Most politicians try to be everyone’s friend. But Dean Phillips is trying very, very hard.

MinnPost file photo by Briana Bierschbach
The centerpiece of Dean Phillips’ campaign is cleaning up Washington with a slate of campaign finance and good government reforms.

Dean Phillips swore that he didn’t plant the man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat in his path at the State Fair last week, as he emerged from an interview at the WCCO booth into the sunlight of the fair’s first morning.

But it was an awfully convenient opportunity for a candidate running on the campaign slogan “everyone’s invited!” and whose first campaign ad suggests there’s nothing wrong with politics that a little “coffee and conversation” can’t fix.

Phillips, who owns Penny’s Coffee in Minneapolis, is usually not without coffee: there was plenty of free cold brew at his pristine booth across from the Kidway on Cooper Street. And Phillips finds it hard to be without conversation, too, and there certainly was plenty of it when he made a beeline for a red cap-wearing Trump supporter who had listened to his interview with WCCO’s John Hines.

The man, who introduced himself as Tony from Rogers, lamented the consequences of being a Trump supporter in this day and age, telling Phillips that after the migrant family separation crisis took hold, a family friend told him it’d be better if he did not come to a party he’d been invited to at his home.

Phillips, in his fair uniform of a blue polo and blue Nike sneakers, nodded. “I’m sad about that,” he said. As Tony went on to complain that people he doesn’t know call him a racist — “I voted for Amy Klobuchar,” he said — and observed that African-Americans are the group most intolerant of gays and lesbians, Phillips continued to listen.

The Democrat, who is running for the 3rd Congressional District seat, had a pitch in hand to perhaps appeal to this Trump supporter: he touted himself as an independent-minded representative who would work hard, and beyond that, someone who would work to clean up a Washington style of special interest politics that Tony’s preferred candidate calls the Swamp.

Tony listened, and said he’d consider voting for Phillips, even if he might be “full of shit.” Hustling to get some sweet corn after parting ways, Phillips said there was a lot that the man said that he didn’t like. “But I listened, he listened. Here is a guy who is a big Trump supporter who voted for Amy Klobuchar, and is willing to listen and willing to have a conversation.”

This earnest, civic-minded approach defines Phillips’ campaign for Congress in this west metro district, which is among the most affluent and well-educated parts of the country. Like other candidates, Phillips will talk about his ideas about health care, immigration, and gun violence. But the heart of his campaign is less a policy and more of an attitude: appearing positive, inclusive, accessible — inviting everyone and anyone, even Tony from Rogers, to the conversation.

The race in CD3 will be among the most-watched in the country, as Democrats seek to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Phillips’ opponent, incumbent GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, has coasted to easy wins here — even in 2016, as Hillary Clinton carried CD3 by nine points — thanks to a careful reputation as a bipartisan-minded moderate.

But Paulsen has taken criticism for not being accessible to his constituents and, in Democrats’ eyes, his reliance on special interests to bankroll his campaigns. Phillips doesn’t think all of Paulsen’s ideas are bad. But he thinks he hasn’t invited enough people in — and he’s betting that he can beat him by doing better.

Votes vs. quotes

Phillips talks often about being an independent congressman who would be unafraid to buck his party: his stances, like saying the Republican tax cut bill should not be repealed but rather reworked to help the middle class, don’t fit neatly into the rhetoric of most Democratic candidates running this year.

He speaks often of his admiration for Jim Ramstad, the Republican congressman who represented the west metro for two decades, and talks about support he’s earned from Republicans in the year he’s been running for Congress.

But for most of his life, Phillips has been a key national donor for Democrats. A scion of Minnesota’s Phillips distilling dynasty, who went on to become a successful gelato and coffee entrepreneur in his own right, has cut over $300,000 worth of checks to Democratic causes and candidates in the last 15 years.

He has contributed to his would-be colleagues in the Minnesota congressional delegation, such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, to prior DFL challengers to Paulsen, like Terri Bonoff. He’s given to candidates from New Mexico to Pennsylvania, and was a leading “bundler” for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, generating as much as $500,000 in contributions.

A millionaire member of a wealthy family and a prolific Democratic donor might seem an unusual torch-bearer for a campaign centered on limiting the influence of the wealthy donor class and of moneyed special interests.

But the centerpiece of Phillips’ campaign is cleaning up Washington with a slate of campaign finance and good-government reforms that he is hoping will resonate with CD3’s centrist-minded voters in this election climate, already dominated by record election spending and stories of excesses from the Swamp.

