Front Runner?

Scott Walker.

He’s conservative.

He’s got a killer track record.

He’s got killer approval ratings, and has them in a state perhaps even more purple than Minnesota, notwithstanding (or – ahem – because of) his tough, conservative stances on vital issues. 

He’s withstood four years of the most scabrous liberal and media (ptr) campaigns in the history of American politics (not directed at a woman or minority conservative, anyway), and come out stronger than ever

Revealingly, Walker fares well in an electorate that does not seem particularly conservative and that, if anything, appears to be slightly to the left of American voters in general. Among those surveyed in the WPR/St. Norbert’s poll, 48 percent had a favorable view of President Obama; 50 percent had an unfavorable view. Obama generally fares worse than that in national polling. In addition, Wisconsin’s liberal Senator Tammy Baldwin had a positive rating — 44 percent approve; 33 percent disapprove.

In this context, Walker’s popularity is particularly striking. 59 percent approve of his performance, while only 39 percent disapprove.

And despite the left and media’s (ptr) attempt to sand-bag his accomplishments (for instance, the left’s meme claiming Minnesota is “doing better” than Wisconsin, which depends entirely on ignoring the structural differences between manufacturing-heavy Wisconsin and service-heavy Minnesota, or Wisconsin’s commanding lead over MN in climate for new businesses), he’s got his own constituents basically on board - especially amazing considering the manufactured rancor of his first 18 months in office:

 Walker’s approval numbers basically track the right direction/wrong direction numbers for his State. 57 percent said that Wisconsin is moving in the right direction, while 38 percent said its moving in the wrong direction. By contrast only 32 percent believe the United States is moving in the right direction. 63 percent think we’re moving the other way.

If the GOP has a brain…

…well, Jeb who?

Bulletproof

Scott Walker is revolutionizing midwestern politics in Wisconsin.  And it’s driving Wisconsin Democrats crazy.  They are pulling out all the stops – and all the dirty tricks that decades of Democrat rulers accreted to help them try to keep their power – to try to depose him. 

Including an anonymous, unaccountable “John Doe” investigation that is essentially an extended prosecutorial fishing trip…

…that has found nothing against Governor Walker.  And, arguably, was never intended to – so much as it was to create a long, extended smear of Walker in the compliant press. 

It doesn’t seem to be working.  Walker’s approval is at 52%, and…:

The latest Marquette Law School poll, released Wednesday, shows Walker’s lead on presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke in the run-up to Wisconsin gubernatorial race in November has crept up a percentage point, to 48 percent to 41 percent. Walker led Burke, a wealthy Madison liberal and Commerce Secretary under former Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle, 47 percent to 41 percent in the law school’s last poll in January.

The poll of 801 Wisconsin registered voters was conducted by cell phone and landline March 20-23, a month after the release of Rindfleisch’s emails, which proved somewhat embarrassing for Walker and his associates but showed no evidence of illegal activity by Walker.

Wisconsin Democrats may wind up “attacking” Walker all the way to the White House at this rate.

Notes From My Short List

I don’t endorse candidates – well, rarely, anyway – but my fantasy ticket for 2016 is Scott Walker and Rand Paul.  Since neither is likely to settle for Veep, it’s probably fair to say that either of them (maybe with Susana Martinez for Veep) is my current front-runner.

Why Walker?  Look at Wisconsin. 

Why Rand Paul?   Because he’s putting the GOP – and more importantly conservatism – into places where it’s not been seen in decades.  And – the bleatings of too many establishment hamsters notwithstading – convincing people that conservative-libertarianism is the right answer to this nation’s problemsisthe future of conservatism, and especially the GOP, if there’s going to be a future at all.

And Paul gets this:

Historically, the Republican Party has been just what the public thinks it is, largely a bunch of risk-averse white men who are totally clueless at public relations, even though they are on the right (correct) side of almost every issue. Meanwhile, the liberal Democrats haven’t had a decent rational argument about anything for years, if they ever did. They ream young people, blacks and virtually every other “interest group”that supports them with their policies and they still win most national elections. What a disgraceful group of losers that makes the Republicans…Rand Paul is smart enough to realize this and actually goes out and does things about it…The country is changing. Whole new groups are ripe for the picking, most obviously the young who are being so completely raked over by the Obama administration via Obamacare and the rest of the entitlements so many of them know they will never see. They were ready to applaud at Berkeley.

