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 Response Page - Robert Brown - Elections Process / Education   

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Robert Brown interview of 09-19-08.

The Questions:

_8.3 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, in the process of selecting candidates do the major political parties need participation from broader segments of the political spectrum than their party activists represent?

_7.2 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, have legislative caucuses in Minnesota (the majority and minority organizations in the House and Senate) become more significant in running and financing legislative campaigns than the political parties?

Glenn S. Dorfman (5) (10)

Charles Lutz (9) (5)

Alan Miller (8) (8)

Joe Mansky (10) (10)

Mark Ritchie

Very interesting - thanks

Chuck Slocum (10) (10)
Thanks for inviting Bob Brown to your meeting. Bob has mentored more young people into the political world than just about anyone I know--as interns, campaign workers and candidates. (Among his most noted was a young Vin Weber who worked for the state party and lived in his basement.) Bob has long worked to encourage young minority students as well. His long held views concerning a healthy environment, too, placed him well ahead of the curve within his own party.

James L. Weaver (8) (5)

Al Quie (10) (10)

Donald H. Anderson (10) (5)

Clarence Shallbetter (9) (9)

John S. Adams (7) (5)

On Item #14--there is an urgent need to figure out a politically effective way to intervene early with at-risk kids living in dysfunctional (and often destructive) households. There are too many kids showing up in schools at age 5 who are far behind, and will never catch up. These problems are tearing the heart out of our public schools, especially in the central cities and first-ring suburbs where the exceptional costs of coping with problem kids are draining resources away from what the schools must do.

David Broden (10) (7)
Question 1: The selection of the candidates for each party must be by those who support the general objectives of the party--not any single for narrow list of ideologies--only by some process of opening the party selection to a broader based group than currently leads and participates in the major parties can we move Minnesota back to the leadership position in quality of government by attracting higher quality candidates who will positioned and supported if the take bold positions on issues. Each time the current activist move to control the party choice rather than the broader electorate the electorate is turned away for interest in the process and even in seeking to work for a better Minnesota. Getting to broader participation will take some real thought and innovation--it will require not only some form of primary selection process but also a stronger and broader caucus system and perhaps most of all a new way of organizing and leading the parties. I strongly suggest that both parties--move to separate the political arm from the fund raising arm--and then let the political arm focus on what the government needs and
objectives are. We also need to have the parties do some thinking about innovation in government structure and process --not only the issues--making government work will go a long way to making the political process more open.

Question 2: This is definitely true--the degree to which it is occurring is perhaps shifting with each year and the individual events but a change in the balance of party--caucus--other groups etc.--must shift. We need to once again think about the legislature being non-partisan--also the shift from a citizens legislature to a professional legislature has impacted and driven the shift of who raises the money and how it is distributed. If we can't go back to a citizens legislature to break this funding power--let's apply some thought on how to bring the citizens of the state back into the process and set the agenda to shape the future. We have often in the past 20 years talked about a unicameral system--that would be worse with the fund raising focus--rather than a unicameral system--how about a tri-cameral--let's add one unit that would meet every other year--and members elected but must be citizens only and serve for a period of 3-4 months to bring innovation and priorities to the other two bodies to put the legislation in place. This may be an off the wall idea but it may be one way to break the influence of Dollars.

Tim McDonald (8) (5)

Shirley Heaton

The process of selecting candidates has moved from the closed smoke-filled back rooms, through the convention-system now onto the primary elections while participation has yet to keep pace. Yes, I strongly agree that we need broader involvement but what is the key to make this happen especially as long as the almighty green dollar can be used as a bargaining 'agent'.

Carolyn Ring (10) (10)
I had the pleasure of serving for two years as State Chairwoman of the Republican Party with Bob Brown as State Chairman. I have great respect for his knowledge and experience. Will we ever get the Primary election date changed to June which has been advocated for at least 30 years? I hope to see some publicity soon about the Civic Caucus stand on the current proposed amendment.

Chris Brazelton (7) (5)
Participation is already open to all, but only the passionate tend to show up. Some units are better than others at welcoming and mentoring newcomers.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm (10) (5)
As someone who has three times been involved with a bipartisan effort trying to get an affective civics program back in our school, I support this wholeheartedly. All three times it has been the Teachers Union who opposed any non teacher group teaching anything in their classrooms; furthermore they oppose any attempt to increase the level of input of any group other than college bound students.

What Mr. Brown didn't speak of is the drastic drop in DFL caucus participation in the late 90's and early 2000's as a direct result of the party purges. He also missed the fact that prior to the 2000 election the State party threw out our State developed platform and imposed the Federal party platform upon us while making the process to change the platform far more complex. This makes it more difficult to produce change within the party even if you can get a large caucus turnout.

As for public financing of elections, as things stand at present those below median income are basically left out of the process because they are living paycheck to paycheck. If they could assign their $50.00 per person contribution by signature rather than having to dig it out of their pockets and wait 4 or more weeks to get it back we could tremendously increase their input into the process.

Paul Hauge (9) (8)

Vici Oshiro (8) (0)

Scott Halstead (10) (10)

The limit of funding of candidates from their district is very intriguing. Also mandatory public debates of all candidates including local television and newspaper coverage.

Jim Keller (10) (8)
As a participant in the caucus system I have always worried about the powerful role a few people have in elections, particularly at the legislature level.

Larry Schluter (9) (9)

Robert A. Freeman (6) (8)
Question 1: This is an age-old question to which the answer is yes, but no one knows how to get there. States that have primaries do tend to pick more moderate candidates (e.g. Hillary over Obama) but I am loath to tell political parties how to pick their own candidates or to force some sort of quota system upon them.

Question 2: Undoubtedly this is so. However it seems like it could be rectified with a limit (say $2500) on donations to political parties.

I strongly oppose a ban on money raised from outside a legislator's district. This would disenfranchise any Republican living in a safe Democratic district and vice versa. It would also ban family members and friends from contributing to their relatives'/friends' campaigns if they weren't in the same district, which also seems unproductive.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (10) (6)
The federal and state campaign finance laws have limited the political party's input. The caucuses have little restrictions. The same holds true for special interest groups. We need to make parties strong again. Yet the caucuses will continue to be a major player because of their special interest to be a majority caucus. Minority members in a legislative body have very little influence on legislation. The incentive is to be in the majority where one can get things done. Political party members do not understand the legislative process very well. They are more interested in issues, than in making government work better for people.



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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