How Minnesota Republicans pulled off the biggest surprise of the election season

Dario Anselmo
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Dario Anselmo

On paper, Dario Anselmo looked like a long shot.

Anselmo, a Republican candidate for a Minnesota House seat in Edina — an increasingly Democratic-leaning suburb — had already lost one election to the incumbent, DFL Rep. Ron Erhardt, in 2014. That was a midterm, and this year it seemed like an even tougher slog. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was deeply unpopular in the suburbs, meaning Anselmo would have to do dramatically better than the top of the ticket to win. 

But House Republicans campaign staffers had an idea. In 2015, the House was debating expanding the state’s sexual assault laws to include the use of bodily fluids, an issue that had been raised by a woman whose co-worker ejaculated into her coffee cup. During the debate, Erhardt laughed and licked a coffee cup as he addressed other lawmakers.

So Republicans talked with Pat Maahs, the woman who had pushed for the expansion of the law. She agreed to be the face of an ad against Erhardt, which featured video of his behavior on the House floor. Over the next few weeks, the House Republican Campaign Committee — the outside spending group affiliated with the caucus — spent tens of thousands of dollars to air the 30-second spot on local cable television. It also put out a blast of glossy mail pieces on the same subject just a few weeks before election day.

“Trump was down near 30 percent, and the comments from our pollster was: It’s going to be really hard to overcome Trump,” said Ben Golnik, executive director with the House Republican caucus, who spent the campaign season working on independent spending. “[But] Edina has the highest penetration rate for cable, so we thought if we were able to put together an effective cable ad we could make a difference there.”

It did. On Nov. 8, Anselmo came out victorious, beating Erhardt by 576 votes.

The House Republican Campaign Committee’s mail piece on Ron Erhardt.

The victory was part of a strategy that helped House Republicans expand their majority, from 13 to 16 seats, for the coming legislative session. And it could get bigger, depending on the outcome a special election for a seat representing the North Branch area in February. It’s a historic high water mark for a Republican majority in a presidential year, when Democrats usually make gains in state legislatures. In fact, the last time Minnesota Republicans gained any seats during a presidential election was in 1996.

Two of those pickups were in rural Minnesota, where Trump vastly outperformed Hillary Clinton, and can be at least partly attributed to the unexpected Republican wave. And yet House Republicans also picked up and held on to some suburban seats where Trump didn’t do so well. In fact, House Republicans won in 12 districts where Trump lost.

The origins of those victories started shortly after Republicans won back the majority from Democrats in 2014. They knew they needed to protect their freshman members who beat Democrats in greater Minnesota districts — 10 in all — plus one suburban victory in Lakeville-Burnsville. The party started an “incumbent protection program” for those members, doing early fundraising and putting many of them in prominent committee positions in the caucus or out front of major issues. For example, Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville, who represented Republican’s only suburban pickup in 2014, took the lead role of spokesperson against Gov. Mark Dayton’s move to give pay raises to more than two dozen commissioners.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
House Speaker Kurt Daudt

At the direction of Speaker Kurt Daudt, House Republican staff set out in the summer of 2015 to update their voter lists. Candidate recruitment also started early, and they were excited about some of the possibilities in tough districts: Regina Barr, a business consultant, was seeking an open seat in Inver Grove Heights; Anselmo, a moderate businessman who fit the Edina district well, was in for a rematch against Erhardt; and Barb Haley was seeking a seat in Red Wing, where she grew up and stayed involved in community programs over the years.

“We learned in 2012 that we can win in tough districts with good candidates,” Daudt said in a statement. “The foundation of all our efforts this cycle began with candidate recruitment, seeking out and encouraging those who are already proven leaders in their communities.”

They got an opportunity to test some of their early work in February: DFL Rep. Ann Lenczewski left her Bloomington House seat for a lobbying job, triggering a special election. Republicans recruited Chad Anderson, a local real estate agent and political newcomer, to run for the seat. In a low turnout primary, they used their updated voter data and targeted a $5,000 cable TV ad buy accusing the Democrat, Andrew Carlson, for voting in favor of higher energy costs and imposing regulations on garbage collection as a Bloomington City Council member.

