A group of current and former DFL legislators wrote a letter to party leaders criticizing DFL campaign strategy that they say “intentionally ignores many voters and offends others.”
The 8-page memo obtained by the Star Tribune was signed by 11 sitting lawmakers, including greater Minnesota stalwarts Rep. Paul Marquart and Sen. Kent Eken, but also Metro legislators like Sen. John Marty and Rep. Paul Rosenthal.
The memo to the DFL State Central Committee criticizes the party’s strategy for reaching voters via face-to-face, door-to-door conversations. The DFL is emphasizing data collection and a too-small group of targeted voters at the expense of a broader approach that would try to reach more Minnesotans and in a friendlier fashion, the memo argues through anonymous anecdotes.
Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, who was not one of the signatories, said it’s always good to rethink approaches, especially after the 2016 results. However, she added: “I don’t think we should be making decisions based on anecdotes.” The DFL's data-centric approach that did not work in 2016 worked well in 2012 when the party took full control of state government, she said.
As for criticism of the DFL voter database, which is the lifeblood of the party’s efforts to keep track of voters, she said, “I wouldn’t want to run without it.”
The timing of the letter has irked some in the DFL, whose central committee is meeting Saturday to elect a chair. Without naming him, the letter appears to be an attack on DFL Chairman Ken Martin, who is running against liberal activist and former associate chair Donna Cassutt. Martin declined to comment on the memo.
Sen. Dan Schoen, a Martin supporter, said the DFL was saddled with the effects of the presidential race whose outcome surprised most. He said Martin had built the necessary infrastructure for success since he took over at the urging of Gov. Mark Dayton after his 2010 election.
Sen. Chris Eaton, who signed the letter because she said she wants the party to re-think some door-knocking tactics, is supporting Martin, she said. “He can bring the resources -- financial and organizational -- to bring the party together.”
The DFL lost legislative seats in 2016, including control of the state Senate, and President Trump nearly broke a 42 year Republican losing streak in the presidential race here.