support the measure.
Minnesota’s oldest voters were the most likely to approve the amendment, with 55 percent of those 65 and older favoring the amendment. Younger voters are just as opposed, with 57 percent saying they will vote against it.”

On the question of Voter ID, Jim Ragsdale of the Strib writes: “Minnesotans favor a constitutional change that would require voters to show government-issued photo ID before casting ballots, but their support has weakened dramatically over the past year, the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found. Slightly more than half of likely voters polled — 52 percent — want the changes built around a photo ID requirement, while 44 percent oppose them and 4 percent are undecided. That is a far cry from the 80 percent support for photo ID in a May 2011 Minnesota Poll, when the issue was debated as a change in state law.”

There are some sour notes on the musical labor front. Graydon Royce of the Strib writes of the possibility of a lockout: “Minnesota Orchestra management and musicians are still worlds apart as they meet with a federal mediator on Monday, six days before the orchestra’s union contract expires. Management’s original proposal, delivered April 12, would cut musicians’ average salaries to $89,000, from $135,000. Musicians have made no counteroffer. With the season-opening concert still four weeks off, the union has no strike leverage. But neither is it inclined to accept the current proposal.”

The latest to weigh in … against … the GOP’s voting amendment is writer Shawn Otto of Marine on St. Croix in a Strib commentary. He says: “Recent polling indicates that the voter ID amendment may pass. This suggests that most Democrats and most young people don’t really understand what’s at stake. It’s not about voter fraud. Minnesota has had no cases of voter impersonation, which is the only kind of fraud that a government-issued photo ID would prevent. It’s about turning Minnesota into a ‘red state’ for the foreseeable future. … What’s a mystery is why Democrats and neutral civics organizations aren’t fighting it harder. Millions have been spent battling over the policy issues at stake. Voter ID could turn them all over, yet Democrats are spending a pittance on it.”

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And I know you were waiting for Jesse Ventura before deciding how you were going to vote … Tom Scheck of MPR reports: “Former Governor Jesse Ventura is speaking out against both constitutional amendments on the November ballot. Ventura recorded a video message earlier this month speaking out against a proposed amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. He also told a group of people at Macalester College that he opposed a proposed amendment that would require people to present photo identification to vote. He told MPR News he felt the amendment was aimed at reducing voter fraud that he says isn’t there. ‘It’s clearly being done to disenfranchise poor people, immigration people, whoever. And you notice who sponsors it? The people who don’t normally get those people’s votes are the big sponsors of Voter ID. It sounds good on the surface but it sucks.’ ” … Which is saying it in language everyone can understand.

The New York Times files a report on the presidential race in Wisconsin: “President Barack Obama has overtaken Romney on who would do a better job handling the economy, according to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll of likely Wisconsin voters. The poll also found that Obama has a 17-point edge over Romney when voters are asked if a candidate cares about their needs and problems. With the president making his first campaign visit of the year to Wisconsin on Saturday, the poll found that Obama was the choice of 51 percent to 45 percent for Romney among likely voters. The six-point lead, which includes those who said they were leaning in one direction or another, marks a slight shift in Obama’s direction since Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin joined the Republican ticket last month.”

And how about the PiPress editorializing about the perils of … public unions? “When legislation championed by Gov. Scott Walker to address state budget problems passed last year, action moved from the statehouse to the courthouse. Legal challenges continue to play out in courts, with a county court recently striking down much of the law. Wisconsin’s attorney general has filed an appeal. ‘It makes no sense to force a return to a broken system before the appellate process is completed,’ Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement. He’s right. … Tight times, with recession and budget deficits, bring added pressure to impose balance. Walker did. His legislation turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a $150 million surplus without raising taxes — while, in fact, slightly reducing property taxes. His labor reforms allowed school districts to save money on benefits — and thereby avoid layoffs.” Really?

GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan gave an interview to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Craig Gilbert writes: “ In an exclusive interview with the Journal Sentinel as he flew home to Janesville from Florida on Saturday night, Ryan answered questions about the state of the race, about conservative frustrations with the Romney campaign and about the political debate that exploded last week over ‘makers and takers’ in American society: Ryan said people who rely on government aid don’t do so ‘by choice’ — as compared with Romney’s recently reported remarks at a 2012 fundraiser, where he characterized 47% of Americans as dependent on government, having a ‘victim’ mind-set, and feeling entitled to food, health care and housing. Ryan, who has called those comments ‘inarticulate,’ said Obama’s policies have led to ‘economic stagnation’ and ‘more able-bodied people becoming dependent upon government.’ … He disputed criticism from conservative commentators that the Romney campaign has been vague and timid. ‘A, we still have a ways to go. We still have a lot left that we’re planning on doing,’, he said. ‘B, I think that’s just what conservatives do by nature. I think that’s just the naure of conservative punditry is to do that — to kind of complain — about any imperfection they might see.. Ryan said that charge against Romney was contradicted by ‘his very selection of me as his running mate, the guy with all the specifics, who’s put out all these solutions on the table. It shows you very clearly Mitt Romney’s not afraid of making big decisions, making tough decisions, putting specifics out there.’ ” The guy gets no medals for false modesty, does he?

First District GOP congressional candidate Allen Quist isn’t letting go of the Tea Party’s “death panel” argument. At Bluestem Prairie, Sally Jo Sorensen writes: “While Congressman Walz was in Washington doing his job in the House, Allen Quist was hanging with other Republican candidates at a Rochester Tea Party Patriots (so not partisan).  In audio posted in three parts to a Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor tracker’s Youtube account, Quist responded to a question about the Affordable Care Act for several minutes, then said:

So, if we allow this bill to go into effect, we have lost our country. We cannot let that happen. And I hate to say it, but I’ve only scratched the surface about how bad it is.You want to talk about euthanasia? Well, the way it works folks, there will be bureaucratic panels who will define whether you can be treated or whether you can’t. And the medical community, the doctors and the nurses, will be prohibited by law from  treating you if you don’t meet the guidelines of the bureaucratic panel.It’s all about rationing, it’s all about control, it’s all about one party and one ideology that is all about keeping itself in  power. I assure you it’s not not about the welfare, the well-being of the United States of America or its citizens. Am I making myself clear?”

You know he’s going to get to the birth certificate sooner or later.