Ben Golnik
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Ben Golnik

It worked: Republicans turned out to vote and Anderson won and served for the 2016 session. He lost the seat in November, but Republicans felt it was a sign they could potentially compete in the suburbs again. “That showed us that we had started to catch up on the data front,” Golnik said.

Then, early in the 2016 campaign season, Republicans noticed many of their freshman incumbent members they were defending in greater Minnesota were polling well against Democrats. That gave them a chance to shift some attention — and resources — to suburban districts where they could play offense.

There was also more coordination among outside spending groups on the Republican side than ever before. Campaign finance reports show bursts of spending from different groups in the same districts, with business-backed outside spending groups like the Chamber of Commerce’s Pro Jobs Majority PAC, spending earlier in the season, and House Republican Campaign Committee spending on ads closer to the election. That allowed them to run ads longer than usual, even though they were still slightly outspent by Democrats (that was as of the pre-general election campaign finance reports, which will change when all year-end spending is tallied).

Other than Anderson, Republicans held on to all of their Democratic pickups, and they only lost one open seat held by Republican Rep. Tara Mack in Apple Valley. They also picked up a number of seats in the suburbs where Trump performed poorly: Anselmo’s seat in Edina; Barr in Inver Grove Heights (a former DFL seat); Randy Jessup beat Barb Yarusso in Shoreview; and they took an open seat DFL-leaning seat in Cottage Grove with candidate Keith Franke, who won by just 600 votes. 

“I think going into the election cycle, we knew the presidential years are challenging for Republicans in Minnesota. That being said, in the final two months of the 2014 election, we saw the Democrats playing defense everywhere,” Golnik said. “We went into 2016 thinking, we needed to have a good chunk of seats where we are playing offense. We did that.”

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Comments (40)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/23/2016 - 11:46 am.

    Both parties do this

    …but it’s hard not to notice that, in general, Republicans appear to be laser-focused not on what would benefit the greatest number of Minnesotans, but on what would benefit the Minnesota GOP. There are exceptions, of course. Ron Erhardt’s egregiously tone-deaf response to the legislative proposal of Pat Maahs being the most obvious. If I lived in that district, I’d have voted for someone – anyone – else myself.

    Meanwhile, I continue to wonder, in the context of this article and others about the election, how so much of the policy discussion seems to be coopted by a rural population that constitutes a rather small proportion of Minnesota’s population. Farmers and small-town, “greater Minnesota” citizens shouldn’t be ignored, but they represent a distinct minority of the state’s population, and the perception that they’ve been “forgotten” by state government – a perception enthusiastically reinforced by the Minnesota GOP – is simply incorrect. That misperception seems true here in Minnesota as well as in my former states of residence, Colorado and Missouri. I’d be happy to see updated numbers, but according to a ‘Strib piece that’s now nearly 2 years old:

    “…In 2010, the latest year comprehensive numbers were available, those metro counties contained 53.7 percent of the state’s population but accounted for 63.8 percent of all state tax receipts. For spending, the split reversed, with 52.8 percent of state spending goes to the metro, while the remainder went to outstate Minnesota.

    In broad terms, a greater share of education and human services dollars goes to the metro, while outstate does considerably better in distribution of highway dollars and local government assistance.”

    Many a small town and rural highway is being subsidized by metro residents, while metro dwellers also pay more (as they should, with greater population) for schools and other state services. If there are lies, damned lies, and then statistics, we have to give credit to the state GOP for manipulating perceptions skillfully enough to create an impression – not a reality, but an impression – that “greater Minnesota” is, overall, being treated as a stepchild by state officials in St. Paul. Correcting that misperception ought to be near the top of the DFL’s list of “things to do after gettting clobbered in the latest election.”

    • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 11/23/2016 - 02:38 pm.

      Indeed the result from the voters

      Of outstate MN is even more ridiculous when the republicans did nothing substantially to help them in the last session.

    • Submitted by Leonard Foonimin on 11/28/2016 - 12:41 pm.

      perhaps “greater MN” is a minority

      and so some seem to favor the idea that the DFL should just keep on playing only to urban minorities until that time when they become the majority and the rural folks won’t matter anymore at all ,,, didn’t work out so great in this election cycle did it?

