Mark Ritchie

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Mark Ritchie

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Donald Mark Ritchie (born 1951 in Iowa) is the current Democratic Secretary of State of Minnesota and "friend" of the Communist Party USA. He was first elected to the position in 2006, and was re-elected in 2010. He is married to Nancy Gaschott.

Mark Ritchie's other official duties as Secretary of State include administering Safe at Home, Minnesota's address confidentiality program. He also serves on the State's Executive Council, the State Board of Investment, the Minnesota Historical Society and is a member of the Executive Board of the National Association of Secretaries of State.[1]

Personal Life

Ritchie is a Unitarian Universalist, attends the First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. On June 25, 2010, he addressed the 2010 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association and was enthusiastically introduced by Reverend Meg Riley.[2]

Activism

In the mid-1980s, Mark Ritchie worked in the administration of Minnesota's Governor Rudy Perpich in the Department of Agriculture, responsible for addressing the economic crisis facing family farmer and rural communities. Mark served for twenty years as the president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a Minnesota-based public research center working with businesses, churches, farm organizations, and other civic groups to foster long-term economic and environmental sustainability in Greater Minnesota.[3]

Until his election as Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie ran the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and from the same Minneapolis building - Peace Coffee a for-profit company.

Mark Ritchie has been executive director of the Center for Rural Studies, a fee-per-service office at the University of Vermont that provides advocacy research to activist agriculture nonprofits.

He is also a past president of the Organic Buyers and Growers Association.

Ritchie has chaired the International Forum on Food and Agriculture (a project of the International Forum on Globalization) and the board of Sustainable America.

Ritchie also served on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee.[4]

"Community organizer"

Writing in the Huffington Post of September 8, 2008, in an article entitled "From Organizer To Elected Official" Democratic Socialists of America member Peter Dreier listed several serving US politicians who had begun their careers as "community organizers". They were US Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Representatives John Lewis of Georgia, Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis of Illinois, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Linda Sanchez of California, and Donna Edwards of Maryland, Washington House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, state legislators Beth Low of Missouri, Michael Foley of Ohio, Gilbert Cedillo of California, Tom Hucker of Maryland, Tony Hill of Florida, and Crystal Peoples of New York, Alameda County (California) Supervisor Nate Miley, City Council members Jay Westbrook of Cleveland, Chuck Turner and Sam Yoon of Boston, and Melvin Carter of St. Paul, and San Francisco School Board member Jane Kim. [5]

Exposing the Trilateral Commission

In 1980, Democratic Socialists of America member Holly Sklar authored a book entitled "Trilateralism: the Trilateral Commission and elite planning for world management" about the Trilateral Commission. In the Acknowledgements section she writes,[6]

"My special thanks to Leah Margulies, Dahlia Rudavsky, and especially Ros Everdell for ongoing support and assistance; to Lisa Wheaton, Terry Murphy, Mark Ritchie, and the National Coalition for Development Action with whom I launched the initial project."

Battle in Seattle

According to Issue 88 of the International Socialism Journal, the "starting point of any account of the new anti-capitalism has to be the Seattle demonstration." Seattle was the result of the coming together of a whole number of previously disparate groups of people. Each began to understand that gatherings like that of the World Trade Organisation represented a threat to the things in which they believed. Luis Hernandez Navarro, a journalist on the radical Mexican daily La Jornada, describes those present: 'Ecologists, farmers from the First World, unionists, gay rights activists, NGOs supporting development, feminists, punks, human rights activists, representatives of indigenous peoples, the young and not so young, people from the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia'.2 What united them, he says, was rejection of 'the slogan "All power to the transnational corporations!" present on the free trade agenda'.

There was a large element of spontaneity to the protest. Many people simply heard about it and decided to get there. But more than just spontaneity was involved. Many protesters arrived as members of local groups who had been preparing for many months for the event. And the fact that the event was a focus at all was a result of the combined efforts of a core of activists who saw the WTO as the common enemy of the different campaigns. This had involved the best part of year of intensive organisation for the event, with groups getting in touch with each other through the internet. But behind that lay a longer process of propagandising. Noam Chomsky, supposedly an anarchist, is quite right to stress this element of organisation: 'The highly successful demonstration at the World Trade Organisation provides impressive testimony to the effectiveness of educational and organising efforts designed for the long term, carried out with dedication and persistence'.3 Paul Hawken talks about 'thought leaders' who motivated many of the protesters:

Martin Khor of the Third World Network in Malaysia, Vandana Shiva from India, Walden Bello of Focus on the Global South, Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Tony Clarke of Polaris Institute, Jerry Mander of the International Forum on Globalisation (IFG), Susan George of the Transnational Institute, Daven Korten of the People-Centred Development Forum, John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, Mark Ritchie of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Anuradha Mittal of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, Helena Norberg-Hodge of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, Owens Wiwa of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Chakravarthi Raghavan of the Third World Network in Geneva, Debra Harry of the Indigenous Peoples Coalition Against Biopiracy, José Bové of the Confederation Paysanne Européenne, Tetteh Hormoku of the Third World Network in Africa.[7]

"Agricultural Advocacy" in Europe

According to the 2001 book "Taking Trade to the Streets: The Lost History of the Public Efforts to Shape Globalization" by Susan Ariel Aaronson:

"Ritchie already had closer relations with Canadian environmentalists, social activists, and farm groups. In 1987 he focused his efforts on European activists. He gave a speech at a conference in England sponsored by the Catholic Institute for International Affairs. This speech inspired some of the attendees to think differently about trade policy. Among those inspired were Kevin Watkins of the Catholic Institute for International Affairs (a development activist now at Oxfam), Tim Lang (a food safety and consumer expert), and Colin Hines (an environmental activist and now Green Party strategist.)
Ritchie and his allies decided that they could develop alliances with negotiators from other countries. He became close to prominent European trade officials, such as Tran Van Thinh, the European Community's GATT negotiator, and the Jamaican negotiator, Anthony Hill. Ritchie saw these alliances as a useful way to publicize the concerns of small farmers, environmentalists, and other concerned groups and to build a broad international coalition. He recognized that the Europeans (especially the French) were very concerned about reducing protection for their farmers who comprised an important political bloc. The European trade officials saw their alliance with Ritchie as a means of tempering the U.S. proposals, especially in the area of agriculture. Sometimes European trade policymakers leaked the American proposals to U.S. NGO's to advance European positions or disadvantage U.S. negotiators. Thus, the Europeans used the NGO's to play off the Americans, and the NGO activists used the European governments to press their positions with their home country negotiators."

Affiliations

Wellstone relationship

Mark Ritchie, Minnesota’s Secretary of State, is a Wellstone Action alumni. As an organizer with the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and as founder of the League of Rural Voters, Ritchie worked with Paul Wellstone to improve conditions for farmers and other rural Americans.

“Paul was one of the first people that I knew who moved from issue activism and direct action organizing to electoral politics,” Ritchie recalled. “He had incredible integrity. He was an inspiration. Not just the legislation he worked on. But also the way he connected with people. After Paul died, I was one of a number of people— activists who had worked with Paul—who decided that we ought to run for public office and help keep Paul’s legacy alive.” He called Wellstone Action’s three-day “boot camp” for candidates “the perfect training for coming to terms with what it actually meant to run for office.”[8]

Infant Formula Action Coalition

Ritchie was on of the founders of an organization called The Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT)- who coordinated the international boycott of Nestle Foods from 1977-1984.[9] The Nestle boycott and the propaganda campaign surrounding it was characterized by harsh, anti-corporate rhetoric and Marxist slogans. One INFACT activist, Mark Ritchie, explained that the main purpose of the boycott was not to improve infant health in Third World countries, but "to link the capitalist system - and the way it organizes our lives - to people's very personal experiences"[10] Leah Margulies also was a member of the coalition at this time. The organization later became the Center for Corporate Accountability where Ritchie's wife Nancy Glaschott worked as an attorney.

The Trilateral Commission

In 1980, Democratic Socialists of America member Holly Sklar authored a book entitled "Trilateralism: the Trilateral Commission and elite planning for world management". In the Acknowledgements section she writes,[11]

"My special thanks to Leah Margulies, Dahlia Rudavsky, and especially Ros Everdell for ongoing support and assistance; to Lisa Wheaton, Terry Murphy, Mark Ritchie, and the National Coalition for Development Action with whom I launched the initial project."

