We've all had 24 hours to get mad about the override of Governor Pawlenty's veto that forced the transportation bill down the throats of Minnesotans. Anger is understandable and even cathartic. Now it's time for focus.
Much of the anger has been directed at the six GOP representatives who went native and who are now hiding behind Margaret Anderson Kelliher's petticoats and/or the Chamber of Commerce. While that anger is richly justified, there are other people who need attention. I'd like to call your attention to two of them.
Kate Knuth. Paul Gardner.
These two first-term DFLers currently represent adjoining districts in northern Ramsey County, 50B and 53A. Both replaced Republicans, with Knuth winning the seat vacated by Char Samuelson and Gardner barely beating the redoubtable Phil Krinkie. Both represent districts that have a strong Republican presence. Gardner won his seat by only 51 votes. Knuth won by a larger margin, but she is highly vulnerable. Both should be held directly responsible for the hoovering of our wallets, just as much as the Tingelstads, Erhardts and (en)Abelers of the world.
Knuth is my representative. She is very young and was a ridiculous candidate. She had no relevant experience and had been little more than a perpetual graduate student. She listed her experience as a drum major for the Irondale High School marching band as a qualification for her candidacy. No, really, she did. But she had advantages. She has a father who is a registered lobbyist and she had a lot of DFL money and muscle behind her. Between the lassitude of the Republicans in the district and the motivation of the pros behind her, she managed to beat a far more qualified opponent for the open seat. She will face strong opposition in the fall and those of us in 50B fully expect to beat her.
Our neighbors in 53A, an affluent district that includes Shoreview and North Oaks, for some reason took Representative Krinkie for granted. Mr. Gardner sold himself as a moderate who would get things done in St. Paul. He's no moderate, but he certainly did get something done -- an enormous tax increase that will provide essentially zero benefit for his district. He should also face strong opposition.
Here are some questions that Knuth and Gardner need to answer.
1) There will be money galore for light rail because of this bill. Neither line will run anywhere near your respective districts. Both lines will also require massive subsidies, likely in perpetuity. What benefit will light rail provide for your constituents?
2) Your districts are the home of three of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the Twin Cities: the intersection of 35W and 694; the intersection of 694 and U.S. 10; and the intersection of U.S. 10 and County Highway 96. How will this new transportation bill, with much of the money dedicated to the train, alleviate these issues?
3) Related to that, because of the incredible traffic delays that develop on 35W during the evening rush hour, the main roads on either side of 35W (Old Highway 8 and Cleveland Avenue) are carrying thousands of cars during the rush hour, causing myriad problems for residential neighborhoods in both New Brighton and Arden Hills. How does this bill help these issues?
The answer to all three questions is the same: not at all. Which leads to the final question:
4) Why would you support something that will hurt your constituents financially and provide no offsetting benefit? And related to that, why should anyone in 50B or 53A support your re-election?
Clowntime is over now. We have work to do. The work in 50B starts on Saturday with the BPOU convention. Similar work has begun elsewhere in Minnesota and will take place throughout the state in the coming weeks. Time to field strong candidates and time to go to work.
Cross-posted at True North.