Back in 2007, potential candidates started lining up in Southern Minnesota to run against then-freshman representative Tim Walz. By 2008, FDL/Mercury Rising blogger Phoenix Woman soon identified this as "The Clown Car" Syndrome, a strategy the MNGOP appears to be repeating in the First.
Given the anemic fundraising by the candidates running against Walz, it's more of a kiddies' party than three-ring circus.
The Republican Party seems to be taking the clown car on the road to Minnesota 's Seventh Congressional District, a seat now held powerful House Agriculture Chair and Blue Dog Collin Peterson. While progressives across the country are dismayed by Peterson's voting record, he remains quite popular in the sprawling rural district.
Four potential candidates have hitched a ride.
There's Willmar businessman Lee Byberg. Late last fall, Byberg was struck by a wandering muse:
During the fall of 2009, I surprised my three boys by becoming a song writer. The idea was to use culture and music as a tool to communicate principles that elevate liberty, prosperity and responsibility in America. I wrote over a dozen songs, converted our little cabin on Eagle Lake to a temporary studio and then brought in talented friends from our community to bring this music to you.
While this music project was a new experience for me, it is an example of the power of the "American can do" attitude, and the liberty we enjoy in this country. . . .
. . .The net income from the sales of this music is dedicated largely to funding of my campaign for U.S. Congress in our Minnesota District 7. It is my hope that this music will bless your heart and renew your appreciation for liberty. This music is dedicated as my defense and appreciation of the America our Founding Fathers left for our care. . .
The candidate doesn't provide any audio clips that I could find, but does provide a handy pdf of his lyrics. While the content of his verse is populated by the standard eagles and apple pies, there's this, from the song "Butterfly Freedom":
While the butterfly struggles
to break through its cocoon
it grows strong and bright
flies through meadow lanes
Please don’t rob nature’s call
Allow my growth as it comes
Pursuit of happiness is all I ask
Butterfly freedom is my hope
Pursuit of happiness is all I ask
Butterfly freedom is my hope
And this, from "Multi-Energerial":
We are multi-energerial, let it be
From sun to terrestrial energy
From fossil to blowing wind
All other forms in between
Worthy of life, our legacy
We are multi-energerial
We are multi-energerial, we are for life...
Once upon a time in my twenties, I worked as a reference assistant at The Library Company of Philadelphia, which is the library Ben Franklin founded in 1731 and used as for reference by the First and Second Continental Congresses, as well the Constitutional Convention. I don't recall old Ben collecting anything like that.
Later, at the Ozark Famous Writers School, I studied poesy prosody with a poet who produced a daughter who has been called "America's best songwriter." That time in the backwoods literary utopia provides the authority to write this sentence with regard to Byberg's muse: George Saintsbury would spin in his grave if he were buried in Minnesota's Seventh Congressional District.
It is to Peterson's credit that his late congresscritters' country-
Byberg's political ideas mirror his open verse: a gauze of standard prose about liberty and fears of European social democratic style government festering inside these United States now that Democrats are back in power. The practical and pragmatic Peterson should have no difficulty dispatching Byberg if he is endorsed.
Nor will Glen Menze, twice defeated by Peterson, pose a problem. Outstate Politics looks at the candidate's clown car logic in Bachmann Encouraged Menze To Run…:
Menze makes the claim that none other than Michele Bachmann herself recruited him to run against Collin Peterson going so far as to “insist” that he post this particular image. Yet, the best part isn’t that Bachmann apparently helped to convince Menze to lose to Peterson once again in 2010. The absolute best part is the rationale for running again. Check it out, that highlighted line down there at the bottom of the screenshot…Yes, you read that right! The guy who received 27% of the vote in 2008 and 30% of the vote in 2000 describes himself as “electable“. Why is he electable you might ask? Because he was able to get 27% of 7th District residents to vote for him, that’s why
The Seventh CD Republicans' web site includes two new challengers: Melva Larson and Dr. Karen Nelson. Neither appears to have a web site. Like Byberg, Larson frets about Obama and those pesky socialists (though I have a difficult time cataloging Peterson in the socialist section. Her announcement on the party web site notes her qualifications:
I currently reside in Bagley Minnesota and work at the JC Penney store in Bemidji. I recently returned to the Bagley area, where I grew up, after working for ten years in the retail industry in Washington DC. Prior to moving to Washington DC, I served as a Beltrami County Commissioner and after completing my term, relocated to St. Paul where I worked as a legislative relations director for the Carlson administration. I worked for the Carlson administration in both the St. Paul and Washington DC offices.
Not exactly an even trade in exchange with Peterson for the district's voters. Nelson, on the other hand, has served on the Spicer-New London School Board:
I have the background and experience necessary to provide excellent representation for the Seventh District. As a physician, I have been trained to listen, evaluate, and solve problems. As a school board official, I learned to balance budgets, negotiate with unions, evaluate contracts, formulate policies, work with legislators and lobbyists, and develop leadership skills while serving as chairperson.
Another possible occupant? 2008 Republican primary challenger and convicted felon Alan Roebke.
Meanwhile, Peterson played host to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Home Grown Economy in Marshall, the Independent reports in Making 'locally grown' work.
Earlier, Peterson met with sugar beet farmers in the Ada area, a Fargo-Moorhead television station reported in Congressman Collin Peterson says work on the farm bill to start early:
Sugar beet farmers say opening the current farm bill is scary, but say they have no reason not to trust Congressman Peterson. He's always been open and involved with them. This is the eleventh straight year he's held open farm meetings in Ada."
"He's really proactive on this. This is a farm meeting, mostly farmers in there with farm issues on their mind, that's why he's the Chairman of the House Ag. He does a nice job."
"He's got more sugar beets in his district than any other district in the United States and he really understands sugar and knows what's good for us as sugar producers."
Farmers say a lot of outside people or company's try to sway the bill for their favor, but it feels good to express their concerns first hand with a person in charge.
Images: Clown car or official RPM parade car? (above); George Saintsbury (middle); Collin Peterson, scouting for opposition? (below)