Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-election thoughts

(UPDATED 11-7-12 225 p.m.) - With Minnesota DFL now in control of state government, we could see renewed confidence to push harder on placing a higher tax on top earners especially with the apparent success of California's Proposition 30. That initiative will raise the sales tax by one penny for every $4 spent for four years but it also raises the income tax on the state's highest earners for seven years. Conversely, California defeated a proposition that would have raised income taxes on everyone for 12 years. Tax the rich? Good. Tax me? Not so good. The "tax fairness" issue has been a hallmark of the DFL for a number of years and Gov. Dayton this year has said he will continue that push. Update: WCCO reporter Pat Kessler tweeted at 2:23 pm that "Gov. Dayton backtracks on promise to pass inc tax hike on weathy. Says it depends on economy, budget"
- With defeat of the marriage amendment, we also could see moves to repeal state law that now bars same sex marriage passed in 1997, pending the outcome of the Benson v. Alverson lawsuit in Hennepin County which deals with some constitutional issues. But the outcomes in Washington, Maine and Maryland apparently approving same sex marriage may indicate attitudes have changed and the DFL may feel emboldened. Update:  Marriage victories bigger than it seems Update: Sen. John Marty say he will work on repeal in 2013.
- The state GOP loss of seats will undoubtedly give it pause on the need to refocus. Especially telling is the very narrow victory of U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Despite a massive war chest and redistricting that gave her a more conservative territory, her victory was surprisingly close.  Even Rep. Tony Cornish - who ran unopposed - posted on Facebook that he is "licking his wounds" this morning but adding "Everything is a learning experience, in victory or defeat." The party is in disarray right now both politically and financially. It spent a great deal of social capital on constitutional amendments that were soundly defeated.There will be calls to stick with spending issues especially now with the DFL in control. But more importantly, given the stinging losses across the state, the party needs to define what it stands for in a more constructive way. 
- Locally, nothing has changed in either state or national representation. U.S. Rep Tim Walz (D) beat back Republican Allen Quist in a pretty testy fight. In the contested state legislative races, Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL) handily beat back challenger Thad Shunkwiler with 64 percent of the vote. Further south, GOP Rep. Bob Gunther defeated challenger Kevin Labenz and GOP Sen. Julie Ann Rosen won decisively against challenger Paul Marquardt. Incumbents Reps. Cornish and Terry Morrow (DFL) ran unopposed as did state Sen. Kathy Sheran. One could argue with all the newly elected legislators in the state, leadership and mentoring will fall to those with experience which this area has plenty of. Cornish, however, will lose his chairmanship of the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance committee.
- In the City of Mankato, although the city council now has fresh faces with Chris Frederick and Jason Mattick don't expect to see any dramatic changes. Actually, a DFL-controlled state government bodes well for the city's continued attempts to get funding for the civic center. A newly hired Director of Government and Institutional Affairs by Greater Mankato Growth whose job is to raise the visibility of the Mankato area with state government may have found a more fertile ground now with the election outcome.
- In North Mankato, however, the election of Kim Spears to the council will change some of the dynamics in city operations. Count on a confrontational Spears joining councilman Bob Freyberg in affecting big decisions yet to come including the hiring of a new city administrator, the future of the Port Authority and most recently the six-story Marigold 2.5 building downtown.   
(NOTE: In earlier version I misspelled Allen Quist's first name) 

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