Both sides fared well at the October 9 Senate District 53 candidate forum in Woodbury

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Last evening we attended the candidate forum for Senate District 53 at City Council Chambers in Woodbury. The event was expertly moderated by the League of Women Voters, and was televised by South Washington County Telecommunications Commission, and will likely be rebroadcast there between now and general election November 6. Check with SWCTC for details.

I don’t go to such events to become well-grounded in the candidates understanding and position on the issues. Only so much can be done with six candidates in one hour and many substantive questions, each limited to one minute answers.

Nonetheless I am glad we went.

Arriving home, there was an e-mail from a friend lamenting that she had forgotten about the Forum until it was too late. I responded “I thought everyone did pretty well (on both sides).”

In this case, “everyone” were candidates for Senate in SD 53 Susan Kent (DFL) and Ted Lillie (IR); candidates for HD 53A Pam Cunningham (IR) and JoAnn Ward (DFL); and candidates for HD 53B Andrea Kieffer (IR) and Ann Marie Metzger (DFL).

Five of the six candidates are female; two candidates are first term incumbents running for reelection, albeit in newly configured districts.

I didn’t expect any big surprises in this Forum, and there were none. I follow politics more closely than most and thus I’m more aware than most of the often huge gap between rhetoric and reality, especially when incumbents are defending their record without risking rebuttal by an equally well-informed colleague.

The battle-scarred veterans of the 2011-12 biennium at the legislature could, of course, defend their honor, and criticize the Governor and Democrats who were not there to give the other very substantial side of the story. It is to be expected. There is no priority for giving the two sides to the story, which there is, in abundance, in these “win-lose’ political hothouse days.

Mostly, I watched for sound bites and talking points and emphasis.

It should surprise no one that the DFL candidates (my partisan preference ‘side’) emphasized the needs of the middle class and support for labor; while the Republican candidates are tied to Business and Wealthy interests.

The Republican incumbents, Lillie and Kieffer, seemed to try to delicately dance away from their very real ownership of the two proposed Constitutional Amendments, even though they were architects of these proposals. Kieffer, in fact, was one of those who signed one of those ‘pledges’ to go for Voter ID. The DFL candidates were clear that they were in opposition. I don’t recall the Republican candidates saying how they, themselves, would vote.

(To me, these proposed Constitutional Amendments are the two defining issues of the difference between IR and DFL in this election. They are evidence of a breakdown in bipartisan problem solving.)

I was surprised by only one talking point that Rep. Kieffer actually decided to use in the gathering. It is the old Tea Party mantra: “we don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem”. It is an old and very tired saw. Tuesday night was only the second time I have actually heard it in person. The first time was in the Woodbury Post Office line two years ago. I wrote about it then, here.

Oh, if it were all so simple as to reduce government of our city, state and nation to simple words and catchy phrases….

I think about what passes for political discourse these days.

Personally, I hope we’re getting to the end of the days of politics of slogans without substance.

Before driving to City Hall for the Forum last night, I picked up our mail, which included two attack ads, one against JoAnn Ward and the other against Susan Kent. One was from the Republican Party and the other from one of those ubiquitous “independent expenditure” groups. We are still a month from election, and I have kept all of the campaign mail that has come to our mailbox. All but 2 of the 17 ‘lit pieces’ have been from the Republican side; all but 2 of those have been attack pieces against the Democrat. All relate to this single local legislative district.

While completing this post, I was interrupted by a independent expenditure phone message in favor of one of the Republican candidates.

There is apparently a lot of money floating around for such campaigning this year.

There must be reason for Republicans to worry.

Yes, I’m DFL, and proud of our three candidates in SD 53. You can read about them here.

Directly related: here.