Crowds Pack College Theater as Congressman Tim Walz Makes Rare Town Hall Appearance

Tim Walz makes a rare public town hall meeting in Rochester’s RCTC Charles E. Hill Theater Thursday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online

Congressman Tim Walz-D, CD1 of Minnesota, looking dapper and hip in blue jeans, brown leather shoes, button-down shirt and blue blazer, met with constituents in a rare town hall meeting on Thursday in the Rochester Community and Technical College’s Charles E. Hill Theater.

It was rare because Walz, who won back his seat in the House of Representatives by the narrowest of margins last election cycle, rarely meets with the regular public, only donors. But this was different and the glib and professional looking Walz helped himself greatly in the effort.

There were a lot of issues discussed at the town hall, which was packed to standing room only at the edges where Walz made a brief statement in the beginning before answering questions from the audience non-stop for two and half hours. The subject matter of the town hall ranged widely from the disputed fate of the failing Affordable Health Care Act, to National Security and Immigration. But there was one big take away.

Walz will not rule out a run for the Governorship of Minnesota.

A lady in the crowd asked the Congressman if he would run, eliciting his response. Many of the crowd showed their opposition of such a move, preferring him to remain in his current position. Still, there was a lot of applause as well when the Congressman said he would not rule it out. That applause may be indicative that a win for Walz in a governor’s race is at least possible.

Governor Mark Dayton, the incumbent, will be through with his latest term in two years and is not expected to run again. Dayton has been struggling with cancer and had a scary moment at his latest State of the State address when he passed out briefly at the end of his speech.

Running for Governor instead of his old seat in the congress may be a good move for Walz considering the slim victory he had over Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn the last time. Hagedorn is an able campaigner and has run against the incumbent twice before. With the unpopularity of the ACA and Walz’s liberal stances in a largely conservative district, three times might be the charm for Hagedorn. Conversely, Walz might make a much better showing in the statewide race especially factoring in blue areas including the Twin Cities Metro area, Rochester, Duluth and the Iron Range areas.

While Walz has said he won’t rule out such a campaign, he has not acknowledged a desire to run and it isn’t a sure thing. We’ll just have to see.

Congressman Tim Walz answers questions from the public during a town hall meeting in Rochester Thursday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Meanwhile, in the two and a half hours Walz spoke to constituents, several things became clear:

1. There is a lot of concern about ACA and medical coverage in general and the ACA has failed to meet the expectations of the voters in meeting its promises of lowering costs, increasing coverage, and increasing or maintaining choice. Indeed the opposite is true for many, which the congressman freely acknowledged.

2. People are concerned about immigration, especially of refugees from areas of concern named in the travel ban enacted by the Trump administration and challenged in the courts. Walz acknowledged those fears saying that national security concerns are a real issue, but stopped short thereafter, saying that it was wrong to demonize an entire sector of people, namely Muslims, who worship differently and have different cultural practices.

3. Walz would like the public to believe that health care is a journey and not a destination. He says he would like to see an ACA fix rather than an out and out repeal. Indeed he joked about a repeal and replace that came back on November 9, after an election cycle where it can do little damage to politicians struggling to win in elections, a common tactic used several times by the Obama administration. Many don’t think this is a terribly funny joke as their health care insurance provided in part by their employers have been cancelled and not replaced. Many others feel tied to their jobs when other opportunities avail themselves, because the coverage at a new employer may not be as good as what they have in their current job. Still many others have not gotten insurance, despite tax penaties, because they are healthy and don’t have jobs that will allow them to afford the coverage and high deductibles.

4. People are concerned about their privacy considering the knowledge that the government has the technology to spy on their telephonic conversations and internet usage. One attendee commented to the congressman that while privacy is important, the idea that a sitting National Security Advisor having his private phone conversations listened to and recorded shows the nation’s enemies what our capabilities are. NS Advisor Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was recently allowed to resign his new post after it became clear that he was having phone conversations with Russia prior to the election.

One question that seemed to take the discussion on a completely different tangent was the concern of one attendee who was against the so-called militarization of police forces. He son was on the local police force and was a current member of a SWAT or tactical team. Walz allowed that seeing officers in heavy gear and uparmored vehicles created a tension between cops and the community, but also said he favored legislation that provided equipment for local officers to be well protected in the execution of their very dangerous and hazardous duties of protecting the public.

