Horner didn't take votes; he earned them

The Independence Party does not "take" votes: It earns them ("Tom Horner wins -- well kind of, sort of," Nov. 14).

More than a quarter-million Minnesotans voted for Horner for governor. It is a smaller base than the other two major parties. But multiple elections prove it significant.

Analysis that Horner "took" more votes from one candidate also fails to hold water. In 2006, Gov. Tim Pawlenty won by about 21,000 votes. Much of that margin came from the growth suburbs of the Twin Cities. Those seven counties -- Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott, Sherburne, Wright and Washington -- reveal the reality of 2010. Turnout there came within 1 percent of 2006, and yet the Independence Party nearly doubled its total. Tom Emmer won 93 percent of the votes Pawlenty won there in 2006; Mark Dayton reached 92 percent of Mike Hatch's total. As the IP gained strength, it affected both parties' totals.

The Star Tribune first said during the fall that Horner's supporters would have broken toward Dayton without the IP candidate in the race. Now the paper tells us that Horner "took" more votes from Emmer. One local TV network said the opposite. All claims miss the point: More than 250,000 Minnesotans ignored the late narrative that Horner could no longer win. Instead, they voted for a candidate offering fresh approaches to the very difficult and complicated problems that this newspaper covered extensively in 2010 -- the quality of our lakes, the costs of an aging population, and the fragility of local budgets.

Simplistic analysis does a disservice to a quarter-million voters. We would be wise to recognize that.


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The governor's race outcome is still pending, and yet everybody knows Horner did not win.

It's time the Independence Party stops running candidates and runs on the only message it ever had: None of the above.


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I would assume with his perceived "knowledge" about Minneapolis using ranked-choice voting ("Ballot ranking is a turnoff for voters," Nov. 13), that Brian McClung is a resident of Minneapolis. Because if he is not, I would look to those who actually live where RCV is used -- and especially those who worked for a successful, closely contested campaign under the system -- to speak about RCV.

Speak of the strengths of RCV, speak of its simplicity, its cost savings, its opportunity to bring more candidates into the mix, offer more choices to voters, present a wider pool of candidate choices to all communities, offer greater opportunity to candidates of all persuasions, move candidates to campaign in a more positive manner rather than go negative (because second-choice votes matter). Speak of the incentive for candidates to take the high road and talk issues rather than just take the low road and only attack; of the tempered polarization, and the motivation for candidates to campaign and work harder (which I witnessed and which should always be the case).

With time, continuing voter education, and well-trained election judges, voters of all ages and income and ethnic groups will understand the system more and more, and they'll want to continue to use it. It has been successful in different locations around the country and outside the United States, and will only continue to gain voter approval.

Speaking of which, here are the nods of approval from Minneapolis residents after the 2009 Minneapolis election, courtesy of a survey conducted by St. Cloud State:

Ninety-five percent of voters polled in Minneapolis said RCV was easy to use, and 90 percent said that they understand RCV perfectly or fairly well.

Sixty-five percent said they believe RCV should be used in the future.

Only 3 percent of the people voting said they didn't understand RCV

There was only one defective ballot in the whole Minneapolis election. You read that right, one defective ballot.

Not too bad for a first run. With time and education and voting machines to make the tallying even faster, approval for RCV will only go up.

Minnesota is a great state of political diversity and progress, and RCV honors both attributes.



Crews should silence government critics

On Saturday a large pine tree fell across our street due to the wet, heavy snowfall. Although we are on a small side street, within two hours the city sent out a crew to cut and move the tree off the street.

On Sunday, the Star Tribune reported on the possibility that the new Republican-controlled state Legislature may renege on its local government aid to cities across Minnesota ("Twin Cities' budgets built on house of cards," Nov. 14).

If that happens, how long will a fallen tree lay there blocking the street in the next big storm?


carnival cruise

Hardship? Hardly, to homeless Minnesotans

Nearly 5,000 passengers and crew suffered through a "grueling" three-day cruise ship ordeal marred by malfunctioning toilets, long lines at the buffet tables and the indignity of eating canned meat ("'I survived the 2010 Carnival cruise Spamcation,'" Nov. 12).

How tragic! (They'll receive a refund, travel reimbursement and a free future cruise.) What a pity!

Meanwhile here in Minnesota, nearly 10,000 adults, youth and children endured three more days of homelessness. Visits to local food shelves are also increasing. Far too many of our neighbors are adrift in our society, with no rescue plan imminent.

In this month of Thanksgiving, perhaps while shopping at the grocery store, on your way to the airport or just snuggled up on your couch, pause and count your blessings.

And consider helping those less fortunate: Your donation of money or food to our social service agencies can make a difference.

I'll bet even Spam would be welcome.