PODCAST Posted Below: PRIMARY FOCUS 2010: DFL Primary Contenders for Senate District 67 #2 and House District 65A

On-air date: 
Mon, 07/26/2010
State Capitol Rotunda - the People's House

TruthToTell and its parent production company, CivicMedia/MN, are committed to keeping your focus and ours on local issues and candidates. This year, as in other years, we intend to produce several shows on elections that, while not invisible, remain less visible, even to their constituents because media outlets rarely, if ever, cover such races as Senate/House District primaries. The absence of decent media coverage is at least as determinant of voter turnout as a summer breeze or gin and tonic.

We return this week to the tightly contested races for seats in the wake of surprise resignations by the only two Hmong officeholders in the State Legislature. Two weeks ago, we interviewed four of the nine DFLers seeking to replace State Senator Mee Moua who departed her District 67 seat on the last day of session this past Spring. Coming so late in the election season as it did, and with a real plethora of candidates surfacing overnight, the District 67 DFL declined to endorse. This means that one of the nine primary candidates for the nomination could emerge the winner with as little as 20% of the total vote - a vote that, because of the ridiculous recasting of the primary election in August - the 10th - will itself be even lower than 20% of the eligible electors, most of whom will be lollygagging at the beach or up north at their cabins or in Europe. The SD67 election might have been a prime candidate for the use of ranked choice voting, a perfect opportunity to prevent a small percentage of the total electorate determining the winner. With RCV (or IRV-instant run-off voting), voters can rank their favorite candidates or all of them in the order they'd vote for them, then, in the counting, eliminating the lowest vote-getter and allocating his/her votes to that candidate's second and third choices, a candidate with a majority could emerge, thus strengthening the prestige and providing a real mandate for the DFL's representative in the general election.

A better margin if not a better voter turnout will come with the primary shakeout for House District 65A, left vacant by departing Representative Cy Thao. In this case, just two candidates are squaring off, and one of them IS DFL-endorsed. But Jeremiah Ellis faces a formidable challenge from a story of homelessness rising to activism in the person of Rena Moran. The race may be close, but the turnout may, again, be too low to be truly representative of all the people in these districts, 65A being no exception.

65A has had a noticeably low voter turnout in all elections dating way back - except, perhaps in 2008, when Barack Obama stirred hope in a district where experience with politics has for generations often been seen as a choice between Tweedledee-Dee and Tweedledum. This often true in districts dominated by people of color and poverty and where the lack of voting often leads to inaction by those writing laws and policies to relieve the conditions that discourage residents from participating.

As for this mid-summer political debacle, our only hope is that thousands will have filled out their absentee ballots by then, doing their democratic duty as they embrace this beautiful summer - which, like all Minnesota summers, is a strong disincentive for politicking, except, perhaps for the candidates running down the parade routes in their communities, shaking hands and handing out literature, most of which, lamentably, be left for the street cleaners at parade's end.

This is the reality of Minnesota politics - and politics anywhere. These are politics only an incumbent could love, because the fewer the votes cast, most will favor the one with greatest name recognition, which incumbents have in abundance.

Ahh, but no incumbents are running in these two races, and, in such a case, party endorsement is often, but not always, the critical edge. Less so in well-run races when the unendorsed challenger possibly hustles just a bit more. We'll see.

Last week, we had a discussion with the three candidates vying to replace Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner (Listen Here). Lack of mainstream media coverage leaves voters with little information from the horses' mouths about the qualifications and positions of those seeking to hold those offices. Appearances on radio and television, in particular, are almost nil. Except here, of course.

Remember - it's now 9:00 AM Monday that TTT'S ANDY DRISCOLL again looks in on Senate District 67 as well as House District 65A. And we open the phones for your questions and comments - so do give us your input: 612-341-0980.

On August 2nd, another large group of candidates seeking that rare open judicial seat that, absent a governor’s appointment to fill the vacancy, will actually elect a new judge to succeed retiring Ramsey County District Court Judge Michael Monahan. We will hear from several of those candidates. That's August 2nd on TTT.

The following week, August 9th - the day before the Primary, most of the candidates vying for two at-large seats on the Minneapolis School Board will be in the studio to answer some heavy questions about the future of that city's education system.

On-air guests: 

Senate District 67 Candidates: (For the second time since accepting our invitation, Cha Vang failed to appear for the SD67 conversation.)

Appeared July 12th. LISTEN HERE.

• JOHN HARRINGTON

• CHAI LEE

• JIM MCGOWAN

• AVI VISWANATHAN

Appeared July 26th:

• FOUNG HAWJ (HER)

• VANG LOR

• TOM HILBER

• TRAYSHANA THOMAS

HOUSE DISTRICT 65A DFL PRIMARY CANDIDATES:

JEREMIAH ELLIS

RENA MORAN