THIS IS IMPORTANT: We know that many in the Minnesota media lean strongly left and often ally with Democrats, but Republicans in this state seldom fight back for fear of even worse coverage. I will not let the media set the narrative in this campaign and I will not sit back and ignore biased coverage--we will always call the media out and set the record straight.
Recently in an exchange I had with the Star Tribune, a reporter used a partisan tweet from a national liberal tracking organization to both falsely cast a factual statement I made as denigrating Twin Cities residents AND imply that I somehow believe people in the Cities are all on welfare or engage in "drug-fueled orgies." It's easy to laugh this stuff off, but we can't just let it go unanswered. Here is what happened:
Last week at a forum in Brainerd, I made the following statement about the campaign: "We’ll do well in Greater Minnesota because we always do well in Greater Minnesota and you guys have values that match what our message is. That’s not necessarily true, at least in the inner city.” A national "progressive" organization that pays a tracker to follow me around in hopes of recording a gaffe tweeted that statement out as an example of me "attacking" everyone who lives in the Twin Cities (of whom I am one). No one paid much attention to that tired partisan tweet--except for the Star Tribune's Patrick Coolican, who found it newsworthy and stated in his daily political newsletter:
"What are the 'values' of people in the 'inner city' that are so different than people in greater Minnesota? Inform us, Commissioner Johnson."
Rather than just let this pass, I responded to Coolican that his argument that people don't "vote their values" is ridiculous, and that issues like abortion, immigration and the Second Amendment are based on differences in values and clearly separate Minneapolis from Brainerd. Coolican disagreed with me and shared the gist of our email discussion in his newsletter the next day, adding comments from a Star Tribune columnist, Lee Schafer, arguing that all of his St. Paul friends are wonderful, upstanding people. Coolican's conclusion: "Maybe Schafer and his friends are just really boring outliers and everyone else in the Twin Cities is using their welfare checks for drug-fueled orgies. That must be it." Coolican then went on to opine further at how divisive it is to state that people might have different values in the context of an election.
I suspect I'll be running a race next year against both a Democrat and many in the Minnesota media. Just know, I won't roll over for either and we will fight back against any biased coverage that comes our way.
From Star Truibune Newsletter on December 5th
"How do you win in the Twin Cities and particularly Minneapolis and St. Paul? We’ll do well in greater Minnesota because we always do well in greater Minnesota and you guys have values that match what our message is. That’s not necessarily true, at least in the inner city.”
Question: What are the "values" of people in the "inner city" that are so different than people in greater Minnesota? Inform us, Commissioner Johnson.
From Star Tribune Newsletter on December 6th
Regarding Commish Johnson, who said recently, “How do you win in the Twin Cities and particularly Minneapolis and St. Paul? We’ll do well in greater Minnesota because we always do well in greater Minnesota and you guys have values that match what our message is. That’s not necessarily true, at least in the inner city.”
I asked what values do people hold in the inner city that are so different than in the greater Minnesota. Johnson and I had an email exchange, which I've edited for space but tried to leave his argument intact:
To suggest there aren’t differences in what is generally valued in Greater MN vs. Minneapolis and St. Paul is ridiculous. The issue of abortion is an easy one. The issue of whether we enforce immigration laws is another. The issue of whether we put the freedom of individuals to live their lives over the power of government to control them is another. Just look at the voting trends – values are clearly quite different for a majority of people in (greater Minnesota) compared to a majority of people in the inner city.
I pointed out that these are public policy preferences, not "values," which are more like freedom, justice, love etc. and which the vast majority of Americans of both parties and no party hold dear. I asked him if he agrees. His response: "Of course they do, but public policy preferences are based on values, as well."
So he agrees they have the same values? "Some are the same and some are different." He then returned to the original assertion: "In general, though, you're going to find more 'conservative' values in Brainerd than in Minneapolis."
Star Tribune biz columnist Lee Schafer had his own response:
Of my friends in St. Paul….All but one still married to their original spouse. All of them with kids that have graduated high school and (so far) almost all college. All of them have maintained supportive relationships with kids (including) who have revealed themselves to be gay or, in one case, trans. All of them with longtime church membership, with one exception. All of them are philanthropic and volunteer. All of them own at least one car and a primary residence. All of them are working, although I'm fast approaching the point when friends will start retiring. All of them maintain healthy relationships with extended families. All of them vote and are engaged in the political process.
So which of these data points -- which you could say are reflections of values -- would be considered alien in greater Minnesota? Maybe Schafer and his friends are just really boring outliers and everyone else in the Twin Cities is using their welfare checks for drug-fueled orgies. That must be it.
Why am I harping on this? Think of it this way: Can you be friends with someone with whom you share political differences? Of course. Can you be friends with someone with whom you share different values? Much, much more difficult. To say a group of people have different values is often imprecise, with divisive ramifications. And as everyone knows, I just want everyone to be friends.