Phillips says it makes perfect sense how his background as a sought-after Democratic money man has informed his views on money and inclusivity in politics. “I saw how this system operates, saw how much time candidates spend with people of means,” Phillips said, clutching an ear of lightly-buttered corn. “I saw how a system was working that is not serving the people it’s supposed to. In no small part, that illuminated why I’m making these proposals now.”

Dean Phillips

MinnPost photo by Sam Brodey
Dean Phillips speaking to passersby at his booth at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair.

Those proposals are compiled into a package that Phillips calls “the Minnesota Way,” which outlines ground rules for how campaigns should limit special interest influence: shunning and returning contributions from PACs, lobbyists, and members of Congress, pledging to match outside interest group spending with charitable donations, and committing to regular public forums.

Phillips has already committed to declining money from PACs, lobbyists, and members of Congress — something that has drawn the attention of national media like the New York Times — and says he’ll refuse to use his own personal fortune to finance his campaign if Paulsen agrees to his “Minnesota Way” pledge.

Of the issues listed as “Dean’s priorities” on his campaign website, campaign finance reform is first, and there he outlines a series of proposed reforms, from clearer disclosure of who funds political campaigns to lowering limits on how much individuals can give to campaigns.

The 49-year old Democrat is holding up his opponent as exhibit A for why these reforms are needed. Paulsen, a former state house GOP leader from Eden Prairie, has served in Congress since 2009 and has remained safe, cultivating an image as a wonky, detail-oriented moderate who is eager to work with anyone.

But Phillips argues that the truth is that Paulsen does not represent this centrist district — rather, he represents the powerful special interests that bankroll his campaigns. “His quotes do not match the votes,” he told MinnPost.

The Republican congressman, who serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is known as a prolific fundraiser. According to OpenSecrets, which tracks political fundraising, Paulsen has raised over $2 million from PACs, the sixth-most of any member of the House. (In total, Paulsen has raised $3.8 million as of mid-July, while Phillips has raised $2.5 million.)

“My argument is, and I think most people agree, when any entity or interest affords an individual campaign account hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, there are quid pro quos attached to that,” Phillips says. “It creates access, it buys access, it certainly creates a dynamic or relationship where you have an obligation.”

Phillips brought up the GOP tax bill, passed last year, as an example, connecting $400,000 in donations to Paulsen from the pharmaceutical industry to the congressman’s role in crafting and supporting legislation that included big benefits for the industry.

“You can start drawing dotted lines from the money,” Phillips said, “whether it’s the gun lobby or big pharma or Wall Street, to the votes.”

The rich-guy playbook

Phillips’ upbeat disposition and sleek, sunny campaign — his website features a photo of the grinning candidate pouring coffee in the light of a glowing sunset — radiate earnestness. Phillips, typically dressed in suburban-dad chic with his longish hair tucked behind his ears, is a studied listener who remarks often that his campaign’s tagline of “everyone’s invited!” is more than a slogan.

Making campaign finance and clean politics a centerpiece of his campaign, Phillips would have voters believe, is not born out of good politics — though the issue certainly polls well — but his conviction that it’s simply the right thing to do. (When asked what has surprised him most about his year on the campaign trail, Phillips spoke about the “remarkable community” that exists in CD3.)

If Phillips comes off a bit like the pure-hearted do-gooder Leslie Knope, the main character on the popular sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” the Democrat’s foes would like CD3 voters to think of him more like the craven and superficial Bobby Newport, Knope’s rival in fictional Pawnee, Indiana, who ran for office multiple times thanks to the fortune of his family’s villainous candy empire. (Paulsen’s campaign manager made the comparison himself on Twitter.)

So far, Paulsen and his GOP allies are working to define Phillips, a first-time candidate, as an out-of-touch rich guy. At an August 21 debate at the Twin West Chamber of Commerce, an influential business organization in corporate-heavy CD3, Paulsen defended the tax cut bill as necessary to ward off a recession, and said “people like Dean Phillips and those who are well off will do fine under those circumstances.”

They have also argued that Phillips is a hypocrite on the issue most important to his bid: campaign finance. Beyond dismissing his “Minnesota Way” as a gimmick, Paulsen and his supporters, including the Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC that has had a field office in CD3 for months, have put a spotlight on the millions of dollars in outside Democratic spending that are expected to deluge the district on Phillips’ behalf.

