Is the party over for the Independence Party?

MinnPost photo illustration by Corey Anderson

More than ever it looks as if it’s time to place an “R” in front of the “IP’’ in Minnesota politics, as in RIP Independence Party. 

It’s been 22 years since Ross Perot, nationally, and Dean Barkley, in Minnesota, breathed life into the concept of a major third party movement. In 1992, Perot won 19 per cent of the vote in his presidential race against Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, the most a third party presidential candidate since Theodore Roosevelt’s run in 1912. In Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, Barkley, an unknown, received 16 per cent of the vote in a race that saw Republican Rod Grams defeat DFL incumbent Gerry Sikorski.

Since those eyebrow-raising beginnings, there have been some grand times for the IP (Jesse Ventura’s victory over Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey in 1998), and some lean times (Peter Hutchinson, a serious man, won just six per cent of the vote in 2006).

But never have things been so grim as the present.

The Independence Party has a gubernatorial candidate (Hannah Nicollet) who has almost zero name recognition and was unable to clear the barrier that would have made her eligible to receive vitally important public campaign subsidy. Under qualification rules, Nicollet would have needed to show that she had the support of at least 700 people donating $50 or more to her campaign. She didn’t have half that total when she hit the July deadline, meaning she is not eligible for more than $200,000 in public support. 

And the bad news keeps on coming.

The IP’s gubernatorial candidate of four years ago, Tom Horner, who collected tons of impressive endorsements from pols and the media but won just 12 per cent of the vote, announced this week he’s supporting Jeff Johnson, the GOP’s candidate. 

Beyond that, the party has disavowed U.S. Senate candidate Steve Carlson, a Tea Partier who defeated the IP’s endorsed candidate, Kevin Terrell, in a low-turnout primary. The party had high hopes that the thoughtful Terrell would actually turn heads — or at least five per cent of the heads — in the U.S. Senate race.

Most damning of all is the reality that in the 22 years since Perot/Barkley, the party still has not been able to create a meaningful infrastructure. The DFL and GOP are built around precinct-level organizations. The IP remains, in essence, a loosely formed group of people who like to point out how inept DFL and Republican pols are — but have never have really done anything to organize at the local level. 

Oldtimers in the party admit that the one golden opportunity for party building — when Ventura was governor — was lost because Ventura was far more interested in building himself, not the party.

Former candidate Tom Horner likely to join Johnson campaign for governor
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Tom Horner

Interestingly, the IP has failed to mature despite the fact that public has never been more disgusted with the performances of politicians from the traditional parties. And it’s failed even though we in the media have taken it far more seriously than other minor parties. In part, that’s because until this year, the IP, in gubernatorial races, has run serious candidates with impressive bona-fides.

Horner, for example, said he was treated with respect — and given considerable media coverage — on his initial trips through the cities of Minnesota in his race four years ago. But it was on the second trips through those cities, he said, that he was struck by reality: there was not much public interest in IP candidates. “I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in Perkins’ with two or three people,’’ Horner said of his campaign.

Mark Jenkins, the ebullient IP chairman, admits this election cycle “is a tough one.’’  But this is no time for political obituaries, Jenkins said. Even if the IP’s  would lose major party status — one of its candidates in a statewide race must collect five per cent of the vote or the crucial “major’’ status is gone  — the party would not disappear.

“I’m not concerned about the five per cent,’’ Jenkins said. “I think that’s doable. But I will say this, even if we don’t hit five per cent we’re not going to go away. We’re not going to go away until the parties start representing us.”

Mark Jenkins
Mark Jenkins

In Jenkins’ mind, “us” is the middle of the political spectrum as opposed to the extreme bases of both the Republican and DFL parties. For Jenkins and that base of IP believers — anywhere from 3 to 6 per cent of the electorate, according to Horner — the IP reflects Minnesota values. The party supported gay marriage and opposed the voter ID amendment; and currently supports legalization of marijuana, Sunday sales of liquor and automobiles and seeks fiscally prudent approaches to balanced budgets.

“I get all sorts of calls about Sunday sales,’’ said Jenkins. “But that’s an issue both of the other parties are afraid of. Our belief is that if you can legally purchase something on Saturday, you should be able to make that purchase on Sunday.’’

Nicollet says such issues as Sunday sales represent the greater themes of the party. 

“Our message is live and let live,’’ said Nicollet, who was a Ron Paul activist prior to emerging as the IP’s gubernatorial candidate. She believes it’s a message that younger generations of voters yearn to hear.

They are going to have a hard time hearing it from her, though. At present, Nicollet has less than $20,000 for her campaign. The great IP hope is that Nicollet, who is scheduled to be in the first gubernatorial debate of the campaign (Oct. 1 in Rochester) will outshine incumbent Mark Dayton and GOP challenger Jeff Johnson. 

And if such well-respected candidates as Tim Penny (16 per cent of the vote in 2002), Hutchinson (6 per cent in 2006) and Horner (12 per cent four years ago) could only be spoilers in their races, what hope does an unknown such as Nicollet have of reaching even 5 percent of the voters? 

All of which means this campaign season could be the last one for the IPs.

Hannah Nicollet
Hannah Nicollet

Penny, the former conservative Democratic U.S. Congressman, believes there must be an IP future. Look no further than the pathetic state of politics as it’s currently practiced to see why.

“This won’t be a great year (for the IP),’‘ said Penny, “but it’s not over. There’s no compelling reason to believe that either of the other parties will seriously work to recapture the middle. In the long run, if that were to happen, then that would be it for the Independence Party. But there’s nothing to show that will happen. … Both parties continue to believe that to have success, they must cater to their bases.’’ 

Penny believes that appeal-to-the bases approach means gridlock, cynicism and fundamental national problems not being dealt with. In his mind the IP needs “to hang around; it’s day may come back and meantime concentrate on the next generation.’’

There is a quicker route to salvation than waiting on the next generation. That would be the appearance of either a very rich, or extremely charismatic, character (preferably both) who would step into the political picture. In 1992, there was Perot, who was both rich and charismatic. (He won 23 per cent of the Minnesota presidential vote.)  And in 1998, there was Ventura, who captured the imagination of 37 percent of the voters in his winning bid to become governor. 

There may not be any Venturas lurking in the shadows of Minnesota politics, Horner says. But there are people who could fill that role in a different way. Imagine, said Horner, if someone such as former news anchor Don Shelby decided to make himself available to run on the IP slate. Or, someone such as Marilyn Carlson Nelson. The party which is now being written off would suddenly come to life again.

A superstar might be able to overcome the one big factor that has always made life so hard for IP candidates: The wasted-vote fear. Jenkins says Steven Levitt, a co-author of the book “Freakonomics,’’ nailed the IP problem. “He talks about how facts say one thing, but actions often say something different,’’ Jenkins said. “Poll after poll shows that 60 per cent of Americans want a strong third party, but what happens when people vote?’’

What happens is that voters, often holding their noses, go back to their traditional parties. 

Jenkins says that “in the long term” his party must do a better job of identifying what it stands for. “We have to define the party, not just ride on the coat tails of whoever our candidate might be.’’

But even using a term such as “long term’’ sounds like bravado at this point. Without short term success — meaning a candidate for governor, secretary of state, auditor or attorney general — picking up five per cent, the substantial perks of being a so-called major party disappear, including automatic ballot access and eligibility for the public campaign funds.

Without those perks, the IPs is in line to join the Grassroots Party, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Green Party in political obscurity. 

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Comments (96)

  1. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/12/2014 - 09:49 am.

    If people defect when they have a candidate…

    There is an endorsed candidate for the IP.

    If people can’t hold to their candidate, then maybe there is insufficient will to be different & a viable 3rd party.

    5% shouldn’t be that insurmountable of a threshold.
    A real 3rd party might be good for the process, but often as not, its a bunch of fringe extremists running on one to two splinter issues.

    I still suspect the most surprised guy in the room when Ventura won, may be Jesse himself.

    A lot of people voted for him as a protest vote, because neither party made a compelling case & did not expect him to win.

    There are other parties in existence.
    Not even the Greens qualify as a 3rd Party?

    Tea Party said they were a party all their own. How come they run as Republicans? They don’t seem to really believe they are a party, or could muster 5% of a vote.

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 09/13/2014 - 01:25 am.

      Protest vote or flippant vote?

      Maybe Ventura picked up protest votes, there are always those, but every Ventura voter I spoke to later said the reason for their vote was “I figured what the heck”. Things were pretty good in 1998, and voters just didn’t take it seriously, so some had fun with their vote. I have trouble believing Ventura could have won in a year with a sense of bigger stakes.

      Subsequent IP candidates have bounced between a floor of the required 5% and a ceiling of 15%. I suppose they can keep hoping for another celebrity or billionaire to take on their party name for his personal agenda, but otherwise, missing that 5% is a big deal. I get a sense of whistling past the graveyard.

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/15/2014 - 05:24 pm.

        At the risk of being redundant

        I agree that Ventura could likely not have won in other years.

        I am not saying that his message resonated greatly,
        only that it was about shooting a warning shot across the bow of the other parties.

        There were people who thought the election was a done deal & that voting for Ventura was going wake them all up, even though he would not win; one of the other candidates would win to better effect.

        The problem is that he did win.

        I think Arne lulled people into a belief that there would be reasonable people chosen & it wasn’t going to go nuts, no matter which party won the election.

        Arne Carlson was adamantly rejected by Republicans & only later got the nomination after the Grunseth skinny-dipping incident, as you probably recall.

        FWIW, I don’t think Jesse was a terrible governor, but neither was he a very good one.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2014 - 10:01 am.

    In a word: Yes

    Near as I can tell the so-called “independence” party was never more than a branch of the republican party anyways. I’ve yet to run into a party member who actually votes independently, i.e. for anyone other than a republican or a independence candidate. If anything IP candidates can be worse than republicans because they tend to bring incoherent Libertarian principles into the discourse. If the IP party had actually been independent, if they’d embraced liberal principles along with libertarian and conservative principles and truly thought outside the box, they might of had some legs. As it is, all we got from them was more “govments the problem not the solution” malarkey that we were getting from the republicans. Ventura was entertaining but his big accomplishment was to set us up for budget crises and gridlock. He wasn’t as bad as Pawlenty but he wasn’t a “good” governor. I think Minnesotan’s ended up deciding that electing Ventura had been a mistake at the end of the day, and the presence of independent candidates in the next two election cycles handed victories to a republican candidate without of decent majority of votes.

  3. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 09/12/2014 - 10:32 am.

    Yes, it’s dead

    When I noticed their booth at the State Fair, I wondered aloud why they even bothered.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2014 - 10:55 am.

    Repulican indeed

    If you go to Nicollet’s campaign site and click on the issues it’s just republican small govmint stuff. She’s anti choo, choo, local control, magic tax cuts, blah blah blah. Her and Johnson don’t even disagree about medical marijuana. There’s just nothing to see here, move along.

  5. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/12/2014 - 11:09 am.

    IP doesn’t stand for anything

    You can’t sustain a party that doesn’t stand for anything. I have asked before, I will ask again – what is the IP tax policy? Education policy? Transportation policy? Health care policy? People will gravitate to those that share their philosophy on actual issues that impact their lives – the IP simply doesn’t have anything for anyone to gravitate towards.

    • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 12:57 pm.

      I have a tax plan

      I presented it the Assistant Commissioner of Business Taxes and the Tax Policy Manager at Minnesota Revenue yesterday, primarily targeting a specific action they do not need to wait for legislation to improve the state business community and government relations.

      It is in a planned roll out to media, legislators, gubernatorial candidates and the public.

      It is largely developed from and similar to the 2008 21st Century Governor’s Task Force on Tax Reform and the 2012 Property Tax Working Group. in 2012 I executed an in-depth property tax, aids and credits research project with a former commissioner of revenue. Five years at Revenue, I wrote the book on Minnesota Sales & Use Tax Compliance (for MN Revenue) and I served as an individual incoem tax fraud detection agent in addition to being a Business Registration expert, trainer and principal author of state procedures.

      What have the other two parties offered, Mr. Ellenbecker, former mayor of St. Cloud (D)?

      GOP: Perpetuation of a non-plan: “Spend Less”
      Gov. Dayton and the DFL: One unlawful plan that he knew would fail and was simply a tool for populist messaging that was pie in the sky and one failed plan that needed to be repealed the following year while leading to inefficient tax administration and not adhering to the vision statement of Minnesota Revenue: “No more, no Less”. The average Minnesotan paid ~$200 more than necessary in taxes as a result of failed leadership in the Governor’s office.

      What is the IP Tax Plan? I am a one man tax plan, John, and rather than pretend a a tax plan written in legislation is the be-all end all of tax reform, my plan is revolutionary in pursuing a three-pronged approach of (1) legislation (2) administrative executive action and (3) raising cultural awareness of tax systems.

      My plan is a “citizens plan” and that of a revenue insider that watched incompetence play out in my face, hurting the work of the agency I hold in high-esteem.

      ~Bob Helland for Minnesota Secretary of State

      • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/12/2014 - 03:22 pm.

        You are not the party

        Mr. Helland – you are an individual with your own agenda – I asked what the policy positions of your PARTY are? Yes, I am a Democrat – and for specific reasons. I am a Democrat because in Minnesota the DFL has a policy to make our state tax system more progressive, to implement a more progressive state income tax as opposed to a regressive local property tax. That is a policy that guides the DFL. What is the IP tax policy – not your tax policy – but the tax policy of your party? A party doesn’t coalesce around individual candidates – it will coalesce around specific principles and policies that impact people’s everyday lives. The IP isn’t surviving because it simply doesn’t stand for anything.

        • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 04:56 pm.

          It’s a good thing voters vote for people then, not parties!

          Mr. Ellenbecker:

          I am on the ballot, just like the individuals of other parties and we do not have a “master lever” voting option, thank goodness. Now, by your logic,

          Hannah Nicollet is not the party.
          Mark Jenkins (chairman) is not the party.
          Tom Horner is not the party.
          Pat Dean (auditor candidate) is not the party.
          Brandan Borgos (attorney geberal candidate) is not the party.

          Can you at least agree that Mr. Grow should have included the names of the candidates who can qualify the IP for “major” status before all but declaring us dead? Those others being Brandan, Pat and myself. That also includes are dedicated staffs, contributors and supporters.

          Is that an unreasonable expectation of journalism in Minnesota?

          Please, call me Bob.


          PS I support progressive taxes, as well ,guided by principles of transparency and simplification. It can be done. (Principles are not plans, however)

          • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/13/2014 - 12:59 pm.

            About the IP

            Bob – I have simply offered my opinion as to why the IP has failed as a party. It is not my place to tell Doug Grow how to write an article nor to tell you how to run your campaign.

    • Submitted by Bob Evenson on 09/13/2014 - 01:09 am.

      what about the dfl

      Their policy is what let DC dictate?

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2014 - 11:11 am.

    Not to belabor the point but…

    From her website:

    “Understanding that neither the right nor left have a monopoly on good ideas, Hannah Nicollet takes a pragmatic approach to challenges, insisting on tangible results.”

    They all say this, but none of their ideas or positions come from the left. You go down her list of issues and even her “Food Freedom” idea is simply libertarian mumbo jumbo about ending food regulation and letting people buy unpasteurized milk. Her health care proposals are to allow for-profit health care, which is just recycled republican private sector competition mythology. And so it goes.

    There’s nothing remotely independent about this, it’s just grabbing stale and bankrupt republican/libertarian ideas off the shelf and calling it independent. The only tangible results you’re going to get out of any of this is multiple failures on several different levels; we know this because we’ve been there and done all of these things. Do you know how many children used to die every year from drinking unpasteurized milk? If competition gave us great and affordable health care, we wouldn’t have lousy and unaffordable health care!

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/12/2014 - 11:48 am.

    It may be time

    …to turn out the lights.

    “… The party supported gay marriage and opposed the voter ID amendment; and currently supports legalization of marijuana, Sunday sales of liquor and automobiles and seeks fiscally prudent approaches to balanced budgets.”

    I ought to be an IP voter.

    But I’m not. Paul Udstrand seems right on target to me in his first comment. If the IP had embraced liberal AND conservative AND libertarian ideas, and put them into a coherent political philosophy, I might be campaigning for IP candidates right now. Unfortunately, it’s that last part of the quote about “fiscally prudent approaches to balanced budgets” that doesn’t work in my household.

    “Fiscally prudent” can be interpreted in a variety of ways – ways that sometimes include tax increases as well as tax cuts, increased spending as well as decreased spending, supporting some business initiatives, opposing others. That sort of balance is missing from IP statements and their website. As Paul has pointed out, it’s mostly Republican boilerplate.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/12/2014 - 12:22 pm.


      “Fiscal prudence” some reason never involves raising any taxes, or investing in public services and infrastructure. It’s code for magical thinking i.e. tax, and budget cuts. And Ventura and Pawlenty both showed us you don’t even get balanced budgets let alone fiscal stability or prudence out the deal.

