MN-08: Chip Cravaack’s False and Misleading Ad Reflects A Bad Case Of Steelworker Envy

Rep Chip Cravaack lost the coveted United Steelworkers endorsement to former Congressman Rick Nolan last month, prompting a whiny temper tantrum that echoed across the Iron Range. Cravaack’s jealousy over Nolan’s big endorsement has now morphed into a serious case of steelworker envy with the airing of a desperately deceptive mining ad purporting to be filmed on the Iron Range.

The ad titled “Good Man” features two Iron Rangers discussing mining and Cravaack visiting with workers. The release that accompanied the ad reads:

A strong and vibrant mining industry is key to creating good-paying jobs for Minnesota workers and their families…. I am thankful for the support of so many former and current miners throughout this far-reaching district,” said Chip Cravaack

To say this ad offers no credible evidence of support from Iron Range steelworkers is an understatement. Consider the following:

1. It was shot at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Training Facility in Hinckley, not at a mine on the Iron Range

2. The retired miner is not a member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), and the active miner is viewed as a renegade who once tried to sue the USW for not advocating enough for workers, and reportedly threatened to run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

3. Cravaack is shown with 49ers, not steelworkers

Talk about compensating for one’s shortcomings!

Cravaack is trying to parlay a very misguided endorsement from the 49ers into an implied endorsement from SOAR and USW, both of which have endorsed Nolan. And how arrogantly insulting that Cravaack thinks Rangers won’t notice. Packsacker Chip Cravaack may not know the difference between steelworkers and 49ers, or between Hibbing and Hinckley, but Rangers sure do.

This deliberately misleading ad is devoid of all credibility and is just the latest of many desperate attempts by Cravaack to deceive voters into believing he has support of Range steelworkers.

Only an outsider or one truly clueless would think this ad is going to be effective with its target audience. Insulting the intelligence of voters from across the Iron Range is not a winning strategy, something Chip Cravaack would know if he were actually a Minnesotan.

MN-08: Cravaack Campaign Crying Crocodile Tears Over Nolan Ads

“He doesn’t even live here”

Former Congressman Rick Nolan and an Iron Range steelworker uttered those simple words about Chip Cravaack in recent tv ads and in doing so triggered what can only be described as a tantrum en masse from supporters of Cravaack. And the Cravaack campaign immediately began whining about that statement being “an outright lie”, firing off indignant letters to media outlets demanding the ads be pulled.

Their indignation absolutely reeks of crocodile tears.

Two years ago, that very same statement was not only directed at Rep Jim Oberstar, but was a central theme in Chip Cravaack’s campaign against the Iron Range native. And Chip even argued the test of where one lives is where their kids go to school. Here’s Chip in an interview making those points:

And unlike Nolan and the steelworker, Cravaack didn’t stop there. In this interview, Chip goes after Oberstar’s family, makes some pretty strong allegations about the Range native’s ties to the district, and argues that just because Oberstar owns a home in Chisholm that doesn’t mean he lives here:

Well isn’t that special?

And it gets better. In an October 23 2012 interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, Cravaack is STILL making that claim, this time in a rather bizarre defense to Range native Nolan’s emphasis of his 4th generation roots in the district:

Cravaack rejected the contention of his opponent, Rick Nolan, that the DFLer has a better perspective to represent the district because he’s lived here longer and because Cravaack’s family moved to another state for reasons related to his wife’s profession and other family concerns. “It’s a hollow argument that doesn’t resonate,” he said of Nolan’s statement. “Jim Oberstar lived out of the district for decades. I’m taking care of my family.”


Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Chip Cravaack and his campaign are truly delusional if they think they can sneak this one by voters in northern Minnesota. Even MPR predicted this issue would come back to haunt him after moving his family to New Hampshire:

As someone who ran accusing Democrat Jim Oberstar of being out of touch with the 8th District, it’s probably fair to assume the Democrats who want to run against him in 2012 may have a few things to say about the New Hampshire homestead.

Your crocodile tears are fooling no one, Chip.

It’s over. Go home to New Hampshire. Go.

The Nolan Campaign ad can be viewed here

The DFL ad can be viewed here

MN-08: Why Is Chip Cravaack Hiding Behind The Skirts Of A Campaign Organizer?

