I thought I’d go out on big limb here (heh) and reveal why I’m voting for Ray Cox tomorrow in the Senate District 25 special election.
First the disclaimers: I’m his blog coach and have been since 2002. He continues to pay me for technical work on both his company website, Northfield Construction Company (NCC), as well as his political blog, RayCox.net. My wife Robbie and I have been friends with Ray and his wife Ellen since their kids and our kids were in diapers, and then later when our kids all went to Prairie Creek Community School from the day it opened.
My political leanings? I’ve voted for Democratic party candidates way more than Republican party candidates over the years, with some Independence and Green Party votes along the way as well. in the 90s, I worked for 8 years at the left/progressive/liberal/green publication, Utne Reader. Nationally, I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a Republican for president and thus far for 2008, I really like what I’ve read about Barack Obama.
My political support for Ray began during his years on the Northfield school board, after he was one of two board members to vote to authorize a charter school sponsorship for the proposed Cannon Valley Middle School way back in the early 90s. I had no clue whether he was a Republican or Democrat then… it didn’t matter to me and of course, school board races are non-partisan.
But during those years, my Democratic Party leanings began to waiver when I saw how the DFL, the educational associations, and the teachers unions came out so harshly against the education choice-related legislation (charter schools, open enrollment, post-secondary enrollment options) and the DFL legislators who supported them like then-DFL Senator Ember Reichgott Junge (co-author of Minnesota’s charter school law).
I voted for Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson in 2006 but I wasn’t unhappy that Tim Pawlenty won, in part because I thought Mike Hatch would be a disastrous leader and in part because DFL control of the Minnesota House, Senate and governor’s office would have made me very nervous.
The Strib’s endorsement of Ray for his “bipartisan working style and independent thinking” with specific examples said it well. But it’s also important that the Senate Dems NOT have a super majority to override Pawlenty’s vetoes on a party line vote. I disagree with Pawlenty on many issues but he’s not on the extreme right and I think much can be gained for the state long-term by having the DFL find common ground with him and vice versa.
Besides Ray’s moderate stance on many issues, he’s got an ability to converse as easily with the liberal constituents who dominate Northfield as he does with the conservative constituents who dominate many other parts of Senate District 25. I value that a lot because there’s wisdom in both camps and it takes a certain kind of leader to tap into it. It may be that Kevin Dahle has that ability, too, but I’d like to see him demonstrate it at the local level in other roles besides those related to K-12 education.
Lastly, I really like Ray’s local civic involvement. He’s generous with his time (example, left photo: duct taping at the 2006 Jesse James Bike Tour) and he and his wife Ellen are generous with their money (example, right photo: at the 2006 Laura Baker annual fundraising gala with my wife Robbie). Long term civic involvement is an important indicator of a candidate’s credibility for me. (I like it that Kevin Dahle has a history of civic engagement, too.)
So there you have it. Whad’ya say? Vote for Ray!