In Walz’s appearance Thursday, he seemed to be very adept at playing both sides against the middle. Nothing he said in the meeting seemed to be outrageously right or left. If you’re a national security guy, you might be lead to believe that Walz is as worried as you. But then he denounces efforts by the Trump administration in carrying out his duties as commander in chief by temporarily banning refugees from Muslim minority countries of concern also black listed under the Obama administration. If you were for the ACA, you might believe that Walz is for improving it and are worried that Republicans will throw it in the trash. If you thing the ACA is a failure, you might get a sense that Walz is actually for a fix that might actually just be repeal and replace.

In essence, Walz was soft on specifics when it came to individual policy decisions that he would support or oppose, only indicating that he didn’t want to “diminish anyone’s concerns”.

When asked if he supported the continued federal funding of abortion provider Planned Parenthood, for example, Walz simply said “yes” and left it at that. There was no discussion of how Walz felt about the realization that P&P was actually selling the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit to medical research companies and whether or not he felt that practices was wrong and the practitioners prosecuted.

If you were looking for a kill stroke that showed Walz as a radical leftist as his voting record seems to indicate, you didn’t see it in this public appearance. What you did see is the slow acknowledgement that the Obama administration’s chief accomplishment, the ACA, is not living up to expectations and desperately needs to be fixed, repealed or replaced. Walz’s support of the law is likely the chief reason he nearly lost the last election round and why he should probably seek another office where his chances are better.

Watch a video of highlights of the town hall meeting below.

 

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Millennium Endorsements for Midterm 2014 Election

By Jeremy Griffith
Publisher of the American Millennium Online

Jeremy Griffith here with American Millennium Online. I want to get on record and talk to you about who we support for Minnesota elections for election day Nov. 4. That would be the royal we being me because I’m the only one here. Ahem.

 

For Governor we endorse Jeff Johnson and his running mate Bill Kuisle for governor over incumbent democrat Mark Dayton. There’s a really good ad out there for Johnson which I think explains it all, namely that Dayton is too dazed and confused to be a good governor. We need someone in there who actually has Minnesota values that won’t just reward cronies with government funds. Johnson has experience in politics in the state and he has the a common sense conservative vision. Bill has been a representative in the state, I think they’ll make a really good team. Dayton just needs to retire. He’s a joke and he needs to go away.

 

For Senate I endorse Mike McFadden. He’s a businessman who knows how to create jobs and run a business. His opponent Al Franken is a former SNL comedian who is well past his prime and has ceased to be funny a long time ago. Now he’s just sad. He got to office under questionable circumstances six years ago and is the 60th vote on the dreaded Affordable Health care act or Obamacare which is neither affordable nor is it care. It’s killing small businesses, resulting in lay offs and increased premiums and not covering everyone it said it would cover. Obamacare is a joke and Al Franken is the punchline, only neither one of them is funny. So vote for McFadden and get Al out of there.

 

I’ve done some campaigning with my personal favorite Jim Hagedorn. Jim’s dad was a representative and he’s got politics in his blood. I think he’ll be a good representative to replace Tim Walz. Walz the former educator and Sergeant Major of the Army National Guard has served his country long enough. It’s not his service prior to being elected that concerns us, it’s what he’s done with his time in the house of representatives since, voting in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Not at all in keeping with the values of southern Minnesota. He talks a good game, talks about veterans, farmers, blah blah blah, but his record speaks louder. He wants to convince you that he is for you and your interests, but he votes in the opposite direction. The VA has been failing veterans for many years and Walz has done nothing to turn that around and as been largely silent on the issue. During the government shut down he said nothing about the shutdown of the World War II memorial as elderly veterans waited outside barracades that had no business being there. Republicans showed up and threw down the barricades and let the veterans in, and Tim Walz, a 22-year veteran himself was no where to be seen and said absolutely nothing.