“Dean Phillips is a massive hypocrite on his number one issue,” said John-Paul Yates, Paulsen’s campaign manager. “While he claims not to accept PAC and super PAC money, he’s silent as they spend money on his behalf and he invites them to campaign with him.”

Republicans have also homed in Phillips’ relatively modest campaign self-funding — about $30,000 — drawing a line from that to the candidate’s personal investments in energy and pipeline projects, outlined in his financial disclosure report. (Phillips says he won’t contribute a dime to his campaign if Paulsen signs the “Minnesota Way” pledge.)

In Paulsen, Phillips is taking on an able opponent who has weathered good and bad election cycle for Republicans without much fanfare. In 2016, as Hillary Clinton carried CD3 by nine points, Paulsen dispatched Terri Bonoff by double digits.

“I know it’s a tough ask,” Phillips says of his race. “As someone who hasn’t done this before, I don’t have a benchmark.”

Paulsen or Trump on the ballot?

But in an election cycle widely interpreted as a referendum on President Trump’s first two years, and one in which Democrats are favored to capture the House of Representatives, Paulsen is facing what is likely his toughest challenge yet in Phillips.

Political prognosticators like the Cook Political Report rank the CD3 race as one of two dozen true toss-up contests, and a prediction model built by the data website FiveThirtyEight rates Paulsen as the underdog.

Given the anti-Trump national mood and the leanings of CD3, Paulsen has been circumspect in handling the president, who he says he did not vote for after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tapes in October 2016. He has criticized Trump, though infrequently, on broadly unpopular moves like separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

For his part, Phillips would rather the election be a referendum on Paulsen, not the president, who he says Paulsen has failed to check as a member of the GOP majority in Congress.

“I’m running against Erik Paulsen and I’m running against a man who, in my estimation, has failed to represent the principles and values of a district that is begging for it. It is a district in which the overwhelming majority of voters are appalled by the behavior of this president, and his lack of character.”

He said that Paulsen has lost his way after spending nearly a decade in Washington. “I do think people change over time, and I think he’s a perfect example of someone who has,” he said of his opponent. “I think in his heart he does want the best for the country. I think the money that’s used to support that campaign and the responsibilities to the money have superseded those principles.”

This focus on cleaning up politics has benefited Democrats before, says Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy for Common Cause, a democracy reform group. In 2006, in the wake of the scandal surrounding power-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Democrats ran on anti-corruption platforms to huge wins in that year’s midterms.

Spaulding says he’s noticed an uptick in candidates like Phillips who are leaning on this message, which he says is increasingly popular among Democrats, Republicans, and independents. “There’s a skepticism about a lot of policy priorities and whether they’ll pass if you don’t start with fundamental repairs,” he said.

Showing up on election day

Indeed, Phillips’ goal is nothing short of repairing government: he tools around the district in a converted, 1960s-era milk truck he calls the “Government Repair Truck;” he’s also ferried a “Government Repair Pontoon” around the Lake Minnetonka enclave of Deephaven he calls home.

He has his eye toward healing politics, too: Though this district is not home to many Trump supporters, Phillips seems like he’s spent time thinking about how to reach them. At the state fair, he did give Trump-supporting Tony from Rogers his personal email and said he wanted to hear from him. (“We have a lot of work to do together,” the candidate said.)

“My epiphany is there’s a lot more that unites us than divides us,” Phillips says. “It sounds cliche, but I’ve come to discover that’s what Trump supporters, Republicans, libertarians, and independents and Democrats, if we focus on outcomes, most of us agree.”

Jim Aune, a 45-year veteran of the Phillips distilling company, watched Phillips cut his teeth learning every aspect of the business when he returned back to Minnesota from Brown University in the early 1990s. Phillips talks about working his way up the ranks of the liquor company before launching the Talenti Gelato brand, now stocked in grocery store freezers around the country.

Aune, who calls himself a conservative, jokes that he’s the chairman of the Ham Lake Republicans for Phillips. And he’s not surprised that the ambitious young man who learned the names of everyone on the bottling line is now running for office. “He’s very sincere in what he’s doing,” he says. “I have no qualms in backing him. He’s a guy who’ll walk his talk.”

Heading back to his booth for a morning of fair retail politics, Phillips recalled Trump’s lone visit to Minnesota, in which he packed a hangar at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a few days before the election. It seemed different than Clinton’s campaign, to him. “I think we have a responsibility, candidates and elected officials, to show up and invite people,” he said.

“The only people that bother me the most are the people who choose not to participate,” he said. “That’s why our slogan is, ‘everyone’s invited.’ A lot of the hard work the campaign is doing is extending invites to people who haven’t been participants before, because they haven’t been invited!”

