As legislators who represent the citizens of Minneapolis, we believe it is very important to warn the people of our city and across Minnesota about the last-minute push by the right-wing Minnesota Jobs Coalition, in cooperation with leaders from the Minneapolis Downtown Council business group — under the moniker “Minneapolis Works!” — to infuse significant spending in an effort to buy the city elections in Minneapolis this fall.
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition is an ultraconservative political advocacy organization that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect conservative Republican majorities to the Minnesota House in 2014 and Senate in 2016. It receives significant funding from the national Republican State Leadership Committee, which donated $325,000 to the coalition in 2014. The group’s business donors include big tobacco, oil companies, the Koch brothers, Walmart, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and conservative media organizations such as Hubbard Broadcasting.
Conservative big money has distorted our national politics by pumping huge contributions from wealthy individuals and large corporations to elect hundreds of far-right Republicans to state and federal offices. It has unfortunately tipped the scale in elections right here in Minnesota. Big business is now able to literally write, verbatim, the legislation it wants and that gets passed into law in the Minnesota Legislature. Now these Republican donors have set their sights on our municipal races.
When the Legislature was debating passage of a comprehensive, progressive transportation bill, the Minnesota Jobs Coalition swung into action, relentlessly hammering DFL legislators with negative media, ads and mailers. The message was clear to DFL and Republican legislators alike: “Support new revenue for roads and transit at your own peril.” In a very aggressive negative campaign, marked by unprecedented efforts to divide Minnesotans on the basis of race, class, geography and other differences, six DFL senators were defeated in 2016, and the Senate flipped to Republican control.
In the wake of the coalition’s success in 2014, one co-founder was hired to become the newly installed Republican House speaker’s Republican caucus executive director. Its other co-founder has been nominated by Minnesota Republican members of Congress to President Donald Trump to serve as Minnesota’s next U.S. attorney.
Consider the policy priorities the Republican Legislature has advanced since winning control: passing budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthy, big tobacco and out-of-state corporations; cutting over $1 billion from health and human services; eliminating environmental protections; disinvesting in public E-12 education; disinvesting in the University of Minnesota; public money subsidizing private religious schooling; eliminating clean and fair campaigns and elections; passing debilitating cuts to Metro Transit; eliminating reproductive health freedom; attacking LGBTQ citizens’ human rights; trying to limit Minnesotans’ constitutional right to free assembly and protest; attacking our immigrant communities; rolling back progressive energy and climate advances; refusing to consider important consumer and privacy protections; making significant cuts to local government aid that goes to Minneapolis; and pre-empting local democracy from enacting laws to protect workers and communities we care about. That’s just for starters.
We call on the people of Minneapolis to send a message to the Minnesota Jobs Coalition and its partners in Minneapolis Works!: The power of the people is greater than the power of right-wing money. We encourage voters to get their own information on candidates’ experience, values and policy priorities: Call up candidates on the phone, attend forums, look at candidates’ own literature and websites. Be wary of mail and ads from Minneapolis Works!.
We also call on all Minneapolis candidates running in this year’s municipal elections to join us in rejecting this outside, big-business attempt to buy Minneapolis elections. If the Minnesota Jobs Coalition in the form of Minneapolis Works! is spending in favor of your candidacy, we call on you to demand that it stop.
If this Minneapolis push succeeds, conservative business interests like the Minnesota Jobs Coalition will continue to try to buy elections in all of our cities and towns, not just in Minneapolis but all over Minnesota.
And we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture: a win for the Minnesota Jobs Coalition in Minneapolis will make it harder to elect a DFL governor next year. Total control of state government has been the coalition’s goal since it formed. That will be extremely bad for Minneapolis and the people who make their lives here.
As your fellow Minneapolitans, we believe it is so important to successfully resist this outside intrusion into our elections.
This article was signed by Sens. Scott Dibble, Bobby Joe Champion, Kari Dziedzic, Jeff Hayden and Patricia Torres Ray; and Reps. Frank Hornstein, Susan Allen, Jim Davnie, Ilhan Omar, Fue Lee and Jean Wagenius. All are DFLers.