 

Walz had the chance to vote to extend pay and benefits to full time reserve and national guard during the government shutdown. Those individuals were required to go to work regardless of pay. Essentially working for free. The representative had a chance to vote on a bill to pay those folks retroactively and he voted no, so so much for the guy who supports the veterans. Also he voted on a bill to cut the budget which contained a clause to cut benefits of retired veterans including the disabled by 1 percent per year, which would hurt retirees, especially those dealing with disabilities. Now everyone agrees that budget cuts are needed to get to fiscal sanity. Even the military needs to be cut, but not pay and benefits of those who risk their lives on our behalf and not for those who were wounded in action because of their bravery. Once again the veteran soldier does us no favors in this regard. He’s failed us again on this issue.

 

The government is paying for massages for bunnies, and diesel fuel for a powerplant in Afghanistan that has never been turned on, when they get their power from Iran, they’re doing research on why lesbians are fat and putting lobsters on treadmills, but they can’t pay our veterans what they are owed. Time to go Tim, we’ve had just about enough of you.

 

Jim Hagedorn is for common sense conservative solutions, smaller more accountable government and fiscal responsibility and has a record as a government employee that cut the fat out of his own department. Who do you know had done that. He talks the talk and walks the walk and he’s a fighter. He’ll scrap with members of his own party as well as the democrats to serve his constituents at home and that’s why we like him.

 

At the local level I’m voting for Breanna Bly who is running again for state senate again against Tina Liebling. You know Liebling is one of those who talks a good game to local constituents, but when it comes to the votes she has made, she’s just another big government bleeding heart liberal. Breanna is a sweet-heart who believes in fiscal responsibility. She listens to her constituents and I think she’ll be a great improvement over Liebling in the state legislature.

 

And those are my picks. I think they’re great. Go out and vote Nov 4. That’s election day. If you can’t vote on that day, Minnesota has early in-person absentee voting, just go down to the fairgrounds if you live in Olmsted County, the poll there is open there until the day of the election, you can register right away if you aren’t already registered and you can vote the same day. It’s very convenient.

 

That’s the way I voted and that’s the way my girlfriend voted. She got her citizenship here in the US last month and she voted in her first election ever here in the United States last week, so if she can do it, you can too. It’s just that easy. No excuses, no lines, just go and vote.

 

And that’s a wrap, so go out there, campaign for your favorite candidate or cause and then go and vote. This is Jeremy Griffith from the American Millennium Online. Have a great day.

Jeff Johnson for Governor Ad:

Jim Hagedorn for Congress Ad:

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Johnson Wins First Gubernatorial Debate in Rochester

by Jeremy Griffith
American Millennium Online

 

Commissioner Jeff Johnson gives a strong performance at the first gubernatorial debate in Rochester Mn. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Commissioner Jeff Johnson gives a strong performance at the first gubernatorial debate in Rochester Mn. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

The headline above is a bit of a conceit I admit, from a Conservative Republican blogger such as myself, but in my view, Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota clearly lead the  debate against is opponents: Incumbent Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and Independent candidate Hannah Nicollet.

 

The debate occurred Wednesday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester and was televised on public television.

 

Johnson was on point from the beginning, he attacked the governor in a way that didn’t make him look like a jerk, he was respectful to his opponents and he was armed with facts.

 

Governor Mark Dayton had strong support in Rochester and didn't make any major gaffes at the first debate in Rochester MN. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Governor Mark Dayton had strong support in Rochester and didn’t make any major gaffes at the first debate in Rochester MN. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Having said that, Dayton was better prepared and performed better than I thought he would, even though he always has that befuddled look on his face when I see him in public and he mumbled a bit. The governor was quick to respond to his critic and didn’t make any major gaffes.

 

Former software designer Hannah Nicollet, the Independent candidate, surprised me a little, was engaging in the debate and even though her answers were long and meandering, still made some good points which her opponents, Dayton and Johnson were forced to agree with. I sat next to a member of her campaign staff and let him know how impressed I was, even though it was apparent it was her first debate.

 

Hannah Nicollet, the Independent candidate for Governor, gave a good performance at the first debate. She should consider running for lower office to get more experience. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Hannah Nicollet, the Independent candidate for Governor, gave a good performance at the first debate. She should consider running for lower office to get more experience. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

The staffer agreed. “She needs to slow down a bit and give the answers we know she has,” the staffer said.

