It was beautiful and sunny as we walked around in the neighborhood near Medicine Lake, where we've been given a list of houses to visit. During our door-knocking, we meet a variety of citizens. Wexler has done this before and is good at getting a conversation going with the homeowners. Most seem receptive; we meet a man who tells us he wouldn't vote for a Republican if his name was Abraham Lincoln, another who doesn't want to hear a word from us because he hates all politicians, several people in the middle, who seem to think they should pay a bit of attention to politics. People are generally friendly and only that one crotchety, disaffected guy seems pissed off by our presence.
Later we return to Parker's Lake, where Madia people are assembling for a post-door-knocking potluck. It's good to see the several dozen activists who represent the backbone of the campaign organization.
This evening I attended the campaign kickoff party for David Dillon, held at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Keith Ellison's district. About 200 people attended. Most are either Dillon friends, business associates or MNIP activists. The lights are somewhat dim, a country/rock band plays, good food is included in the $25 entry fee [waived for scrounging bloggers], there is a cash bar. Ironic-hip Dillon flair is for sale: T-shirts that say Dillon Shirt, buttons that say Dillon Button, hats too.
[I met and blogged about Dillon in January.]
The Independence Party of Minnesota has not previously fielded a candidate for US Congress in CD3. Unlike previous elections, this year features a rock-solid pro-death-penalty, 100% antiabortion Rod Grams-style Republican facing a moderate, deficit-hawk Democrat. It would seem an exceptionally odd year for the MNIP to express interest in the seat, no?
After a set or two, Tim Penny takes the stage. (No individual in Minnesota deserves greater thanks for putting Tim Pawlenty in office than Tim Penny.) Penny praises the MNIP for finding great candidates such as David Dillon. [In reality, according to the candidate, Dillon found the MNIP--not the other way around.] Next Dean Barkley speaks. Barkley now admits he knew Arianna Huffington never had a chance when he worked on her behalf in California, but he insists he is now telling the truth when he says Dillon has a real chance of winning this CD3 seat.
The candidate then comes out to speak. Dillon is informal and friendly, telling us he's not going to give the 10-point plan. That said, the speech is surprisingly devoid of any meaningful rationale for the campaign. He harps on one foreign policy issue--the importance of preventing Iran from going nuclear--going so far as to implore the audience to get active in the movement to divest stock portfolios of Iran-related holdings.
Dillon evinces not the slightest familiarity with the positions of his opponents: He is completely unaware, apparently, that Madia speaks frequently and fervently about the deficit, for example. Dillon attacks the economic stimulus checks without apparent awareness that both of his opponents have long since voiced precisely the same position. He says that if Madia is elected, he'll have to do the bidding of the DFL and if Paulsen is elected, he'll have to bend to the whim of the MNGOP, without really explaining why this is the case. (Were I the first Democrat elected to a Congressional seat in fifty years, I'd feel rather strong license to say SIUYA to the party, if they were pressuring me to do something I opposed.)
Dillon completely sidesteps our primary foreign policy question. On domestic issues such as health care, he chides the major parties for their small-minded failure to 'agree to agree,' without even minimally grappling with the issue himself. Should Dillon have any desire to expand his base beyond friends, family, business associates and MNIP activists, he's going to need a lot more than this.
One might look out at the country today, observing our grave economic and foreign policy challenges and conclude 'this mess is thanks in equal parts to Democrats and Republicans--it's time for a new party.' That seems an unusual conclusion, but David Dillon believes it.