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Latest developments in the DFL race to defeat Michele Bachmann

by The Big E on October 13, 2009 · 17 comments

I’ve been out of commission, blogging-wise (you know … paying job, big project, blown deadlines), for a little more than a week and during that period did things cool off in the MN-06 DFL endorsement race to accommodate?  Hardly.  Both DFL candidates Tarryl Clark and and Maureen Reed have been busy.

Reed hired a staff, announced she wouldn’t abide by the DFL endorsement and reported her fundraising numbers.  Clark collected another endorsement and released some awesome fundraising numbers for her first few weeks in the race.

Analysis after the fold.
Let’s begin with Maureen Reed’s campaign staff.  Obviously, she’s got enough money to hire people and feels confident about her fundraising.  Brian Falldin reported this here at MPP.

The slot of campaign manager will be filled by Jason Isaacson.  Jason has worked on numerous Minnesota democratic campaigns for the past 10 years, and recently supported the Franken for Senate Campaign as a field and convention consultant, but also worked as either a field consultant or organizer on the Judi Dutcher, Bill Luther and David Lillehaug campaigns.  

From what my sources tell me, Jason was the field director for the last democrat who won the sixth district.  

Joining Isaacson on Reed’s campaign will be Emma Olson as field director, Aaron Rothe as a field organizer and researcher, and Trevor Willett, as communications coordinator, who joins the campaign from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Reed’s campaign has also entered into working relationships with Lake Research Partners, whose president, Celinda Lake, is one of the Democratic Party’s leading political strategists and Sandberg Communications, a strategic communications firm that handles public relations, public affairs and community relations for a variety of clients.

Up until now the Reed campaign has been clueless about outreach.  I had tried repeatedly to get an interview with Reed, but the campaign didn’t understand the importance of the blogosphere and blew me off.  As far as I can tell she hasn’t spoken to any MN bloggers.  Hopefully, Isaacson, Lake and Sandberg can do better.  

Our last candidate to go up against Bachmann didn’t understand the importance of the blogosphere until it dumped well over a millions dollars in his lap inside three days.  How will the Reed campaign convince the MN and national blogosphere that her candidacy should be taken seriously?  They’re already starting at a huge deficit.  Tarryl Clark is already blogging at Daily Kos and has established good communication with the MN bloggers.

So let’s get to the campaign numbers for Q3:

Reed – $130,000
Clark – $308,000

Reed has been fundraising for the entire quarter while Clark more than doubled her haul in a mere nine weeks.  Here’s an excerpt from the Clark campaign press release (emailed to me):

State Senator Tarryl Clark set a break-neck pace in the race for Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, raising $308,015 in just nine weeks.  Clark, who entered the race mid-quarter on July 28th, becomes one of only a few challengers nationwide to raise more than $300,000 in a single quarter.

Clark’s 2,412 donors contributed an average of $107.  The campaign finished the quarter with just under $270,000 in the bank.

Obviously, she has set a “break-neck pace,” but can she maintain it?  Obviously, her fundraising staff know what they’re doing so she certainly has a chance.  This pace puts her among the premier Dem challengers in the country.  $300K in nine weeks projects at around $400K for a whole quarter.

Eric Black had this to say:

Clark’s number is especially impressive because she entered the race at the end of July, so she had only two months to fund-raise. Reed’s fall quarter is a drop from the previous quarter when she raise and impressive $232,000. The Reed press release says she has over $300,000 cash on hand. Clark claims $270,000.

When you combine Clark’s fundraising acumen with her connections to the political structure and with her outreach is she taking all of the oxygen out of this race?  Are we now seeing why Elwyn Tinklenberg pulled out rather try and match her?

A DFLer needs to excite a whole lot of people.  She’s going to need the unions, the DFL activists and the Michele-haters to all come together behind her.

So Reed’s announcement that she wouldn’t abide probably isn’t going to sit well with the activists and it seems to me that she’s already conceding the endorsement.