      The problem with Libertarian aspect is that along with supporting gay rights, and apposing voter ID, you get the whacko notion that citizenship is a form of oppression; and lets get rid of the central bank and education department while we’re at it. Oddly enough Libertarians have no coherent concept of “Liberty” at the end of the day, they can’t decide if they’re patriots or tax protestors. Recently we’ve seen for instance that it’s okey dokey for a white guy in Montana to illegally graze his profitable cows on federal land, and then declare that he doesn’t recognize the government, and threaten government employees with firearms… but if a black man in a public skyway refuses to submit to an unlawful police demand he’s just being unreasonable. “Don’t Tread on Me” becomes: “What’s the problem officer?” Libertarians want to be free to keep the fruits of their labor but they also want to be free to use the services and infrastructure we all pay for, or worse, they don’t even realize that they’re using services and infrastructure we’re all paying for.

  8. Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 12:36 pm.

    I am Bob Helland and I am not dead yet, nor is this party

    I am Bob Helland, endorsed Independence Party nominee for the Office of Secretary of State.

    This article is faux-journalistic hit-piece that ignores the three statewide constitutional candidates who have received nearly $100K in combined campaign financing.

    My positions:
    >>>I will ensure the right to vote and protect standards of eligibility by respecting the rule of law in Minnesota. Unlike my opponents, I won’t pretend I can legislate from the executive branch and I will serve as Chief Elections Officer with integrity and independence.

    >>>I will improve business services that are failing the business community in this state by enhancing technology systems, streamlining documentation and augmenting training programs. I served five years as a state business registration expert at Minnesota Revenue; in fact, I wrote the book on business tax registration and sales tax compliance. (200+ pages of documentation and 100s of hours of employee-hours in training I developed.)

    >>>I will modernize state record management systems and pioneer “opening” the state’s public information to the people of Minnesota.

    >>>I will responsibly serve on the State Board of Investment and be an independent voice of the people with a solemn duty to protect and grow state capital and pension funds.

    >>>I will invigorate young people in Minnesota politics and revitalize economic development by reaching out to all Minnesotans – young, old, native, immigrant, disabled – and provide options and opportunities to be a part of our civil society.

    What will I not do? Remain silent while you try to nail my coffin without event putting my name on a tombstone.

    I’m alive and well, Doug Grow, so is this campaign and so is this party. If you don’t believe me, come down to my St. Paul Skyway headquarters and check my pulse… you’ll see my heart is beating with a passion for what I am trying to do in service of the state of Minnesota.

    If you think I can’t get 5%, show me your polls.

    ~Bob Helland for Minnesota Secretary of State

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 09/12/2014 - 01:11 pm.


      This is the comment that best exemplifies why the IP is dead (and has been since they stopped nominating pro wrestlers). There is no pretense about actually winning the election. Its just about getting 5 percent so the ballot access and public money can keep sustaining its meager existence.

      • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 01:46 pm.

        I’m not running to lose, Mr. Hintz

        If you read my position statements, you’ll notice I intend to serve. I am not delusional or naive to think I’m a favorite, but I fight everyday for victory for my campaign; the IP’s status is secondary to my purpose and ambition and I expect to comfortably clear that hurdle.

        The fact that reporters are reporting the IP demise with no polls whatsoever to substantiate their claims should cause alarm for voters who should reject the self-fulfilling prophecies of news storytellers. This is not journalism and ignores the fact we have three candidates doing better than what we had in 2010.

        My comment was in response to that assertion, but don’t be mistaken, this campaign continues and no one knows the standing of down-ballot constitutional races.


        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/12/2014 - 02:29 pm.

          Get back to us

          When your campaign consists of more than taking advantage of a free public forum to deliver a manifesto that frankly, is more of a rant. You come across as desperate, Mr. Helland, which I doubt is your goal.

          • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 05:04 pm.

            Au contraire, I am desperate for change as many others are!

            Minnesotans and Americans as a whole. The subject speaks for itself, but do you see an insinuation in your statement that politicians should not engage the public in public forums? I have a right to my free speech and you to yours. Should I have to pay for forums to explain my candidacy? Should I have to lobby Minnpost to be reported as a major party statewide candidate?

            As an independent “tripartisan”, forgive me if I try harder than my opponents to be heard.


          • Submitted by Dion Goldman on 09/13/2014 - 12:17 pm.

            We need more “free” public forums not fewer

            So you would prefer that a candidate has to buy their way into being vetted by the public? The IP also states for overturning Citizens United by legislation or an amendment to the US Constitution. Corporations are NOT people and money is not speech. And a super majority of voters in the US happen to agree with the IP of MN on this.

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/13/2014 - 03:54 pm.


              You generally are vetted by the grass roots of your party organization, which in the DFL at least is certainly not the folks you mention. If the gentleman wants to run, more power to him, but perhaps he might consider a donation to the site that is graciously allowing him a soapbox to trumpet his views. Personally, I visit the internet primarily to avoid the constant advertising of the political season, which is the main reason I find his intrusion so annoying. You want advertising, buy it like everyone else and leave the rest of us alone.

      • Submitted by Maren Schroeder on 09/12/2014 - 01:57 pm.

        Alive & Kicking

        With all due respect, I don’t think 5% is the ultimate goal – it is simply a statement in response to the article claiming no IP candidate can pull 5% of the vote. I am out, talking to people, and I have not had one single person tell me “I won’t vote for IP” – instead – they’ve taken the literature and are empowered to have to a choice.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/12/2014 - 03:28 pm.


      Bob, I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but I’ve found your postings to largely be incomprehensible. They have more typos than a blood bank (old joke of mine) and they’re so disjointed that it’s hard to figure where you’re going with your statements. You really need to work on some clear concise positions for issues. Right now it looks like you’re an angry old guy who’s railing against the machine.

      And, quite frankly, that isn’t enough.

      It doesn’t help any that the IP largely adopts a Libertarian and Republican point of view, which doesn’t impress me in the least. As a pinko commie librul, I look for a more pragmatic a science based approach to problem solving rather than ideological.

      Facts and logic impress me. Shaking your fist at The Man does not. And it appears you’re doing the latter.

      I’ve voted IP in the past and it’s likely I will in the future too. But the current set of candidates don’t look like they have anything to offer so done with my world view.

      • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 05:26 pm.

        Good joke! You’d be surprised to know…

        I am a 29 year old who could be the youngest elected statewide official in the nation.

        I also have long hair and a beard, I’m an experienced artistic performer, musical and theatrical, and I don’t want to burn down government. Rather, I hope to continuously improve it and educate voters about it. (M.S. 5.09 Legislative Manual Students’ Edition is something I would be well-suited to hone and work with educators to start civic educations early).

        Most people expect to see a young, hippy come out of my mouth, but if I sound like an old man, I must be wise beyond my years! I’ll take it as a compliment. I prefer to be the “best of both” or as I call, “The B.O.B”.

        As for typos, I regret my Android phone and crunched time are not conducive to thorough proofreading so I’d ask you to please read around a missed indefinite article or improper syntax of an occasional prepositional phrase.


        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/13/2014 - 04:52 pm.


          As a performer, then you know the value of a good presentation. Instead of performing on a stage though, this forum is your stage. Unfortunately though, at the moment your story line lacks focus and a cohesive thread to bring it all together.

          On top of that you’ve added typos and grammatical errors, which errodes the message you’re trying to convey. When you come to this particular forum on this particular website, you’re hitting a very specific market. These people you’re talking to are the policy wonks in Minnesota society. You’re talking to the segment that likes discussing policy so much that they seek it out on sites like this and hash it over endlessly.

          This is your target market. Win these folks over and you’ve got a shot. If you don’t get any traction here you can still soldier on, but you’ve already lost the people who are easiest to reach.

          That’s where the typos become important as your presentation is part of your performance. You’re selling ideas and language is the tool to convey those ideas. Introduce typos into your act though and you’re using the tool incorrectly. It’s like using a hammer to drive a screw.

          People look at your posts, notice the typos, and wonder what other details you’re missing. If you can’t get the simple stuff right, how can you hit the complex items? You can’t duff your way into Carnegie Hall.

          Take a little time, slow down, and breath. Proof your posts and make sure your ideas are clear and concise. If your phone doesn’t cut it for you, wait till you’re home and at a computer.

          Or maybe you just need to ditch the Android and go with an iPhone. I’ve been on the road all week and posting away with my phone, so maybe that’s the crux of the issue.

  9. Submitted by Tim Gieseke on 09/12/2014 - 12:56 pm.

    If a Need Remains, then IP will too

    Grow says, “Interestingly, the IP has failed to mature despite the fact that public has never been more disgusted with the performances of politicians from the traditional parties”.

    That is good superficial reporting, but I think one has to look into the shadows and recognize the growing divide between those that claim to be Dem or Rep. As someone investing in the future, I would seek out this younger, more fertile soil.

    I call it “Trickle Up Politics”. Much like the gay marriage issue, it was not young people growing up and enough traditional views passing away, it was people changing their mind after a critical mass from the youth grew up. We will see this with marijuana prohibition next.

