The results of yesterday's Primary Election in the 8th District provided further evidence that Democrats are energized and prepared to turn out in record numbers in November. Precincts in several areas of the District had to print extra ballots as voters showed up in near-record numbers for a mid-term primary election. I think this is a further indication there's a Blue Wave sweeping across America.
Last night, I called Joe Radinovich to congratulate him on his victory. Joe and I may be years apart in age, but it was clear throughout the campaign that he and I shared the same values and optimism that we can move forward together to build a better future with and for the residents of this district.
Our strong second-place finish in this race clearly is a sign that voters are looking for a new politics in America. Not with leaders who seek to distract, denigrate and divide us, but leaders who will listen more and treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Our "people's campaign" was given little chance to succeed when we first announced our intention to become the first congresswoman to represent this district in Washington. Without the aid of consultants, wealthy donors, and expensive pollsters, we charted a course that took us through almost every township and small town in the district. In coffee shops, at county fairs and in parades across the district we took our message of hope for a better tomorrow to voters who simply want a brighter future for their family. Every day of this campaign, the stories people shared with me gave me the strength and energy to carry on.
No campaign can survive without the dedication of volunteers. There are some people who I'll be thanking for years to come because of the many sacrifices they made - but, more importantly, because of the friendship we forged along the way. How do you possibly repay someone for the love they so openly shared each and every day of this campaign?
I also want to congratulate Kirsten Kennedy, Jason Metsa and Soren Sorenson for the passion they and their supporters brought to this election. Agree or disagree, I never doubted their sincerity or desire to positively represent the voters of this district.
Finally, to the voters who gave me the great honor of casting their ballot on my behalf, a simple thank you cannot adequately express how full my heart is this morning. On this day after, I begin a new chapter in my life. My husband Gary and I have some plans. For one, we found out last night we're going to be grandparents. It's true what they say: when one door closes, another opens.
So, thank you - everyone - may your days ahead be filled to the brim with happiness. I wish you all the very best. And, please, don't forget to vote on November 6. Focused on the future we will move forward together.
Once again, we’re starting to see the worst of what campaigns have become in America. We’re not immune, even here in the 8th District. Several news organizations have published stories regarding “shady money” expenditures made by Super PACs in support of various candidates throughout the country. Several thousand residents of the 8th District have witnessed this attempt by outside forces to influence the results of our congressional primary election.
People are rightly concerned about where the money is coming from, who the players are, who is funding these efforts, and even more importantly, what their true motives are.
It’s easy to be confused about which organizations contain the so-called “dark money” that most candidates for office attempt to stay away from. Most of us really don’t understand the types of expenditures and contributions that are allowed.
Our campaign was recently asked by a former DFL leader to disavow spending by Duluth for Clean Water (DFCW). Let me be very clear about this. Duluth for Clean Water cannot be compared to Progress Tomorrow, the conservative-funded PAC that has blanketed the region with large-piece mailings for one of my primary challengers. Duluth for Clean Water is a 501 (c) 4 organization based in Duluth. Its membership is made up of volunteers working towards a common goal of protecting the water resources in our region.
Let me be honest with you. Duluth for Clean Water did produce an educational guide in March/April of 2017 which was distributed to its membership. The piece of literature provided background on me and Leah Phifer; at the time we were the two candidates who were best aligned with the DFCW agenda. The total cost of that expenditure was around $400 for printing and mailing. This has all been properly reported to the federal authorities governing political expenditures.
On the other hand. Progress Tomorrow was founded in June. Here’s what the Ely Timberjay recently reported about this organization’s roots: “with reported funding from just two sources, both of them super PACs themselves. About $730,000 came from the group United Together, while the group Forward Not Back contributed $619,000. Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch is the largest single contributor to United Together, having donated $500,000 of the $1.35 million the group has reported raising this election cycle. Other major contributors include Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan Selig. Forward Not Back reported raising $1.576 million this cycle, most of it from principal owners of large Wall Street hedge and venture capital funds.”
Media reports have also indicated that just two candidates for office nationally have received any support from Progress Tomorrow, including an estimated $150,000 or more to finance the extensive, multi-piece direct mail campaign to likely DFL primary voters on behalf of Joe Radinovich.
I’ve made it very clear that I wouldn’t accept any contributions from any Corporate PACs and would disavow any spending on my behalf from shadowy organizations whose sole purpose might be to elect more conservatives to Congress. I would expect each of us running for Congress in this district to do the same as we fight to do everything we can to end Citizens United and reform our campaign laws in this country.