Sixth District Congressional candidate Maureen Reed said she’ll no longer pledge to abide by the DFL endorsement after being overlooked by labor unions.

Since entering the race, Maureen Reed has said she would seek the DFL endorsement to challenge incumbent Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. But Reed’s pledge to abide is now wavering.
(Polinaut, h/t Bill Prendergast)

Okay.  Let’s face the excitement issue head on.  Clark v. Reed.  Cage match.  

Clark makes strong statements and stands by her record in the MN Senate.  She wants to give voters a reason to vote for her.  She doesn’t think it’s enough to just say “I’m not Michele Bachmann.”  Tinklenberg did that but didn’t give voters enough reasons to vote for him.  

Reed won’t be pinned down on much of anything.  Her interview with Eric Black of MinnPost was embarrassing.  Activists aren’t going to get excited about someone who won’t stand up for our shared values.  

Many, many activists are going to drive up to the district and try and unseat Michele.  The question is how many more would come up if they were excited about the Democrat running?  It’s a long drive for some of us, so it’s gotta be worth the effort.  As it’s looking right now, MN-06 is the only hotly contested House race in MN.

Finally and to probably little surprise, Clark received another endorsement.

The Minnesota Nurses Association announced today that is has endorsed Tarryl Clark in her bid for Minnesota’s 6th District Congressional seat.

“Tarryl has been a long time champion of nursing and working families,” said MNA President Linda Slattengren, RN.  ”She has been an advocate for universal health care both in the legislature and in the community. We look forward to working with her in Congress.”

“I am honored to receive the support of nurses – the people Minnesotans trust to provide for their health and well-being,” said Tarryl Clark.  ”As the people on the front-lines of health care, I’ve been proud to partner with the Nurses as both a community leader and as a legislator.  I couldn’t be more proud to continue our work together as their endorsed candidate.”
(MNA press release email)

So here’s the list of Clark’s endorsements so far:

  • MN Nurses Association
  • VP Walter Mondale
  • Child Advocate and 2006 candidate Patty Wetterling
  • SEIU
  • Building and Construction Trades
  • Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota (LIUNA)
  • Carpenters
  • AFSCME Council 5
  • SFSCME Council 65
  • Teamsters Joint Council 32
  • Teamsters Local 120
  • St. Cloud College Dems
  • taxpayingliberal October 13, 2009 at 8:59 pm

     This race is over. It’s interesting that one of the 1st things Reed did after she hired a PR firm was to confirm that she would not abide by the endorsement. So Clark is now a shoe in for a 1st ballot endorsement.

    Clark is now doubling (at least) Reed in fund raising. So after she loses the endorsement race, she will run a primary against a much better funded Clark. Good luck with that.

    And the real question is yet to be answered. Where does Reed stand on almost any issue that is different than Clark that would make us want to abandon the endorsement process, the difference in fund raising potential, and many years of proven experience in winning elections in central Minnesota?

    MNBlue October 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    What’s extremely telling from all this is that Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark with ALL the advantages in this race (being handed endorsements, party establishment/insider status, 1-time PAC/Lobbyist donations, etc) she still failed to match Reed’s cash on hand total. Assistant Majority Leader Clark is at least 30,000 behind.

    Because so much of her money was one time PAC money she’s going to have a hard time with sustained fund-raising moving forward.

    400,000 is not an accurate projection. A LARGE portion of the Assistant Majority Leader’s numbers are from one-time PAC money and other low hanging fruit.

    Aside from that she comes from the MOST liberal senate district in the sixth district. The difference between Obama’s performance in SD15 and CD6 is 22%. He won SD15 by 14% (more than Tarryl did) and lost CD6 by 8%. Tarryl has no claim to any history of electability in the 6th, which she is constantly peddling as her singular qualification for being backed.

    A moderate, thoughtful, experienced candidate is much better suited in general, but especially for this district. That is why Reed is better and that is why Reed will win. It’s also why Reed will continue to have sustained fund-raising.