The World Food Assembly

In November 1984, Ritchie attended The World Food Assembly meeting which was held in Rome. The WFA is "a coalition of independent groups of people from all parts of the world, united in the conviction that radical changes are needed if we are to meet our human responsibility of ensuring food for all."[12] Also in attendance at the meeting were Susan George and Joseph Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies.[13]

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

In 1987, Mark Ritchie, then a trade policy analyst for the state of Minnesota, returned from the Geneva meeting to the United States and incorporated the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, with the mission of fostering sustainable rural communities and regions. In 2006 he stepped down as president and Jim Harkness was hired as IATP's new president.[14]

In Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie's article entitled "Coffee’s Dark and Bloody Ground", he states,[15]

"Moreover, there has been a call for a new type of global regulation altogether. Mark Ritchie, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, calls for a “global Roosevelt New Deal to ensure that farmers get a fair prices and have a level playing fi eld” (Collier 2001). This is a good idea in theory, but is long-term, and unlikely under this current U.S. administration."

New Party builder

New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 New Party activists-"some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP" the list included Mark Ritchie, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

International Forum on Globalization

The International Forum on Globalization is a partner organization of the Institute for Policy Studies.[16] As at Sept. 11, 2008, Ritchie was listed as a member of the organization's Board of Directors and/or Committee on Global Finance.[17]

As at Sept. 11, 2008, Ritchie was also listed as a Task Force Member for the organization alongside Debi Barker, Maude Barlow, Walden Bello, Agnes Bertrand, Brent Blackwelder, John Cavanagh, Tony Clarke, Edward Goldsmith, Randy Hayes, Colin Hines, Martin Khor, Andy Kimbrell, David Korten, Sara Larrain, Jerry Mander, Victor Menotti, Anuradha Mittal, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Vandana Shiva, Steve Shrybman and Lori Wallach.[18]

In her 2007 book, Global Activism, Ruth Reitan writes of the forum,[19]

"Since its inception this forum was a brokerage site for the "who's who" of anti-corporate scholar-activists: The COC's Barlow and Focus's Bello were brought together, in addition to... David Korten of People Centered Development Forum, and Mark Ritchie of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, among many others."

Mark Ritchie, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy IATP, was a listed speaker at the IFG's "Teach-In 2" - "The social, ecological, cultural and political osts of Economic Globalization" held in Washington, D.C., May 10-12, 1996, according to a full-page notice in The Nation, May 6, 1996, Page 49.

From Nov. 10 - 12, 1995, the International Forum on Globalization ran a "Teach In" in New York City. Mark Ritchie spoke at the following four sessions:[20]

From April 11 - 13, 1997, the International Forum on Globalization ran a "Teach In" in Berkeley, CA. Mark Ritchie spoke at the following three sessions:[21]

From Nov. 26 - 27, 1999, the International Forum on Globalization ran a "Teach In" in Seattle, WA. Mark Ritchie spoke at the following session:[22]

On April 14, 2000, the International Forum on Globalization ran a "Teach In" in Washington, D.C.. Mark Ritchie spoke at the following session:[23][24]

Campaign for America's Future

In 1996 Mark Ritchie, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy was one of the original 130 founders of Campaign for America's Future.[25]

Communist Party USA

Page 1 of the document. Click here for the entire document.

In December 1999, a Communist Party USA meeting was held at the May Day Bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the purpose of re-establishing the Communist Party USA Farm Commission.

Party members present were Erwin Marquit, Helvi Savola, Jack Brown, Peter Molenaar, Morgan Soderburg, Bill Gudex, Mark Froemke, Scott Marshall, Gary Severson, Mike Madden, Becky Pera, Charlie Smith and Tim Wheeler.

Mark Ritchie also attended and addressed the meeting. In a written report on the meeting by Tim Wheeler, Ritchie is referred to as a "non-party friend" of the Communist Party. The report was marked "not for publication".[26]

On October 11, 2003, Mark Ritchie's article, "A new beginning for WTO after Cancun" was published in the CPUSA's newspaper, People's Weekly World.[27] Ritchie was listed on the People's Weekly World website as an author.[28] The article had originally been published at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy website.[29]

Ritchie also received approval from the CPUSA for his 2006 campaign.[30]

Synthesis/Regeneration

In Spring 2000 Ritchie authored an article entitled "Resisting Globalization: Beyond Seattle" in Synthesis/Regeneration, A Magazine of Green Social Thought.[31]

Mother Jones

As at Nov. 20, 2001, Ritchie was listed as an author of the Mother Jones magazine.[32]

World Social Forum

From Jan. 31 - Feb. 5, 2002 the World Social Forum was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Mark Ritchie attended the forum and commented,[33]

"I was amazed at how the concept of corporate responsibility has grown in Brazil. Meeting those people was invaluable in my efforts to better understand the ambitions of big Brazilian agricultural players."