    Eventually, “Trickle Up Politics” will loosen the more passively engaged Dems and Reps as a critical mass of young people grow in age and numbers. Because unlike generations of the past, much of our activities we do are based on the upcoming generation’s accomplishments and many are associated with social networks – a politician’s dream.

    So Doug, rather than plant some flowers by the IP tombstone, I would suggest you plant a tree by the IP Monument.

    Tim Gieseke
    Lt. Gov Candidate
    Independence Party of Minnesota

    • Submitted by Dion Goldman on 09/13/2014 - 12:45 pm.

      City& County election wins propel us to the big leagues

      Don’t look now, but the IP has been winning city and county elections for several years. While Mr. Grow would discount this, long term party planning has resulted in many local wins. While gaining governing experience and community name recognition planting seeds for future election wins.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/15/2014 - 09:21 am.


        I haven’t heard of many of these city and county victories. Care to elucidate?

        Are these partisan elections they are winning, or the more usual non-partisan elections that happen to be won by an IPer?

  10. Submitted by Gail O'Hare on 09/12/2014 - 01:46 pm.

    Faux Party

    I’m sorry, Mr. Helland, you may be a great candidate, although you do seem to have an exaggerated view of the office. The fact that you have a pulse is not in question. The point is that there is no genuine Independent Party, no clear platform, just an array of sometimes thoughtful and sometimes self-serving dissenters from extreme Republican positions.
    You also seem unclear on what journalism is about if you can find any reason to slam Doug Grow. I think he’s been remarkably gentle. The truth is, the IPs have always been “somewhere in the middle” but, as Paul Ulstrand and others have pointed out, that middle has always slanted right. Certainly, their great triumph, the victory of Jesse Ventura, was not the victory of a set of principles but of a man who hated paying taxes on his vehicles. Jet Ski Jesse never did manage to articulate his Big Plan. He had no plan, and now we see that even Mr. Horner’s political stand is really just anybody-but-Dayton.

    • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/12/2014 - 02:27 pm.

      I am well-versed in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 5

      I welcome your comment, Gail, and it’s criticism I’ve heard before. Its criticism seen through a lens of the SOS being a ceremonial elections administrator, a result of intense partisanship in current and past campaigns of two party candidates.

      Flatly, it’s invalid and please note that despite my opponents’ implications, photo ID at the polls is a legislative issue. The SoS enforces the election laws as an executive and is bound by statute to adhere to those laws.

      Please review and let me know if you still feel I’ve exaggerated noting that “secretary of state” appears in statutes 1,278 times and “governor” appears 1,188 times.

      Which role is bigger?

      Chapter 5


  11. Submitted by Dave Hutcheson on 09/12/2014 - 02:41 pm.

    The main point seems to be a claim that all statewide IP candidates are likely to fall short of 5% of the statewide vote this year, yet there is a certain lack of detail. Who are all these people supposedly doomed to fail, yet not named here? The IP candidate for Lieutenant Governor? Tim Gieseke — don’t dismiss him until you have read his book on eco-commerce — he’s also heard from here. The IP candidate for State Auditor? Pat Dean — have you heard how he earned the title “whistleblower” as CFO for the St. Paul Port Authority? The IP candidate for Attorney General? Brandan Borgos — are you familiar with his work for Minnesota NORML? The IP candidate for Secretary of State? Bob Helland — also already heard from here — the definitive contradiction of John Ellenbecker’s assertion that the IP has no tax proposals. And as for Hannah Nicollet, the IP candidate for Governor, it might be best to take in a debate or two or more before writing her obituary. So, Mr. Grow, I think you missed a few relevant facts. Wanna bet on your claim?

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/12/2014 - 03:27 pm.

      What is the IP tax policy?

      Please provide me with the IP – not Mr. Helland’s – tax policy. Thank you.

      • Submitted by Jeff Helland on 09/12/2014 - 03:59 pm.

        Tax Plan

        Why does a Party need a tax plan, I thought we voted for individuals?

        Why do the Major Parties Candidates say they want to provide leadership when they only hide behind the Party Line?

        What is wrong with having candidates that have the intellect to think outside the party box?

        When will we hold our elected officials accountable for doing something more than the will of the DNC & RNC.

        When will we elect people who serves the constituents interest instead of the party platform?

        Vote IP!

        • Submitted by Luke Ferguson on 09/12/2014 - 04:32 pm.

          Candidate vs Party `

          Why does a candidate need a party?

          To keep them (and apparently their family members, Mr. Helland number two) from making fools of themselves in public forums on the internet.

          And for organization, and fundraising, messaging, and developing detailed party platforms vetted and voted on in BPOUs and conventions across the state.

          Maybe the IP would do well to start with asking Minnesotans what they want the IP to be, instead of making the IP whatever its candidates decide they’re going to be that year.

        • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/12/2014 - 04:42 pm.

          The failure of the party to have policy positions

          The failure of the IP to have firm policy positions that people can coalesce around is exactly why the IP has failed. A party has to stand for something – the IP doesn’t stand for anything. The policy positions tell us what the party stands for. The policy positions determine whether I support the party or not. The policy positions should establish consistency that I can rely upon if I vote for members of that party. For example, whether a DFLer is running in Grand Rapids or Austin, I expect them to support a progressive state tax system that favors a progressive income tax over a regressive local property tax. Over time DFLers have stuck to that principle – and it is proving to be of great benefit to Minnesota. That is why a party needs a tax plan.

          Why not support your thinking outside the box? I may – if I understand what you are proposing and agree with it – and if I can count on your taking the same position consistently while you are in office. But can I count on IP candidates from Grand Rapids and Austin both agreeing with your position? Is there consistency within those of your party that get elected? Will you all be moving forward with the same agenda? Or will you be working on three different individual agendas that are inconsistent with each other?

        • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/12/2014 - 04:47 pm.

          The DFL agenda is also my agenda

          And by the way Mr. Helland, when Gov. Dayton and the DFL made the state’s tax system more progressive by increasing the income tax rate on the wealthiest Minnesotans and increasing spending on programs like Local Government Aid and the state’s share of public school funding, that was my agenda, not the agenda of the DNC. They did what I have been advocating for years, what I have been asking them to do – not what the DNC told them to do.

      • Submitted by Philip Fuehrer on 09/13/2014 - 06:37 pm.

        IPs tax policy

        I think you mean platform planks/other statements. These are directly to, or reflections of tax policy:

        -We support fiscal responsibility and oppose mortgaging the future for short-term political gain

        -We insist that our tax dollars be spent with restraint and care, but our goal is also for a bright future, and so we are committed to: supporting economic growth, excellence in education, access for all to quality and affordable health care, investing in an efficient transportation infrastructure, protecting the environment, and providing efficient energy resources

        -We support permanent and predictable funding for transportation projects. Funds from excise
        taxes and user fees should be dedicated to transportation only.

        -Government that is fiscally responsible: equitable in its collection of taxes, careful in its
        spending, and honest in its financial reporting

        -We support government budgets that are structurally balanced and avoid shifting of expenses or
        borrowing to make them appear balanced

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/14/2014 - 10:18 am.

          Just to point out…

          Since no candidate or party proposes or promotes fiscal irresponsibility, unrestrained and careless spending, careless tax collecting and spending, trashing the environment, or crappy educational systems, these statements are kind of like declaring your against torturing puppies and starving old people to death. There’s really no substance here, and its pretty obvious that such statements are actually designed to provide no substance. These statements don’t even actually provide any contrast with any other candidates.

          The devil is always in the details, a glance at Nicollet’s website tells us that she thinks for profit health insurance and less spending on choo choos will provide better access to health care and better transportation infrastructure.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/15/2014 - 09:23 am.

      Mr. Helland’s Tax Policy

      What role does the Secretary of State have in determining or influencing tax policy?

      • Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/15/2014 - 01:57 pm.

        It is a “citizen plan”, RB, a civic responsibility of my own

        Good question, RB:

        As a citizen of Minnesota with uncommon experience with Minnesota’s revenue and business compliance systems, I feel it is my civic responsibility, or role, to share my knowledge. I don’t advertise this as an official OSS role or promise to bring it to fruition. Rather, I want to “give it away” for free to the public and their (to be) elected representatives.

        I am currently working with IP officers and candidates to present a new type of tax plan to the public. Not just policies and legislation, this plan is actions and ideas we can all be a part of to find more elegant revenue systems. It has three domains:

        1. Legislation: what laws should be on the books? What’s taxable? What are the rates? These are what most people think of as a “tax plan” but policies only become plans when implemented and executed. My legislative plans are progressive, geared towards consumption and support principles of simplification, transparency, efficiency and fairness.

