Daley and Carlson pushing hard in Senate District 51
The 95- degree heat lent credence to the idea the Senate District 51 race is one of the
hottest in the suburbs.
Republican Sen. Ted Daley, placing his blue and white campaign signs in the windows of his parked car, was door-knocking a neighborhood not far off Cliff Road in Eagan on a hot afternoon.
Daley is pitted against former Sen. Jim Carlson in a Dakota County rematch.
The temperature had hit the 90s and a warm wind blew the afternoon Daley was afoot.
But Daley, 46, has worn heavier clothing than a sports shirt and slacks in hot places.
Try body armor.
“If there was a breeze, it felt like you’re in an oven,” said Daley, a West Point graduate who saw action in Iraq as a member of the 101st Airborne Division.
Daley is the latest Republican to hold the end of the rope in the tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats over the bellwether Senate seat.
Daley defeated Democratic Sen. Jim Carlson two years ago by winning about 52 percent of the vote. Carlson, in 2006, defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Mike McGinn by winning about 54 percent.
McGinn had taken the seat four years earlier in a thin, automatic-recount win over incumbent Democratic Sen. Deanna Wiener.
Redistricting judges, in shaping Senate District 51, barely altered old district lines.
A few Burnsville precincts were added.
Asked whether the current race was a rematch, given Carlson is trying win back his seat, given the lack of boundary change, Daley said, “absolutely.”
Door-knocking is both art and science, and Daley was exhibiting both on the hot afternoon.
On a clipboard, which has doubled as a shield against aggressive dogs, Daley recorded his progress, jotting “SH” for shook hands at the door.
If no one was home, he wrote a brief note.
“It’s very meaningful. And it’s very memorable (for voters),” he said of having a candidate visit the door.
Daley, campaigning harder, smarter, more smoothly than two years ago, he said, hit every door.
An Obama bumper sticker is no deterrent to a visit, he explained.
“If I see them in the yard, I’ll go shake their hands,” he said of likely Democrats.
“I’m hear to listen,” Daley said.
Among Daley lit pieces is a card listing personal traits — married with four children, St. John Neumann Church, 10-year Eagan resident, Cubmaster for Pack 446, MBA — that unfailingly connects with Eagan and Burnsville voters, he said.
“This is where my son use to take piano lessons,” Daley said, walking up to one home.
In talking to voters, Daley, as a Senate Republican, takes “some” credit for the recent rebound to surplus in the state budget. But he doesn’t dispute Democrats’ claims that long-term the state budget faces deficit.
Both sides are correct, he said.
While saying the outcome of the race could pivot on a number things, Daley points to health care as a clear contrast between the candidates.
“I think that’s definitely not the way to go,” he said of the Affordable Care Act or so-called Obamacare, arguing the future of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, headquartered in the district, could be jeopardized.
“Yes, we do need to improve (health care) and reduce costs. And that’s what I’m supportive of,” Daley said.
But Daley stresses the private sector.
His focus has been the economy and private sector job growth, Daley explained.
Simplify tax code, make sure everyone is paying, consider tax cuts — these are things the state can do foster job growth, Daley explained.
“Are we getting everything out what we can?” he said of more efficient government.
“I think we can do better,” Daley said.
Ideally, a K-12 budget shift would not have been used in balancing the state budget, Daley explained. But school officials tell him they would take a budget shift to a budget cut any day, Daley said.
Daley, who grew up in Preston, Minn., currently serves in the Army Reserve. While serving in Iraq, in contemplating his future, he concluded his leadership skills and personal interests lent themselves to public service and business.
But for now, his CPA work has been set aside.
“I’m all in,” Daley said of campaigning.
Carlson has been active, too.
A recent Saturday had campaign volunteers picking up literature at Carlson’s home in Eagan. The Carlson family has lived at the location long enough so that only part of a sign tacked onto a tree when they first moved in is visible, the rest buried in the tree trunk.
A retired mechanical engineer, Carlson, 65, essentially grew in the same location as much of the surrounding neighborhood was part of a 120-acre farm the family once owned.
In driving through he neighborhood, Carlson points to where the old barn was, a walnut his mother planted, recalls waterskiing on nearby Carlson Lake.
“It takes a family to get Jim a job,” he joked of family involvement in his campaign.
Carlson’s diagnosis of the critical factor in the race is straightforward.
“Turnout,” he said.
“Turn out will make the difference,” Carlson said.
Working in tandem with Democratic House candidate Sandra Masin and a handful of
volunteers, Carlson spent several hours selectively door knocking at the Royal Oaks Apartments on Federal Drive.
Management required everyone to furnish a Photo ID to get in.
Carlson, in talking to a voter earlier in the day, said there were 1,758 fewer registered voters in the district in 2010 than in 2008.
“What happened is we didn’t maintain our voter registration,” he said.
Tapping into public data, the campaign has the names and addresses of likely unregistered voters — in Royal Oaks Apartments the data proved accurate.
But in several cases, unregistered voters were unregistered because they weren’t U.S. Citizens.
But Carlson chatted with these families, telling Indian nationals about visiting Bangalore.
He peeled off “Carlson for Senate” stickers for the children.
These newcomers may become citizens and vote one day, Carlson explained.
And almost certainly, they know people who do vote, he said.
Anyway, to him, representing his political ideals is more important than winning, Carlson said.
Apartment buildings are not necessarily Democratic treasure troves, but can be important, he indicated.
The Carlson campaign is eyeing Precinct 5 in Burnsville.
“It’s going to be a sweet spot, because it’s so apartment heavy,” Carlson said.
Carlson made the decision to run again almost immediately after losing the election, after a brief “cool down” period, he said.
“Sure. I love the attention. Anybody would,” Carlson said of running in a closely watched race.
“I can’t say I’m worried about that. I think each race is different,” he said.
Although Carlson is less scripted in door knocking than other candidates, he defines himself.
In talking with one like-minded Eagan resident, Carlson indicated Republicans apply the job-creation equation in reverse.
“Job creators are the ones who are wealthy and ones who get all the tax cut and credits and everything, that has to be debunked,” Carlson said.
“(A) job creator is you buying a service or goods from somebody,” he said.
Carlson detailed his opposition to the proposed Photo ID amendment.
“That’s gotta go,” Carlson said.
Carlson traced the origins of Photo ID to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of lawmakers and business leaders with the avowed aim of advancing the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government. public-private partnerships.
“This is where all those right-wing bills come from,” he said.
Carlson depicts Daley as attempting to rewrite his legislative history in regard to education — schools are very important to voters in the district.
He accused Daley of pitting Education Minnesota, the teachers union, against district voters.
“A lot of residents don’t like it,” Carlson said.
Personally, Carlson said, he had liked Daley.
Indeed, in 2009, as part of CPA lobbying effort, Daley had visited his senate office, Carlson explained.
“He was gentlemanly,” Carlson said.
Carlson mentioned his business ties, and told Daley that if he became aware of job opportunities, he would pass on the information.
“He wanted me to help him get a job. I didn’t realize it was mine,” Carlson quipped in response to a reporter’s question.
Daley doesn’t recall ever speaking to Carlson about jobs.
He remembers visiting Carlson’s office along with another area resident on CPA lobbying day.
Carlson was their state senator, after all, Daley explained,
But Daley recalls no discussions about Carlson helping him find work.