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 Response Page - Sabo - Frenzel  Interview - Primary Elections / Campaign Fundraising   

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Sabo / Frenzel interview of 04-22-08.

The questions:

1. _9.2 average____ On a scale of (0) strongly disagree, to (5) neutral, to (10) strongly agree, what is the extent of your agreement with Sabo and Frenzel that political parties should be more accepting of competitive primary elections, not just one-candidate endorsement, in picking their nominees?

2. _8.2 average____On a scale of (0) strongly disagree, to (5) neutral, to (10) strongly agree, what is the extent of your agreement with Sabo that caucus leaders in Congress are exerting too much fund-raising pressure on members?

Mark Ritchie
Thanks, this is very interesting.

Keith Swenson (10) (10)

Charles Lutz (9) (5)

Wayne Jennings (8) (10)

Glenn Dorfman (10) (10)
But so what? In one form or another, these pressures have always existed in the same way that the military "chain of command." Raising money in politics, promising people "benefits" for votes, teachers, farmers, public employees, business people in public life voting for legislation that benefit them directly ("conflicts of interest") have been part of the American political history since our beginning.

Donna Anderson (9) (10)

David Broden (10) (10)
The process needs to move to a structure that link the depth of what a political party can bring in terms of positions on certain issues, organization, fundraising etc.--the traditional support areas and link these to an endorsement process that would endorse multiple candidates as meeting the party guidelines or whatever. Early determination of the multiple candidate approach would allow the party and the candidate to more effectively articulate positions and support and work with voters to win support. One aspect that needs to be worked in someway to see if a reasonable approach can be found to have the party pick a percent of the delegates and the balance from the public vote. If a good scheme can be worked having a combination could be meaningful tool. Moving the primary as Bill suggested will also help as long as the new date is placed to not drag out either primary or general process. Parties should not put pressure on to move dates for each election cycle these dates need stability in some way.

Clearly a major distraction for members who are there to do congressional business and they spend time focused on money--not the publics business--on the other hand it is unreasonable to totally disconnect fundraising from the membership so we need to work to keep the focus on legislation and congressional and legislative duties in other ways--we can of course legislate these conditions and then we will need to monitor, measure, and control--"police" this too will be costly and not very effective. It seems that the only way is to let the people decide and base the role on how each member operates, member integrity, and ability to stand as a member not tied and controlled by party or special interest links--Caucus leaders must focus on what the caucus is try to do to policy, legislation in general, and government operations. Bottom line is integrity in government that lets each member regardless of party caucus links express himself and the wishes of his constituency--not a statement to the member that you must raise so much money to get this support etc.

Scott Halstead (10) (10)

Jim Weaver
(10) (10)
I would expect that grievances of 30 years ago are long passed worth commenting on.

Ellen Brown (10) (10)
With regard to competitive primaries, that would be an excellent use for instant runoff voting. (In fact, in the meantime, the party conventions themselves would benefit from IRV, which would let them conduct their whole endorsing process on one ballot. But then, the parties have never been much for efficiency!!)

Elaine Voss
I have decided that the structure of decision making is very important. That concept can move from "whatever" the substance turns out to be. If the structure can have transparency it serves us all well. The topic of redistricting has been interesting. I continue to believe the Legislature can be the most transparent. Judges, great as so many of them are, in fact most are, come mostly from the political system. What makes them immune from pressure? Sabo brings up a very good point of the staffing. Questions remain: who makes the appointments? And where is the staff coming from?
These two gentlemen are treasures to our state. They have served us well, understand the frailties of the political process. So many of their comments mirror the suggestions of the "Growe Commission", of which I was a part of, and many years ago.

Joe Mansky (6) (7)
Reliance on the primary to determine party nominees may favor the better known candidates or candidates that can self-fund, although it seems fairly clear from recent history that money in and of itself is not decisive. I believe that moving the date of the primary back to June would encourage more primary challenges of the endorsed candidates. At that point, multiple endorsements might be in order.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (6) (8)

Carolyn Ring
(10) (10)

Dawn Erlandson (10) (5)

Bob Brown (10) (5)
I agree with Bill that early primaries with the opportunity for multiple endorsements (requiring something like 20% in a convention to be considered endorsed - that would separate legitimate candidates from real nut jobs and give the unthinking party voters a choice of up to 3 or 4 relatively reasonable candidates)would lead to better elections.

I don't know enough about the structure of Congress to comment intelligently on Marty's statement. I am concerned when the state and national party and government leaders interfere in local elections such as the dumping of some Republican incumbents because they voted to override the Governor's veto. While I am a strong supporter of Governor Pawlenty I believe that each elected official should vote for what he believes is right, not what he is told. We used to say that the only vote that was crucial in belonging to a caucus or party was the vote on organizing the legislative body and after that everyone was free to vote as they saw fit. I still believe that is the best system and it is one in which we would not have the extremely divided, narrow caucuses that we have today.

Connie Morrison
(10) (5)

Chuck Slocum (10) (10)
Thanks for this report. Frenzel and Sabo were each representative of the kind of hard-working and independent leadership in Congress that make Minnesotans proud. Frenzel was first elected with the legislative legendary "class of 1962" that included many talented "young Turks" from Hennepin County who identified with the Republican party. Sabo was age 22 when he was elected in 1960, including his middle name of "Olav" to his political moniker to better fit the district. Both Frenzel and Sabo did much of their own policy homework in Congress, calling on extensive experience in the State Legislature.

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10)

Dan Loritz (7) (8)

Tim McDonald (10) (5)
I am a conservative that tends to caucus with Democrats. That informs a ten for my view of primaries over endorsements...I have seen too often a radical fringe with disproportionate influence over who gets the letters in front of their name.

Tom Swain (9) (5)

Al Quie (10) (10)
If I was in a legislative body, I would refuse to raise money. (Quie is a former member of Congress, a former state legislator, and a former Governor.)

Bob White
(8) (8)
Fund-raising pressure is one result of the super-partisan atmosphere that worries both Marty and Bill.  Also -- it's the shortage of people like them in today's Congress that is the source of many problems on the Hill.

Ray Ayotte (10) (8)




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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