A New York Times article observed,[34]

"...All this did not stop several vague declarations from being signed supporting world peace, opposing free trade in the Americas or condemning United States military action. Anti-American sentiment abounded even as the number of delegates from the United States this year, the forum's second, climbed to several hundred from a dozen last year. One popular T-shirt among fringe groups compared Osama bin Laden to Ernesto Che Guevara and Jesus. No American flags were burned, though, apparently out of respect for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks."

National Voice Voter activism

In 2003 Mark Ritchie led National Voice, a national coalition of over two thousand community-based organizations from across the country working together to increase non-partisan civic engagement and voter participation. National Voice, through their "November 2" media campaign, registered over 5 million new voters nationwide, making the effort one of the largest non-partisan voter mobilizations in our nation's history. Over four hundred Minnesota churches, businesses, unions, schools, and community groups participated in the campaign.[35]

Land Stewardship Project

On October 8, 2003, Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!; Fred Kirschenmann, executive director, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Gary Nabhan, co-founder of Native Seeds Search; Dana Jackson, associate director, Land Stewardship Project; Becky Weed; and Mark Ritchie, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy spoke at an event entitled "Farming with the Wild", hosted by the Land Stewardship Project. All of the speakers have been key in launching the Wild Farm Alliance.[36]

League of Rural Voters

On Nov. 15, 2003, Mark Ritchie spoke alongside Bracken Hendricks, fellow, Center for American Progress, Executive Director, Apollo Alliance; Governor Howard Dean; Representative Dennis Kucinich; Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and others at the League of Rural Voters' 2003 National Summit on Agriculture & Rural Life which was held in Des Moines, Iowa.[37]

According to the CPUSA, Ritchie was affiliated with the League of Rural Voters as at July 8, 2006.[38]

America Coming Together

On August 20, 2004, Ritchie donated $355 to America Coming Together.[39]

Democratic-Farm-Labor Party

Ritchie has enjoyed the endorsement of the Democratic-Farm-Labor Party in his 2006 and 2010 campaigns for Secretary of State. He has donated at least $21,075 to the party since 2005.[39]

PDA backing

Progressive Democrats of America worked to elect several "progressive" secretaries of state in 2006-a strategy identified by other groups such as the Secretary of State Project as a means of helping to ensure that elections were not 'stolen" from "progressive" candidates. Deborah Bowen, Mark Ritchie and John Bonifaz all received strong PDA backing.[40]

Given the importance of election integrity, PDA also has worked on secretary of state races around the nation, backing Deborah Bowen in California, Mark Ritchie in Minnesota, and PDA Board Member John Bonifaz in Massachusetts.

Apollo Alliance

In 2006 Ritchie served alongside Van Jones and Joel Rogers on the National Steering Committee for the Apollo Alliance.[41]

People for the American Way

from left: Tanya Clay House, Mark Ritchie, Michael Strautmanis

On February 9, 2007, Ritchie spoke at a Washington, D.C. event entitled "Voter Suppression in the 21st Century: What Happens and How to Stop It" which was sponsored by People for the American Way and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and co-sponsored by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Service Employees International Union, Progressive States Network, Common Cause, MALDEF, the National Disability Rights Network and the National Education Association. Also speaking at the event were Michael Strautmanis, Senator Obama's Chief Counsel; Prof. Daniel Tokaji, The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law; Tova Wang, The Century Foundation; and Hector Villagra, ACLU of Orange County, CA.[42]

Growth & Justice

As at October 2004, Ritchie served as Chair Emeritus on the Board of Directors for Growth & Justice.[43]

Tides Center

Mark Ritchie and his brother own and operate a "sustainable coffee company called Headwaters, Inc., which does business with the public using the name Peace Coffee." The company is a subsidiary of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and conducts its operations out of the same office. The company has received over $20,000 from the Tides Foundation. Ritchie is listed as the Tides Center's "registered agent".[44][45]

Trade Research Consortium

The Trade Research Consortium is a Tides Center project which lists its purpose as “research that illuminates the links between trade, environmental, and social justice.” Ritchie is its only discernable contact person.[44]

