by Dave Mindeman
Well, sorry, but I have to venture into the CD2 race once again. We are getting some sketchy accusations from some of the Erdmann supporters – and I think it needs serious clarification.
First of all, I would like to indicate that Angie Craig and I have had some candid and frank discussions about her time with St. Jude and how it affected her health care policy. We disagreed in the early part of her campaign – if you check my past posts, I have been a kind of “voice in the wilderness” about being against the move to repeal the Medical Device tax. Obviously, St. Jude was in favor of that repeal and Angie Craig supported it as well. I pointed out that undermining any funding portion of the ACA would cause future problems and Angie at least listened to my case.
I never made much headway in that argument because the entire MN Congressional delegation -both Democrats and Republicans- supported the repeal. Angie, therefore, represented a MN majority opinion. And in the end, she and I settled on an “agree to disagree” finalization. She did carefully listen to my argument and we still talk about it from time to time.
So, let’s talk about articles recently circulating that criticize Angie Craig for her St. Jude involvement and on her 2016 campaign.
There is this Daily Kos “diary” that has this headline: MN-2: New Revelations That Dem Candidate Angie Craig Worked To Undermine The ACA in 2012.
Boy, talk about a misleading introduction. As a person who has discussed this topic directly with Angie Craig, I can assure you that this is absolutely false. The St. Jude argument was strictly focused on the Medical Device Tax. The company fully supported the ACA itself. In fact, St. Jude and competitor Medtronic, benefited heavily from the ACA. Profits have soared. The idea that St. Jude or Angie Craig were trying to undercut the ACA are just ridiculous. Craig and I never had an argument about the law itself – it was always about the Med Device tax.
Then there is this notion that because Angie Craig was involved with the St. Jude Political PAC, she was pushing money toward the Republicans. If you look at her involvement tenure, you will notice that while she was there, the PAC began to give Democrats much more money than it did before. The goal was the same – influence toward the repeal of the device tax – but Democratic voices were targeted as well. After Craig left St. Jude, the PAC again, started to revert back to its Republican centric giving.
This is public record. Look it up.
In the KOS article, there is this characterization of 2016:
Unfortunately, despite outspending Lewis by several million and blanketing the airwaves with negative ads about his reprehensible statements, Craig lost by 2 points in a devastating upset. She received identical support to Mike Obermueller in 2012 despite spending over $4 million more than his campaign. And she actually drew fewer votes than the largely unknown state house and senate candidates, which is almost unheard of, especially for a candidate as well-funded as Craig. A third party candidate also drew 8% of the vote.
Obviously, the person writing this article knows nothing about the nature and demographics of the 2nd. Craig lost by 2 points. That is the closest anyone has EVER come to winning this seat since Bill Luther lost it to John Kline in 2002. We have tried every type of candidate – a war veteran, a labor union person, a legislative rep woman – every type of candidate but they lacked one crucial thing – money to compete.
This KOS article shares its disdain for the money aspect of campaigning. I have that opinion as well. However, it cannot be ignored. Angie Craig spent that money (much of it her own) to build something that other CD2 Democratic candidates have always lacked – name recognition. Jason Lewis did not need to do that – he was a well known radio talk show host. He had his own megaphone. And despite a heavy Trump support turnout in the southern part of the district – she lost by that 2%. Every indicator prior to that Democratic collapse in the final days of 2016, had Craig winning.
Going into 2018, Angie Craig still has that name recognition. She is not going to self fund this time (because she is comfortable financially, doesn’t mean she is crazy enough to bankrupt herself) and she will use the contacts she has built up over time in the district to garner support.
So what about Erdmann? I have been active in this district for 20 years and I have never seen Erdmann at any event or meeting or fundraiser. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been out there – but you would think that I would have run across him somewhere. He popped up suddenly this year with “all the answers”.
Now the KOS article gives us this account:
Jeff Erdmann thinks he knows why Craig lost. He was a volunteer for her in 2016, phone banking and going door to door. That spring, a voter asked him a question about Craig’s position on an issue that he couldn’t answer, so when Craig held a Q&A with the volunteers, he asked her if it was OK to direct voters to the website for an answer. “No, not really,” Erdmann recalled her saying, “because we haven’t developed our website yet because we don’t want the Republicans to know where we stand, and we haven’t seen end-of-summer polling yet.”
That clearly doesn’t sound like something Craig would say – but Erdmann says he was there. Angie Craig worked hard to direct people to the website; she needed people to find out about her. Maybe they were revamping some policy or there was a misunderstanding about what was meant. But even given that, was that supposed to be some kind of indication about why she lost?
Erdmann has taken positions to the left of Craig. I do not question that what he is saying is progressive and has merit. But elections are not about being right on the issues. Elections are about getting 50% plus one at the ballot box. Jeff Erdmann has no experience. No money to build any name recognition. And no past party affiliations. And yet, he wants us to believe that he can defeat a now incumbent Congressman.
I know Angie Craig. I have disagreed with Angie Craig. I am confident that Angie Craig knows what she is doing.
The demographics are better for Craig now. The Trump support in the south has wavered some – not much, but Craig doesn’t need much. The suburbs are on fire to vote. Jason Lewis has a record. The Democrats have the advantage this time.
Nothing is ever certain. And that is why we need to have our best candidate on the ballot. A candidate who is already tested….built some name recognition….and has built party support.
Even though we have had our difference, I firmly believe that Angie Craig is that best candidate.