    The Big E October 13, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    The Clark donors gave an average of around $100.  There is definitely potential for her to hit them up for more later.  Also, as Clark starts working the blogosphere connections, she’ll only raise her profile.

    Reed is not positioning herself well at all.  By virtually conceding that she isn’t going to get the DFL endorsement (by announcing she won’t abide), the nat’l blogosphere is going to swing to the endorsed candidate and the candidate with the strong, progressive message.

    I agree with you though in your assessment of SD15 v. MN-06.  Good point.

    As for Reed’s sustained fundraising, $130K is not very good for a quarter.  Steve Sarvi (for whom I tried really hard to help) raised that kind of money and just never seemed to get any traction in the MN-02 race.  A candidate raising only $130K against Bachmann is not a good sign.

    The bottom line for Reed is her Q4 numbers better jump.

    taxpayingliberal October 13, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    The COH argument is kind of silly to me. 1st if the only  good thing that one can say about Reeds quarter is that she didn’t spend any money campaigning, then trust me you have problems but it does explain why so few people know about Reed.

    The argument about one time Pac money is equally silly. One, because it’s not true and 2, because there a lot of PACs that wait until the later quarters to see how a candidate does. Also Clark had 2400 donors and she will be able to go back to most of them.

    But if I accept your argument that COH is really important would you change your support after the next quarter when Clark is ahead in COH?

    If you want to raise the question of electability could we compare Reeds record to Clark? What public office has Reed been elected to?

    MNblue, You are asking the Democrats to throw away the endorsement process, Ignore a better than 2 to 1 fund raising effort (and one of the best 1st quarters in the nation and the best ever in the history of this state) a multiyear record of Senate service and progressive values to back Reed.  Why should we do that? What issue is there that Reed stands for that are so much better than Clarks that would compel us to do that?

    MNBlue October 13, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Maureen Reed speaks passionately and with great depth of knowledge when talking about her dedication to public education and health care. While she was on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents they were having some serious funding cuts from the state. Dr. Reed said she looked at the entirety of the MN budget to see; if funds are coming OUT of education, where are they going?

    She says she saw that the budget for education, transportation, parks, public programs, etc across the board were getting cut. The two areas getting increased state funding were corrections and health care. Both back-end solutions to front-end problems. Health care is Dr. Reed’s background and she was particularly concerned that it was eating such a huge portion of the budget not only for the state but also for businesses and individuals. She had always been involved, but at that point she redoubled her efforts and became involved on the state and national level with health policy.

    She has serious bona fides in initiatives that have had very significant impacts on health in Minnesota, for example overseeing the group that spawned Minnesota Community Measurements. Dr. Reed brings to the table experience as a provider when she worked as a physician at Fremont Community Clinic serving uninsured and underinsured patients where she saw first hand the catastrophic effects of postponed diabetes care. She worked as an administrator as the medical director and vice-president of Health Partners and dealt with all the aspects of providing care from that perspective. She has worked in international missions in east Africa and brings that perspective to the table also. On top of those credentials she was also the director of Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota and had to balance their budget and purchase health insurance for the employees there. She had to make decisions between downgrading their insurance package or letting employees go. She knows how hard it is for small businesses to provide insurance coverage to their employees.

    That is just a small exploration of a portion of the REAL WORLD experience candidate Maureen Reed brings to the table. And my source for this is listening to her speak ONCE at a DFL event in the sixth. She is an amazing speaker and she had wide support and applause from the crowd, she went into a lot of specifics and really set herself apart from Assistant Senate Majority Leader Clark who also spoke at the event. People who hear her speak are impressed and supportive. Maybe you should seek her out at a local DFL event and see for yourself!

    Robin Marty October 14, 2009 at 1:07 am

    I checked your profile here — you only comment on Reed posts.  I’ve looked around the blogs, including on my site.  You only post on 6th CD posts and post pro-Reed comments.  In many cases it’s the same comment spammed across many sites.  Other than that, no engagement with the blogs at all.

    So I’ve got to ask — paid staff, volunteer, or relative?  Which one is it?  Because I’m willing to bet good money it’s one of the three.

