Party Poopers

It's Candidates vs. delegates: Who's milking who in the DFL endorsement process?

WHEN LONGTIME DFL stalwart and candidate for governor Mark Dayton announced last week that he was bypassing the party's endorsement convention because to do otherwise "would require losing my political soul," party regulars dismissed it as the desperate gambit of a sore loser. But they can't execute a similar spin on the party's 1994 gubernatorial candidate John Marty, a loyalist who voiced harsh concerns about the process in a recent chat with CP.

"Even four years ago, the benefits of the endorsement were not equal to the costs," Marty says, adding that he spent more than 12 of the 17 months of his campaign seeking the nomination, "and in exchange I was given the opportunity to buy DFL services." He says his supporters were expected to contribute soft money to party coffers along with funding his campaign, and that his name was dropped from crucial "persuasion calling" phone banks late in the race because he was behind on his bills (money he eventually paid) to the party. As for the horse-trading aspect of the process, Marty says, "I frequently heard rumors of [rival candidates] telling delegates, 'You'd be an awfully fine commissioner,'" in an effort to gain their support. While emphasizing that most delegates are committed to more honorable goals, Marty reveals that he was approached by "a guy who said, 'I've got three delegates who will support you if you listen to us,' on some housing issue. I said, 'I listen to everybody,' and he said, 'No, if you really listen to this guy, you've got three delegates.' But that was the only time something like that happened."

In fact, despite his many misgivings about the endorsing process, Marty still prefers it to a simple primary, where he claims "money is much more of a factor. All of the clout is in 30-second sound bites." Then again, as he notes, "This year, it looks like the endorsement isn't going to knock anybody out of the race."

I LOVE WHAT YOU DO FOR ME

BILL GATES'S FORAY into online content production, including Twin Cities Sidewalk, is based on the assumption that an integration of editorial content and interactive advertising will eventually turn a profit. Apparently, his minions are still a long way from mastering the strategy. Tuesday morning, Microsoft's cooperative news site, MSNBC, featured stories on the death of Princess Diana and graphic crash photos. Right above the headline was a banner ad for Toyota featuring an unintentionally macabre slogan: "Feeling trapped inside your old car? Escape here. Toyota." Someone caught the faux pas before morning tea time. Someone else was no doubt out the door before lunch.

DIM BULB

TODD RAPP, FORMER aide to House Speaker Phil Carruthers (DFL-Brooklyn Park), this week starts work at Northern States Power managing state-government relations. Recently, Rapp stirred controversy at the Legislature when it was rumored that he would be taking the NSP position shortly after attending a legislative junket to California to study energy deregulation. At the time, Rapp said he was planning to take a month off before deciding where he would land. He stayed home after Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) and Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) pointed out the conflict posed by Rapp's taking both the trip and the NSP job.

"It must have been a wonderfully lucky guess," Marty quips of his prediction, adding that it'd be disappointing if Rapp took the job at NSP last month but didn't announce it because it would look bad. "If the goal was to take a month's break, then say I'm going to take a long break and then go work for NSP," Marty says. "If this was an attempt to minimize criticism for the revolving door, they have consequently shown that it is a concern."

PARENT TRAP II

A Head Start teacher and union organizer fired last March may soon return to the classroom. Following his dismissal, Jan Radder ("Parent Trap," CP 7/9/97) contacted the National Labor Relations Board, which then filed a complaint against Parents In Community Action (PICA), the nonprofit that runs Head Start in Hennepin County. In addition to the allegedly retaliatory firing of Radder and another teacher, NLRB Regional Director Ron Sharp says there's evidence that PICA engaged in a campaign of "interference, restraints, and coercion." The NLRB in Washington has given its local office the go-ahead to order PICA to reinstate Radder and to put things on hold at the agency until the case can be heard. No date has been set yet for the hearing.

 
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