My Ballot--posted by Tony Garcia on 11/04/2006
Well, today was a busy day as I get together as much as I can in preparation for the election night coverage that I'm hosting Tuesday night. And since there is absolutely no way in the world that I will be able to make it to the polls on Tuesday I went in today to vote.
This Sunday's show will likely be about endorsements and why. This post is a brief version of this Sunday's outline.
US Senator: Mark Kennedy. While there are some major issues I have with Kennedy's philosophies based on his campaign website (his platforms mostly expand the Federal government's continued seizure of local/state self-governance) I believe his RECORD is the truth, not his campaign rhetoric. In my personal dealings with him over the past three years I have realized that he is not the exception, but is exactly 'like all politicians'...again, not a trait that warrants exclusion from consideration but a trait that means one should not believe his campaign promises until you see them. Klobuchar did not articulate any plan of greater depth than "Order on the Border" and negotiations with everyone. Fitzgerald's platform was essentially, "Both parties suck, but the GOP sucks." No solutions. And "listen to the hate. It must stop" sandwiched between equally hateful rhetorical tones.
US Representative District 6: Write-In...Jay Esmay. I have gone into great detail the many reasons why the average moral person should not support Bachmann as a person, much less as a candidate. I have a dozen more from my own first-hand experience with her. Unlike some sell-outs who know of and witnessed the same things, said the same thing before endorsement, I did not lower my standards simply for the sake of some superficial group's victory. Wetterling's on an individual level is not much better, but I did not have the first-hand experience. Beyond that she is wrong on most issue...and cannot articulate at all her positions. More offensive was how both women constantly and blatantly lied about each other. Binkowski did not display a real understanding of the issues beyond "I hate Bush."
Questions of local candidates
Before getting into the rest of the ballot I want to explain the questions I had for non-incumbents in my local races. I was able to ask them directly to most of the candidates. The rest were given a phone number to call so I could "learn more about the candidate" and they failed to call. At this local level I find that more damning...especially when some of them would say instead, "my platform is on my website" indicating an elitist distance in their minds between the constituency and the office/candidates.
I asked 8 questions designed to indicate their philosophies and attitudes, their place on the scale of Party vs Principle. The first four were direct in this manner. 1. "Name the SINGLE most important issue to you that your party agrees with you in general." 2. "Name the single most important issue to you that YOUR PARTY disagrees with you in general." 3. "Name the single most important issue to you that YOUR OPPOSSING PARTY is generally correct on." 4. "Name the SINGLE most important issue to you that your oppossing party is generally wrong on." The other four were questions about which the answers would tell me more about philosophies than a meaningful position on the specific issue. Platforms on websites, in my view, are as worthless at the local level as campaign ads on the radio and television. Thus, I used these questions and the results from direct conversations to determine for whom I voted. I don't care about which party a person is in...I want PEOPLE (not politicians) who will represent PEOPLE (not a party).
State Senator: Write-In...'Voting Present'. The GOP endorsed the candidate who is at best wrong on most issues (a big government, big spending, Sierra Club-type environmentalist) and at worst a corrupt politician with more revelations supporting that coming out at what seems to be a weekly basis. At the caucuses I told him that his speech just swayed me to the verge of not being able to support him. The day before the Twins bill vote I told him over the phone that a Yes vote would cement the loss of all support from me. The DFL opponent & I had a 30 minute Q & A. He could not name a position that he disagreed with his party on, only a specific DFL candidate that he disagreed with on one position. He also freely used obviously erroneous phrases about his opponent such as, "my opponent disagrees with providing health care." There is not anyone who disagrees with providing health care, they disagree on how that provision is provided, paid for, etc. Such statements indicate a candidate more concerned about party advancement than anything else...exactly the philosophy that is breaking people's trust in the system.
Voting 'Write-In' rather than leaving it blank was to have a vote register while not going to the candidates. Thus, at least for one vote, there is an accurate picture of support in their percentages.