Rep Chip Cravaack regularly touts his background as a naval officer, and his speech is rife with references to the military and ‘dereliction of duty.’ One would expect then, that faced with evidence of misconduct by those under his command, Cravaack would deal with the problem head on. But rather than facing up to the decidedly uncivil, undemocratic and perhaps even criminal behavior of those working on his campaign, Cravaack is instead choosing to hide behind the skirts of a woman who organized a campaign event for him in Baxter last Saturday.

That campaign event was advertised in the Brainerd Dispatch as an opportunity for the public to meet Rep. Cravaack. But when one young woman arrived and identified herself as an employee of the DFL, she was told it was a private event. Organizers immediately ordered her to leave even though she is a constituent of Cravaack’s and threatened to call the police if she didn’t comply. And another woman, a constituent from Milaca, was physically assaulted by a male campaign worker after taking a picture and was likewise thrown out of the public event. On Monday afternoon, we reported that an assault complaint was filed with the Brainerd Police Department in connection with that incident.

In response to our interview with her on Monday afternoon, event organizer Page Wigren issued a formal statement after first contacting the Cravaack campaign. This statement appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Duluth News Tribune :

As we were preparing for Congressman Cravaack to arrive at an event I organized in Brainerd, an attendee acted inappropriately when he forcibly removed the DFL tracker who came to tape record the event. This type of behavior is never acceptable, and I feel terrible that something like this would occur. I strongly disapprove of the attendee’s actions, and I apologize for his lack of civility and respect to all those who came to meet with our candidates.

Note that the two women and two separate incidents are now combined into one person and one incident, and the male event organizer who assaulted the Milaca woman is now identified as merely an attendee.

The video record of the event does not support this statement issued by Wigren on behalf of the Cravaack campaign.

This video clearly shows event organizers telling the tracker to leave and is consistent with statements Wigren made during our interview:

It is obvious from this video that it was a second woman, not the DFL tracker, who was assaulted and identifies the perpetrator as one of the organizers in the first video:

In our interview with Wigren, she was very clear about the two incidents. She did not at any time refer to the young woman as a ‘tracker’, nor did she deny that the event organizers involved have a role in Cravaack’s campaign. She did decline to make specific comments about why these women were asked to leave, and initially offered a contact for the campaign. But Wigren quickly decided she “shouldn’t give out that information” and instead opted to contact the campaign herself. She did call back with a prepared statement after talking with them. When asked if a campaign staffer wrote the statement for her, Wigren responded ‘no comment’.

Even the most casual observer can see what’s happening here. The Cravaack campaign is once again running away from an unpleasant reality by clouding the issue instead of addressing the serious problem of physical aggression by campaign workers and staffers in what has become a systemic effort to prevent constituents not identified as supporters from attending public meetings. The second video shows that Wigren did intervene to stop the assault on the Milaca woman, and the Cravaack campaign is shamelessly trying to bury their lie in the truth of her genuine concern about that outrageous use of force.

It is Chip Cravack who has fostered a bunker mentality that causes his staffers and supporters to behave like thugs, and it is Chip Cravaack who should shoulder the full responsibility for their actions. Hiding behind the skirts of a female campaign worker is not only cowardly, but a dereliction of duty.

MN-08: Assault Complaint Filed Against Cravaack Campaign Worker

At least one 8th district resident has had enough of the strong arm tactics employed by Rep. Chip Cravaack’s staffers and supporters, and has filed an assault complaint against one of those working on the Cravaack for Congress campaign.

The assault complaint stems from an incident that occurred at an advertised meet the candidate meeting in Baxter on 20 September. A woman from Milaca was inexplicably roughed up by a campaign worker for taking a picture at the public event:

The Baxter Police Department confirms that a basic incident report titled as assault has been sent to the city attorney for review. No arrests were made and statements were taken from both parties. It is now up to the city attorney to decide whether or not to file misdemeanor assault charges in the case. Prosecutor Matt Mallie was unavailable for comment at the time of this story.

DFL Chair Ken Martin blasted the Cravaack Campaign for their actions:

It is never, ever acceptable to use physical force to prevent someone from attending a public event. The actions of Congressman Cravaack’s campaign were dangerous and wildly inappropriate. Congressman Cravaack should immediately issue an apology to the constituent his event organizer assaulted and instruct his campaign’s staff on how to treat event attendees with respect.

What does Congressman Cravaack have to hide? He brags about his constituent services and accessibility, but he goes to great lengths to make sure his supporters are the only ones who can hear what he has to say. Now we can see his supporters are even willing to use physical force to intimidate those who may disagree with him. This is simply beyond the pale. Congressman Cravaack was elected to represent all of the Eighth District, not just the people who are voting for him, and the use of physical force to prevent people from attending his public events is wrong on every level.