Let me just close with this: to consider the $400 spent to inform residents about Leah Phifer and myself “dark money” should be seen for what it is. I believe residents of this district are smart enough to distinguish between this latest effort to equate volunteers with big-money special interests. We can send them a powerful message on Tuesday that their attempt to buy our vote is not welcome here.
President Trump’s formal “Space Force” announcement Thursday has turned into yet another campaign fundraising event. Yes, solicitation letters have already gone out asking supporters to vote on a logo that will be displayed on campaign merchandise. I should point out that the President was golfing at the time
Vice President Pence was making the formal announcement.
Once again, those who support the President have been asked to put aside questions like “How much will this cost?” and “Don’t we already have people doing this?” and instead focus their attention on what the logo should be.
Already, military experts and those still serving our country are criticizing the administration’s attempt to create a sixth military branch, calling it unnecessary and a duplication of what already exists. I know the President has been fixated with the idea for months and we’ve heard supporters chanting “Space Force” at his recent campaign-style events. Let’s remember, Mr. Trump has decided he’d rather spend $12 billion on a military parade so he can salute our service men and women when we all know he received five deferments for bone spurs.
I will admit I’m surprised these Americans are willing to pay billions – or maybe trillions – for an imaginary space force but think healthcare for all is absolute madness. It wasn’t that long ago that even a Koch brothers-funded think tank found that Medicare for all would save $2 trillion in national Healthcare expenditures over 10 years.
Do you think Americans will see this “Space Force” announcement for what it really is? Just another crass attempt by our President to distract from the failings of his administration, the loss of his “best people” to indictments and criminal proceedings, the forced separation of families and court orders to return children to their parents, the cozy relationship to Russia at a time when his own national security experts warn about hacking in the midterm elections…..there’s more, I know, but you get the idea.
Let’s be honest. This administration has been all about Donald Trump and his efforts to improve his personal wealth, not about Making America Great Again. It’s been nothing more than delay, distract and divide with this administration.
We’ve seen delays in programs needed to help Americans thrive and survive. We’ve seen countless repeated efforts to distract us from the corruption within his administration. And, we’ve witnessed his campaign rallies that have encouraged such vile behavior that has been so horrendous that children shouldn’t be allowed to see it, yet alone attend.
I’m not fooled by this man and those who blindly support him. I look forward to debating Pete Stauber, to have him explain why this “Space Force” is more important than securing adequate nutrition for school children, more important than making certain college graduates and families aren’t saddled with debt that delays their investments in new homes, more important than protecting families from going bankrupt because they can’t afford to pay their medical bills.
Yes, we have a marketer-in-chief sitting in the Oval Office in the White House who thinks he’s still the star of The Apprentice. We can say to him what he used to say to people on that program. And, we can begin that effort by voting for change on Tuesday and again in November.
We’re starting to see even more impacts in Minnesota thanks in part to new tariffs China and Mexico have placed on some farm commodities in retaliation to President Trump’s tariffs on products like steel and aluminum.
Pork prices paid to farmers have fallen over $20 per animal in recent weeks, and farmers believe the price may drop another $25 per animal in the next three months. In a state where pork production is a major industry, this is troubling news for the economy. This trade war is having impacts on other sectors of the state’s ag industry as well, including corn and soybeans.
As you know, there are large segments of our 8th District that depend on a strong farm economy. Thankfully, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in farm-to-table activities, most notably in the restaurant industry. We know consumers are embracing healthy food alternatives which is transforming sustainable agriculture while helping to improve food security, generate new employment opportunities, spur rural development and economic growth, and conserve natural resources.
We need to do all we can to foster more resilient livelihoods, higher productivity and incomes for our rural small farm communities. There are notable efforts worldwide that seek to improve rural investment, strengthen farm cooperatives, public-partnerships and better coordination all with a focus on people, their livelihoods and the environment – all of which are key aspects of delivering transformative change and sustainable development within the agriculture sector.
Agriculture is the world’s biggest employer and can be critical in rural areas where the majority of poor and vulnerable populations live. Unlocking their potential is fundamental to progress. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve spent time during this campaign season visiting with our small farmers in the district. I want to learn about new techniques they’re developing to produce more quality food.
I’ve noticed their desire to engage in farming practices that do less harm to the environment than most larger “factory-style” farms owned by large companies or corporations. I’ve even learned to refer to sustainable farming as regeneration, part of the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-preserving type of agriculture that benefits the poorest farmers.
If I’m elected to represent this 8th District in Congress, I want the farmers to know I have the political will to help them with strategies and programs that will allow them to continue to expand their operations. Small farmers continue to be the world’s major food producers. Data has proven that small farmers produce a much larger proportion of food than might be expected from their limited acreage. Together, we can establish land-use practices that produce a healthy ecosystem while promoting public health and prosperity.