Phillips is betting that if everyone shows up, it’ll mean a win for him on election day. “I get this sense this country got a very unanticipated wakeup call in 2016,” he said. “While it’s very disruptive, very disenfranchising to some, anxiety-provoking for many, I think it’s going to be a blessing.”

Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Jason Scanlon on 08/28/2018 - 11:58 am.

    Dean

    This puff-piece joke of a story does a perfectly good job of making Dean Phillips look like a dimwitted moron. Dean appears to be running a campaign of politics-by-platitude, free of any substance or meaningful policy positions.

    That his obnoxious, holier-than-thou supporters are so willing to look the other way and ignore his vapid nonsense shows just how unserious they are.

    If Dean deserves credit for anything, it’s that he’s managed to convince the media that driving around in a van and not being a complete jerk somehow qualifies him for a seat in Congress. This fawning garbage shows he’s sold Brodey on his snake oil pitch too. What a joke.

  2. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 08/28/2018 - 12:19 pm.

    At last…a politician who actually meets with people

    Well done Dean Phillips. Quite happy to take note of how you’re out meeting and greeting people.
    We have a rep in my area…Jim Read…who is doing the same thing…meeting with the voters rather than ignoring his voters as does Paulson and the rest of the repubs running for office.

    It is interesting that repubs quit having town hall meetings because there was so much anger directed at them. To me…it seems as if the logical thing to do would be to change and support policies that help the people…not just the wealthier.

    On that note, I am always surprised people could vote for trump who has insulted everyone and especially minorities and women…but then again…so has Paulson.

    We need a change…people who actually work for the people and don’t ignore them.

  3. Submitted by Dee Ann Christensen on 08/28/2018 - 01:01 pm.

    Finally a principled,inclusive candidate

    I have tried for years to connect with Paulsen by visiting his office, his Congress on the Corner events and with phone calls to his office. Absolutely no luck! He has an impervious wall of detachment from his constituents as he runs his usual, insular, self-contained and risk averse campaign.

    These are desperate times for our democracy with the erosion of our institutions, the truth and civility. How does such vitriol as, “dimwitted moron”, “obnoxious, holier than thou”, and “complete jerk” establish the necessary bridge between people that have a core value of loving our country?

    On the other hand, we need someone who truly values listening to both sides as Dean Phillips advocates. He is omnipresent with an energy level championing this value unseen in the 3rd Congressional District.

    Reaching out and listening to each other is the first step in the journey to repair our country and Mr. Phillips is a refreshing, thought-leader in this struggle.

  4. Submitted by Ron Chrichton on 08/28/2018 - 02:09 pm.

    “Everyone’s invited” is not a policy.

    Phillips’ campaign has no substance. His responses at the recent debate were dull and rarely answered the questions. He takes no stance on any meaningful policy issues – constituents deserve to know where he stands.

    Though to Mr. Phillips’ credit, the way he dances around questions and avoids anything remotely controversial is actually quite graceful. Dare I say, Paulsen-esque?

  5. Submitted by Tim Devreaux on 08/28/2018 - 03:08 pm.

    Carpetbagger

    Are we just going to forget that Dean Phillips moved into the district just to run for Congress? You can’t spend your whole life in the cities and then claim your $3 million lake home as a permanent residence.

    It’s astounding how a man with no political record, experience, or expertise, can still be such a typical politician. He says he’s not beholden to special interests, but he hosts events alongside them! He has no problem with outside spending, as long as they support him.

    He claims he provides healthcare to his employees, but the Strib reports this as false. He claims claims he doesn’t self fund his campaign, but OpenSecrets.org reports the tens of thousands he’s dumped into his campaign. He claims to be like Jim Ramstad, but Ramstad has more personal conviction in his little finger than Phillips has in his whole body – Phillips will just agree with whomever is in the room.

    At the end of the day, these puff pieces about Phillips are entertaining, but woefully inaccurate to the type of person he is – a hypocrite and a lair.

    • Submitted by Larry Moran on 08/28/2018 - 04:01 pm.

      I should start by saying I am not a resident of CD3. I have followed those races from afar and my sense is that Ramstad seemed fine and Erik Paulsen seems a little like an empty suit. I really don’t know much about Dean Phillips and really don’t have an opinion.