    MNBlue October 14, 2009 at 1:14 am

    and equally enthusiastic Bachmann detractor.

    Robin Marty October 14, 2009 at 4:52 am

    enthused on wikipedia, too, I believe, Agentosx?

    Grace Kelly October 14, 2009 at 1:46 am

    I saw Reed speak at central committee meeting, which is the ONLY time I saw her, which is sad because I try to go many events. I see Assistant Senate Majority Leader Clark on many occasions. The only reason that Maureen Reed looked good at all was because my expectations were so low. She surprisingly did sound like a candidate. However she is magnitudes behind T. Clark in speaking, noting that I consider T. Clark to be one of the best speakers in the state.

    I never saw Reed work a room and if she did, then she never made it to me. That is just basic politics 101.

    As Big E has mentioned, we don’t see interviews with blogs. That is again just basic politics 101.  

    And above all, just being “not” something is a surefire losing strategy. One feels during a Maureen Reed speech that there is “nobody back there”, just a pretty picture.

    At this point, I would actually suggest the Maureen Reed gracefully withdraw, or actually look like she could score points against Michelle Bachmann right now. If she attacks T. Clark in any way, she is totally gone because she is so far behind.

    Chris October 14, 2009 at 4:31 am

    I’ll take Tarryl on the first ballot @ the CD-6 convention and then Tarryl with at least 60% of the vote in the primary.

    Reed certainly has some good people working for her, but the window of opportunity closed when Tarryl got into the race. The best FR and organizing people in the world still can’t squeeze blood from a stone.

    The good doctor raised a ton of cash in her first quarter of fundraising from her rich friends and then fell off that pace by $100,000. If we went from $230,000 to $130,000, what’s she going to report for Q4? I’ll say somewhere in the neighborhood of $80,000. (It’s also worth noting, MN Blue, that Reed didn’t announce much of her campaign staff until after 9/30. You should ask how much money she has on 11/1 after she’s cut some checks.)

    Tarryl’s going to win the money battle against Reed, easily. But she does need to keep moving northward on her quarterly reports to keep people believing that Bachmann can actually be defeated in that congressional district. MB will certainly continue raising huge chunks of cash.

    taxpayingliberal October 14, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Are you being straight with us about who you are MNblue? Because on another blog where you posted about Reed your e mail address was

    JML October 14, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Big E, old friend, a bit misleading in this post don’t you think?  Your comment above the fold is that Reed announced she wouldn’t abide, and then later you accurately report that Reed has said she would consider not abiding.  I know some here consider that the same thing, but we know better.

    Now, I expect that Reed will end up going to the primary and the head over heels rush to endorse Clark by the insiders is probably the biggest reason why.  It’d hardly  be a shock for a viable candidate to decline to abide by the decision of a small subset of the party, especially if the process was tilted badly against them from the start.  (This, of course, is part of Mark Dayton’s argument.  YMMV on whether you approve)

    Frankly, I see lots of good stuff for the 6th in all this.  Clark’s put together a good initial fundraising quarter (considering all the institutional support she’d gotten, I would have been shocked if Clark had done less than $250K), has a great group of endorsements, and is working hard.  Reed seems to be putting together a solid campaign team, is building up cash, and also working hard.

    I know there’s a feeling that the only way that we’ll win the 6th is if we unite immediately behind one candidate and pour all our time and attention into their race against Bachmann, but I don’t know that it’s true.  I seem to recall Nate Silver running the math and didn’t show a significant advantage to not facing a primary.  With Clark in the race full-bore, Reed has stepped up her communications game and staffing. (keep in mind, when reed announced, El was still going to DFL events and telling people he was running)  With Reed still raising money and fielding a professional team, Clark won’t be resting on any laurels or coasting into the endorsement.  I think that’s good for the party and good for the district.

