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Blame the Messenger

(page 1 of 3)

With elections just seven months away, Minnesota’s leading candidates for U.S. Senate—Norm, Al, and Mike—are spending major cashola on campaign advisors. Who exactly are the consultants behind the candidates? Here’s a peek past the curtain to glimpse the image-makers who’ve grossed the most so far from each campaign.



Al Franken

A. J. Goodman
Flies under the radar;
has worked for Midwest
Values, the political
action committee
Franken founded.
Base of operations:
fundraising strategy
Payments from
Franken campaign: $89,649
Past clients: Howard Dean,
John Edwards, U.S. Senator
Barbara Boxer
Likely strategy:
Be funny.

Senator Norm Coleman

FLS Connect
Got $26.9 million
from GOP candidates
and interests in 2003–04
election cycle;
firm endorsed by Karl Rove.
Base of operations:
St. Paul
Specialty: identifying
voters; phone-banking to get
the vote out
Payments from Coleman
Past clients: You name it,
including Bush/Cheney ’04,
Arnold Schwarzenegger and
former House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay
Likely strategy:

Mike Ciresi

Ed Gross Consulting
A veteran of local campaigns;
during DFLer Jerry Janezich’s
ultimately failed 2000
state-senate campaign,
focused campaign ads on
certain voter demographics.
Base of operations:
Specialty: publicity,
grass-roots organizing
Payments from Ciresi
Past clients: Former U.S.
Senator Paul Wellstone,
former Minneapolis mayor
Sharon Sayles Belton,
St. Paul Public Schools
Likely strategy:
Be serious.

Druid Awakening

The leader of the Reformed Druids of North America, Daniel Lessin, says he has been struggling with how to mark the spring equinox on March 20. The Archdruid, as the sophomore at Carleton College in Northfield is known, says his predecessor rushed him through training before going off to grad school. But he doesn’t feel prepared for the high holiday.

The Reformed Druids’ celebration of the equinox goes back to 1963. A group of Carls who chafed at the college’s rule requiring students to attend religious services decided to mock the rule by observing it—sort of: They cooked up a religion so free-form that anyone could participate. Druidism has just two tenets, says Lessin: “One, nature is good; and, two, nature is good.” Though the school eventually dropped the religious-service requirement, Carleton’s druids have managed to keep the faith.

As with other religions, however, the flock is dwindling. When Lessin enrolled at Carleton, there were several druids. Now, there are only a half-dozen—five of which he recruited. But a strong equinox event could help revive the sect, he says. “I think a lot of people really are druids at heart,” he says. “They just haven’t taken the time to look into druidism.” Wonder why....


Legal Appeal

Product-liability claims have become one of Minnesota’s top imports. In fact, the state has become a magnet for suits brought by non-resident plaintiffs. Of the 9,680 plaintiffs who have filed such suits in Minnesota since 2004, says Scott Smith, a Minneapolis attorney who has tracked the trend, only 7.5 percent are residents.

What gives? Minnesota’s statute of limitations for personal-injury suits is unusually long, and the clock doesn’t start ticking until the cause of an injury is discovered. The state saw a spike in lawsuits a few years ago, for example, after a study was published that linked hormone-replacement therapy to breast cancer. Women seeking to sue often were barred by their home states: Their cancer had been diagnosed too long ago. So, noting that the drug makers also did business in Minnesota, lawyers representing thousands of cancer patients filed suit in federal court here—rushing to meet our own state’s statute-of-limitations deadlines. The plaintiffs don’t live here. The defendants don’t live here. But because the products were marketed here, the suits are here.


Last Rites

Superstitious theatrical types have long believed that wishing someone “good luck” leads to bad luck—so instead they tell performers to “break a leg” as they hurry on stage. Such rites are not the only oddities practiced by musicians, actors, dancers, and other performers prior to a show. Here, a list of local pre-show rituals.

Steven Copes, concertmaster, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Checks his zippers.

Penny Freeh, dancer, James Sewell Ballet: Puts on right shoe first, knocks on wood three times, searches the ground for penny.

Kathy Romey, conductor, Minnesota Chorale: Wears jewelry given by loved ones and thinks of late father, in whose professional footsteps she is following.

Steve Epp, actor, Theatre de la Jeune Lune: Does 20 minutes of stretching (arm, shoulders, neck), ending with a little tap dance flourish. Warms up vocal cords. Checks props. Drinks Emergen-C powder drink and takes two ibuprofen. Brushes teeth, puts in contacts, shaves, applies makeup. Fixates on hair.

Jearlyn Steele, singer: Drinks concoction of green tea, powdered ginger, honey, and splash of nutmeg. Prays.

Josh Koestenbaum, cellist, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Says to self, “If you play well you can have a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s as you watch mindless TV.”

Dan Chouinard, pianist: Brings a small camping mattress to dressing room, takes a nap before showtime.

Prudence Johnson, singer: Fixes hair and sings whole-tone scales.

Dominique Serrand, actor, Theatre de la Jeune Lune: Gets so nervous, thinks he’s going to throw up. Smokes a cigarette. Right hand shakes his left hand to wish himself good luck.


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