132 thoughts on “Kevin Dahle, Our New State Senator”

  1. Bob Hall, a sharp-eyed reader alerted me that your comment #70 above is remarkably similar to a letter to editor in this week’s Star Tribune. You wrote:

    If you need a reason for the large margin in the recent vote count, look to the two colleges. The results hardly reflect a representative democracy. This coming spring the students will leave our city, while the residents of this city and the rest of the state will have to live with the outcome of the past election. I would submit the students who are not residents are mostly clueless about the needs of Northfield and our state. They are allowed to vote on issues which they will not suffer the outcome. The students are nothing more than imported voters. Hardly representative.

    Craig Vanderah of Prior Lake’s letter in the Strib:

    Is this representative democracy? In the spring, the students will pack their bags, while long-term residents and the rest of the state live with the consequences of giving the DFL Senate a veto-proof majority. I guess if you don’t like how your local population tends to vote you can just import more voters.

    Can you explain?

  2. Was Robert Hall or Craig Vanderah once a speechwriter for Joe Bidden?

    Or are they just writing papers, for a fee, for some of my composition students?

    (Thanks for noticing the similarity, Griff….)

  3. Some of the R’s are awfully good at plagiarism and astroturfing… remember when Ray Cox cut and pasted from the Gov’s website, changed maybe three words in several paragraphs, and got it printed in the Nfld News as a Guest Column under his byline?

    Paul – do you mean Joe “Unbidden” Biden, whose legend-in-his-own mind status kept him from giving up his unwanted bid for Presidency? Here in Delaware, people know him… when he finally gave it up last week, Alan’s comment on him, sworn to recently before Kiffi and Victor:

    “Biden is plenty smart and experienced, but he’s got no humility or sense of proportion. I remember being in his office several years ago, with a group asking him to oppose the invasion of Iraq (he didn’t). He looked at me and said ‘you’re not that f****ng important.’ And that’s the truth; to a guy as arrogant and entrenched as Biden, none of us peons are that f****ng important.”

    Shows why these guys need speechwriters!

  4. An interesting letter. My intended post from last night would have been better then, but I’ll say it now. Ray is out of the race. It would be nice if people could quit dragging him through the mud. Whether or not you disagree with his ideology, you can’t deny that he is a good family person, and successful businessman who has served our community for a long time.

    It is interesting to note the juxtaposition of the story about Ray withdrawing, along with Laura Brod’s well-written response to people criticizing her record as they sit up against Doug Jone’s letter of half-hearted congratulations combined with a mind-numbing smear of the same person he purports to congratulate.

    Thanks for your service Ray, Kevin and Laura. And a bronx cheer to you and the like, Mr. Jones.

    PS this will be posted on the Northfield News site as well.

  5. I’m a former employee of Ray Cox, and still retain the utmost respect for him and gratitude for his record of public service. Not all of my experiences of him — personal and public — have been positive, but I believe he is basically a decent and honorable man who has excelled as a representative (although not to all tastes).

    However, this flap about Northfield’s “nasty and brutish” politics (apparently Jaci’s words, since they don’t appear in a direct quote from Ray anywhere in the article), reflected and amplified by the main editorial, just makes me shake my head in wonder. Its tone is reminiscent of the “garbage politics” photo op staged at the Rice County Dump by Steve Sviggum a few years ago (a shameless display where Ray almost lost my vote just for participating with a straight face). At the time, I was amazed by the bald-faced hypocrisy (and lack of a sense of irony) exhibited in that stunt, which was, predictably, the banner story in the News that week.

    I followed this last election closely, and like many voters assumed Ray was a shoo-in for the seat. I saw no negative campaigning by Ray or Kevin Dahle or their supporters, certainly nothing I’d characterize as “nasty and brutish” — just the usual partisan bickering. Of course, bloggers I’m not aware of could’ve gotten mean and personal, which in itself would not be surprising. But why don’t the articles in the News point out these wrongdoers, so that we can all experience their “vitriol” and engage this “rude minority”? I’m all for a more civilized political discourse — have been ever since Newt Gingrich and his gang of neo-conservative thugs ushered us into these Dark Ages.

    C’mon. Most of us know for a fact that Ray’s skin is far, far thicker than this.

