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Klobuchar Event: Live Blogging

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12:05 pm. Senator Klobuchar opened to a very warm reception. She began by summarizing her achievements in the Senate - being a Junior Whip, passing the Iraq War Resolution, and fighting for ethics reform. Klobuchar has the crowd in the aisles with some colorful personal stories - ranging from her wedding reception, why Minnesotans eat thousand island dressing, and raising her daughter in a 1,000 square foot apartment in D.C.

Klobuchar is serving on four committees in the Senate, including the Committee on the Environment -- hence a good starting point for today's speech...

12:12 pm.
Klobuchar lauded the appearance of Al Gore before the U.S. Senate a few weeks ago on global warming. She was pleased with the fact that the debate on the environment has shifted from whether or not it exists to thinking about actual solutions. An overwhelming number of Americans - an average of approximately 70 percent in the upper midwest - do in fact believe global warming is a reality.

Klobuchar cited several studies that already indicate the effects of global warming -- eroding coastlines due to higher sea levels etc.

As a side note, Klobuchar has a fairly sympathetic audience on the environment on global warming in her Minnesota constituency. When faced with the choice of lowering taxes or protecting the environment, a 2001 Minnesota Poll found those wishing to protecting the state's rivers, lakes, and forests should be given the priority by nearly a 4 to 1 margin (75 to 20 percent).

Klobuchar referred to anecdotal effects of global warming on average Minnesotans - such as ice fisherman who have told her it takes the ice to freeze a lot longer now than in the past. A slide of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon looking particularly grumpy (from Grumpy Old Men) got a very strong laugh from the crowd...

12:25 pm. Klobuchar shifted her focus to energy policy - which is, of course, closely tied to environmental policy. The Senator believes the issue of renewable energy isn't a democratic issue, but a bipartisan issue -- citing legislation passed overwhelmingly by the MN House, Senate, and signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty in his first term.

Klobuchar then proceeded to list a litany of solutions in energy and environmental policy. The Senator's speech at this point is fluid, if a bit dry and rehearsed. She is not displaying the sort of talents in oratory that made her the top prosecutor in Hennepin County for eight years. One might wonder if she would be more impassioned if she were prosecuting the white collar criminals who violate state environmental laws, as opposed to her new role in proposing and writing the laws under which violators might be prosecuted in the future. Trying to sell such complicated policy proposals in a public forum is perhaps a bit more challenging than convincing a jury that someone committed a crime. Under the latter scenario, she doesn't have to persuade the jurors to actually care about the policy behind the law - only that the defendant broke the law...

12:37 pm. The targets of Klobuchar's environmental and energy reforms are wide-ranging -- "We don't need a silver bullet, we need silver buckshot."

Klobuchar says we all have a role to be "carbon busters" -- at which point a slide of an animated Carbon Buster superhero got the attention of the crowd. It is unclear if Carbon Buster will do for the environment now in raising awareness what Mr. Yuk did for poison warnings for children a generation ago.

Klobuchar's speech lasted approximately 35 minutes, and then opened up the floor to questions...

12:44 pm. Dr. Larry Jacobs, Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, took a seat with Senator Klobuchar at the front of the stage to get the ball rolling for the Q & A session. One pointed question he posed was about the politics of environmental and energy policy. Jacobs correctly pointed out several states (West Virginia, Michigan) who would be adversely affected by some of these policy changes and asked the Senator how members of Congress that represent those areas would react to these changes, including Democratic colleagues (e.g. Senator Byrd).

Klobuchar, naturally, did not admonish the policy views of any particular members on the Hill (though she did take a few shots earlier in her speech at the senior Senator from Oklahoma - a notorious skeptic about the existence of climate change as well as man's role in impacting that change if it was indeed occuring). Klobuchar stuck to her view that Congress needs to look at the costs and benefits and, once this is done, positive changes in environmental and energy policy will have bipartisan support...

12:55 pm. When one audience member challenged the notion that temperatures were rising significantly, Klobuchar nearly jumped out her seat with excitement, proclaiming, "I'm ready for that question!" At which point she pointed out the context that although global temperatures have only increased 1 degree during the past century, she maintains this is a significant amount, because the earth's temperature has only increased 5 degrees since the Ice Age. Klobuchar cited an EPA study which projected the temperature would actually rise between 3 and 8 degrees by the end of the 21st Century. Smart Politics was not able to fact check those numbers during the speech.

When asked about the role of overpopulation on the impact of the environment, Klobuchar thought it was more about what people do to the environment rather than the number of people on the planet. Perhaps the Senator regretted this initial cautionary statement about overpopulation - considering the explosion of the earth's population in the last half century - as she later added that the United States should, in fact, help out developing countries in regards to overpopulation - including educating about birth control.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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