The whole thing is worth a read. 

And, if you’re a GOP activist, a little bit of internalizing.

In The Wake…

…of the Instapundit straw poll that showed a convincing (if meaningless) lead for a ticket I’ve quietly dreamed about, I figure that’s an idea I should copy.

So here we go; the first Shot In The Dark Straw Poll.

(and not likely the last one of this campaign).

Who would you like to see running for President?

Who do you support for the GOP Nomination for President in 2016?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Polls open until probably tomorrow sometime.

Onward

Fitz is gone.  Long live Fitzsimmons.

Now, it’s time for libertarian-conservatives caucusing with the GOP to move on to the next crisis. 

Republicans are still hashing over the Fitzsimmons/Lucero bout in Wright County last weekend.  It’s in the blogs, and on the talk shows – mine included. 

But that’s a die that’s been cast, and can’t be called back (short of a primary challenge that I don’t suspect FItzsimmons will launch) for two more years. 

Barring that primary challenge, Eric Lucero’s the guy.  Not only does he need to win this fall to keep the House GOP caucus at its current level – but we need to flip four seats to turn the House red. 

And ideally these four flips (and hopefully many more) should be good, solid, Tea Party conservatives.  But I have no say in that; that’s up to the candidates at the BPOU level, and the activists who support them.

And along the way – like, as soon as we get done with the various BPOU endorsement battles – the various factions of the GOP need to bury whatever hatches we’ve accreted over this past few months, and start pulling in the same direction.   I’ve called for this – arapprochementbetween the “five families” of the MNGOP (the Tea Party, the Socialcons, the Moderates, the Chamber of Commerce estalbishment and the “Liberty” crew, or whatever’s left of them) to agree to disagree on the details until February of 2016, and quit the pointless fratricide and grudge-mongering that’ve made being a Republican such a trying thing this past five or six years, and work toward a much greater good.

A Liberty activist should accept that a Social Conservative is going to be a more sympathetic ear in office for liberty than any DFLer will be; a Chamber of Commerce “Good Government” fixer shouldn’t worry that a Tea Partier is going to make their life suck worse than a DFLer will; they won’t.

Don’t get me wrong; now is the time of the political season for the different flavors of Republican to go to the mat for their beliefs, to leave it all out on the mat in pursuit of exactly what you want in office. 

But the time is almost here to put up for the greater good, or shut up. There will be chits to be paid in 2016.  But unless the GOP is back in power, it’s all a pointless sideshow. 

Conservatism needs to be back on this state’s policy center stage.  After that, everything will be much easier to work through. 

Nothing succeeds like being successful.  We need to re-learn that.

Open Letter to Pretty Much Everyone Involved In Last Weekend’s Rhubarb In Buffalo

To:  Dave Fitzsimmons, the Lucero delegates, the Minnesota Family Council, the Taxpayers League, the Media, and Mr. Lucero
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  The HD30B Convention

So many things to write to so many people.  Let’s start at the top:

To Dave Fitzsimmons:  Thanks for all you’ve done so far.  I hope you come back and do more.  You’re one of the best.

To Anyone Who’s Used This Incident To Say The GOP Is A Tiny-Tent Party: Nope.  This is a sign that a candidate – Eric Lucero – got a slew of single-issue activists to bum-rush the caucuses on his behalf.  It’s exactly how Michelle Bachmann and Kurt Bills got their respective nominations (for Congress in 2006 and US Senate in 2012, respectively). 

You’ll note – if you are intellectually honest – that of the four Republicans who voted for the Marriage Amendment, Pat Garofalo cruised to an easy endorsement in Farmington, which is every bit as blood-red conservative as Wright County, and Jennifer Loon will do the same this next month in her neck of the woods (Andrea Kieffer, unfortunately, is retiring – but she’d have been re-endorsed in a walkover).