    Here’s the irony: directly underneath this petulant and unnecessary editorial is a letter from Doug Jones that is indeed nasty and brutish — another in a long series of nasty, brutish letters from this particular correspondent. I quote: “It falls to me to HAVE TO congratulate Senator-elect Kevin Dahle… We join the editor and publisher of the Northfield News in promising to follow your public career closely. Despite your claim to act in a bi-partisan way, that is made dubious by the recent history of the DFL party… We note your forthright, IF INCREDIBLE, public promises to the voters… We also know that the DFL agenda today is only the PURSUIT OF POWER…” (emphasis is mine)
    Is it just me, or does this letter come across as dismissive of the election result, personally insulting to Kevin Dahle, crude in its depiction of the DFL’s accomplishments, and vaguely threatening? It’s certainly got a “nasty” tone — or maybe I only think that because I disagree with it. Regardless of the election outcome and the many conspiracy theories which have been expounded, it seemed to me to be a fair (and fairly fought) contest that just happened to bring in some surprising results.

    I, too, am saddened by Ray’s departure from the political arena. His performance has been exemplary, and he deserves to retire from the spotlight with honor, not jibes. (I also suspect he’ll be back — maybe he’d do us all a favor and run for Mayor.) And Ray, this whole sore loser thing? You’re above it.

    While I’m here, I’ll join the chorus and post my own conspiracy theory: Isn’t it possible that the GOP is just breaking out the violins to lay groundwork for 2008? To inspire a voter backlash against all you nasty, brutish, rude, vitriolic DFLers? Watch your back.

    Mark Breitinger

  6. Great comment, Mark. (comment #108) Well-written and thoughtful.

    There are always cruel and crude participants in any political contest. Some people just get really ramped up about it and let the anger / fear / bitterness out. I’ve been one of those people in the past. I try to be more measured now.

    While we should all monitor our own comments – if for no other reason than you are far more likely to win true converts to your position with friendly persuasion than with vitriol – I see no reason to chastise the many for the belligerence of a few.

    I, too, noted the sad irony of the News publishing an editorial like that and then publishing another piece of run-of-the-mill, negative doggerel from Doug Jones.

    Thank you, Ray, for your years of service. I appreciated your diligent attention to the needs of people in this area. It takes a ton of courage to stand up and be counted like that and take all the shots that come along with it. I hope you don’t stay away too long.

  7. Mark,

    Well stated. This is an interesting point since the only “negative” words uttered by either candidate were printed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on December 29, and this is a direct quote:

    –Cox says that Dahle’s role as public employee and teachers union leader turns voters off. “People say he negotiated Northfield’s schools right into the toilet — a high contract settlement. People know about that.”–

    The contract he referred to was 1.5% above the state average and was NEGOTIATED by both the District and the Ed Association, but the quote makes it seem as if Kevin held up the school at gunpoint and demanded bags of gold, causing the entire District to crumble which is why all the kids are dressed in rags and reading old cereal boxes instead of Beowulf.

    I am and was part of the negotiations team and can say without a doubt that this agreement was sandwiched between several others that were below the state average, (the next one by quite a bit). In addition this same team, under the leadership of Mr. Dahle, agreed to an extremely low settlement the following negotiation due to the 0% funding increases from the state. This is something that a former school board member would be fully aware of (especially one who was part of many of those negotiations).

    As a teacher I can tell you that I heard more people talk about that one quote than any other thing that was said by ANY other person or group during that month.

    You can’t say, “I’m the positive one. I’m the positive one. People say you ran the school district into the toilet. I’m the positive one.”

    That’s just like saying, “You didn’t hear it from me, put some people say…”

    In the end, Ray Cox is a good person and has served, but the people who voted wanted someone else with a different ideological perspective to represent them. It is a shame that Mr. Jones doesn’t get that.

    Finally Mark, I second your last statement and add a “friendly amendment”. The IR themes for 2008 vs. David Bly: Clean Politics and Imported Voters.

    We shall see.

  8. How about coffee sometime? I’m usually around Monday & Tuesday.

    John (George),
    I’ll be glad to chat over a hot drink. I’m off work on Tuesdays; drop me a line at pjenders [at] gmail.com.

  9. I know that I and some others in the area are pushing the Republican party away from its fringe by arguing it is the party of freedom first, meaning that we go in with strong support of the usual suspects, going against the tide of the ultraconservatives. Some of the talk in the party was that Ray did not get full support of the western half because he was too moderate. My co-conspirators and I argue that rather than chase these one-button topic voters, we want the party to return to being more centrist and more about freedoms, liberties and property rights.

    For example, we argue that property rights extend beyond the fence if the neighbor is doing something to interfere with your quality of life, but rather than working for a simple “there oughta be a law” solution, we want to work for fair compensation. Just because you can afford a bulldozer does not mean we have to let you tear up the countryside with it. On the other hand, if we want to protect a stand of trees, we ought to be willing to pay the owner something to leave it in place.