Vice President Mike Pence is in Duluth today holding a private fundraising event for Congressional Candidate Pete Stauber. This event is at an undisclosed location and the news media are not invited to the event.
“Money and secrecy have become the norm in politics,” said Michelle Lee, DFL candidate for Congress. “I am tired of the politics as usual and so are the voters I am talking to across the district.” Lee has been running a low budget, people-centered campaign since Congressman Rick Nolan announced his retirement in February, a few days after precinct caucuses.
“My campaign is not about raising thousands of dollars in undisclosed locations. My campaign has incorporated pop-up politics in local parks, open fundraising events advertised on social media, and touring the district in my 13 year old car,” Lee continued. “My campaign is about amplifying the voices of people across the 8th District. My Facebook video series ‘Amplify the 8th’ includes interviews with real people who struggle to pay bills, provide shelter for the homeless, to find safe, affordable daycare for their children, and maintain their family farm for another generation.”
Lee pledged to continue her people-centered campaign following victory in the August 14 primary. “I promise not to hide from the voters of the 8th District or the news media when I hold fundraising events,” she said.
“I am the greatest contrast to Pete Stauber, and give the voters of the 8th District a fresh voice from outside politics as usual,” said Lee. “My campaign is truly different. Ask any of the other DFL candidates.”
While the other four candidates were courting delegates up north and sending surrogates to the small southern and western counties, Lee was meeting face-to-face with delegates in Morrison and Mille Lacs Counties. “I had lunch in a farm to table cafe in Onamia. I do not believe this primary should be won by fighting over the people concentrated in Duluth and St. Louis County. I chose to campaign everywhere across the district,” Lee said.
“A true people’s campaign is not about large rallies, buying television ads, or securing the most donations,” said Lee. “A people’s campaign for our massive district is about meeting with a handful of voters in Menahga after attending a small Pride festival in Brainerd. The people of Cook and Lake County deserve to be heard and represented as much as the people in Duluth.”
“Money is the root of all evil and at the core of our political divide,” Lee said. “The first question I was asked by the DFL Veterans Caucus wasn’t about issues related to veterans’ healthcare, housing, mental health needs, or benefits, it was about how I was going to raise money. I’m sick of our political process being hijacked by PACS, corporations, or the funding oligarchs of the Democratic Party. It’s time to take our campaigns back from big money to connecting with each other.”
Lee, a former award-winning journalist and news anchor, is also concerned about the lack of news coverage to inform voters leading into the primary next week. “The news stories of this campaign have almost all been about fundraising and the push-poll leaked by another candidate. They wanted a politics as usual race. What a sad commentary and disservice to the people of this District. I’m doing everything I can to change the future of politics beginning on August 14.”
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I've seen this sign about mining on the Facebook pages of several people and I got to thinking about some of the things I've been talking about during my campaign in relation to job creation and diversification.
It was quite a coincidence then when I started to write this post I also saw the latest version of The Ranger which is produced by Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Here's a link to the publication: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNIRRRB/bulletins/201b7a2
In The Ranger are some success stories of companies thriving and expanding in our region. I know that's not a surprise, but every time I see these types of stories I wonder why there aren't more of them.
Here's what I know based on my travels across this 8th District. From the Brainerd area (Hwy 371) to Grand Rapids (Hwy 169) to Moose Lake (Hwy 73) to Virginia (Hwy 53) to Duluth (I -35) to the North Shore (Hwy 61)....our roadways on Friday and Sunday are filled with cars coming from or going to the Twin Cities. You know, as I do, many of the people in these cars used to live in our communities.
So.....why don't they still live here?
One of the challenges facing our district is the loss of young people. I know many college educated residents of the area find they have better job prospects in the metro area, and in many cases they’re right. But, when you look across our region, you see an area of the country with towns and cities that are ready to add new residents and new businesses.
The 8th district offers some of the best recreational areas of the entire Midwest. Every summer and most weekends, vacationers from the Twin Cities area pack up their cars and travel to the North Shore of Lake Superior, the Brainerd Lakes area, the Iron Range and the lakes areas around the Canadian border. They love our outdoor activities and the beauty in this part of the state.
We offer schools with small class sizes, state of the art medical facilities, colleges and universities, and a growing regional entrepreneur economic base. These are all things appealing to young people as they start to set down roots and begin a career and adult life.
One major advantage in our district is the housing costs which are lower than most Twin Cities housing options. Our towns and cities currently offer new local businesses - and it appears there are spots available in many places for more retail or commercial enterprises to open shop - at rental rates far below those of the Minneapolis and St. Paul market.
