Prediction: Partisanship Will Get Worse Not Better
By Andrew Richter
With the 2014 Crystal city council election behind us and the new council sworn in, I want to both look backwards and forwards.
First, I want to explain something. This isn’t a Republican blog. Yes it is true that myself and my colleague Jason Bradley have been active in the Republican Party as well as other conservative and libertarian causes, but our goals here are that you are informed of what is going on in your city and how it is tied to government at higher levels. We take positions at this blog in favor of wards, even year elections, televised work sessions, budget simplification, and local control. We oppose light rail, more high density housing, the Met Council, and other elements of Agenda 21. It should be said that there are Democrats and Republicans on both sides of these issues.
Now, let me back up a second. When I first got into local politics in 2007 I had no idea who was on the Crystal city council. I didn’t know who was a Democrat or a Republican. I didn’t care. My negative attitude towards this city council didn’t begin as a partisan thing. It was more about their arrogant and condescending attitude. Crystal was a city with and entrenched city council and a city staff that got whatever they wanted. The council was rarely challenged and nobody brought any new ideas to the table. They were also lap dogs for Hennepin County and the Met Council.
Needless to say, I didn’t care for this council and have worked ever since to change the council over. It took a long time. There were hits and misses and bumps along the road. This blog took a lot of time and energy to get off the ground. Now, though, we are a big deal, much to the chagrin the people who hate us.
Along with that success though comes the critics. Jason and I accept that. It’s all part of politics. I don’t play the victim here, though. I know personal shots at me are part of the game.
I want to make another thing clear when it comes to partisanship. We did not make 2014 Crystal City Council elections partisan. It was Mark Hoffman, Joe Selton, and John Budziezewski who did that. They went to the DFL with their hands out. They put DFL on everything. They chose to do that, not Community Solutions. I believe they did this out of fear, not strength, but either way it was their choice.
And what were the results of their hyper-partisanship? Well here were the results in Crystal compared to other DFL candidates;
Mark Dayton 4589
Keith Ellison 4485
Al Franken 4887
SD 45 DFL House 4789
Three Incumbents in Crystal 2461
So what happened? Why did this happen? What possible conclusions we draw?
I keep getting asked these questions everywhere so I’m going to try and give you some analysis.
1) The first conclusion one would probably draw is that without the “D” next to their names, DFL voters didn’t know they were DFLers?
I find this conclusion hard to believe. Hoffman, Selton, and Johnny B had DFL all over their literature. Johnny B even had it on some of this yard signs and mentioned that he was DFL endorsed on his yard signs. Joe Selton put out several union mailers. Hoffman mentioned he was DFL endorsed at the LWV debate. They said it every chance they could get including campaigning with Mike Freiberg and Lyndon Carlson. Being DFL endorsed was pretty much their only talking point and I think it backfired.
2) The Incumbents were just plain lazy.
This one probably holds some truth to it, though I would call it more arrogant than lazy. Perhaps they thought if they just put their name in the DFL/281 machine they didn’t have to do much else. Not smart thinking….
3) People don’t see these election as partisan
I think there is some truth to this. Many local issues like speeding on streets, local development, noisy neighbors and so on don’t necessarily break down party lines. Saying you’re “DFL endorsed” does nothing to inform voters on what you think on city issues.
4) The incumbents just plain got their asses kicked
This is probably the truest statement. The three challengers Jeff Kolb, Elizabeth Dahl, and Olga Parsons beat the three ex-council members in every phase of the campaign. They knocked on more doors, raised more money. had better teams, and had a better message. There’s a lot to be said for hard work.
Now, with these numbers and results one would think that the DFL would learn from this and run candidates who don’t openly run as DFLers. But, I don’t think that will happen. The DFL considers these seats their personal possessions and they are probably scratching their heads as to why they got beat so bad.
Look for the new council in Crystal to be criticized every step of the way. Look especially for Mayor Adams to be the target. I’m sure I’ll be a target as well. We’ll be accused of absolutely anything. I think they think that’s what we do here at Community Solutions but they couldn’t be more wrong. Like I said, we’ve put out new ideas, advocated issues, broke stories, and reported on things that haven’t been reported or were under reported. We have opinions here and we don’t hide that.
Personally, I don’t think bad mouthing me or this group will get them anywhere. Until these folks come to grips with the fact that they have lost and they aren’t in charge anymore and focus on what they can do to make Crystal better, instead of what they can do to win and get their power back, they are going to be stuck where they are.
But, these people aren’t very smart. I look for the partisanship to get worse not better.