  10. If more of the Republican party was like Ray Cox, I could again contemplate voting for Republicans like Ray Cox once in a while.

    Best of luck, sincerely, in regaining control of your party.

  11. Thanks Patrick, but I hesitate to call it “my party” yet. Someone once said that they would rather teach economics to Democrats than compassion to Republicans. I guess I’ve tried teaching economics to Democrats and compassion to Republicans and find that I get a better result with the latter. Since most of my issues (environmental at least) are already totally endorsed by Dems, I get more “bank for my buck” converting and working with Reps.

  12. Interesting how political movement often only occurs after one party adopts/co-opts the issues of the other. I’ve always been amused that Richard Nixon enacted some of our most important environmental legislation, while Bill Clinton needed to get on board before welfare reform could be passed.

  13. Patrick, I think that the phenomena you describe is presented along with an explanation to the effect … “Only Nixon could open China, because his anti-communist credentials protected from accusations of being soft on communism”. A similar idea applies to Clinton. Personally, I think that good ideas deserve to be implemented regardless of which party gets the credit.

  14. Bruce,

    I don’t think you’d get much argument on the principle that “good ideas deserve to be implemented regardless of which party gets the credit”. Do you hear much advocacy for the opposite view?

    On a related point, but in a contrarian mood …

    I’d like to praise the now-unpopular view that sometimes we need more, not less, party solidarity and party discipline . I do *not* mean that D’s should always diss R’s, or vice versa. What I do mean is that we are, for better or worse, deeply invested in a two-party system which, although hardly perfect, has some virtues, too. As it is, party affiliation often degenerates into posturing on contentious issues, many of them social rather than legitimately governmental, rather than on conscientiously developing a coherent plan for governing. This may be inevitable when party solidarity and discipline are so weak that politicians feel no real accountability to any platform or realistic plan of government. With more party cohesion and better discipline (stopping somewhere short of exile to Siberia, perhaps) parties might be better able to propose, and carry out, real policies.

    Solidarity forever …

  15. Paul- I think that is a good observation on your part. Over the last little while, I have heard people complaining about Senator Coleman voting with the Republicans. Well, duh! He was elected on a Republican platform. Do we really think he should then vote Democrat? Should we expect Amy Klobuchar to start supporting Republican tax cuts? I would hope not. I know this is simplistic and I do think there are good ideas that come from both sides of the aisle. But to talk down about someone because he/she votes with the party that they identify with seems unrealistic.

    You also said, “…As it is, party affiliation often degenerates into posturing on contentious issues, many of them social rather than legitimately governmental, rather than on conscientiously developing a coherent plan for governing.” I think that is an excellent observation. I agree wholeheartedly. I think we started down a slippery slope when we started legislating moral issues. I’m not sure how to reverse the slide.

  16. Some of the Republican split, sadly, is playing out in district 25. I visited Michael Brodkorb’s blog, MN Dem’s exposed after it was brought up here, and I noticed that some Republicans there have been calling Ray Cox a “RINO” (Republican-In-Name-Only), and voicing their resentment that Neuville hand-picked Ray, supposedly.

    But there was, after all, a primary race with multiple Republican candidates, and I don’ t think Ray’s environmentalism such as his work with power companies on an agreement to limit mercury emissions from coal plants makes him a leftist liberal. As Bruce says with Nixon and China, Ray was good to work on that.

    And I think the characterization of Ray as a RINO or as hand-picked by Neuville and Pawlenty is very unfair. The Republican party could have pressured Ray’s Republican opponents to drop before the primary, citing evidence from a poll on electability or something, or with a call from the Governor. They didn’t, and it was probably a good thing (if you’re a Libertarian-Constitutional-Conservative-Free-Speech-Republican).

    The split shows up in other ways. Bruce, you mention freedom’s/liberties and property rights. Many would agree with you. But some Republicans like Schwarzenegger and Giuliani support freedom/liberties to the point of supporting abortion rights for women, and oops, there’s that wedge issue.

    Other Republicans are part of the “Christian Right,” and not only against abortion, but in favor of “family values” to the point that they see the hypocrisy in Newt Gingrich having an affair while his wife was ill, while leading the movement to impeach Clinton (not for having an affair, but for lying under oath about it…).

    Some pro-business Republicans advocate taking an economically cautious approach to global warming, fearing that “the cure could be worse than the disease,” etc. (Neuville often seems/seemed to be in this camp.) But some of the “Christian Right” are coming to see it as an issue of “good stewardship/poor stewardship of God’s Creation,” and are not blind to the way that the “sin of (human and corporate) greed” might be corrupting the debate. So you have some of the Christian Right “Going Green for God,” and pulling away, or at least being critical.