I think a renewed effort between the leadership of our towns and cities that reaches out to metro area businesses looking to expand might be a worthwhile endeavor if done on a more consistent basis.
Working together, we could show those businesses that opening their next expansion in one of our towns or cities has benefits far beyond what locating in a metro area can offer. The most obvious is their work force would be spared a 60-90 minute commute twice a day!
And, while we don’t have large new housing developments, we do have charming neighborhoods and rural areas where housing exists now at prices that would allow new homeowners to join the national housing rehabilitation movement and make an older home their dream home – in a dream region of the country.
I know there’s more to economic development than outreach, and more to luring business to a region than great communities and affordable homes. But when I look at the growth in our metro I wonder if people outside our district are aware of what we offer, and if they know they could live where they love to vacation.
I think it’s worth exploring; we have so much to offer in this beautiful part of the country why not look at a new way to bring jobs and business here?
If elected, I intend to be a strong advocate for new business in the 8th, scheduling regular meetings with business interests in the Twin Cities to find out exactly what it is that prevents them from relocating here. Together we can stop the exodus and reverse the migration of our young people. There are plenty of examples of successful new ventures to highlight and I intend to tell their story at every opportunity.
Michelle Lee Responds to the Fond du Lac Band Lawsuit Against Opioid Distributors
Earlier today the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa filed a civil lawsuit against opioid distributors for their role in endangering Native lives through addiction to prescription opioids.
“The opioid crisis and its devastation to our Native American communities must be addressed,” Michelle Lee said. “ Our Native American communities need additional support and resources to address this epidemic killing their members and placing their young into the foster care system. I wholeheartedly support the Fond du Lac Band in this effort to seek care, support, and justice for their members.”
The opioid crisis is affecting every community and county in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. “On Tuesday, I visited two treatment centers and an informative panel on addressing the opioid crisis at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls,” Lee said. “I learned about various approaches to treating opioid addiction, especially three different types of medication assisted therapy. I want to thank St. Gabriel’s for extending the invitation to attend their panel so I could become informed on this important topic.”
Lee continued, “At Valhalla Place in Brainerd, I learned about methadone treatment. I was told that between 30 and 40 percent of the patients on methadone come from the Native American communities. At St. Gabriel’s, I learned about the success Morrison County has had in reducing the number of opioid prescriptions and treating addiction with Suboxone.”
Lee ended her tour of treatment centers at Recovering Hope in Mora. Recovering Hope is a residential treatment center for women--many of whom are able to bring their children with them to treatment. “While touring the facility, I had the opportunity to talk with a mother who was holding her napping baby in her room, “Lee said. “The mother told me she had been at Recovering Hope for about four months and planned to stay for a couple more months.” Lee continued, “She told me she only sought treatment and went to Recovering Hope because she could have her child with her.”
The tour included a long conversation with the medical director for the clinic. Lee said, “I got a crash course in opioid receptors in the brain, how the opioids work in the brain and how the medications treat the addiction. I learned in depth about methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol and how they help patients deal with withdrawal and cravings.”
“I sincerely hope,” Lee said, “that this lawsuit brings healing and resources to the Fond du Lac Band and its members so I can attend an opioid panel lauding their successes in a couple of years.”
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When our government told us the banks were too big fail and they needed a bailout we as a nation stepped up for the common good. I’ve talked a lot during our congressional campaign about the “Generation too big to fail.”
Members of The Millennial Generation began establishing their lives in the aftermath of the stock market crash of 2008.
They know first hand the struggle to succeed in the face of stagnant wages, crushing student debt, lack of affordable healthcare and.the lack of affordable and safe daycare.
Households across the United States continue to have difficulty in providing enough food due to a lack of resources. Recent studies indicate in households with children, 16.5 percent did not have consistent access to adequate food. Families have adjusted by cutting meal size, skipping meals, or going for a day without food—because of lack of money.
Children living in food-insecure households tend to have a lower health-related quality of life and higher rates of asthma. Children living in food-insecure households are more than twice as likely to test positive for iron deficiency anemia, which has been linked to difficulties with foundational skills like language comprehension and emotional development. Food insecure students are 127% more likely to have behavioral problems at school.
Food on the table is not the only problem young families with children are facing. They’re often saddled with lack of affordable and safe daycare. It’s just one of the many challenges young mothers have talked about with me during our “People’s Campaign.”
It’s time to step up again.
Government may not have all the solutions, but these should be placed at the top of the list of the problems... we must solve together.
