A great series of stories by the Star Tribune over the last few years have lead to a greater level of transparency in race for governor. Gov. Mark Dayton has publicly released his tax returns every year since 2010 and the Star Tribune recently reported on the Republican endorsed candidate for governor Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet releasing their returns. Other candidates have yet to disclose their returns.
I wrote last November that while candidates are not required to release their tax returns, it’s a smart move by the candidates for governor to do so, because the incumbent governor has done it for years. A candidate refusing to release their tax returns will provide their opponents with political fodder to be used against them during the campaign. Get ready for repeated questions, such as "what are you hiding?", if the returns are not released. Not releasing your tax returns will be a distraction – if you don’t want scrutiny, don’t run for office.
On the flip-side, Minnesota campaign laws don’t require the release of income tax returns, so why should candidates for statewide office burden themselves with an extra requirement? Because as I wrote, it just makes sense – especially when your main opponent is voluntarily releasing their returns.
While Gov. Dayton has disclosed his tax returns, the follow-up requests by reporters for the disclosure of other candidate tax returns warrants recognition.
Former actor, professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura won his defamation suit in U.S. District Court in St. Paul. I honestly can't figure out if I was more shocked on November 3, 1998 when Ventura was elected governor, or today when he was awarded $1.845 million from the estate of Chris Kyle.
In a must read story by Randy Furst and James Walsh for the Star Tribune, Ventura said “I am overjoyed that my reputation was restored which is what this whole law suit is all about." Yep, his reputation has been restored.
Picture source: Jesse Ventura leaving court U.S. District Court/Tom Wallace, Star Tribune
In a few posts this year, I've referred to Minnesota's current election cycle as a bit of a sleeper. My description was based on an election season without a vibrant debate about issues and an overall lack of enthusiasm in Minnesota politics.
It has been a very boring campaign season, but with one race starting to get interesting.
But in a recent post by Aaron Blake for the Washington Post's The Fix, Blake referred to the 2014 elections in America "as it's also kind of -- and apologies to Seinfeld here -- an election about nothing." A perfect description by Blake.
I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking this election cycle has been one that has not been driven by one or two main issues. As highlighted in Blake's post, "it's hard to name one issue that has the staying power to be the dominant issue -- or even a dominant one -- in the 2014 election." I agree.
For some reason in 2014, Americans seem less passionate about issues than in previous years. Political analysts will hopefully not describe the next few months in Minnesota in Seinfeld speak, by saying "yada, yada, yada," and then we voted.
Picture source: AP Photo/Columbia/TriStar Television Distribution
I wrote two weeks ago that Minnesota's sleepy election cycle might finally start to wake up, as the race between U.S. Senator Al Franken and businessman Mike McFadden's had started to generate some buzz with the national media.
Last week the Star Tribune's Senior Political Correspondent in Washington, Allison Sherry, wrote that political analyst Stu Rothenberg, "altered his projection of the state's November Senate race, making it slightly more competitive, from 'Safe Democrat' to 'Democrat Favored.'"
Now today, Larry J. Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics called Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, "The sleeper" (sound familiar?), adding:
One final rating shift that will leave many shaking their heads is in Minnesota, where we’re changing the rating from Likely Democratic to just Leans Democratic. But hear us out: While polling doesn’t really support such a move, history suggests this race won’t be a cakewalk for Sen. Al Franken (D). Source: “Senate: 2014 a Year All Its Own" Sabato’s Crystal Ball, July 24, 2014
What this means is Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is continuing to be ranked as a close race nationally, which will translate to more political activity in Minnesota. McFadden is facing Republican competition in the upcoming primary, but McFadden is heavily favored to win.
While most Minnesotans are likley not aware of the candidates in all the elections, the race between Franken and McFadden will be getting more of their attention soon.
Picture source: Office of U.S. Senator Al Franken and Mike McFadden for U.S. Senate.
Just when I was finalizing my latest post for the Star Tribune, I received a news alert via e-mail which made me scrap my post and write a new one: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is hinting at another run for president in 2016.
In an interview with RealClearPolitics, Bachmann said the words most political observers thought they wouldn't be reading about Bachmann, when she said "there’s a chance I could run" for president again.
Bachmann entered the race for president in the summer of 2011, winning the Ames Straw Poll in August. But her campaign lost momentum and she withdrew from the race in January 2012.
After winning her 2012 campaign for Congress in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District by just 4,296 votes over Democrat Jim Graves, Bachmann decided to not seek re-election this year.
For the first time in six years, Bachmann's name will not be appearing on a general election ballot. But don't fear, as Minnesota and the rest of America may be seeing her name again soon, but this time in another bid for the White House.
God Bless America.
UPDATE: In a post on her Facebook page from earlier today, Congresswoman Bachmann is now downplaying the statements she made yesterday about a run for president in 2016:
The reporter’s underlying premise was that no woman would run for President on the Republican ticket in 2016, and if that would hurt the Republican Party. I disagreed with that premise.
My main point in the interview was that the media has failed to consider that there are a number of strong, accomplished, intelligent Republican women who could be in the mix for 2016.
Is there still a chance she runs? You betcha!
Picture source: Office of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann