In the Nov. 6 election, I will do something for the first time in 50 years. I will be voting a straight DFL ballot.

After almost four decades as a Republican Hennepin County commissioner, 50-plus years as a Republican activist, and having probably chaired more Republican conventions than anyone in the state, let me say it simply: President Donald Trump is unhinged, and some of us who have been Republicans have to say it loud and clear.

Trump has hijacked the Republican label. Trump has little to do with the principles and standards of the Minnesota Republican Party over many years.

Unfortunately, almost all Minnesota and statewide and congressional Republican candidates have fallen under the dangling talisman of Trump.

The DFL U.S. Senate candidates are clearly more qualified than the Republican challengers.

My colleague Jeff Johnson, when we were Hennepin County commissioners, was always intently honorable, and I greatly respect him personally, but his vision on Minnesota's long-term issues (especially health care) is too limited and just plain wrong.

The balance of the Republican statewide ticket (with the possible exception of state auditor) is mediocre at best.

The most difficult election decision for me is my congressman. I really like Erik Paulsen personally. He is not quite the moderate like his predecessors Bill Frenzel and Jim Ramstad, but he is somewhat close. And Paulsen is obviously uncomfortable with Trump and Trump's behavior. Paulsen is in a near-impossible position: If he speaks out too much against Trump, he loses the Trumpies, and without the Trumpies, he cannot win.

Much as I like Erik, it is time for change, and Dean Phillips fits the district well enough for fiscally conservative, pro-business moderate Republicans to support him. The attacks on Phillips during his leadership at Allina are just plain bizarre.

A first for me — a straight DFL ballot.

Randy Johnson, Bloomington

The writer was a Hennepin County commissioner from 1979 to 2017.

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I am voting Republican because I believe every adult citizen should be able to afford shelter, food, medical care and transportation.

I am voting Republican because I believe the country should know, by name, who is crossing our borders.

I am voting Republican because I believe in constitutional law.

I pay my taxes on schedule. I attend church. I pray not to be a burden on others. I maintain my property. I am respectful of others. I respect the law. When the law is too complicated and too individualized, I depend on the Ten Commandments.

Yet some say I am deplorable, rural, uneducated, implicitly biased, an insane Christian, and that I cannot think for myself.

I cannot agree with those who demand your wealth for redistribution, who demand that economic resources be state-controlled, and who practice character assassination. I am voting Republican to ensure the country has the following:

• Jobs that pay a living wage such that adults can live on their own and provide themselves with food, shelter, medical care and transportation.

• A controlled entry and exit program for immigrants.

• A Supreme Court that ensures constitutional law.

Thomas M. Grendzinski, Burnsville

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I dislike both the Republicans and Democrats. I tend to agree with a few more of the policies generally associated with the Republicans.

On the other hand, I strongly support many policies that are generally associated with Democrats:

• Equal rights and opportunities for all men, women, racial minorities, LGBT, and others.

• Roe vs. Wade abortion rights.

• Universal background checks and other gun-control measures.

• Protecting the environment.

At the same time, the Democrats are criticizing my political views in very personal ways:

• The Republicans do not call me "deplorable" for my views that differ from theirs.

• The Republicans do not say that I am evil for supporting certain people or ideas.

• The Republicans do not categorize me as having low intelligence and a poor education.

• The Republicans do not insult me and my immigration views as mean-spirited.

• The Republicans do not overtly reject civility and scream at me and my elected representatives in restaurants and other public settings.

So, what am I to do at the ballot box? I find it very difficult to feel good about Democrats. In certain individual cases, I have voted for Democrats who I thought were a better choice than the Republican alternatives. I will continue to do so. But the Democrats are definitely driving me away.

Bill Coleman, Plymouth

Misleading commentary

Readers should recognize the flaws and omissions in the Oct. 12 commentary by Republican Minnesota secretary of state candidate John Howe, in which he criticized current Secretary of State Steve Simon ("Secretary of state has failed to protect Minnesota voters").

To begin with, Simon strongly urged the Legislature to pass a stand-alone bill that would have allowed the state to receive the $6.6 million federal grant to upgrade the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS). The governor would have certainly signed this bill. The Republican majority ignored this request and inserted the provision into a 989-page omnibus bill, which the governor vetoed. To blame the consequences of this veto on Simon is a stretch and distorts the true situation.

Howe's assertion that the bill establishing a presidential primary will affect your "secret ballot" is misleading. Under this bill, which had bipartisan support, your party preference will become public information, but who you vote for will not become public; your ballot remains secret. You can change your party preference the next day if you desire.

Howe thinks party affiliation is private data but then slams Simon for refusing a group broad access to the SVRS database. A Star Tribune article July 14 reported that this group not only wants data on challenged voters but also wants an electronic copy of data including name, address, phone number, year of birth, voting history, type of ballot (absentee or in person), voter status (active, inactive, deleted, challenged) and reason for removal from the SVRS. Why did Howe omit these details? He probably realizes most people agree with Simon.

Katherine and Peter Tomsich, North Oaks

Look within

Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, has been a state senator since 2002. The Republicans had the majority in the Senate in 2011-12 and 2017-18. Instead of claiming that our government is terrible ("Republicans want quality in government," Oct. 15), it's time for Republicans to admit that high-quality state government is difficult to maintain, that money is needed to do it well and that cooperation between parties might make it quite a bit easier to do. In other words, senator, if the dismal picture you paint of Minnesota state government is true, it seems like we should vote you out.

Cheryl Bailey, St. Paul

Unsurprising message

Jason Lewis' latest opinion piece ("Let's not follow the Democrats' radical vision," Oct. 15) trots out shopworn rhetoric that is remarkable only for the degree of mischaracterization and downright demonization that its author puts on display. In rolling out claims that are patently ludicrous on their face, Rep. Lewis illustrates the problem at the core of the crisis in our democracy: the blatant failure to appeal to the better angels of our nature. The tone in that piece is exactly the tone we need less of in Washington. Fortunately, those of us in the Second Congressional District have a better alternative in Angie Craig.


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Why are candidates for major political office (Congress or statewide offices) permitted to write campaign pieces for the Opinion Exchange page in the Star Tribune? They are not opinions. They are propaganda pieces. If candidates want to get the word out on their positions, they should drop the negative ads that are full of lies and distortions and do their campaigning there instead. Leave the Opinion Exchange page for just that — exchange of opinions.

Peter A. Sethre, Minnetonka

Editor's note: In the Star Tribune Opinion daily e-mail newsletter on Monday, editorial page editor Scott Gillespie described the policy on candidate commentaries. Read it Sign up to receive the newsletter at