      As to the statistics cited; politics as with most things involving human beings, doesn’t turn on hard science – if the Democratic Party had paid attention to the social sciences they would have realized perception is reality and the perception of the Democrats as not caring for the rural, white “deplorable” wasn’t going to cut it

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/23/2016 - 12:14 pm.

    How’d they do it?

    They ran against democrats. This wasn’t a big republican win as much as it was a huge fail for the democrats. First, they got low turnout because their presidential candidate was Clinton. Then, as they always do, they failed to produce a statewide narrative behind which individual candidates could rally. Finally, the individual campaigns largely duplicated Clinton’s failed strategy of attacking Trump instead of inspiring enthusiasm for popular liberal initiatives and candidates.

    During the nomination battle some of us tried to explain the importance of having a popular presidential candidate out front but rank and file democrats would have none of it. It was Hillary’s turn and they were convinced that despite her dodgy record, murky campaign message, and unpopularity they could turn out the vote with “hard work”. There were going to unite behind Clinton and make it happen. Yeah well…

    Despite obvious and predictable lines of republican attack instead of developing a statewide narrative that attacked republicans for stalling the bonding bill and blocking progress, they let republicans blame democrats for Pawlenty era deficits without responding, as if democrats like Bonoff created the budget crises. When they weren’t letting republicans run the table with bizarre false claims they were misfiring with clearly ineffective attempts to link republicans to Trump. This was a stupid strategy because: A) Trump isn’t THAT unpopular in MN. And B) republicans like Paulson easily deflected those charges.

    Finally this notion that you don’t have to give voters something to vote for, just frighten them into voting against… doesn’t work with liberals and independents. The race to the bottom to produce the least objectionable candidates and policies just drags voters into a gutter and depresses turnout and enthusiasm… both key elements of democratic victory.

    So while republican won in this election cycle, I wouldn’t strain any arms patting themselves on the back, or assume they’ve struck some vein of political genius. It’s more like Napoleon once said, when you see your opponent making a huge mistake, don’t interrupt them.

  3. Submitted by John Ferman on 11/23/2016 - 01:32 pm.

    Has the DFL Learned Anything

    The two orher posts explain quite well what rhe DFL got wrong. The next governor election is just around the corner. Whose faces and names are in the TV and print media AND the social network media? Who are the DFL grooming for a public run.

  4. Submitted by Mike Downing on 11/23/2016 - 01:41 pm.

    Urban elites vs real world…

    Liberal Democrats need to study both the Red/Blue map of MN & the U.S. by county. MN is a red state except for Mpls/St. Paul and the U.S. is a red country except for the Northeast and the West Coast.

    Democrats have had policies developed by the echo chamber of urban elites and have been tone deaf to the real world. An example in MN is the LRT vs roads & bridges debate.

  5. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 11/23/2016 - 01:52 pm.

    DFL choices and policies = failure

    The DFL ran on the agenda of” huge” tax increases,” huge” increases in the budget, and yet those increases in taxes and spending was still not enough!. They wanted to raise taxes yet again on the poor and middle class.

    Also – the DFL’s continued pandering to the shut-down artists (shutdown of trains – freeways- police station – and governors residence) was equally offensive law abiding citizens.

  6. Submitted by Patrick Hickey on 11/23/2016 - 04:56 pm.

    The last time the GOP was slapping themselves on the back was right before the two constitutional amendments went on the ballot.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/24/2016 - 07:09 am.

    I’m sorry but…

    Anyone, rural or otherwise that thinks republicans can or will deliver better government, services, transportation, or infrastructure spending is beyond reason. All republican can or will deliver is crises generating tax cuts that demand more spending cuts. If you actually look at the republican budget they cut state spending in rural areas and crunched hundreds of small cities and town with LGA cuts when they were in power. Local control? Who was the guy who about to pass a bunch of laws making it illegal for local governments to raise taxes without state approval?

    Republican’s simply have no coherent concept of government or budgets beyond magical thinking, but ya’ll gonna find that out now… again.

    I mean, let’s see how they “handle” health care… they simply have no clue. They think all they have to do is repeal what we have and then the magic will happen.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 11/25/2016 - 09:00 am.