This troubling incident comes a little more than one month after a 22 year old Bemidji State University student reported being manhandled by Cravaack staffers at an event in Hackensack. Congressman Cravaack, who personally witnessed that assault and ignored the young man’s pleas for help, had no comment after that episode.

The Cravaack campaign did not return calls requesting comment about the assault complaint against one of its workers.

MN-08: Mining Issue Separates A Ranger From A Packsacker

As election day rapidly approaches, mining and Medicare are lining up as the key issues in the race for 8th district congress between Rep Chip Cravaack and former Congressman Rick Nolan of the Cuyuna Range. But on the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota, mining takes center stage and it is this issue that separates a Range native from a packsacker more than any other in the race.

Both candidates have voiced support for mining, but being pro-mining on the Iron Range is not as clear cut as one might think. Mining has created a classic love-hate relationship between Rangers and the mining companies; love the mining, but not the mining companies. It’s a nuance that most outsiders don’t get, and this is in fact the major difference between the candidates in the race for 8th district congress. Chip Cravaack’s determination to roll back rules and regulations in order to give mining companies free reign makes him a much hated ‘Company Man’, one who would likely have told Jim Oberstar’s dad to just shut up and vote the right way if he wanted to keep his job or fired Veda Ponikvar’s father for union organizing. In contrast, Rick Nolan’s commitment to protect workers and the environment makes him an ally of miners and is an extension of the common good that anchors the moralistic political culture of the Iron Range.

While Cravaack sees mining through the very narrow jobs-only lens typical of an outsider, Cuyuna Range native Nolan understands that mining is much more than that. Mining is a part of our culture and a source of pride; steel made from Iron Range red ore built a nation and won two world wars, and taconite continues to fuel the domestic steel industry. In addition, the taconite production tax is a major source of revenue for our cities, schools and counties, and state mineral leases generate millions of dollars for students throughout the state. Any candidate who hopes to carry the heavily DFL Mesabi Iron Range on election night must understand what mining really means to Rangers and be on the right side of the worker v company man nuance of the mining issue.

Rick Nolan’s pro-worker position on mining harkens back to the roots of the Iron Range, to the core of who we are, to the common good. Chip Cravaack’s company man position evokes bitter memories of oppression by the Steel Trust, of the bad old days when the mining companies were allowed to sacrifice worker safety and the environment for profit margins.

The choice Iron Rangers must make on November 6 is simple: Do we want to maintain the hard fought status quo of being equal partners with the mining companies or do we want to return to a time when the mining companies had the power to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to whomever they wanted?

The Ranger or the Packsacker.

Seems like a pretty simple choice.

MN-08: Does Chip Cravaack Have Any Ties To The 8th District Besides The Title Congressman?

Candidate Chip Cravaack presented himself to northern Minnesota voters as one who shares their values and sense of community, promising his family would always live here and as a former union member, he would stand with workers and support mining. Yet as congressman, Chip Cravaack broke those promises. Every one. From a family living in New Hampshire to carrying water for Big Steel to a campaign committee located in St Paul, every day it becomes clearer that the only connection Rep. Chip Cravaack has to northeastern Minnesota is the title ‘8th district congressman’.

So what happened to the Chip Cravaack who had a family and campaign committee firmly planted in the 8th congressional district and who vowed to represent unions and workers?

He got elected and hasn’t been seen since.

Cravaack cast his very first vote in Congress in support of Tea Party Wing Nut Rep. Michele Bachmann for GOP Conference Chair, and things went downhill for his constituents from there. Instead of supporting unions, former union member Cravaack immediately joined right wing extremists in their war on organized labor, earning a paltry 24% rating from the AFL-CIO while getting an 88% approval rating from the US Chamber of Commerce for these efforts. Much to their dismay, Rangers soon learned that Cravaack’s idea of supporting mining is to champion the cause of Big Steel to roll back rules and regulations previous generations of Iron Rangers fought for to protect the environment and the health and safety of workers. And Cravaack steadfastly refused to stand with the United Steelworkers as they fought back attempts by the mining companies to cut worker pay, health care and retirement benefits. In perhaps the most blatant affront to his constituents in the 8th district, Chip Cravaack moved his family to New Hampshire, a state that just happens to have no income tax.