      What is clear is that the reactions of Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Devreaux are exactly in keeping with how our elections have evolved over time: uncivil and incredibly rude. As I said, I don’t know if what Mr. Phillips is saying is accurate, attainable, or even useful. But the reaction from these commentators, and the venom with which they express their opinions, is of a piece with what we have seen over the last few election cycles. I would prefer to read a more reasoned approach not only to Mr. Phillips but in support of Mr. Paulsen. I would also hope that, if Mr. Paulsen’s supporters have the responsibility of refuting pieces like this, that they at least use different terms to describe it (“these puff pieces…”) so to at least give the appearance that their comments aren’t part of a coordinated effort.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/28/2018 - 06:07 pm.

      At Least He Moved

      Jason Lewis still does not live in the district he represents.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/29/2018 - 08:56 am.

      He Didn’t Have To

      A member of the House of Representatives is not required to live in the district he or she represents.

      At the end of the day, the part of this piece I find the most interesting is how many negative comments are coming from first-time posters. It’s also interesting that “they” are all saying pretty much the same things.

      • Submitted by Pat Brady on 08/29/2018 - 11:03 am.

        Congress rule is nonsense

        I would never vote for any Congressional candidate who does not live in the district they want to represnt.
        I want my Congress person to know the culture of the district ,its people and their ideas of good government and needs of their district.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/29/2018 - 12:22 pm.

          I Agree

          The only constitutional rule on the subject is that a member of the House of Representatives must be a resident of the state. As a practical matter, I agree that a representative should live in his district and I would not vote for anyone without even that minimal level of commitment to the folks at home.

  6. Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 08/28/2018 - 03:46 pm.

    Paulsen and Astroturf

    Ron, Tim, Jason, all seem to be engaged in astroturfing on behalf of Erik Paulsen.
    All their accounts were created today. They say the same things.
    Methinks it’s probably the same person behind the same keyboard as ‘Scott Carlson’, who created an account explicitly to attack Walz and Murphy during the primary, and then goes dark.
    They certainly read similarly.
    I guess this is what dark money buys in political campaigns.

    https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2018/07/swanson-campaign-responds-sexual-harassment-allegations-against-former-aide-

  7. Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/28/2018 - 04:48 pm.

    Oh he will listen alright

    If electrd he will lusten to ine person, Nancy Pekosi will give his marching orders. Being everyone’s best friend and listener sounds like a vacuous candidate with no real clue what he stands for. Yah one thing missing in congress is that we dont have enough coffee shop owners. This piece is free dem campaign support fluff.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/29/2018 - 01:37 pm.

      Nancy Pelosi?

      Seriously, you people desperately need some new material.

    • Submitted by Karen Seay on 08/29/2018 - 08:33 pm.

      Nancy Pelosi frightens Paulsen’s campaign to death

      I just received my regular request for political contribution to Paulsen’s campaign (even though I have responded numerous times, including once in a letter to the Edina Sun-Current, that I am not and never have been a Republican and do not support him. Go figure!) In the course of the most recent letter Paulsen excoriates Democrats once again in the type of language that I have never seen in Dean Phillips’ solicitations or heard from him in speeches and forums. Yet again, I returned the letter with pertinent commentary. but I noted that Nancy Pelosi’s name was in the letter no less than FOUR separate times in four separate paragraphs. She seems to be the supreme threat that Paulsenites apparently can haul out and that they believe will loosen the pocketbooks of both wealthy and ordinary Third District voters, along with those of the habitual wealthy, corporate, and PAC donors.

      As a woman, I found the targeted demonizing of a strong, successful national female politician offensive and hateful. I don’t love everything about Nancy Pelosi, but to nastily turn her into the prime reason for contributing to and voting for Paulsen, which the letter clearly attempts to do, is absurd and laughably short-sighted.

      We currently have a federal government monopolized almost entirely by white men, whether in the executive or the legislative branch. To single out a woman who still has a platform and political power demonstrates that Paulsen is a Trumpite through and through, no matter how much he denies or is silent about his support for Trump and his positions and his rhetoric.

      There are many, many thoughtful, caring women in the Third District. Paulsen takes them on by demonizing a strong and successful Democratic woman as his “bete noir” at his peril. I will be supporting and working hard for Dean Phillips until this election is done.

  8. Submitted by Wes Davey on 08/28/2018 - 06:42 pm.

    It would be nice…

    It would be nice if one of the candidates were a military veteran, nice in the sense that they would likely have a better understanding of what military families endure in this time of perpetual war and repetitive deployments to war zones where there is little hope of winning. (For those who missed the news last week, CW3 Taylor J. Galvin was on his NINTH combat deployment when he died last Monday when his helicopter crashed in Sinjar, Iraq.)