      Those DFL elected officials did nothing for us rural folks

      the past 25 years and that is why Minnesota nearly went Red this year. Broken promises and bad policy for the Range has finally caught up with the DFL up here. Getting logging and mining going again, fix Dodd/Frank so money can be loaned to small businesses again, repeal useless regulations, get industrial arts being taught in High School again, and get rural economies going again…. That message made more sense to many up here than “safe spaces and bathroom laws” being spewed by Dems.

      Paul the DFL has had control up here forever and folks want a change…. I know folks in Mpls don’t understand that but that is the case, plain and simple…..

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/27/2016 - 03:00 pm.

        Paradigms

        I find it fascinating that the more Liberal city oriented folks here simply do not understand rural voters.They keep thinking that rural voters want more government, more handouts, more whatever…

        When as you note, most rural folks are highly independent personalities who want more local control and are frustrated when the metro, State and Coasts try to tell them how to live, what is moral, constrain investment, limit business possibilities, etc. I mean a lot of the people out there are small business owners / self employed.

        And yet many here keep wondering why they don’t want more government, more rules, more regulations, more taxes, etc… I wonder if they will ever understand that their sales pitch turns off many in small town America.

        And as for “spending more in out state”… Since many of us city folks travelling to our cabins, the State Parks, etc is why they need big roads in out state, it is a good thing that we help pay for all those big roads and bypasses.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/28/2016 - 10:57 am.

          I find it fascinating…

          That a guy who lives in the suburbs of the Twin Cities is pretending to speak on behalf of rural constituents while complaining that urban voters don’t understand the rural mentality.

          Of course as usual, this representation is based on stereotypes rather than reality so it’s doomed from the start.

          Here’s what we know: John Appelen has said that he lives in the suburbs of MPLS. Joe Smith is saying he lives or has lived on the Iron Range. Joe complains that the DFL never did anything for folks like him, while John claims that Joe never wanted the DFL to do anything for folks like him. Both voted for Trump. You see the problem?

          This why republicans and their party are coming apart at the seams, regardless of this recent electoral victory.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 01:10 pm.

            Fortunately I was raised on a farm near Canby MN, got my first degrees in Brookings SD, and keep in close contact with my family and friends who still live there. Besides the fact that I am out there about 1/3 of the weekends. Even I was fascinated by the number of road signs that said “Clinton for Prison”, I could not believe how angry they were with the games being played by the political elite and Democratic Party.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/27/2016 - 07:44 pm.

        Example

        When I was visiting my family in SW MN, I heard this interesting story. Apparently one of our neighbors works road construction in MN and SD, he is apparently paid $16/hr in SD and $32/hr in MN due to MN’s wage laws. Now the reality is that $16/hr is a good wage in that community, however the folks in St Paul apparently know better than the employers what a fair wage is.

        Therefore citizens across MN are paying more in taxes, and the locals are not too happy about that.

        • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/28/2016 - 09:50 am.

          Coveting thy neighbor’s wages

          Are people really complaining that the government is helping to create good paying jobs in their area? Do they not realize that the tax dollars paying those wages are coming from the Twin Cities into their community and not the other direction?

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 11:28 am.

            Though there is some outward flow of money from the cities into the rural areas, mostly because of all the roads and bridges that we city folk want out there for our convenience. And the fact that there are a lot of older folks in rural America. (ie medicare)

            The reality is that rural folks pay a lot of local, state and federal taxes. And they are concerned when they see that money being wasted because the Democratic Liberal Elite think that they know best.

            Like your logic that it is a good thing that the government is paying people more than they need to get the work done…

            A simple rural thought would be, let’s pay public employees a market based wage so that taxes can be lowered and we citizens can have more money in our pocket to pay our bills.

            • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/28/2016 - 04:43 pm.

              More than they need or exactly what they need?

              The idea that people should be paid as little as possible in order to make sure the richest people have more money in their pocket does not appeal to me. Paying people a good wage for a hard day’s work is NOT a waste of money. That is exactly how we should be spending our money if we want the economy to grow. If my neighbor makes a good wage, he or she will spend more money in the local economy which will circulate and help everyone.