 

Now I don’t think Nicollet has a chance in this field, but I could be wrong. Minnesota has voted for independents before. However, the last independent governor, Jesse Ventura, was a celebrity with name recognition with an aggressive competent staff. At the time the state was pissed off with both the democrats and republicans in that race, which was extremely helpful for Ventura. Nicollet has none of those aspects in her favor and she should consider running for a lower office such as state rep or senator, or as a small town Mayor. That would give her more credibility if she were to run for higher office in the future.

 

That being said, she added to the debate and should be allowed to compete in all five gubernatorial debates, which is what the governor agreed. It helps him as in most cases the independent party candidate, with the exception of Ventura, bleeds away support for the Republican candidate.

 

I’m happy to have seen this first debate in person, and I look forward to seeing the televised debates coming later in the month. Dayton, while he has a lot of local support, is vulnerable in several areas, such as health care, transportation such as roads and bridges, and his seeming abandonment of greater Minnesota areas. Incidentally, Johnson made a point to attack the governor, very successfully I might add, in all of those areas.

 

Johnson has an uphill climb against a heavily entrenched liberal base here in the state. He’ll have to keep on the offensive in public debates and in his TV and radio advertisement if he is to get traction against the incumbent. And, hopefully, the independents won’t bleed off so much support from Johnson that it throws the election to the other guy.

 

Johnson needs to have the help of his running mate, former state legislator Bill Kuisle, who has a lot of credibility in the greater Minnesota area and has been a popular public figure in the Rochester area.

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Minnesotans Will Decide Voter ID Question in November Election

Minnesota Rep. Mike Benson and Sen. Carla Nelson talk to voters in Rochester following 2012 Legislative session. -photo by Jeremy Griffith

Minnesotans will soon have to choose whether or not to require photo ID at the polls. The state legislature placed a constitutional ballot amendment question on November’s ballot after Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a voter ID bill last year.

The amendment question is a yes or no question asking voters whether or not they want the constitution of Minnesota to require voters to present valid state photo ID when they vote. Proponents say the bill will cut down on willful voter fraud in the future, while opponents say it will disenfranchise certain voters who are unable to get photo ID, such as shut ins, nursing home residents, and overseas residents.

Recent polls indicate most Minnesotans favor a voter ID law.

Rep. Mike Benson, a primary architect of the bill, says it will empower voters because so much of what we do on a day to day basis requires an ID and points out that those seeking government services require a photo ID in any case.

“Voter fraud is so difficult to detect and it is cost prohibitive to prosecute,” said Benson. “It’s not a priority for local county attorneys with the other crimes they have to deal with. This measure will help to detect potential voter fraud before it happens.”

Rep. Mike Benson comments on Voter ID Constitutional Amendment Question. Video by Jeremy Griffith

Sen. Carla Nelson explained that voters who show up to the polls can still vote through a provisional ballot system. The bill will do away with vouching, but will not eliminate same day registration, she said.

“This bill, let’s be clear, will do away with the practice of vouching,” said Nelson. “It will not eliminate election day registration. And those who cannot afford photo ID, the government will provide one for them.”

Sen. Carla Nelson Comments on Voter ID Constitutional Amendment Question. Video by Jeremy Griffith

Dan McGraff, executive director of Minnesota Majority, had a lot of input into how the bill was presented to the legislature. His organization found irregularities after the heavily contested election of 2008. According to statistics he found from the State Secretary of State’s office, over 23,000 postal verification cards sent to verify the new same day voter registrations came back because they were unable to find a valid address or a person at the address that met with the description of the person registered. Since the 2008 election over 400 people have been identified as having voted illegally and 113 have been convicted, he said.

The 2008 election was the year when Al Franken-DFL narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman for the US Senate seat. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, with statistics from the Minnesota Canvassing Board, shows how close the election was before and after legal challenges and a six week recount process.

Opponents of the ballot question say that voter fraud is actually well below one percent of the 2.9 million who voted in the 2008 election, and that the amendment would further disenfranchise voters who would otherwise not be able to get a valid photo ID.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are currently over 30 states that have some kind of voter ID law on the books today.

You can hear debate for and against the proposed amendment at the Minnesota State Legislature’s website here.

The language of the final amendment questions can be seen here.

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