    In his book, “Letters to a Young Conservative,” Republican Dinesh D’Souza claims that conservatism is, in part, about universal moral truths — and not just about freedoms, business, and property rights. When Republican’s easy alliances with corporate America seem to enable the sin/vice of greed, conservatives who are in it for the “universal moral truths” may be jumping ship and looking for independent candidates.

    Some of the obvious split had to do with electing Bush, and then the efforts of many Republicans to support him even as his approval ratings were sinking to previously unimagined numbers. Some Republicans have written books about Bush and the Neocons “hijacking” the party.

    Some Republicans who are constitutionally conservative (including some prominent members of the John Birch society) have supported the impeachment of Bush, and supported Ron Paul’s “American Freedom Agenda” legislation to restore the checks and balances, and habeas corpus, and to stop wiretapping. And many of these find strong voices of agreement from at least some voices on the left. Imagine that.

    And then there’s the “Log Cabin” Republicans….

    Much has been said about apparent contradictions in the Democratic party — Hillary and Obama, and all their corporate donations, a recent topic — but there’s plenty potential for split among the Republicans, and of course, the general reasons for the split on a national level affect us in district 25.

    As for solidarity, sure, sometimes it’s great. But when a recent poll shows something like 50% of Republicans are tired of Bush, and something like 13% of Republicans would like to see Bush and Cheney impeached — then maybe it’s a sign that the party needs to huddle and listen to the complaints and suggestions of its members for a while and get a new sense of direction.

    Solidarity, Bush-Cheney-Rove style, sometimes meant arm-twisting the previous Republican majority’s votes, sometimes with threats and campaign contribution bribes, as Michigan’s Rep. Nick Smith claimed about his vote for the medicare prescription drug bill (he later withdrew the accusation). This kind of solidarity is very unlike the “off to Siberia” kind, but still very problematic, very corrupt, very American at the same time.

    Easy to see why some Republicans might be disturbed (and others not, and therefore split?) if one claims this is only “business as usual” in Washington. Easy to see why some might view Pawlenty’s timing of the election, and then the loss, with similar frustration. Some on Brodkorb’s blog complained that Pqwlenty was too busy getting ready to be someone’s VP candidate, and not spending enough time campaigning to avoid the veto-proof majority. “We need a REAL conservative!” they cry. They’re watching their party being torn apart. It must be painful.

  17. Paul (Z), you wrote:

    I don’t think you’d get much argument on the principle that “good ideas deserve to be implemented regardless of which party gets the credit”. Do you hear much advocacy for the opposite view?

    but then you go on to applaud party solidarity, which to me translates to Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome, meaning that a good idea, not invented by “us” is not supportable. People who will reach across the political divide to find good solutions are the most valuable component of a republic, without them the demigogs will drag us down to tribal warfare levels. The word compromise is not an evil term in a republic, it’s how we get things done in the face of irreconcilable differences. (Of course, carried to an extreme we get those pork-laden spending bills that spread the wealth to the powerful.)

    Paul (F), you raised the Republicans who use the freedom argument to defend abortion rights. Sorry to be a RINO, but I figure that wherever it says in the Constitution that the state cannot force me to donate even blood, let alone a kidney (most of us have a spare) or part of my liver (you can donate a lobe and still do quite well), well, that’s where a woman’s right to choose is guaranteed. Of course, that takes me out of the extreme Republican cloister and into RINO territory. If the system weren’t so stacked against a third party I suspect there would be a Rhino party. The question is whether a moderate leaning Republican party can siphon off the moderate Democrats and get those bi-partisan victories for those RINOs that hold so much promise.

  18. Bruce: Interesting comments. I don’t want to speak for Paul Z or his intended meanings, but perhaps solidarity can translate to “we have more in common than we have differences, so let’s limit the in-fighting” instead of NIH syndrome.

    But I like your observations about NIH. It is a current political doctrine in some circles that, in order to appear a strong leader and claim the spotlight, borrowing ideas from opponents (within or outside the party) is anathema: If your opponent has a good idea, the conventional goes, you must fashion for yourself a distinct version of the good idea or risk appearing to be a weak leader.

    I would love to see politicians learn to buck the traditional wisdom on that point. But it means competing with the rugged individualist myth of leadership….

    On RINOs, at least one Republican at MDE described Ray Cox as one, but his stated position was pro-life. You describe yourself as a RINO, but pro-women’s rights. Maybe “RINO” is too much of a catch-all criticism applied whenever one feels another does not fit one’s own niche in the party, applied by one as the “true” definition.