        2. Administration: how does government execute and enforce laws? In my time at Revenue, I learned there were things provided for in legislation that were not being done. For example, online sales tax permit verification. Section 270B.08 authorizes the release of permit information but how is it executed in the real world? Very awkwardly. Providing information, education, is another administrative responsibility that can either be done well or poorly. We can always do better.

        Read my Minnpost community voices article here:

        3. Cultural awareness: why are taxes so “hard”? Why do people dislike them? Partly because the laws are complex and voluminous, partly due to the ways state and local government administer them, but partly because of perception in the public – in peoples’ minds. I learned long ago that “attitude is everything”. Citizens – taxpayers and voters – have a responsibility to be informed, I believe, and government has responsibilities to provide information and opportunities to learn. These are critical non-legislative and non-administrative acts that may improve our tax system.

        Personally, I want to help be a problem-solver for problems I understand well. Please know that this “citizen’s plan” and release are being highly scrutinized and that your question is a part of that scrutiny. I have met significant resistance for that very reason: pertinence, but I’ve independently decided it was appropriate and consistent with my civic duty. At a time when voters select their next governor and next legislators, I want voters to have information to decide who and why they vote and that requires elevating the level of revenue system discussions. I want to share knowledge.


  12. Submitted by Jeff Helland on 09/12/2014 - 03:47 pm.

    A Dying 2 Party System

    What is dying is the 2 Party System.

    The only reason they are still around is for the simple fact that they have the money that supports the press and there political pundits.

    At least the IP party is made up of people who want to serve for the purpose of better government. When the 2 major parties are only interested in there own self interest and getting reelected.

    As for casting a vote for the IP being a wasted vote, I would argue the only wasted vote is for one of the 2 major parties.unless you believe that dysfunctional government is the best government we can achieve. That the the 2 major party candidates are bought and paid for by there parties and are expected to support the party line.

    We all want leadership by our elected official yet we continue to ignore that there are unlimited number of good potential candidates that think independently.

    It is time to support the IP and any other candidate that is willing and competent to serve.

    A connected voting public can now find, follow and support Independent candidates and I think a movement has just begun.

    I would also like to make the point the the Public Election subsidy is not much more than a slush fund for the 2 major parties. Since Bob Helland did win his primary and make the threshold for the Public subsidy (which you quite frankly missed, I assume it would not support the point you wanted make) that change to that threshold will be made by REP & Dem legislature to protect there self interest.

    Jeff Helland

    • Submitted by Andy Schuler on 09/12/2014 - 04:46 pm.

      third party for life

      I have the feeling this article was written by a Democrat (possibly a Republican).

      Anyone who thinks voting third party is a wasted vote doesn’t understand the meaning of free elections. By claiming our system creates wasted votes, one willfully admits that our system is rigged (or at least severely flawed)!

      Perhaps if democrats and republicans stopped blaming third party candidates (or each other — I just moved from a district split right down the middle so at any given time you’ve got at least 49% of the electorate represented by someone who they voted against!) and offered solutions for our outdated winner-takes-all system then they could focus on the issues instead of worrying about getting that plurality of votes.

      We’re one of the few countries which still hasn’t figured out a little thing called proportional representation. The IP should focus on that. Voting needs to be about gaining representation, not “winning” like it’s a contest where a few receive fabulous prizes and everyone else has to wait until next time in the hopes they will finally spend more money than the other guy (9 out of 10 elections are won by the candidate who has the most money).

      A vote for the Independence Party is a vote for the only chance of any real change.

      • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/13/2014 - 12:55 pm.

        But what does “real change” mean?

        If “real change” is change for the worse, why would I support it? The IP’s problem – they can’t define “real change” because they don’t stand for anything. “Real change” can mean one thing for one IP member, and something directly opposite to another IP member. Define “real change” – give us specifics – do it consistently. When that happens, people who agree with you will coalesce around you – and then you will have a political party that you can sustain. The IP is dead – if it was ever alive – because it doesn’t stand for anything specific. “Real change” is really, really meaningless.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/12/2014 - 05:38 pm.

      Perhaps you might focus

      On how your “party” was unable to prevent its preferred Senate candidate from being summarily dismissed in a primary by someone who is in essence a write in by non members of your party. What other party does that happen to? To your point of your candidates being heard from in this forum, we hear from Leslie Davis occasionally too,(no offense intended) are we to regard your candidates with the level of seriousness? Not that your answer particularly matters, based on polling the majority of the electorate already does.

      • Submitted by Dion Goldman on 09/13/2014 - 12:37 pm.

        What other party does “that” happen to?

        The REPUBLICAN party. Yes indeed. Sharon Anderson beat Tom Neuville in 1994 for state attorney general in the Republican primary.

        • Submitted by Philip Fuehrer on 09/13/2014 - 06:26 pm.

          What other party does “that” happen to?

          The DFL – common headline from 08/11/10: “Mark Dayton beats DFL-endorsed Kelliher in primary for party’s nomination”

  13. Submitted by Ricky Lovestrand on 09/12/2014 - 06:10 pm.

    Vote for the best candidate

    I find it odd that despite how much American culture values independence and a “do it yourself” mentality, so many people turn into lemmings when it comes to politics. I think the “wasted vote” mentality weighs as heavily on the IP as any other problem.

    Thank you Bob for actually giving a damn about an office most Minnesotans know nothing about, for having coherent ideas, and for having the passion to run for political office in a time when most young people I know are growing increasingly jaded and disinterested.


    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/13/2014 - 01:05 pm.

      The “best” candidate

      My “best” candidate is the candidate who most closely agrees with my position on the important issues facing us. People aren’t lemmings simply because they disagree with you and your position on those issues. Political parties are people who have coalesced around shared values and shared positions on those issues – why would it surprise you that they would vote the same?

  14. Submitted by THOMAS REYNOLDS on 09/12/2014 - 06:35 pm.

    Catchy Title…

    You know Doug more than a couple of big names had looked at running under the IP banner. The problem with this year is that we have a very popular incumbent Governor with substantial poll ratings. As you well know the incumbents have a 70%-90% reelection history and it costs a lot to run a statewide campaign. Not checking the reports but I believe Governor Dayton spent around $7M to buy the governorship. It is truly an expensive race and with only a 10-30% chance of winning many simply decided not to take on the challenge.

    As far as the IP being dead, it may look that way but many grassroots efforts are underway helping elect public servants in local races at the city and county level. We still have a long way to go but as we build a solid base from the ground up we will become a much stronger party with excellent candidates for state and federal offices.

    As to worrying about a 5% threshold most party members are not all that concerned. Most polls do show the heavy disenchantment with the current two party system. I believe it really depends on just how much the DFL & GOP beat each other up as to whether voters will choose left, right, or middle. You know we have nearly 1.5M households with registered voters in Minnesota that have not registered as either DFL or GOP. A good candidate does have a chance to win an open seat such as Secretary of State. While a couple of hecklers have made light of the IP and Bob Helland, I must tell you Bob is far and above a more qualified candidate than either of the two major party endorsed candidates running against him. Not only could he win this seat, but if he does, he would be great for the state and the office would be much improved. My hope is that Bob Helland will, despite the huge cost of getting his message out, bring the challenge of being Secretary of State to hopefuls Simon and Severson so people can see what truly a great candidate Bob is.

  15. Submitted by Philip Fuehrer on 09/13/2014 - 08:39 am.

    “Bring out your dead! I’m not dead, yet!”

    It’s difficult to “win” these repartees and nigh impossible if they’re strict partisans (which most seem to be) as opposed to honest inquiries.

    Why? Well, here’s the script:

    Complaint: It should be easy to get 5%.
    Answer: It isn’t – we’re the best in the country. We’ve (the IP) been successfully doing it since 1994, but other than Greens and Constitution pulling it off for a couple years each no one else in MN has done it and no one has been able to sustain it – except us.

    Complaint: Well, the IP doesn’t stand for anything.
    Answer: 60+ Core values, principles and platform planks say otherwise – the IP stands for something.

    Complaint: Well, you’re struggling because you’re just angry Republicans.
    Answer: Support for recreational cannabis, preserving the quality of our environment and enforcement of environmental protection laws, support of gay rights/marriage, against the voter ID amendment – not bedrock Republicanism.

    C: Well, you’re just angry Democrats.
    A: Support of government control of policies at the lowest level possible, stressing of the need for all to be able to communicate in English, budgets that are structurally balanced and avoidance of shifts or borrowing to give the semblance of balance – not standard DFL fare.

    C: You can’t even keep your endorsed candidate from losing a primary – who does that happen too?
    A: Headline from 08/11/10: “Mark Dayton beats DFL-endorsed Kelliher in primary for party’s nomination”. And, Bob Helland beat DFLer Singleton who filed on our line in the SOS race.

    C: You only run quasi celebrities.
    A: We have a slate of straight up educated, qualified citizens – very much in the vein of “citizen legislators”.

