After November’s election wipeout, the DFL seems to have found its early course of action: panic and infighting.
A memo floating around the Capitol landed on my desk, and it lays out what it calls a “troubling and ominous development”: the DFL’s increasing inability to compete outside Minnesota’s major cities.
Written by DFL lobbyist and operative Brian Rice, the memo is addressed to Sens. Tom Bakk, David Tomassoni and Dick Cohen and Reps. Paul Marquart and Rob Ecklund, all sympathetic to the argument.
Its details should certainly alarm DFLers: In 2009, there were 58 DFL legislators in greater Minnesota. Today, there are just 23. The DFL has never controlled the Senate with fewer than 14 seats in greater Minnesota. Today, it controls just seven.
That’s the panic part.
Now for the infighting: “Last year, a key thesis by some DFL aligned groups,” Rice argues, “was that the DFL could win a permanent majority by winning the suburbs. That strategy failed and failed miserably.”
Marquart said he welcomes the discussion.
“The hierarchy of the DFL needs to take notice,” he said.
Marquart said there are three problems: candidates must be allowed to fit their districts (think guns and abortion), DFLers must address concerns of middle class Minnesotans outside the Twin Cities, and DFLers must talk to more voters.
Although DFLers can be forgiven their angst, they may just now be suffering the fate their Democratic brethren have endured in other states for years — decades, actually. Democrats struggle in rural America and have for a long time now. It’s only more recently that they’ve begun to struggle in rural Minnesota.
More Capitol deadlines
Another frantic week ahead at the Capitol: Lawmakers who got their bills through committee in one chamber will have to hustle to get them through a committee in the other chamber by Friday. And Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to release an update to his own budget plan this week, reflecting the new rosier economic forecast.
Lawmaker salary hike
The day newspaper comment sections blew up: The Legislative Salary Council — the group of nonlegislators now tasked with setting lawmaker pay after voters approved a constitutional amendment last year — settled at the end of the week on a 45 percent raise for legislators, to take effect July 1.