Since Cravaack doesn’t see a need to live in the 8th congressional district, it follows suit that he doesn’t feel his campaign committee needs to be in northern Minnesota either. Like his family, the Cravaack for Congress Campaign Committee was located in the 8th district during the 2010 campaign, but this too changed after the election. Three separate filings with the FEC dated 18 March 2011 show different mailing addresses for the Cravaack for Congress Campaign Committee: PO Box 951 in North Branch, PO Box 4182 in St Paul, PO Box 25950 in Woodbury. The April 2011 Quarterly report yielded yet another address change, this time PO Box 40040 in St Paul. According to the most recent FEC filing, this St Paul post office box is the current address for the Cravaack for Congress Campaign Committee.

So within a matter of months candidate Cravaack morphed into the congressman from the 8th district in Minnesota who has a family living in New Hampshire, a campaign committee located in the 4th congressional district and is an eager soldier in the Tea Party’s war on organized labor and the middle class, representing outside big money special interests.

Chip Cravaack clearly is not one of us and cannot be trusted to tell the truth. Not about mining, not about Medicare and certainly not about former Congressman Rick Nolan, a 4th generation Cuyuna Iron Ranger who has family that still lives and works in northern Minnesota.

The only thing tying Cravaack to the 8th district is the title ‘congressman’. Nothing more.

DNR Issues New Invasive Species Alert For Northern Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today issued a new invasive species alert for northern Minnesota. The agency warns residents that a close relative of the dreaded European Buckthorn (Rhammus Cathartica), the Packsacker Shrub (Chippus Cravaackita), has established itself from North Branch to Grand Portage and poses a serious threat to natives of the region.

Chippus Cravaackita’s sudden arrival two years ago took the DNR quite by surprise. “When it appeared on the scene in early 2010, it seemed so harmless that it kind of flew under our radar,” admitted a sheepish DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr. “It wasn’t until late fall we realized what a serious threat it posed to our way of life in northeastern Minnesota. We tried to stop it from becoming established, but it was too late,” he lamented.

The DNR defines invasive species as “species that are not native to Minnesota and cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Like the European Buckthorn, the Packsacker Shrub resembles some Minnesota natives, but on closer look is clearly alien to the state. An insidious invader, Chippus Cravaackita is abnormally dense with weak branches, grows low to the ground and wreaks havoc by destroying native habitat and opening the door for other invasive species, noxious weeds like the Koch Vine and the particularly menacing Creeping Ryan.

The Packsacker Shrub quickly takes root everywhere but its preferred habitat is railroad tracks and airport runways, even cracks in Minnesota roads, making Chippus Cravaackita a serious threat to area infrastructure as well. “If we don’t get rid of this menace soon, all travel in and out of the region will come to a screeching halt” warns Minnesota transportation commissioner Tom Sorel.

The DNR notes that combating these invaders is not easy because they so easily fool people by their outward appearance. Chippus Cravaackita emits a noxious oil that saps the life out of natives yet promotes it’s own lush growth, encouraging unsuspecting residents to nurture it in their yards. The Packsacker’s glossy foliage and pretty spring flowers do appear inviting, but this alien is best observed from afar; hidden thorns slash those who venture too close, and its bitter berries are particularly toxic to senior citizens and children.

Minnesota is not alone in fighting Chippus Cravaackita, says the Commissioner, citing reports of its sudden appearance in Windham, New Hampshire in July 2011. “Kind of puzzling how the Packsacker Shrub skipped over half the nation,” said Landwehr scratching his head. “Almost like someone deliberately transplanted it there,” he mused.

But there is hope for northeastern Minnesota, says the DNR, thanks to quick work by the Natural Resources Research Institute. Yet these University of Minnesota scientists shrug off praise; “It really wasn’t that difficult”, insists NRRI Director Mike Lalich, “This is not a sophisticated organism. In fact, Chippus Cravaackita is rather simple. The same characteristics that allowed the Packsacker to sneak under the radar are exactly what can be exploited to cause its demise.”

Their solution: cut Chippus Cravaackita down to the stump in the fall, apply a hearty dose of the NRRI’s new herbicide ‘Packsacker-B-Gone’ on November 6 and replace with a strong native species in order to prevent re growth after the alien has been removed from northern Minnesota.

In the meantime, the Minnesota DNR sent an urgent message to its counterpart in New Hampshire cautioning them to be on the alert for a new invasion of Chippus Cravaackita in November.