    C: Man, all you guys do is run no-name candidates.
    A: Man, you can’t win for losing.

    The skinny? We stand for something – 60+ planks, principles and values (PPVs) indicate this. They cover the Environment, Clean Energy, Transportation, Healthcare, Economic Growth, Government/Election Reform and more. It does not cover everything under the sun – that is by design.

    We expect agreement from our candidates to 75% of our PPVs – that is to provide a solid level of consistency of philosophy in our candidates. Yet, it also allows our candidates the flexibility to support those issues/stands that their local constituency may wish to have promoted. For you see, the blah blah policy that metro legislators favor is not the stance that folks in Ely want to see or vice versa. Real examples? Look at gun control and the DFL (Metro vis-à-vis the position of the Iron Range), look at social issues for some Republicans (vis-à-vis rural and the core cities). It only gets worse nationally. It also means that we created a structure that places a little more emphasis on candidates (versus the “party”) – that was by design.

    Is it the correct design? Well, maybe it isn’t. Maybe that’s why, as some say, we’re languishing. Or, maybe – just maybe, it is a correct way to build a lasting legacy. It takes time to create an option that can challenge generations of entrenchment. We are just beginning to see the children of long-time IPers becoming eligible to vote. Until now it has been strictly “converts” – we haven’t had any legacy voters.

    And, we aren’t all ex-Republicans, or ex-Democrats. Yes, many are – but, people are allowed to come from somewhere, no? We’re working very hard to get others to join. Others, like me – and, more so, the Millennials that are coming aboard lately had/have no prior party affiliation.

    I joined the IP in ’95 at age 26. Before that I was simply a vet and a voter – having never attended a single political meeting for anyone. I am not an ex-anything.

    Who am I? I am a bison. I am an IPer.

    #voteIP #whataboutbob

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/13/2014 - 12:18 pm.

      Best candidates etc.

      IPer’s don’t seem to realize that your simply dealing the same problems all third parties in the US have to contend with, and you’re doing no better than anyone else. Yeah, those of us who’ve supported Rainbow Coalitions, Peace and Justice parties, and the Greens are well aware of the third party dilemma, Welcome to the party.

      The two party system won’t die unless we change our constitution and form of representation to a proportional system. One party may displace some other party, but the system maintains a two party status quo. Clearly the IP isn’t going to displace either the democrats or the republicans, you’re never going to emerge as a major party, especially since your basically moderate republicans, we already have moderate republicans.

      I have voted for third party candidates, and will do so again. The problem you guys have is that your actual candidates at this point are actually kind of spooky when you take a close look at them, and a party that produces spooky candidates is unlikely to win elections.

      • Submitted by Philip Fuehrer on 09/13/2014 - 06:48 pm.

        “the system maintains a two party status quo”

        Well – Canada’s House of Commons is also “first past the post” – they currently have representation from 5 political parties – in their 308 seat chamber. That’s federally – there is additional representation from those parties the further down you go. It is possible – and, we’re making strides with ranked choice voting. I’d personally prefer a mixed member system of governance with some proportional representation but we should start seeing positive effects from ranked choice voting fairly soon.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/13/2014 - 01:29 pm.

      “the IP stands for something”

      What specifically does the IP stand for? I have read the IP platform, I still can’t tell what you stand for. On taxes, will IP candidates support a shift to local property taxes (the GOP) or a shift to a more progressive state income tax (the DFL)? Will IP candidates favor an increase in the state gas tax to fund transportation or a shift to another tax? Or will IP candidates do nothing and let transportation funding flounder? Will the IP candidates favor a shift of transportation spending from the state to local government? How about health care? Will IP candidates work to repeal ObamaCare? Expand ObamaCare? Refine ObamaCare? How about public education – greater state spending, reduced reliance on local property taxes? Or a shift from state funding to a greater reliance on local property taxes to fund public schools? Increased state spending on public higher education or shift to a greater reliance on tuition? How about local government finance – greater state spending on local government aid or shifting to a greater reliance on local property taxes?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/13/2014 - 04:11 pm.

      Minor trifle, with major consequence

      You are correct that our current governor defeated the endorsed DFL candidate in the primary. One major flaw in your reasoning, though. Governor Dayton never was, and was never purported to be anything other than a Democrat. His policy positions still fell well within the spectrum of what was acceptable to your average Democratic voter. Made it easy for someone like me, an early Thissen supporter who switched to the endorsed candidate when he dropped out, to still feel comfortable voting for him even while feeling miffed at his circumventing the party process. Your guy lost to an outsider, your senate candidacy essentially hijacked by tea party conservatives who, if your post is to be believed, share little in common with your core constitutes on virtually any policy position. You have been defeated, in essence, before you even began. A proper analogy would have Gov Dayton winning the Republican primary in 2010. Mr. Carlson has made a mockery of all you claim to hold up as points in defense of the continued existence of the IP. If anyone, claiming any position, can run under your mantle what then is the point of the party at all, just run as independents and be done with it.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/13/2014 - 12:00 pm.


    Judging from the comments here the IP is in far more trouble than Mr. Grow portrays… and they complain about Grow’s portrayal!

    He’s not going to win so there isn’t much point in responding to Helland’s comments but I think a couple things of note are worth observing. First, despite his claims to the contrary Helland doesn’t actually have a tax plan, he claims to have one and talks about working at the department of revenue ( for all of five years, which clearly makes him an expert doesn’t it?), but there’s no actual plan there. More troubling is his fatuous claim to have written the Sales and Tax Use code- or “book” as he calls it. THAT book is decades old, has not been re-written in the last five years, and in any event was not written by a 24 year old. Nor do the folks at the department of revenue hand off a job like that off to a 24 year old so I don’t know what’s up with that claim. Maybe he thinks he can get away with that claim because it’s so difficult to verify what role he could have possibly had.

    The other thing of note is Mr. Helland’s confusion about the actual job he’s running for; suffice to say that it almost looks like he thinks he could win an election for Secretary of State…. and then be the Governor.

    Judging from the little window into the IP we’re getting from comments here, some of them from candidates themselves, and party leaders, I would say primary wrong turn the IP has taken is in being populated by Libertarians more so than the republican party. The problem with libertarians is that they are all about personal entitlement and can form no coherent plan of collective action when push comes to shove. These guys can’t even decide if a person votes for a party or an individual or what role a party actually plays in elections. Why do we need a tax policy? one of them asks. That about sums it up. These candidates are clearly just using the IP to get on the ballot rather than trying to form any coherent public policy. Again, this doesn’t surprise us because public policy is about collective action, Libertarians don’t believe in collective action.

    Helland declares he’s not dead. Yeah, and Helland isn’t a political party.

    Deader than a doornail this party is, they just don’t know it yet.

    I have to say over the course of these comments I’ve actually gone from being merely disinterested to actually being glad the IP is dead. We have a gubernatorial candidate who’s a champion of raw milk, and a 29 year old who claims to have invented the tax code. These guys could do some real damage if they actually got elected.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/13/2014 - 09:50 am.

    By the way…

    No one at the Department of Revenue actually makes tax policy. The legislator and governor create and/modify tax laws and state employees modify the code to reflect legislative intent. State employees like Mr. Helland don’t make policy, they follow policies determined by lawmakers. It’s actually illegal for state employees to do anything else.

  18. Submitted by Robert Helland on 09/13/2014 - 12:28 pm.

    Paul, my “book” claim deserves clarification, thanks

    What I DO NOT claim:
    +to have been a legislator
    +to have authored any part of MS 297A, 270B, or 270C nor did I author administrative rules in chapter 8130 or any other statute, rule, fact sheet or revenue notice

    What I DO claim:
    +to have been an employee in the executive branch of state government for five years, primarily with Minnesota Revenue
    +to have been a subject matter expert in sales and use tax law and compliance and business registration (refer to cited law above)
    +to have been the principal author of the department’s internal procedural and reference manuals for a specific unit called “Sales & Use Tax Compliance & Taxpayer Services” (also for “Business Registration”), this amounts to 100+ pages of interactive and intuitive content, revised by a team I led and approved by the agency
    +to have personally spoken to and delivered services to 10,000+ businesses in this great state
    +to have trained 100+ employees directly in a variety of subject areas amounting to 1000s of hours of employee-training-hours
    +to have lead teams of experts in procedure revision, software testing, training development and delivery (and also the team leader responsible for division morale improvement)

    I also was a key resource for complex technology solutions that I personally innovated and introduced after initial resistance to process improvement.

    Now, do Steve Simon or Dan Severson have these types of state executive branch qualifications, skills or this technology and training background as I call, “in the trenches”, to bring to the Office of Secretary of State?

