Minnesota State Senate Special Election: Ray Cox vs. Students

MN FlyerThere's a battle brewing in the Minnesota 25th State Senate District.  On January 3rd, a special election will be held pitting Governor Pawlenty's Republican machine and candidate Ray Cox against students and the Youth arm of Minnesota DFL and their candidate, Kevin Dahle, a local high school teacher.  For those not from Minnesota, this is a rematch of 2006, when students kept Ray Cox from attaining a seat in the Minnesota State House, and what's at stake is a veto-proof majority for DFL in the State Senate.  Here's the background.

In 2006, Ray Cox ran for a spot in the State House in district 25b.  He lost to David Bly, a local alternative school teacher by just 63 votes.  This was an upset and a big surprise locally.  Bly's victory was due in no small part to surprisingly high turnout at Carlton College and St. Olaf's college, where the Youth Coordinated Campaign of Minnesota DFL organized students using a combination of facebook, phone banking, lit drops and peer to peer outreach.  From what organizers from '06 tell me, they were able to do this in part because it was not a high profile race.  Neither candidate did much campaigning, and they were very much under the radar.

Now Cox is back, and he and Pawlenty are trying to do an end run around the students.  In September, a judge in the Minnesota first district court retired.  Last week, Pawlenty appointed Republican State Senator Tom Neuville - the current occupant of the Minnesota State 25th - as his replacement, necessitating a special election for the vacated seat.  Here's where it gets interesting.  Pawlenty chose January 3rd as the date of the special election.  Not only is that the same day as the Iowa Caucus, when presumably many of the most politically active Minnesotan students will be doing what they can to help their favored Presidential candidate in the neighboring state, but it is also the first day of classes at Carlton College and St. Olaf's - presumably a time when students will just be getting settled in, and will be busy catching up with friends after the holidays and getting their semester in order.  It also means that for the next month - when MYDFL needs to coordinate, get the message out and organize - students will be occupied with finals and scattered across the state on holiday.

Pawlenty and Cox are clearly afraid to face down Minnesota students again and are gaming the system to their advantage.  Fortunately, students aren't taking this lying down.  Many of the same students who helped engineer Cox's defeat in 2006 are getting organized to bring him down again in 2008.  They are putting together plans for day-of-election transportation and GOTV, lit drops, on campus flyering.  They're already at work on campus now, raising awareness about the issue among the student bodies before break, and they plan to use their holiday vacation wisely - keeping in touch with students and building lists using FaceBook.  

They're likely to get a lot of help in this - particularly providing transportation costs - from Minnesota DFL.  As I said, what's at stake here is a veto-proof majority for DFL in the Senate, a powerful tool which they can use to challenge and restrain Governor Pawlenty.  

There's no precedent for a special election in Minnesota under these conditions - in student heavy districts immediately following a holiday at the height of a Presidential campaign - and turnout is anybody's guess.  It's likely that it will be small though.  This is a rural district and the January 3rd date is likely to confuse Republicans just as much as it is engineered to discourage student turnout.  So this is likely to be a base election, with both sides only turning out their most hard-core supporters.  This has an upside in that it means that high student turnout has the potential to flip the election in 2008 just as it did in 2006.  

The student organizers say that they'll have online phone banks set up in a few weeks.  Once that is up and running, I'm sure they'll appreciate all the help they can get from us in GOTVing Minnesota students in the district.  I'll have more on this as we get closer to the election.  This isn't a national race, but it's still one that we should keep an eye on.

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Clinton Campaign Gets Caught Planting Questions

As chase martyn just posed on Breaking Blue, the Clinton campaign got caught planting questions.

Chase Marytn's story here

And the original scoop from the Grinnell College newspaper below the fold.

UPDATE: Did Hillary also use plant's at YearlyKos? A commenter on DKos thinks so. This story could be bad, bad news for the Clinton campaign.

UPDATE2: The Clinton campaign has CONFIRMED that this happened. Unbeiveable. And the campaign is claiming that Hillary didn't know anything about it. 

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Students for a New American Politics PAC

Disclaimer: I am the Online Outreach Director for SNAPPAC

Students for a New American Politics
PAC is a student organization founded at Yale University in the aftermath of the 2004 election. The lesson that emerged from those disappointing results was that the only way to bring about a progressive majority would be to actively involve a new generation of voters to fundamentally change the political landscape in America. With the goal of critically engaging students in the emergence of a progressive majority, SNAPPAC began in the spring of 2005 as a politically action committee focused on providing financial assistance for students to actively work on progressive campaigns across the country. This effort not only helps cash-strapped campaigns by providing critical and talented campaign staff, but also allows students to gain the experience necessary to run future progressive campaigns.