    On teaching compassion to conservatives or economics to liberals, I’m wondering what you think of Warren Buffett’s thoughts on taxes — preserving the estate tax, raising the taxable base for Social Security above $90k, and his claim that corporate taxes were at a near low relative to profits (comments made in 2005 in a Lou Dobbs interview). He said that if there’s a class war, his side was winning and shouldn’t be.

    I often get the impression that some conservatives need to learn economics too. Some of them claim the New Deal was communism, when it seems it only made sense: Get people to work, help them become productive, tax-paying citizens, and then they’ll become consumers, and businesses benefit too, not just in the short-term, but in the long-term.

    So build bridges, fix roads, reduce class size by hiring more teachers, build wind turbines for public utilities), then all the previously un/underemployed become taxpaying consumers. When only the top-earning 10% or 2% are getting ahead, and when the rest are falling behind, they’ll struggle to make payments for basics, and they won’t be good consumers, so corporate America won’t profit.

    For this reason, I think much of the resistance to single-payer health-care, or tax increases on the rich, go against the economic interests of the rich. They should be investing in sustaining a healthy pool of willing consumers, not putting stress on that pool and hurting their own future prospects.

    Because of the sub-prime crunch, construction is now down, new home construction slowing, and with home values dropping in some markets, consumers have less home equity for remodeling, or are less inclined to go there. It would seem to be a great time for government to step in and say, let’s stimulate the economy in a slow sector by investing in infrastructure: fix roads, build needed buildings at public universities, fund school repairs, etc.

    Instead, we’re going to argue about who should get a tax rebate, or break, and if the breaks should be permanant.

    I’m disappointed with Bush’s economics, and Pawlenty’s too. As Republican economics go, I think MN did better under Arne Carlson.

  19. Bruce,

    In #121 you say that ” … party solidarity … to me translates to Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome, meaning that a good idea, not invented by “us” is not supportable.”

    If that’s what party solidarity (PS) means to you, then I’m not surprised you’re against it — who wouldn’t be? But that’s not what PS means to me.

    To me, PS starts from the principle that (for better or worse, as I acknowledged earlier, though I think it’s mainly for the better) in our system, political parties are the main vehicles to form coalitions, accomplish political action, campaign for election, pass legislation, etc. In order for parties to work effectively toward such goals, they need to have some measure of cohesion and willingness to compromise on goals — PS, if you will. Sure, NIH-type behavior sometimes happens within parties, but I don’t see it as a necessary offshoot of PS any more than shooting yourself in the foot is a necessary result of military service. On the contrary, a well-functioning, PS-rich party with a serious commitment to governing rather than posturing should be more, not less, open to adapting (importing, stealing, whatever … ) good ideas from any source.

    You also wrote:

    People who will reach across the political divide to find good solutions are the most valuable component of a republic, without them the demigogs will drag us down to tribal warfare levels.

    With this I fully agree, and I like the reference to “demigogs”, which I picture as the monstrous offspring of demagogues and demigods.

  20. Paul (Z): Good definition of PS. Some years ago, Margaret Atwood (author of Handmaiden’s Tale, Surfacing, and other books) visited the Twin Cities and in the context of speaking about other things, mentioned that in Canada, she thought people had to work harder at forming coalitions and compromising because Canadians are often more SO (Spread Out), and there are fewer people to begin with, so according to her, SIN (Strength In Numbers) necessitated Canadian coalitions (CC’s). She thought Americans were less skilled at that (perhaps because NIH gets in our way)….

  21. That’s a great article. But I am only saying that because she aligns perfectly with my comment #64 which was written two days before her post. She did forget to mention Kevin’s awesome webmasters (thanks Holly Cairns and Gabe Rholl).

  22. Paul Z. noted my new word coinage …

    With this I fully agree, and I like the reference to “demigogs”, which I picture as the monstrous offspring of demagogues and demigods.

    That’s exactly how I constructed it, as a melding of the two … of course.

  23. And now to talk about Al Franken’s behavior at Carleton. Funny that you didn’t start a new thread, Griff. This is the thread that never ends, it goes on and on my friends. Some people started reading it not knowing what it was, but they’ll continue reading it forever just because… this is the thread that never ends.

    I had heard Franken was rude to a student (and I followed your link). Oops, Franken goofed, there. I think Franken should treat ALL constituents like they are his boss, because if he were elected, we would be his boss, and he should have to answer to all of us.

    I believe he’s a genious, and his mind moves fast, and I think he’s very funny. I have faith in his ability to stand up for what he believes in, and I think he’d get a lot done in congress. I am still undecided who to vote for, though. I like Mike Ciresi, too, and think he’s already done a lot of good in his lifetime.

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