              Pay cannot be cut to $16 statewide because it will be hard to find workers to do the same job in the metro area. A cut to government employee pay that just occurs in rural areas will cause an immediate drop in the rural economy due to lost wages. It will also see an acceleration of the migration of working people from rural areas with low wages to the metro areas where they can earn that $32 per hour. Your proposal would kill rural areas even faster than they are shrinking now.

              We also may have to pay that higher wage to get workers to come to rural areas for what are essentially temporary jobs. I would ask for a HUGE wage increase to move temporarily to a rural area knowing my next job would probably be elsewhere. See the high wages paid to the oil workers in the North Dakota man camps. Those workers knew the job was temporary and there was no job that would be available when things went bust which meant the pay had to be higher to attract them.

              This happens in Minnesota but it is also happening nationwide with money moving overwhelmingly from populous blue states to rural red states.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 05:27 pm.

                Prevailing Wage

                Actually they mandate much higher wages in the Metro…
                http://www.dli.mn.gov/ls/PrevWageComm.asp

                Just remember that when you are wondering at the staggering cost of road, bridge, light rail, stadium, etc construction. It is the folks in St Paul who mandated the wages and drove up the project costs.

                Not sure how taking more from all of us citizens to give more to certain citizens makes sense. Maybe it encourages those folks to vote for them…

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/28/2016 - 10:47 am.

        Nothing?

        The DFL spent more on rural infrastructure, health care, job training, unemployment payments, and education than you ever got or could have gotten under Pawlenty or the GOP. All you got with the GOP with was cuts to every kind of spending there is, and that clearly didn’t help your situation.

        If you want “change” you need to think it through, there’s a difference between change for the better and change for the worse. If “nothing” is what you think you got for democrats, I hope your not complaining because you’re about get 3 times as much nothing from republicans. Someone may get a tax cut, that may or may not be you… but tax cuts don’t magically translate into “help” for the Iron Range. What they will do, it create a budget crises so that even if someone wants to do something for the Iron range, they won’t have the money to do it.

  8. Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 11/24/2016 - 05:24 pm.

    MnGOP magic

    I think MinnPost readers deserve this GOP inside stuff during the campaign season, rather than as a post-mortem after the votes are counted. If we’d known what Daudt and others had cooked up, we’d have been much more precise in our messaging and campaigning. Btw, the Republican majority did nada, zip, zero for its out-state constituents in the last 2 sessions. What makes anyone think it’ll be different in the next one? just saying…

  9. Submitted by Jeffrey McIntyre on 11/25/2016 - 07:07 am.

    How did they win?

    Democrats, 200,000 of them stayed home on November 8th. Look at the presidential totals…HRC had over 200,000 less votes than Obama did in 2012. Trump only had 2,000 more than Romney in 2012. The GOP didn’t win, the Democrats forfeited.

    • Submitted by Jim Halonen on 11/28/2016 - 01:41 pm.

      No, Democrats didn’t stay home

      They just didn’t vote for HRC. Total votes cast in the presidential race was only 8,000 less this year than in 2012. Total votes for candidates other than GOP and DEM was 184,000 more on Nov 8 than in 2012.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/29/2016 - 09:17 am.

        And should be

        good lessons for both GOP and DEM. We must watch to see if either group does any effective restructuring.
        Perhaps mid-terms will better tell us if this was mostly protest or possibly fundamental awareness by the electorate. That’s a long two years of waiting, though.

        As for Minnesota, well, we can expect continued scratching and clawing, I’m afraid.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/28/2016 - 11:09 am.

    Again…

    The fact is that rural MN’s receive far more services and financing from the Urban voters who contribute the most dollar to the state budget that pays for those services.

    Democrats spent more on the rural areas than the republicans under Pawlenty ever could or would. During the Pawlenty era rural spending on everything from education to roads and bridges was cut due to budget crises created and magnified by magic tax cuts. (i.e. tax cuts that were supposed to grown government revenue rather than reduce it).

    Democrats restored a lot of rural spending, many democrats wanted to spend more. In the most recent budget impasse, republicans again have and will fight for LESS spending, not more. So if you’re a rural voter, I hope you realize you voted for less because no matter where you live, rural or urban, less is what you’re going to get when the republicans cook up another budget deficit.