MN-08: Nolan Beats Cravaack As Both Report Strongest Fundraising Quarter To Date

“I’m pleased to announce our strongest fundraising quarter to date.”

crowed Rep Chip Cravaack Thursday in response to internal and public polls that show him trailing former Congressman Rick Nolan in the race for 8th district congress.

But Nolan wiped that smug grin from Cravaack’s face Friday, reporting that his strongest fundraising numbers to date beat those of the incumbent in the 3rd quarter. Nolan raised $484.663 from July – September, while Cravaack raised only $471,183 for the same period.


Cravaack’s campaign clearly did exactly what others have done: underestimate Rick Nolan.

Nolan made a conscious decision early in the race to concentrate on building a traditional boots-on-the-ground campaign instead of on fundraising. Although it caused some casual observers and opponents to repeatedly question the former congressman’s ability to raise money, it is a strategy that has served him well in creating a strong foundation for what continues to be a very successful campaign. With this foundation solidly in place and the DFL primary behind him, Nolan has been able to focus more time on fundraising and these latest numbers reflect that effort.

But the story is more than just the raw numbers. Of particular significance is that Nolan’s strongest fundraising quarter to date eclipses that of Cravaack’s so close to the election.

This does not bode well for an incumbent congressman who trails his challenger and fails to break 45% in either internal or public polls.

MN-08: As Nolan Gains Momentum And Cravaack Sinks In Polls, Coleman And Boehner Abandon Ship

Norm Coleman, John Boehner and their right wing extremist cronies must be crying in their cognac today.

Despite spending millions on misleading and false ads attacking former Congressman Rick Nolan, recent internal and public polls show the 4th generation Ranger leading incumbent Tea Party Rep. Chip Cravaack in the race for 8th district congress. Like rats abandoning a sinking ship, Coleman’s American Action Network (AAN) and Boehner’s Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) are now directing resources away from Cravaack to races they actually have a chance of winning.

AAN and CLF recently announced millions in new expenditures for hotly contested congressional races across the country. Both groups have already spent millions in support of Chip Cravaack, so it was surprising to see that the AAN has allocated a measly $90,000 in additional expenditures while the CLF is not putting any more money at all into the race. So why is the 8th congressional district race between Cravaack and Nolan no longer a priority?

Recent polls may tell the story.

The first public poll in the race released Wednesday night shows former Congressman Nolan leading incumbent Cravaack 46 -45%, and an internal poll released by the Nolan campaign Thursday morning shows Nolan leading 48 -44%. These results mirror a recent poll by the DCCC and one from House Majority PAC released on 30 August. Nolan’s lead is within the margin of error, showing the race in a statistical dead heat.

One must always view polls with caution in a district like the 8th. Distrust of outsiders and rather parochial voting habits can somewhat skew results. However, solid polls do provide a good general overview of the status of the race. In this case, both internal and public polls yield the same results:

1. Cravaack doesn’t break over 45%
2. Nolan is gaining momentum despite the incessant barrage of misleading and false attack ads.

Of particular note is that even with the margin of error, incumbent Cravaack can’t break 50%.

Furthermore, the deafening silence from Cravaack and his right wing friends tells us the results of the internal and public polls are credible. Neither Cravaack nor the RCCC have released results of their own internal polls, no doubt because they reveal similar results. More importantly, these recent polls reflect what close observers of the race are seeing: despite the furious onslaught of false and misleading attack ads, Nolan is continuing to gain momentum and Cravaack is floundering.

Clearly, Coleman and Boehner see the race the same way, and are directing their resources elsewhere because they know that Chip Cravaack’s campaign is a sinking ship that can’t be saved.


10. Thinks the Range is where you go to hit golf balls

9. Only person we know who’s dumb enough to pay $1000 a month to lease an SUV

8. Standard campaign speech still begins with “Jim Oberstar is totally out of touch!”

7. Needs to charge way more than $10 a head to make town hall meetings profitable

6. Even Mesabi Daily News refuses to back his plan to ‘privatize’ the Boundary Waters Canoe Area by selling it to the Koch brothers

5. Constantly confuses “Rukavina” with “Macarena” at local celebrations

4. “Live Free or Die” license plate on SUV = bad move

3. Overheard at fundraiser: “Family values? Hell yes. We’re worth a cool million.”

2. Insistence on posing with hand held rocket dooms pro-hunting TV spot


1. Sleep apnea flares up again in debate with Nolan