Governor: Hutchinson. Quite simply, Pawlenty is proven to not be the fiscal conservative he advertised, proven to treat the residents as stupid (c'mon, the whole "fee vs tax" thing could only be tried if someone thought the populace was stupid enough to buy it), and proven to be a big government politician. Hatch is not just anti-business but h-a-t-e-s business. Hatch is not just of the belief that people are stupid and elitist like Pawlenty, but intentionally tries to keep information away from the voters. His platforms were legal briefs of 40-pages or more. When I directly asked the campaign instead for a summary the response was that those ARE the summaries. Hutchinson has not proven to be a politician whose campaign positions are only for the campaign trail, as Pawlenty has. Therefore it is fair to assume he is the most fiscally conservative candidate that was actually trying to win.
Secretary of State: Ritchie. As I mentioned on the air over the past three weeks I could not decide between Bruce Kennedy and Mark Ritchie. In comparing the two with each other I was left with this dilemma. With Kennedy was less substance on the aspects of the office that were important to me, but less risk of being partisan in the office than Ritchie and a slam dunk to be less partisan and more competent than Kiffmeyer. With Ritchie there was substance and allegiance to his positions. There was no tailoring the positions based on his audience and no hint of compromising positions for the sake of the party. However, there is less risk that Kennedy would be partisan than Ritchie ...still, the chances of Ritchie being as partisan in office as Kiffmeyer are slim. They and Kiffmeyer have a position different from my own on the most important issue for the office to me: Same Day Registration. All that is left to analyze Kiffmeyer's candidacy is her record. I believe she is the most partisan Secretary of State that is possible. I admit that is a subjective charge. The objective charges are irrefutable: incompetence, untimely execution of duties, poor service in elections, childlike tantrums at the expense of service to businesses, claiming credit for accomplishments that were either not of her office's doing were she was required/obligated to do, and failure to go above and beyond for 8 years in office. Her time is up and it is fair to say that anyone could do better. On top of that are some personal issues, legitimate issues, which affected MY support and my wife's support but should not be factors in YOUR support.
State Auditor: Pat Anderson. This one was easy. She HAS gone well above and beyond in her duties. She has performed her duties well and timely. She has improved service (without being court ordered or opposition criticized) for the state residents. She continues to have ideas on how to make her services better. She is one of the few incumbents on my ballot (my State Representative and a few local office holders being the others) that I believe to be a person, not a politician. (Yes, they are mutually exclusive.) Her campaign has ZERO negative comments about her opponent. That fact swayed a number of people that I know of (including a few anti-GOP liberals). The only regret is that I was not able to volunteer for her aside from neighborhood networking.
Attorney General: Jeff Johnson. This was another slam dunk. Lori Swanson is tainted by being such an integral part of Hatch's Business-hating reign. (And a quick note, when I have a dispute with a company that is not being resolved there a few things I inform them of. A BBB complaint will be filed and a complaint to the Commerce Department. Still not resolved I also inform them of a request for investigation that will be put in with the state Atty Gen office...that usually gets no response until I tell them I am from Minnesota: the state of business-hating AG Mike Hatch. I have not had any unresolved issue once that has been uttered.) Jeff Johnson in every meeting I have had with him has been a genuine person. Unlike most people who think that simply being nice to them at the party functions means the candidate is 'genuine' (hello, moron, politicians are nice to your face) I watch candidates to assess how they are around the obvious apologist vs the seemingly undecided vs the indifferent vs the antagonist. THAT comparison is what I use in assessing how genuine they are. (Fallible, yes, but better than the 'he was nice to me so he must be genuinely nice' idiocy.) I watch them with others which allows better observation of the facial expressions and most importantly the eyes which tell much more than people realize. Johnson is a genuine person running for office. I believe him to be capable, credible and competent.
Constitutional Amendment: No. Bad language, bad idea and bad precedent.
School Board, City Council. This school board is begging for more money. They honestly do not need it and so I voted for the challengers. The challengers profiles did not have anything indicating something terrible. Support for them is luke warm, but they at least do not have a record of begging for unneeded money. City Council is in the same position. However, the challenger and I had a decent length discussion. The winning answer from him was on a question about a primary day referrendum. The proposal itself was not bad, well supported, etc. His answer, "No matter how great the idea may be there should not be a ballot question on a primary election. Put them on in November...it's only 2 months." He has my strong support.
Judicial Races. I do not like how little information is available about the specific judges. Until that is rectified I will continue voting for challengers and in the unopposed races I will continue voting "Write-in: Voting Present".
Hopefully in 2008 better candidates will be offered. Hopefully more People will be on the ballot.