    What ironic, is the fact that when democrats had a chance to do more, when they ran the table, had all branches of government… they could have done more for rural voters and spent more in rural areas, but the didn’t. Guys like Bakk, from the Iron range no less, scaled back spending and left important initiatives and spending on the table because they were afraid if they did too much, they’d over-reach and trigger a backlash. No think about that for a few minutes, let it sink in. Listen to what rural voters are saying now. Next time someone tries to tell us that we need to leave important stuff on the table rather than fix what needs to be fixed… DON’T LISTEN.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 01:46 pm.

      Again

      It seems that you truly believe you can buy the votes of people in rural America with their own tax dollars + some other. As I tried to explain previously, many of them are very independent, self employed and really do not want government charging them more and constricting their personal/business freedoms.

      Is that something the DFL is willing to give them:
      – Allow them to manage LGBT issues.
      – Let them build a copper nickel mine.
      – Trust them to keep dirt out of their ditches.
      – Stop increasing sales taxes.
      – Other

      • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/28/2016 - 02:23 pm.

        It goes both ways

        If they want the independence, then are they going to live with the consequences of their choices? I don’t really care either way if they build a copper nickel mine, I just want to be sure that if the tailings pond fails at some point in the future and pollutes their drinking water that the taxpayers of the state aren’t going to be on the hook for it. If you don’t want a buffer law or other like environmental legislation, then don’t come back to the rest of the state asking for help when there’s no clean freshwater in western Minnesota. Are rural Minnesotans willing to give us those assurances? If they’re not, then you better believe that I’m going to voice my opinion on an issue that could cause hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities down the road.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 03:10 pm.

          Please feel free to keep mandating how they live their lives and manage their communities, but don’t expect to get their vote to do so.

          As discussed previously, my friend on one of the water boards out there is fascinated by how much salt, sand, yard waste, oil and other runoff is allowed in the metro area water sheds compared to his community / fields. I guess the logic is we have more people per acre, therefore we can be allowed to pollute more? Now are we willing to live with icy roads in the name of conservation? Interesting thought.

          If the Democrats want to be the party of the normal working classes, they are going to need to focus on more people than just the urban households. And understand that eliminating and/or making government more effective is likely a good solution. (ie bigger is not always better)

          • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/28/2016 - 04:15 pm.

            If rural Minnesota really wants to be left alone, they best make sure they understand what that means. Because without LGA or the state K-12 education funding formula or the historical 50-50 distribution of road funding dollars, the ability to kick gay people out of the local bakery may prove to be a hollow victory in the long run.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 05:48 pm.

              Collaboration

              And without rural MN, Minnesota would be a pretty boring and broke State. Who would want to live in a cold city if it were not for Cabin country, all those pristine lakes, hiking trails, etc?

              Not to mention that agriculture is what made this State and the Metro what it is… Remember the term “Mill City” and some of those key businesses like General Mills, Pillsbury, Cargill, Land O Lakes, Minneapolis Moline, etc, etc.

              Here is an interesting history of our area.
              http://www.dot.state.mn.us/culturalresources/docs/crunit/devperiods.pdf

              My simple point is that somehow all Minnesotans need to work together. And respect each others views. Our system was wisely set up to force us to do so…

        • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/28/2016 - 04:55 pm.

          It definitely goes both ways

          If the rural areas really just want lower taxes and fewer government services, will they let the metro area spend that money instead (money from metro taxpayers I might add) on things like mass transit, infrastructure and better wages for teachers in the metro area? That could be a boon for the overall economy in Minnesota but it would certainly leave the rural areas farther behind.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/28/2016 - 09:22 pm.

            Our cities are free to pass school referendums, self fund light rail, raise county taxes, sell bonds, etc… No need to involve the State at all. I am sure the rural folks will be fine with that.

            However getting nearly $2 Billion in federal dollars that are paid for by all of us for “local” light rail is not what they will consider self funding. Or for some reason trying to get the State legislature involved in a “local” light rail section.

            • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/29/2016 - 09:24 am.

              But, John

              How would our “auslanders” get around town during Tournament Times?