    Notwithstanding that missing credential, I can’t help but believe that Dean Phillips – a Gold Star son whose father was KIA in Vietnam – will question any hint of more war, and who will genuinely support those who serve and their families, rather than be just another rubber stamp for defense industry spending.

    Particularly annoying about Erik Paulsen (who voted against “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal in 2010) is his lack of support for LGBT troops, but that’s also true for the other GOP Congressional candidates in Minnesota. None have served in the military, yet they – in true obedience to Trump and the religious right wing – would deny that opportunity to transgenders. Don’t believe it? Just ask the GOP candidates.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/29/2018 - 09:40 am.

      Vet For Office? Meh

      John Kline was a vet. But that didn’t stop him from selling out his fellow vets when he could get thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from for profit colleges that take GI benefits and do little to give vets job skills.

      So when some one tells me to vote for someone because “she’s a vet” or “a woman will do better,” I set the bar higher than that. (And an empty suit like Paulsen is way below that bar.)

  9. Submitted by Randi Reitan on 08/28/2018 - 07:10 pm.

    Grateful Dean Phillips felt called to run!

    We have lived in the 3rd District for nearly 20 years and have longed for a candidate who could defeat Erik Paulsen. We didn’t know Dean Phillips until his first campaign event at the library in Edina. We went to that town hall with hope in our hearts.

    We walked into the room and couldn’t believe how packed it was … every seat taken … we had to stand in the back. We weren’t alone in wanting to meet a candidate who was ready to take on Paulsen.

    Dean began the evening sharing his story. He then opened the floor for questions. It was amazing the number of topics that were raised by people of all ages that evening. Dean walked around the room making eye contact with the people asking the questions and his answers were from the heart. People felt heard for the first time since Paulsen took office. Dean had many wonderful ideas that night but for me it was simply a gift to see a person running with his heart and his passion to hear concerns and to offer ideas for solutions. There were times I was moved to tears as we listened to the needs of the people and Dean’s heartfelt answers. This is how government should work. This is what a representative of the people should be doing. Listening has become a lost art in politics. Dean Phillips is bringing it back and I couldn’t be more grateful.

  10. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 08/28/2018 - 09:49 pm.

    Marketing

    Erik Paulsen has successfully marketed himself as a moderate while voting with the most extreme conservatives in the House, carving out a few exceptions when it was safe to do so. Phillips has some pretty good experience in marketing and has been putting it to work for a year. Paulsen may have met his match. I hope so.

  11. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 08/29/2018 - 01:14 pm.

    Trump Lite!

    Erik Paulsen happily voted to support Mr. Trump 98% of the time, has refused to take any kind of public stance critical of Mr. Trump, and has enthusiastically embraced nearly every Trump initiative or proposal. No matter what the outrage, Mr. Trump can count on Erik Paulsen to defend him or stand silently hoping that no one is paying attention to his silence. Dean Phillips I suspect, will not be a silent witness or supporter of Mr. Trump’s incompetence and that alone should merit his election in the Third District.

  12. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/30/2018 - 08:14 am.

    I am a resident of the 3rd, a fairly loyal D voter and a regular voter for Jim Ramstad who represented the will of the district very well and was equipped with the cojones to buck party leadership if his conscience so dictated. Two items sorely lacking from Paulsen. I was dropped into one of the rare Paulsen telephone town halls (phone rings, I answer, town hall in progress). Paulsen did a fine job of describing his positions and why they are so. He is not a verbal misfit. It clearly showed that he could do a real town hall and survive without difficulty. That he won’t is proof that he has a permanent attitude of entitlement as “congressional royalty”. Something Ramstad never showed. Time to move on and Dean Phillips is a fine candidate to do it with.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/03/2018 - 09:14 am.

    While “centrism” is an incoherent political agenda way past it’s expiration date, Phillips nonetheless can fashion a powerful message close enough to a liberal populist message of inclusion to pull this off. We can only hope he’s smart enough to jettison his neoliberal tax reform fantasies if gets elected.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 09/04/2018 - 10:48 am.

      Centrism is completely coherent. It offers solutions rather than outright bias. I often wonder if people with a scorched earth political outlook adapt their philosophy within their own careers. I’m a national account manager…everyday I find myself negotiating with representatives of those accounts to find mutually beneficial solutions to issues, marketing plans and sales goals. Without compromise, there is no relationship. Our government is no different.

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