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Launch of the Georgetown Progressive

Today, November 5th, 2007, is the launch of The Georgetown Progressive.  The Progressive is a new web-based publication written by students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  The Georgetown Progressive will be a publication providing commentary and analysis on national and campus issues alike, and will be available completely free at www.georgetownprogressive.com

Recently, the GU College Democrats have launched a campus-wide initiative called the Progressive Coalition.  The project aims to unite independent, progressive groups on campus with the common goal of engaging more students in democratic (and Democratic) activism.  The initiative is run by the College Democrats, but look below the fold to learn about the other organizations involved and what you can do to help...

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Students.BarackObama.com Rewind: Caucusing for Candy

This week the College Board reported that tuition and fees at universities across the country rose at more than double the rate of inflation. It served as yet another reminder of the importance of this campaign and its commitment to students. The first bill Senator Obama introduced, upon arriving in Washington, aimed to make college more affordable by increasing Pell Grants. Across the country, students are working tirelessly to put Barack Obama in the White House because we know he’s working tirelessly on our behalf as well.

Caucusing for Candy and Rocking for Barack

The Iowa University Students for Barack Obama chapter melded Halloween and presidential politics this week, holding a candy caucus on their campus. 150 students came out for the event. (For the record: “Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Starbursts beat out Junior Mints, the long-shot candy corn, and one-time favorite Skittles to win Monday's caucuses.”) 

Not to be outdone, students at Lewis and Clark University are getting dressed up in their Halloween costumes to watch Tuesday’s presidential debate.

In the spirit of Rock the Vote, the Middle Tennessee State University Students for Barack Obama, in conjunction with organizers from Nashville, are hosting a Barack the Vote event this Saturday. They’ve booked acts and plan to sign up volunteers and voter pledges. They are in the midst of planning two follow-up events. 


Plouffe in the Ocean State
Kim Ahern

Rhode Island Students for Barack Obama and the top fundraisers in the state of Rhode Island hosted Obama for America campaign manager David Plouffe at the Black Repertory Company this week.

The event was small enough for Plouffe to answer questions from the crowd and meet with everyone in attendance. He discussed the campaign’s current strategies and addressed the polls--- the focus on state-by-states as opposed to national.  Plouffe also emphasized the importance of students and the grassroots in this campaign and why it is so important for us here in Rhode Island to be heading north to New Hampshire.

Speaking about the various endorsements that candidates receive, he emphasized that the Obama for America movement is not about collecting on political debts. We are bringing new people into this campaign on a daily basis and they are supporting Senator Obama because he will change America for the better.

BarackStars hard at work

Too Young to Vote But Not Too Young to Be Devoted
Sierra Gladfelter

Voting age doesn’t prohibit teens from getting enthused over Barack Obama’s campaign. Even if you can’t choose his name from the ballot on Election Day, there is still a lot you can do, just ask 15-year-old Caroline Davorsky. She is a BarackStar, one of the high school activists enthusiastically spreading the word about Obama: "I talk to a lot of people,'' she explains. "My enthusiasm rubs off.''

Because of her young age, she may have more influence drumming up new supporters than any adult knocking on doors and making phone calls. Many adults assume that teens have no interest in politics, so the initial shock of coming across a teen adamantly supporting a presidential candidate catches their attention. And they just may listen.

The reason Obama, in particular, appeals so strongly to teens is his recipe of a compelling message and prominent presence online. By using student-friendly avenues such as social networks like Facebook, Obama sends ripples of enthusiasm through a sea of countless teens. For many students- of voting age or not- Obama for America has become more than a presidential campaign, but a campaign for truth, justice and morals. They have a reason to hope and a reason to dream, for in Barack Obama’s vision for this country they see the America they believe in.

Students are getting creative about devising ways to excite youth about Obama. Events range from a Battle of the Bands to cookie bake-sales. Caroline is hosting an ``Obama Day'' at her school, featuring a` `mockus'' workshop to teach students about the caucus process by nominating favorite Halloween costumes.

"We're just trying to get more kids aware about what's going on,'' she shares. "Students are a huge demographic that never really gets tapped, but a lot of people at school are talking about going out to caucus.''

In other news…

Grasping at straws in California

Obama cleans up in Western Illnois University mock election

And National Youth Vote Director Hans Riemer takes to the radio to talk about the Obama campaign and how we bring students into the political process

Counting down

Monday in Jersey

Tuesday in Boston

Friday in Columbus (and in St. Louis)

Daily updates at: Students.BarackObama.com

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