    This is what we need in office, not legislative rhetoric. Good question. I was an agent of transformative change and continuous improvement, I still am and aspire to always be.

    You’re welcome to verify these claims by contacting 651-296-6181; I’d refer you to speak with the Division Director, Sales & Use Tax Compliance supervisor, and Policy Services supervisor. Ask #WhatAboutBob? I authorize the department to verify specific claims as to my experience and knowledge.



  19. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 09/13/2014 - 12:35 pm.

    Lo the poor buffalo…

    I think Grow opened a can of worms and they took the bait…mud or ‘cow’ pies flying on a morning too cold for September 13th is it?

    Warms the soul or dulls the mind but interesting discussion at times, still, do remember too, the hilarious nature of the present Republican Party in a state of apoplexy desperately seeking candidates that can barely be received as credible by a voting public; if the people do come out and vote?

    Coming from the “unaffiliated left” ( thank you Tom McGrath, late great plains poet), I can only listen and absorb a wee bit maybe now that Grow has activated one great, dog-eat-dog debate?

    I like only the Buffalo but not the party…just the animal as is; sans party affiliation?

    And I do wonder if its not time for a change of mascots by the other parties…like Donkey can be a jackass at times and that bloated Elephant self-satisfied, self serving to absurdity with its narrow focus? Change the party animal; four-hoofed vintage creature that they are; need to be changed to activate at least, a more appealing mascot?

    “We vote in candidates and then they want to stay and do nothing they promised to do but never succeeded to support actively the first time!” least that’s what my Great Aunt Berta said once upon a time…

  20. Submitted by Dion Goldman on 09/13/2014 - 12:39 pm.

    Is the IP dead?

    “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
    ― Adolf Hitler

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 09/15/2014 - 01:27 am.

      Godwin’s Law fail

      Nazi comparisons for a story about the IP’s struggles?

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/15/2014 - 04:57 pm.

        That was paraphrasing Goebbels, not Hitler

        Messy all around: I believe that phrase is actually a paraphrase of Josef Goebbels.
        Could probably google it.

        The Independence Party has never been viable except for a brief stint with Barkley
        & the one-liners of Jesse Ventura.

        Jesse’s one-liners weren’t that enduring or compelling, but they were entertaining.
        Its just that the Democrats & Republicans did not present a really good counter-argument.

  21. Submitted by Jeff Gintz on 09/13/2014 - 05:27 pm.

    Third party viability

    Political ideologies aside, I think most would agree that it is in the public interest to have the option to vote for major third party candidates. It is frustrating, to say the least, to be forced to pull either the R or D lever in an election and know that most likely the candidate you are forced to vote for is obligated to vote along party lines to save their own bacon and further their career.

    It has been a nice luxury to have viable third party candidates to vote for the last 20 years. While I personally have not always voted IP over this time, it has been nice to know the IP was in the game.

    The frustration is that we don’t normally get the best candidates to vote for. The presence of the IP the last 20 years has increased the chance of getting better candidates and has made the overall process in Minnesota more vibrant. While I don’t agree with 100% of the IP platform, I do respect what they are trying to accomplish and know they are making a difference.

    Now to this year’s election, I support Bob Helland for Secretary of State and vouch for his character and background. It would be a loss for Minnesota if the IP lost its major party status and we didn’t get youthful, energetic candidates (like Bob) looking to make a difference and thinking for themselves instead of being a party lemming. These options simply make the overall system better.


  22. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/15/2014 - 09:42 am.


    It’s also not an actual quote.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/15/2014 - 09:46 am.

    Horner and Penny killed the IP

    The problem with Mr. Gintz’s endorsement of Bob Helland is that it assumes that every other candidate belonging to any other party is incapable of independent thought, devoid of the capacity to think for one’s self as it were. Well, then there’s another problem… independent thinking is only an asset when it produces impressive results and good ideas, and that brings me to Tom Horner and Tim Penny.

    For a while there the “independent” thinking of the IP was represented on a bi-weekly basis in the Strib by Horner and Penny. The problem is that these commentaries confirmed that: A) The IP is simply a Libertarian branch of the republican party, hence, not really THAT independent. And: B) There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow lines and dead Armadillos. Most of the commentaries were centered around the idea that since neither the republicans or the democrats had good ideas the best ideas are usually somewhere in the “middle”, or the case of the IP, mostly to the right of the middle. These commentaries pretended to split the difference but usually broke to the right, and any rate, the whole idea of splitting the difference can only yield mediocrity at best.

    Listen: if you have one guy telling you that two plus two equals four, and another telling you that it makes six, the answer isn’t “five” because it’s somewhere in the middle. Some ideas are better than others, and some solutions work while others do not. Splitting the difference is no intellectual achievement. The IP never promised to do anything other than split the difference.

    I don’t know why it took two guys to write these commentaries, and I’m not sure which one was thinking independently, but I rarely got through an entire commentary because the there was so little substance or original thinking. I wonder if these commentaries actually had a negative impact the IP’s image because they were so….. well, “blah”?

    I think the main thing that many of us are trying to tell the IP here is that yes, you had a platform, Ventura created that, but then you blew it. I think part of the problem is the individual entitlement mentality that comes with libertarian thinking. One the IP commenter’s here mentioned that Ventura was more interested in self promotion than party building… well yeah, that’s a classic Libertarian mentality, it’s not about collective action. The other problem with the IP was a failure to actually produce truly independent thinking or original policy ideas. In theory a truly independent party would at time embrace produce it’s own good ideas as well as embrace good ideas from either democrats or republicans. With the exception of ranked choice voting it’s hard to find a liberal idea the the IP embraced, and there were very few if any original ideas.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/15/2014 - 09:05 pm.


      I thought an Independent was just a Fiscally Conservative Democrat or a Socially Liberal Republican, since neither of the parties have room for these folks.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 09/16/2014 - 07:50 am.


        it wouldn’t be the first time you were wrong.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/16/2014 - 03:38 pm.

          That is for sure

          I am ok with being wrong and making mistakes. Those times provide me with excellent learning opportunities.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/16/2014 - 08:57 am.

        Yes and No

        The IP party is comprised of republicrats and conservative libertarians, – THAT’S what makes it branch of the republican party rather than a truly “independent” party. In some ways it’s an even narrower dogma than either of the major parties.

        Meanwhile the democrats have “room” for Colin Peterson while the republicans have no “room” for Arne Carlson. The size of the democratic “tent” is part of their problem, it’s rather like herding cats on occasion. The increasingly exclusive membership of the republican party, and the republican nature of the IP, has become it’s downfall. The IP and the republicans represent two faces of the same dogma. I don’t think even Arne Carlson “fits” in the IP because he may fail the fiscal conservative test.

        We’ve seen so-called “conservatives” make this mistake before, they decide they’re a “majority” of some kind, i.e. “moral” or “silent” majorities only to find out that the population is more liberal than they realized, and getting more liberal as time goes by. The IP thought that they were appealing to a majority, they’re simply wrong, the more people get a look at the IP the more disinterested they are.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/16/2014 - 02:58 pm.


          Apparently according to these far Right folks, the Republican establishement allows RINOs to exist in peasce year after year.

          As for Collin, it seems pretty simple for the DFL. Allow him to continue or lose that district. Now would they let a Conservative Democrat compete for Ellison’s district? I don’t think so.

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/16/2014 - 08:21 pm.

            The DFL could do as they wish

            A conservative, Democratic or otherwise would never win in that district as they would not be representing the interests of their constituents. The majority of the reason Peterson wins out west is that he is champion of his constituents interests, for better or worse. Seems to me to be the largest divide between the parties. DFL: Listen to constituency. Form policy that most closely aligns with its concerns (when possible). GOP/IP: Form policy. Form constituency that most closely aligns with the stated policy goals, disregard any concerns from those outside this group as unimportant.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/16/2014 - 10:11 pm.

              I assume you truly believe the parties and their politicians are that different.
              I’ll never understand these blind spots.

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/17/2014 - 12:05 am.


                Do you speak of the “machine” of the national structure, or of local level grassroots activists, local party units and the like. I can tell you most assuredly, as a result of my time spent among the latter, there is. I think the problem you have, your “blind spot” if you will, is an inability to separate the parties from their politicians. The parties have MAJOR differences in almost every regard, after all they are composed of like minded individuals from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Politicians haven’t that luxury as they often must appeal to constituents (and funding sources) outside that sphere. We’ll leave campaign finance reform as a possible solution to some of this problem for another time. To summarize, the false equivalence argument you present breaks down in the face of interaction with real people, as opposed to ideology.

                • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/17/2014 - 08:44 am.


                  Surely you’re not suggesting that there’s a difference between Ellison and Bachmann? Two sides of the exact same coin if ever there was! 🙂

                  • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/17/2014 - 10:06 am.

