Prominent conservative blogger John Hinderaker has a message for Minnesota: We can do better.
Hinderaker, an attorney who retired recently from private practice, was named last week president of the conservative Minnesota think tank, Center of the American Experiment.
In his new post, Hinderaker, 65, said he plans to aggressively extend the center’s reach, in addition to maintaining the group’s research on policy initiatives.
Hinderaker rose to prominence in the early 2000s. In 2004, Time magazine named Power Line “Blog of the Year” for its role in helping debunk a fake news story shown on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” He was part of a trio of bloggers whose postings played a role in the eventually debunked report that lead to the downfall of CBS news anchor Dan Rather.
Hinderaker said he will rely on his communications expertise to elevate his group’s role in public discussion.
“There is a narrative out there that a lot of Minnesotans believe, that we’re doing just great,” he said. “I think it’s important to inform Minnesotans about some basic facts related to our economy. … It’s been a terrific economy for a long time, but the trends are not good.”
A new video ad released this week, with an animated Paul Bunyan, argued that Minnesota’s job creation has lagged in the past decade, ranking in the lower half of states. It also criticized the state’s tax climate and the growth rate for disposable income.
“One of my real missions over the next couple of years is going to be to stimulate some candid debates and conversations all around the state about how we are doing and how we can do better,” he said.
To that end, Hinderaker said his strategy will be comprehensive. Plans include town hall meetings, penning opinion articles for newspapers across the state and a slew of radio ads that he said will be launched soon.
These efforts will “get the center’s message out to a much broader group of people,” he said.
House Tax Committee Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, said he welcomes the center’s input in the public debate. On taxes, he argues that Minnesota’s tax climate has made the state less competitive.
“I’ve been trying to articulate this message for a long time,” Davids said. “It’ll be nice to have some other source come in and point out the facts that we’ve known for some time.”
Though other rankings have consistently placed the state at the top for a number of measurements, including quality of life, Davids said that lower taxes will go even further. “People’s quality of life could be higher if they could keep more of their money. That’s what we’ll be working for.”
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, disputed that Minnesota is performing as poorly as Hinderaker and Davids suggested.
“Minnesotans should be rightfully proud of how well the state is doing,” Thissen said. “It’s disappointing that people are trying to advance ideological agendas by not telling the whole truth.”
He added: “With that said, having discussions of where we are falling down is a legitimate discussion.”