    Big E, you note that Tinklenberg only noticed the netroots after they dumped $1M into his campaign but the problems there ran much deeper.  (Like the fact that the money came in because of what Bachmann said, not because of anything El did, yet he acted like it was all him.  Essentially he pulled a W: woke up on 3rd base and acted like he’d hit a triple.)  Activist support will be important in this race, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that running a base campaign is going to get us the result we want.  That might energize the liberals in the district and in parts of the state, but it won’t get enough votes to win.

    We’re, what…4 months out to precinct caucuses?  About 6 months to the endorsement?  Man.  

    The Big E October 14, 2009 at 7:52 pm


    You’ve raised several good points.  I’ll try and address them.

    Misleading?  Accurate?  Tomatohs/Tomahtos.  I think that Reed’s announcement is clearly a statement that she’ll run to the primary.  Period.  Of course, she worded it so that she’ll have wiggle room to do anything she wants.  That’s politics.

    Do you seriously think that Reed has a chance at the endorsement at this point?  I don’t think she has much of a chance anymore so she’s positioning herself for a primary run if not a party switch to the IP.

    At this point, I have no problem with Clark and Reed running to the primary because I foresee Clark building a ton of momentum and Reed having a harder and harder time gaining traction and money.  My only concern is that Reed switches to the IP.  This would guarantee two more years of Bachmann.

    Also, I never meant to say that Tarryl should run a campaign to the base.  What I meant to say is she is the candidate that excites the base and that is crucial.

    And, yes, 2010 is gonna be a wild one.

    JML October 15, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I don’t think Reed is going to go for a party switch.  I agree, it would almost certainly guarantee 2 more years of Crazytown (I leave a little wiggle room, because you just never know in a 3-way race; we didn’t see Jesse coming either…).  Reed’s been pretty clear she’s not switching parties, about the only people I see bringing it up are… Tarryl Clark supporters.

    I think it’s going to be a hard road for the endorsement for Reed with all the institutional support Clark is getting.  But I didn’t think Madia had a shot in hell at getting the endorsement either and look at how that turned out.  Sure, it’s fairly likely turnout at precinct caucuses will return to 2006 levels and a lot of the usual suspects will be back in charge, but not necessarily.  What I do know for sure is a lot of calls made this early turn out wrong.

    Your primary scenario may turn out to be correct.  A lot of it will depend on what the candidates do from now until March.  A lot of what’s going on right now is being feverishly debated by insiders and die-hards, but the broader electorate isn’t watching or caring, which will make it harder to judge momentum.  I do think it’s pretty likely Reed will go to the primary based on how things have been trending.  Time will tell whether or not she can keep raising money and build an effective infrastructure to be a serious factor in a primary.

    regarding the base campaign comment: that wasn’t just directed at your comments, but I’m glad to see you agree.  

    (and just to be clear…I don’t work for any candidate in the 6th, nor have I endorsed one (not that it would matter!), nor do I have serious objections to either candidate at this point)

    Chris October 15, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Ash was the result of a perfect storm. The right guy. The right message. The right time. Reed has none of that going for her. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t really hear her speaking like this —… — on much of anything.

    While a lot of people in the 3rd like Terri Bonoff, Tarryl Clark is viewed by many grassroots-level activists in the 6th as “the one.” They’ve been waiting for her to make this jump. Reed isn’t just getting creamed institutionally; Tarryl also has the grassroots people fired up and ready to go.

    The Big E October 15, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Reed certainly doesn’t have the campaign that Ashwin had either.  First, she and her campaign don’t understand the netroots and secondly, she’s not using them.  Ashwin was always very accessible.  His clear and direct message really swayed the delegates … I can’t see Reed’s triangulating impressing anyone.

    I wrote a post in Dec07 that Ashwin won the first debate “hands down.”  Obviously, we’ll see how Reed does against Clark, but from what Grace Kelly said in an earlier comment, Reed’s not all that impressive while Clark is definitely an impressive and impassioned speaker.

    Chris October 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    …would be to push for debates. Add credibility to her claims that it’s stacked against her.

    Of course then she has to win those debates in one way or another.

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