"Bottom line? Last night was more of a conversation than a debate. It was Minnesota nice all the way around, including the moderators. Did I learn anything new last night? Not really. I did however, give the chance to turn on MPR. Not a first for me, but a rare event indeed."
How did it go last night? You know - debate number one between the two nominees? First off, you have two gentlemen who have spent the better part of their lives in Minnesota. That's right - the "nice bug" has bitten both of them. They also know each other (sort of). So the hard hitting jabs? The mocking? The insults? Never showed up last night.
Neither one of these men are what some might call "flashy". I have been with Jeff Johnson now for four years, and my opinion of him has never changed. Rather than being like a new car salesman, full of hot air and sometimes empty promises, Jeff is like the mechanic. He knows how to diagnose problems, and then how to fix them. Plus (and this is a big one) - most folks are wary of used car salesmen, but a good mechanic - that person is trusted.
Tim Walz again pushed for a new gas tax. "Ours has not been raised for years, and our roads and bridges need work." Jeff agreed our roads needed work, but disagreed the money to do so would need to come from more taxation. We spend way too much of our transportation dollars on trains and bike trails.
This is going to be a festering issue as we get closer to the election. Mr. Walz might want to be a bit careful on this one. As a Hennepin County Commissioner, Jeff understands the transportation funding issue quite well. Jeff could bury Tim in a blizzard of well substantiated facts.
Income taxes was an interesting spar. Tim did not like Jeff's pledge to fix our taxes by getting them rightsized (reduced). Tim would rather keep the idea of taxation "open". For those who do not understand Democrat speak, that means Tim would be open to more taxes. We might need more money to "fully fund" education and healthcare.
Jeff on the other hand, thinks we are already taxed way too much. He wants our taxes reduced, so our lowest tax rate does not outstrip the highest tax rate in about half the states. Dayton's almost 10% rate on our highest earners really cemented us being a high SALT state. Jeff believes that needs to be fixed - pronto. Tim is not concerned in the least about it.
Anyhow, there were some areas of agreement. Mining, pipelines and fixing the entropy in our legislature. This is the result when you have a DFL nominee who is more of a conservative Democrat than a socialist, progressive, nut ball. Jeff on the other hand, is an old fashioned conservative. Not a "bomb thrower", let's burn it all down, fire brand. Nope - just a nuts and bolts conservative. Why do I paint these two men this way? Because anyone who is waiting for the sparks to fly in subsequent debates might be disappointed. I believe most of them will look quite a bit like last night.
Bottom line? Last night was more of a conversation than a debate. It was Minnesota nice all the way around, including the moderators. Did I learn anything new last night? Not really. I did however, get the chance to turn on MPR. Not a first for me, but a rare event indeed.