                    In the order

                    In a word Paul, yes. I have only personal experience on which to base this, second hand in the case of Rep. Ellison. I am acquainted with folks who have worked with him in the past, and they say the beyond the obvious flaws, self-aggrandizement and loyalty to questionable interests among them, there is actually a dedication to doing good, to.representing his constituents. Take that hearsay for what you will, but I trust the source. On the other hand, living in the 6th, I have first hand experience with dear Michelle, and bias aside, I truly believe that all of it with her is phony, that even with the issues important to her base its all played for effect, all to her personal gain. Call me naive if you like, all I know is what I know.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/17/2014 - 08:45 am.

                  So are you saying that Democrats have no Principles to center them?

                  The party just shifts beliefs as the beliefs of their constituency shift. Kind of like a boat floating in the wind.

                  • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/17/2014 - 09:48 am.

                    Principles.. ha!

                    Democrats and Liberals have a long list of principles we’re very passionate about. One of them is allowing people the freedom to have their own principles.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/17/2014 - 01:11 pm.

                      Now That is Interesting

                      I thought you just concluded that the problem with the IP was that IP candidates pursued their own Principles rather than those of the IP. Now you are saying the DFL encourages candidates to veer from the party line.

                      I am thinking that an individual who believed in letting people and businesses operate according to their religious beliefs would not be very well accepted in the DFL ranks.

                      This is an interesting article.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/17/2014 - 01:44 pm.

                      oh geez

                      Forgive lapsing sarcasm detector. Enagaging in these little talks during breaks in a week can be frought with reading comprehension peril. 🙁

                  • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/17/2014 - 11:29 am.

                    Order in which they were received

                    Of course, what do you think a party is? This from the champion of FREEDOM! and self determination? What would be your alternative, say a top-down authoritarian bureaucracy, relying on a group of paid think tanks and millionaire to create policy positions, even write legislation to be advanced by the party… wait, I think this might be leading somewhere. John, the people ARE the party, any moral compass or guiding principles come from then, not on high. Perhaps it might be informative for you to visit some of the local organization units of the parties in your area, I think you’ll see my point much more clearly.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/17/2014 - 08:06 pm.

                      Maybe I should, however I think institutions should have Principles and that they should change slowly most of the time… Kind of like the US Constitution does. It provides an excellent guide post for what America believes in and it allows for it’s own makeover as society makes significant belief shifts.

                      I think the GOP and DFL have their own versions of the Constitution and they prefer members that align to it. And just like the Constitution, the parties have both shifted some what over the centuries.

  24. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/16/2014 - 02:29 am.

    You can read how it’s done, IPers

    Congrats to IPers for braving the slings and arrows. Campaign to your heart’s content, on election night celebrate your achievements, then read the history of the Farmer-Labor Party, a highly successful third party home grown in Minnesota. They organized statewide, not just “several places”. They had a coherent and popular ideology that set them apart from the two major parties and stuck to it. These factors allowed them to groom credible politicians for over two decades. Eventually the Democrats said “Please join us” and the rest is history.

  25. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/17/2014 - 09:02 am.

    Look, it’s actually quite simple

    The IP was always a ruse. Independent thinking simply isn’t a big characteristic of conservative mindsets, conservatives minds prefer authority, that’s why they’re so dogmatic. Possibilities are always limited in conservative minds and THAT limits their independence. This is why conservatives talk a lot about “innovation” but can never deliver it, they’re idea of “innovation” is to go back to Ronald Reagan. Republican’s and IPer’s spend 12 years trying to “innovate” their way out of budget crises and just kept making it worse. The more they tried to “innovate” government the more dysfunctional it got.

    On their most conservative days guys like Franken and Ellison are more independent than Horner or Penney because they’re open to solutions. If magical thinking actually worked, Franken and Ellison would be for it. For IP’s and folks like Bachmann, what actually works is clearly irrelevant. No matter how many times we discover that there’s no such thing as magic they keep promoting it.

  26. Submitted by Philip Fuehrer on 09/17/2014 - 11:56 am.

    Very Interesting – advice needed

    Paul – can you give me some pointers on what to tell all the Republicans who insist I’m simply a “liberal DFLer”???

    See – there is “something” there with the IP, as Dems pretty-universally call us Reps and Reps pretty-universally call us Dems.

    Can presentation be a bit better? Articulation be a bit clearer? Perhaps. It is something I will personally be delving into, but we are no “ruse” as you put it.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/17/2014 - 03:41 pm.

      I like this diagram, since I think it depicts what reality would be if the 2 party system was weaker. I land about in the third “E” of INDEPENDENTS.

      I think it would be challenging though to have a useful party that is made up fiscal Liberals and Conservatives. How would one ever get a consensus regarding taxes and spending…

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/18/2014 - 02:54 pm.

      It’s simple Philip

      Clearly they don’t know what a liberal DFLer looks like. That’s what I tell the same people when they call me a communist.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/18/2014 - 11:45 am.

      I think

      Based on Paul’s comment and the diagram, I think you should say the you are like a liberal democrat, except you are don’t support laws that force everyone in the country to behave like a liberal democrat…

      • Submitted by jason myron on 09/18/2014 - 03:44 pm.

        Neither does anyone else.

        Let me spell it out for you…your perception of what a liberal democrat is nothing but myth. And it seems to me that the only party that continues to want people to tow a certain line is the GOP. They’re the party of social engineering.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/18/2014 - 05:18 pm.

          Oh come now

          As we have discussed here over and over again, Liberal Democrats want many many laws to control the actions and behaviors of people based on their beliefs. Here are just a few:
          – forced acceptance of the gay lifestyle in private arenas
          – forced purchase of birth control methods that are against a group or individual’s morals
          – loads of regulatory emission control laws
          – endless attempts to control gun ownership
          – forcing to employers to pay employees more than the market requires.
          – forcing people to pay to subsidize the health insurance, food bills, housing, etc of other citizens
          – oppose free trade: try to limit the choices of people and businesses
          – limit legal immigration by giving illegal immigrants priority
          – other

          All of these being excellent examples of why the image creator placed both the DFL and GOP below the Independents on the social freedom axis. Both groups avidly pursue laws to control other citizens.

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/19/2014 - 12:56 pm.


            and you’re so moderate that you only listed “Lib’rul offenses.” ‘Loads’ and ‘endless’ and ‘forcing’ of things going on here… long on drama and short on specifics, or thought, or empathy. I notice the homophobia is still present, as ever.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/19/2014 - 02:59 pm.

              Point of Discussion

              The point of disagreement was regarding the DFL and their desire to use Laws to control personal freedoms. Paul and Jason denied this reality. I argue that they belong in the lower portion of the diagram along with the GOP.

              If you want me to list how the GOP wants to use Laws to control personal freedoms. Here you go…
              – Force women to carry embryo / fetus to birth.
              – Deny people the right to physician assisted suicide.
              – Deny people to marry a person of the same sex.
              – Deny people the right to clean water and air.

              As for things that both sometimes support…
              – Deny people to be legal prostitutes, strippers, etc
              – Deny people access to certain drugs
              – Deny people the freedom to gamble
              – Excessive taxes to disuade people from smoking/drinking

              Now have I shown that I can see both sides?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/19/2014 - 08:15 am.


          Yes Jason, republicans and conservatives are far more reliant on a variety of stereotypes (i.e. “myths”) about everything from government workers to liberals. It’s kind of interesting to watch what happens on these Minnpost comment threads when these guys run into actual liberals rather than the liberal stereotypes of Ann Coulter’s imagination.

          And by the way, any adult who’s using a chart of some kind to locate themselves or anyone else on the political spectrum probably has little business dispensing advice about political identity or ideology.

          I’ve never seen a group of people who are so consistently confused about the political spectrum as IPer’s, republican’s, and right wing conservativs. Basically they seem to be trapped in a fantasy wherein they are “moderates”, no one exists to the right of them, and everyone else is a socialist. When it comes to sorting out the alignments of left and right and liberal and conservative the whole game completely falls apart.

          Many of us keep pointing the fact that he IP is simply NOT in the MIDDLE of the political spectrum. And they keep trying to argue that they are… look at the chart? It’s almost comical.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/19/2014 - 12:56 pm.

            One at a Time

            Do you a Liberal Democrat support using Law to mandate that businesses and citizens pay a “fair live able wage”?

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/19/2014 - 07:39 pm.


            And speaking of using stereotypes… “IP is simply NOT in the MIDDLE of the political spectrum”

            So it seems you are saying Philip who is Independent must be a fiscal Conservative, even though people perceive him to be Liberal. And your rationale is that he must fit into the stereotype that you have created.

            And you say this in the face of dozens of comments here that say the IP is a diverse set of people with little common ground. Which seems to part of why their party is failing.

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