Our future depends on it.
By now, it’s likely you’ve seen – or at least heard about – the president’s latest rally in Tampa. The one featuring one-fingered salutes and obscenity-laced screams and shouts at the national news media. These actions were a direct result of the president repeatedly calling the news media the “enemy of the state” and “among the most disgusting individuals” he’d ever met.
I was called many things during my 30-plus year journalism career. I don’t ever recall an occasion when somebody referred to me as their enemy. They may not always have agreed with me or the stories produced by the news staff, but I know the public trusted us to deliver the day’s news without any nefarious agenda; they told us so through countless letters and their viewing patterns which made us the most trusted and watched news in the Northland.
Unfortunately, much has transpired in the news realm in the short period since I retired. While Donald Trump still occupies the Oval Office, more people now have difficulty differentiating factual news statements from opinions – Republicans are far more likely to classify a news statement as factual if it favors their side.
According to a new Pew Research study, just four in ten Americans have a lot of trust in the information provided by national news organizations. As an example, just 63 percent of Republicans believe this to be a factual statement: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States.” I simply cannot believe this is in dispute.
I have opinions about why our president allows the sort of demonstration we witnessed in Tampa to continue at each of his campaign-style events. I assure you this has not and would not happen at any event I was a participant in – I simply wouldn’t allow it.
At my campaign announcement following our 8th District convention, I signed a civility pledge promising a campaign based on respect for one another and for the positions we take on the issues. I knew I wasn’t going to agree with the campaigns of my DFL challengers or those of my Republican opponent. I did know that our campaign would be honest about our disagreements and provide our positions as clearly as possible without maligning anyone’s integrity.
Just as you have, as time has allowed I’ve followed social media postings. Sometimes, I almost wish I hadn’t. The people who occasionally manage my social media when I’m traveling or unable to quickly respond have generally allowed those with political differences to voice their opinions without any filters. It’s true we have removed some comments from those individuals who have used obscenities or have openly attacked the character and integrity of others. As I said, I simply do not want to be associated with allowing hate speech to be part of this campaign.
This does not make me anyone’s enemy, nor do I consider those who have acted in a manner I consider offensive my enemy. We simply disagree on how best to get our message across. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
People who don’t realize how important information really is need look at the Soviet Union that no longer exists. We put our future in peril when we dismantle one of our founding principles: that of a free press. It is time to begin rebuilding the supports for an era of openness and trust. The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself. We are a better society than that which we witnessed in Tampa earlier this week. We are Americans first. We put our country above our politics. At least we used to.
If you believe that truth still matters I hope you'll consider voting for me in the August 14 primary election. As Margaret Mead once said:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever does."
It’s no secret I qualify for Medicare. But, I’m healthy and haven’t had to worry about a catastrophic illness like so many Americans who find themselves without even basic healthcare coverage they can’t afford and which drives them deeper in debt.
A new research study presents some alarming facts about our millennial population. It turns out this group is accumulating healthcare debt in greater amounts than older Americans, and more frequently.
According to the study published in Health Affairs, one in six Americans have past-due healthcare bills on their credit report, a debt totaling $81 billion. Just over half of those bills are for amounts less than $600.
Medical debt is the most common financial burden in a country where healthcare spending amounts to 18 percent of our gross domestic product. The largest share of the debt is among people 27 years of age – one year after children lose their eligibility for a parent’s health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
As a consequence, we have people who use a credit card to pay a medical bill, but then have a utility bill or car payment they can’t afford. Or, they choose not to pay off the medical debt to pay other living expenses, in some cases college debt.
How long are we going to see these kinds of studies before we do something to find ways to make health insurance more affordable...or free for everyone? And, when are we going to stop cutting resources for research that confronts chronic illness which is linked to a majority of healthcare spending?
Medical debts can haunt a person for years. Try getting a loan for a home mortgage or car loan when there’s a past due payment flag on your credit report. I’ve heard people’s stories about medical and healthcare coverage throughout the district, people who wonder why we can’t join the rest of the world in providing universal coverage.
It’s the number one issue of the district and my campaign. My Republican opponent supports his party’s efforts to cut Medicare and Social Security. We need to ask Pete Stauber why he chooses more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of those who depend on these programs to stay alive. Why does he oppose efforts to modernize our healthcare system to insure every last one of us has the right to access high quality, affordable care?
I look forward to the remaining days of this campaign and I promise you I’ll continue to fight for universal healthcare coverage now and when you send me to Washington – I hope I’ve earned your support and vote in the August 14 primary so I can challenge Pete Stauber directly on his opposition to healthcare for all Americans.