Anita Seeling is a soft spoken Eden Prairie mother. Over the phone, she laughingly warns of the threat of her dog's interrupting bark.
Hers is a voice of mild-mannered politeness. But on the Internet she's a lion.
For roughly four years, the lawyer-by-day has moonlighted as an online political warrior, fighting for the left. Or at least talking smack about Republicans via her Facebook page "Do not make me get all 'Julia Sugarbaker' on you." Her social media persona tells Mike "Fuckabee" he needs to "shut the hell up" and calls Franklin Graham a "douche" for boycotting Wells Fargo over an ad featuring a lesbian couple.
Her latest target is Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. This week Seeling embarked on a mission to oust Bakk from his majority leader role, launching a Facebook page titled "Just say NO to Bakk & his shenanigans" (h/t @fluencemedia).
Those "shenanigans" include pushing for the so-called "garage-mahal," a controversial $7.2 million underground parking garage with only 30 spaces at the State Capitol, and being soft on environmental issues, she says.
But what drove Seeling to her "mad as hell and I can't take it anymore moment" was Bakk's brokerage of a late-night deal with Republicans that gutted the state auditor's office. The amendment, which emerged in the waning hours of the regular session, allows all counties to hire private auditing firms instead of State Auditor Rebecca Otto.
"I'm a progressive Democrat," says Seeling, who worked for Team Franken during the 2008 election recount. "So it didn't make sense to me why this guy has been kept in power when he's clearly championing the interest of the Republicans. You don't need to be aligning yourself with them. You're supposed to be our guy. That's why this, it was just the straw that broke the camel's back."
At last count, her days-old Facebook page had a meager 111 likes, compared to 2,400 for her older GOP-trolling page. But she's not the only DFL voter calling for Bakk to resign from leadership. Liberal blogger Steve Timmer started an online petition asking Bakk to remove his majority leader crown.
Timmer's petition, written as an open letter to Bakk, also cites the outsourcing of the state auditor's job, calling it political retaliation against Otto.
"The amendment was a singular act of retribution for DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto's Executive Committee vote against issuing 31 nonferrous mineral leases in northeastern Minnesota," the petition states. "Rather than standing for good and transparent government, you've pursued a vendetta against a statewide elected official from your own party, the party you represent as leader in the Minnesota Senate."
While Bakk refuted such allegations in an interview with the Star Tribune, the senator has a reputation for being a business-friendly DFLer. His Iron Range district routinely faces clashes between the mining industry and environmentalists.
Timmer was initially happy about Bakk becoming majority leader. But the retired lawyer says the rift between Bakk and Dayton exposed during this session triggered a change of heart.
"It seems like there is almost a Senate leadership in house against the DFL caucus and the governor," he says. "It troubles me a lot, especially when one of the key figures we're talking about is the Senate majority leader."
Nevertheless, the Edina man is realistic about the outcome of his strongly worded petition, which by Thursday morning had 288 supporters.
"It certainly won't persuade Sen. Bakk to resign himself. I have no allusions of that," Timmer says. "But perhaps it will cause some people, I hope even some people in the Senate, to say 'You know, you've got a point there. This is not the way we should run the railroad.'"
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