ND Center for the Public Good

from left:Mark Ritchie, Dan Tokach, Sarah Vogel and April Fairfield

On Oct. 17, 2009, Ritchie spoke alongside Cheryl Long Feather, activist, candidate for school board, state legislator; Cheryl Bergian, candidate for legislature and Public Service Commission, activist; Sandra Tibke, Mandan City Commissioner, activist; and Sarah Vogel, former North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner at an event entitled "Getting involved in making our community better! - Participating in politics and running for office". The event, labelled "non-partisan", was co-sponsored by United Tribes Technical College, North Dakota Women’s Network, North Dakota Center for the Public Good, Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, North Dakota Peace Coalition, and Dakota Outright.[46]

Wellstone Action

In 2009 Mark Ritchie was listed as a member of the Advisory Board of Wellstone Action, a Minnesota based organization based on the political legacy of that state’s late ‘progressive” Senator Paul Wellstone.[47][48]

Wellstone Action and Wellstone Action Fund combine to form a national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement. Founded in January 2003, Wellstone Action's mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, educating, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive individuals and organizations.

United Nations

The January 14, 2010 Investor Summit on Climate Risk was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and was co-hosted by the UN Office for Partnerships, Ceres, and the UN Foundation. Ritchie was listed as one of the "Summit Conveners" for the event.[49]

AFL-CIO

Mark Ritchie addresses Minnesota AFL-CIO

The Minnesota American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations held its convention from Sept. 26 - 28, 2010. Speaking at the event were AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, and Minnesota AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates: Tarryl Clark, candidate in the Sixth Congressional District, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, and gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton. U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar were also scheduled to speak. Ritchie thanked those present at the meeting, and Minnesota's labor movement as a whole, for their work in getting him elected in 2006:[50][51]

"With your help I was unknown but labor and labor's allies organized door by door, family by family, member by member, and I got elected in 2006."

Ronghead

As at Nov. 10, 2010, Mark Ritchie served on the Steering Committee for Ronghead,[52] an organization that seeks to "boost solidarity within a global economy, acting for and with developing countries populations and countries in transition in order to foster sustainable development."[53] Ronghead is a strong advocate for global governance. The organization has stated,

"we have to build together a planetary space of solidarity that is interdependent, interactive and above all equitable if we want a peaceful future of global prosperity for future generations."[54]

New York Democratic Lawyers Council

On April 12, 2010, Anne Hess and Craig Kaplan hosted an event entitled "An Evening for Election Integrity! - With Mark Ritchie, Minnesota's Secretary of State" at 214 East 18th St., New York City. Members of the host committee were: Al Appleton, Caron Atlas, Allison Barlow, Marjorie Fine, Frances Fox Piven, Anne Hess and Craig Kaplan, Allen Hunter and Linda Gordon, Riva Krut and Harris Gleckman, Ruth Katz, Sandra Levinson, Jaykumar Menon, Leah Margulies, Marion Nestle, Anita Nager, Miles Rapoport, Donna Schaper and Warren Goldstein, and Deborah Stern. The event was a fundraiser for Ritchie's upcoming 2010 re-election campaign as Minnesota's Secretary of State.[55]

Candidates Supported

Ritchie has financially supported the following candidates:[39]

2006 Campaign

In 2006 Mark Ritchie, running on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ticket defeated incumbent Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, to take the position.

Ritchie, a former community organizer, said at his inauguration that he owed his upset victory to the Secretary of State Project[56].

Approval from the CPUSA

In a July 8, 2006 article in which the author underlined the importance of the elections for Secretary of State, "whose job is mandated as protecting voting rights and election practices". They stated of Ritchie,[57]

"In Minnesota the DFL candidate for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, of the League of Rural Voters could play a valuable national role."

Support from Progressive Democrats of America

In line with Secretary of State Project strategy Progressive Democrats of America, also threw their weight behind Mark Ritchie, plus Deborah Bowen and John Bonifaz:[58]

"Given the importance of election integrity, PDA also has worked on secretary of state races around the nation, backing Deborah Bowen in California, Mark Ritchie in Minnesota, and PDA Board Member John Bonifaz in Massachusetts."

Voting irregurality accusations

According to Kiffmeyer, as soon as Ritchie took office he began dismantling much of the framework that had been assembled to ensure honest voting in the state. It was that loosening of election controls, she argues, that lead to the eight month standoff between incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken in what was one of the closest Senate race ever.

