A non-candidate makes an announcement

Tom West, West Words
Tom West, West Words

Thank you for attending this hastily assembled news conference. Today, I wish to announce that I will be a non-candidate for governor of Minnesota. By circumstance, I am a member of the Non-Party, which allows all of its members to have any wacky idea they choose.

Unlike candidates of other parties, who have to back the crazy ideas of their own party and are obliged to oppose the insanity proposed by the opposition, we non-candidates can say whatever we like without having to curry sufficient favor with this or that interest group.

I am a non-candidate for a couple of reasons. First, no campaign treasury. Without a fund-raising operation, I can’t compete. With a fund-raising operation I’d have to mouth the ideas of others.  Republicans are already lining up to run against incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton. They will each spend more than a year rubbing two sticks together in the off chance that something ignites their candidacies.

In 1928, Franklin Roosevelt announced his candidacy for governor of New York in mid-September and won five weeks after being nominated. In Minnesota, in spite of modern technology, one can’t even get on the ballot unless he or she announces five months in advance.

On the other hand, non-candidates can announce their non-candidacies at any time.

Second, I have no following. That’s not quite true. The neighbor’s dog wags its tail when it sees me, but my wife still thinks I’m suspect.

Third, at the state level, in spite of what the Democrats and Republicans may say, the 2014 election will not be particularly important. Things are unlikely to change much regardless of who wins.

Today, Democrats are riding high, holding complete control of state government, and Dayton has a 57 percent approval rating. His image is that of a likeable chap —relatively harmless, but not all that dynamic.

In Minnesota, the president’s party almost always loses the mid-term election. In fact,  from 1930 through 1998, the president’s party won the governor’s seat only once in 17 tries.  The exception was in 1962, the founder  of the Record’s parent company, ECM Publishers, Elmer L. Andersen, a Republican, lost by 91 votes out of 1.3 million cast to DFLer Karl Rolvaag after a four and a half month recount.

More recently, Minnesotans have sided with the president’s party in the mid-term election, electing Republican Tim Pawlenty twice during the presidency of George W. Bush and DFLer Dayton during the presidency of Democrat Barack Obama.

Two of those elections could be said to have turned on extraordinary circumstances. In 2002, The polls changed after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash a few weeks before the election. In 2010, the nation was still reeling from the Great Recession.

Dayton has a good chance at being re-elected if the bubble economy created by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t go “poof.” If it does, however, he’s toast.

The DFL hold on the state House of Representatives is more iffy. Even without the economy tanking, the Dems will have a hard time holding on to power. They still have next winter to enact an increase in the minimum wage..

But then what are they going to run on? Tax the rich — some more?

Regardless, none of that makes any difference because the state Senate is not up for re-election.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, is already making plans for 2015 to shut down state government once again, if the GOP tries to roll back what the Democrats did this year. His mantra will be, “We just can’t work with those Republican extremists.”

As a non-candidate with the Non-Party, the focus of my non-campaign will be the future, not the past. The recent past and near future were decided in the last election.

The next election will decide the future. My non-campaign will have five planks in its non-platform.

First, I will pursue policies that will strengthen families. I would increase the dependent tax deduction substantially to help ease the financial pressure on families with children. I’d also search for policies that will increase the likelihood that two care providers (preferably the parents) will live in the home. A huge share of the tax dollars spent by state government is a result of family dysfunction.

Second, I’d revamp the tax code to make Minnesota the most business friendly state in the nation. Instead of raising tax rates of all kinds  to feed the bureaucracy, I’d set rates that will encourage every Fortune 500 company to think about locating here. The revenue lost through lower rates on businesses would be offset by the increase in jobs paying six figures. I wouldn’t just pay lip service to creating jobs; I’d do something about it.

Third, having just driven from Lake of the Woods to almost the Iowa border in the past two weeks, I’d refocus transportation funding on road repair. Minnesota’s highways are generally in bad shape.

Fourth, I’d find additional money to fight the scourge of drugs. Minneapolis can’t go a week without somebody getting shot and even our own Morrison County had 10 people up on murder charges simultaneously. When the government says crime has decreased, it’s not only the outlaws who are using funny chemicals.

Fifth, I’d push for a constitutional amendment so that at least half of the state Senate is up for re-election every election. The whims of the voters change every two years, and no good reason exists that the Minnesota Senate should be exempt from them 40 percent of the time.

All that said, don’t vote for me. The only thing I’m running for is the neighbor’s dog.


Tom West is the editor and general manager of the Record. Reach him at (320) 632-2345 or by e-mail at [email protected]