              [perhaps how they’ve always managed to do so?]

            • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/29/2016 - 10:04 am.

              Rebalancing

              I would be fine with lowering farm property taxes, for example, if that is what rural people want. If we’re doing that I would like them to cut the MN Department of Agriculture or cut them out of Local Government Aid to pay for it, not make cuts to Metro Transit or the University of Minnesota.

              People in rural areas need to realize that the Twin Cities are the engine of the local economy and metro taxes are paying for their schools, their nursing homes and their local government. If lower taxes are their highest priority then we need to stop paying for those items in rural areas to compensate for the loss of revenue.

              I don’t believe that is the best tactic in the long run. After all, those Greater Minnesota kids end up moving to the Twin Cities when they want a career and we need them prepared to contribute.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 11:18 am.

                Engine

                I think you underestimate how reliant the MN and Metro economy are on Agriculture, Tourism, Ag Business, etc.

                Just like a 6 cylinder engine, 2 fouled plugs can ruin a car’s performance.

                It would be interesting to learn how many metro jobs our rural economy enables? A start is General Mills, Cargill, Land O’Lakes, CHS / Cenex, the Banks, U of MN, Syngenta, Hormel, Koch and Other Petroleum Industries, other food processing companies, Labs that focus on animal supplies/ medication / food, etc.

            • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/29/2016 - 11:02 am.

              So, they’d prefer to see those rail dollars go to some other state just to stick it to the metro?

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 11:32 am.

                No

                I think they like myself would prefer to see the $2 Billion go to roads and bridges that can be used by many people for many different purposes. Not a single purpose light rail that goes from EP to downtown. Or like many they would maybe like to see their federal tax bill reduced…

                Please remember when the State pays for a Highway Bypass near Brainerd, Improvements to Hwy 61 in the Arrowhead, upgrading 212 to 4 lanes,or better roads between the cities and Rochester, etc. We city folk tourists see a huge benefit.(ie not just for them) It is hard to make the same argument about the SWLR.

                As mentioned above… The key is collaboration and respecting that we need both the city and rural people to keep MN great !!! And truly respecting the diversity between rural and urban views.

                • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/29/2016 - 11:58 am.

                  Well, the problem with that is that largely we’ve run out of places inside the 494/694 loop to expand highway capacity, unless we’re going to plow under a bunch of neighborhoods (and local consent laws have made that essentially impossible). So we’re going to need transit to supplement roads and bridges in the metro. That’s just a fact at this point.

                  (And our outstate relatives love using transit — specifically LRT — when they come to the cities so they don’t have the hassle of traffic and parking.)

                  • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/29/2016 - 03:00 pm.

                    As discussed

                    As we discussed elsewhere, constraining flow into the downtown is fine. (smaller “spoke” highways) Just provide another “wheel” loop like 494/694 except another 5+ miles out. (ie 610 like) Then the truckers and tourists can bypass the inner highways and reduce the congestion. Not sure why the Urban folks want to keep growing the business density downtown without pressuring people to live there.

                    Your relatives must be different from mine. Not sure where they would even get on an LRT. They just pay for parking.

                    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/30/2016 - 09:56 am.

                      Geographic constraints

                      The St. Croix is ~10 miles east of the 494/694 loop. I doubt you’re putting a highway down the middle of the river. Lake Minnetonka makes it really difficult on the west side and the southwest corner is the Minnesota River.

                      Minneapolis and St. Paul population is rising. See http://www.twincities.com/2016/05/19/minneapolis-st-paul-population-growing-census-estimates/. Those 700,000 residents really don’t want to pay for a highway in the exurbs. They want transit options that don’t require driving.

                      My relatives park at the Mall of America or the VA and take the light rail downtown for Twins games regularly.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/30/2016 - 01:30 pm.

                      Chickens and Eggs

                      I assume the Mpls/St Paul growth forecast is based on the other ~2.8 million Twin Cities and ~2 Million Rural residents being willing to fund the infrastructure for them? Please remember that Mpls / St Paul, just like the rural communities receive a lot of State money.

                      Also, I have never figured out how making it easier for people to live in the burbs and work downtown is good for the poor areas of Mpls & St Paul.

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