Kiffmeyer is "absolutely sure" that Ritchie's efforts to eliminate voting regulations ensured Franken's victory.

"The first thing he did when he got into office was to dismantle the ballot reconciliation program we started. Under that program districts are required to check that the number of ballots issued by matching them with the number of ballots cast...that way we know immediately that the vote count is accurate."

But that isn't what happened, she said. "We now have 17,000 more ballots cast than there are voters who voted and no way to determine what went wrong. Why anyone would eliminate that basic check, I don't know," she said.[56]

Communist Party commentary

In a Peoples World article, November 22, 2008 Barb Kucera wrote of the controversial Minnesota U.S. Senate election, quoting both Mark Ritchie and his known associate Communist Party USA member Mark Froemke .[59]

Whether Minnesota labor's massive effort to mobilize members in the 2008 elections was a success will ultimately turn on the results of a recount in the U.S. Senate race, Labor 2008 coordinators say.
While most AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions backed Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) challenger Franken, a few labor organizations–notably the Carpenters and Pipe Trades--endorsed Coleman. After all the results were turned in, Coleman led Franken by only 215 votes out of just under 3 million cast. An official recount began Nov. 18 and could take a month, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.
Franken’s race against GOP incumbent Norman Coleman is important nationally. To get pro-worker bills through the Senate, workers and their allies need 60 votes, out of 100 senators, to cut off GOP filibusters. That includes a presumed GOP talkathon against the Employee Free Choice Act, which is designed to help level the playing field between workers and bosses in union organizing and bargaining first contracts...

Independence Party candidates made the difference in the Bachmann and Paulsen races and definitely affected the Senate race, said Mark Froemke, president of the West Area Labor Council that spans the western half of the state. 'The Independence Party got a better number than I would have expected in this area,' he said. Negativity of campaign commercials in the final days of the Senate race also had an effect.

Felon voting

Months after the election was finally settled, two activist/ computer experts have pieced together the consequences of what they say was the loosening of the rules.

Dan McGrath and Jeff Davis, who have formed a small research-watchdog group called the Minnesota Majority, say that their computer assisted-examination of the voting records from the 2008 election show that Al Franken's 312 vote margin of victory can be attributed to Ritchie's dismantling election rules. Specifically they charge that Franken's victory can be attributed entirely to illegally cast votes by convicted felons.

"We used an algorithm that cross-checked voting records against criminal records using first name, last name and date of birth and found that 1400 convicted felons had voted illegally in Minnesota," Jeff Davis explained. "Most of those came from Ramsey and Hannifin counties (i.e. Minneapolis)," he said explaining that they were heavily Democratic strongholds and, by almost any measure, would have been predominantly Democratic votes.

The two said they had forwarded 460 names of felons who records show voted in the last election to the Ramsey County prosecutor's office.

Paul Gustafson, spokesman for the Ramsey county prosecutor's office, said that the office was looking into the claims. "To date 26 felons have been charged with vote fraud and investigations were continuing in 186 cases submitted by the group," he said. He also said that 243 cases had been determined to be unfounded.

"These cases can be time consuming and difficult," Gustafson said, "because felons often don't stay at the same address and can be hard to find."

McGrath said he was surprised at the number of "unfounded" cases and wondered if politics might have played a part in the outcomes. "The prosecutor is running for governor and may not want to look too closely at the figures.[56]

Endorsements

ACORN

Ritchie was endorsed by the Minnesota Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now's Political Action Committee in the campaign.[60][61] The organization also donated to his campaign.[62]

In Minnesota ACORN boasted of playing a major role in the 2008 elections. It claims to have registered 43,000 new voters, which it describes as 75 percent of the state's new registrations.[60]

Other Organizations

The following organizations endorsed Ritchie:[61]

Legislature & Community Leaders

The following endorsed Ritchie:[61]

MN Congressional Delegation:

MN State Senators:

MN State Representatives:

Local Elected Officials:

Community Leaders:

Supporters

Click here for a list of the names of 2426 individuals who supported Ritchie in his 2006 campaign. The list includes such names as Jonathan Soros, Drummond Pike and Miles Rapoport.

Donations

The following made donations to Mark Ritchie's 2006 Campaign for Secretary of State.[63] Click here for a detailed spreadsheet with this information.

2008 Coleman vs. Franken Controversy

Coleman Campaign's goal: "Win at any price"

Mark Ritchie On Sen. Coleman's Campaign

On Nov. 12, 2008, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie stated on MSNBC,

"I think it's normal campaign - their goal is to win at any price - they've invested millions and millions of dollars and so we consider this part of the normal political rhetoric. Keep in mind we just had a statewide recount just two months ago, so we're very used to this sort of process and we're used to the political rhetoric being amped up as high as it can because that's part of their job of trying to win at any price.

Later that day Ritchie was asked by a reporter,

"I just got an email from the Coleman campaign quoting that you say that their campaign intends to win "at any price", they're calling that offensive, demands an apology and underscores our concerns about his ability to act as an unbiased official in this recount. What's your reaction to that?"

Ritchie responded,

"I don't have any reaction to that because I haven't said their campaign is willing to win at any price."

2010 Campaign

21st Century Democrats support

21st Century Democrats is a Political Action Committee that has stood for Progressive causes for over 20 years. Founded in 1986 by Institute for Policy Studies affiliate, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Democratic Socialists of America affiliates, former Texas Agriculture Secretary Jim Hightower, and former Illinois Congressman Lane Evans. Its three main goals are to help elect progressive candidates, train young people about grassroots organizing, and lastly, to continue to support our elected officials after Election Day "through our comprehensive progressive network".

Long time Board chair was Democratic Socialists of America member Jim Scheibel, a former Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The mission of 21st Century Democrats is to build a "farm team" of progressive populists who will be the future leaders of the Democratic Party.

In each election cycle, we endorse a diverse array of candidates who exemplify our values and show unusual promise to advance our progressive goals. We invest in some of the most competitive races as well as in some of the most challenging – those in which the candidates are outstanding but the traditional Democratic supporters are most reticent. We back candidates in primaries as well as general election races, and we focus the bulk of our resources on electing challengers and protecting vulnerable incumbents.[64]

Ritchie was one of 5 key progressives endorsed by 21st Century Democrats in the 2010 election cycle, second round. [65]

2010 Endorsements

The following organizations endorsed Ritchie in his campaign for Secretary of State for Minnesota:[66]

Donations

The following made donations to Mark Ritchie's 2010 Campaign for Secretary of State.[67] Click here for a detailed spreadsheet with this information.

2010 Coleman vs. Dayton Recount

Ritchie is set to supervise a tight re-count of the two-horse race for the Minnesota governorship. The leading contender in this race is far-left Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member, far-left former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton with 919,231 43.7%) of the votes at the first count. Running against him is Republican Tom Emmer with 910,480 (43.2%) of the votes at the first count.[68]

Ritchie's Inappropriate Partisan Statements

Former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer today called on Secretary of State of Mark Ritchie to disavow deeply inappropriate and highly partisan writings which appeared on his official Twitter account concerning the Emmer-Dayton canvass and recount proceedings. She also called on Ritchie to add a Republican lawyer to his staff, given the well-known partisan makeup of his office. She stated,[69]

"As Minnesota’s chief elections official, Mark Ritchie has a special obligation to remain non-partisan in the canvass and recount process. Sadly, recent posts from Ritchie on his official Twitter account demonstrate that he’s already made up his mind about the gubernatorial recount. It is clear that Ritchie has lost the ability to remain neutral and objective. On his official Twitter account, Ritchie both voices approval for a statement that ‘9,000 votes is a mighty steep hill to climb and the Emmer folks know it’ and heralds a Pioneer Press story entitled, ‘Recount poses big challenge for Emmer.’ Can you imagine a referee in the NFL publicly stating that the Vikings have no chance in a game he will be officiating in a few days? It is incomprehensible and Ritchie’s conduct is way out of bounds. Instead of taking sides and handicapping the prospects of various candidates, Secretary Ritchie should be working to ensure that all votes lawfully cast are counted. Secretary Ritchie must disavow his deeply inappropriate partisan writings. In addition, Secretary Ritchie would be wise to add a Republican lawyer to his staff to balance his deeply partisan office which includes the well-known Democratic attorney, Bert Black. Minnesotans deserve no less."

Staff

The following work for Mark Ritchie in his position as Secretary of State for Minnesota:

Other Activities

Mark Ritchie signed a petition organized by the Saint Paul Better Ballot Campaign calling for Instant Runoff Voting in Minneapolis.[74]

Publications

External Links

References

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