This is what happens, sometimes, in a party that truly embraces local control.  The DFL would never have allowed this to happen, for better or worse – DFL money interests would already have the primary challenge planned and the votes paid for – and events like last Saturday aside, most of us believe it’s better our way.

To The Lucero Delegates:  I heard the talk from Buffalo while I was on the air on Saturday.  Many of you apparently came strictly to vote for Lucero against Fitzsimmons; you agitated loudly to cut to the voting without bothering with all the other business that the district convenes to take care of.  Many of you had never darkened the door of a GOP event, ever.  You had your mind made up about one issue, and one issue only.

I wonder – what would you say if I asked you what Eric Lucero intends to do, if elected, about taxes?  Booming social and HHS spending?  The budget bloat?  How he plans to work, potentially, in a minority, and at best with a single GOP chamber against a DFL senate and possibly Governor?  What his legislative priorities might be, other than…

…well, what precisely are Luceros’ priorities?  Because near as I can tell, the only agenda on which Lucero ran was punishing Fitzsimmons for one single solitary vote in the entire 2013 session.

We’ll come back to that.

The Minnesota Family Council and the Taxpayers League:  What the f***?  I mean, what the f***ing, f***ing f***?  The Taxpayers League gave Fitzsimmons a perfect 100% score and labeled him a “Friend of the Taxpayer” – presumably because Fitz perfectly supported the TPL on its brief, cutting taxes and spending .  And yet there was your former boss, Phil Krinkie, writing a scathing hit piece on TPL stationery, attacking Fitzsimmons, for reasons utterly opaque to me.

And the Minnesota Family Council?  You gave Fitzsimmons a 92 out of 100 – up near the top, even in a legislature full of perfect 100s.   And yet over one vote, over a stance Fitzsimmons took before the GOP fell into a complete minority absolutely ensuring the passage of gay marriage - via pushing legislation that was mostly your organization’s work, by the way – and, most likely, the eventual oppression of those who dissent against it, you threw him under the bus as hard as you could.

What precisely is a good rating from either of your organizations worth, again?

Shame on both of you organizations.  You both harmed both of your causes immeasurably this week among the people who’ll be showing up next week, next month and next year, if you catch my drift.

The Media:  Um, not every candidate you disagree with is Tea Party.  Lucero certainly isn’t.  The Tea Party largely stays out of social issues.  Many of us Tea Partiers have strong social beliefs, but our priority is trying to forestall the mindless liberal governments in St Paul and Washington from completely collapsing the entire economy, if we can.

Mr. Lucero:  I saw you speak two weeks ago, at a Tea Party event.  Near as I can tell, you have two issues; re-fighting the 2013 marriage debate, and…data security.

Assuming you get elected – and Wright County is, at least, fairly safe GOP territory, with minimal chance of the DFL flipping the seat – by all means, Mr. Lucero, tell us; what do you stand for that is material to the coming session.  Because Gay Marriage ain’t coming up.

Taxes?  Fighting a DFL Senate and possibly Governor?  Fighting against the DFL’s drive to institute as much control over this state as it can?  Getting the budget under control?  Exporting conservatism from the third-tier suburbs into the parts of the state that need it?

You have some huge shoes to fill.  Go ahead – convince those of us who work more than one issue that you’re fit to hold Dave Fitzsimmons’ briefcase.

Go.

That is all.

The Circular Firing Squad

The Marriage Amendment and the legalization of gay marriage is a gift that just keeps on giving.

Walter Hudson writes about the socialcon push to unseat Dave Fitzsimmons - I almost called it a “Fatwa” before catching myself – and its commentary about the state of the MNGOP in 2014.

First things first:  Fitzsimmons is a Tea Party and libertarian-conservative stalwart – a guy who ran on rock-ribbed libertarian-conservative principle, and delivered on it during his freshman term in the House.

Hudson:

Cycle after electoral cycle, activists pine for candidates who will stand on principle and do the right thing regardless of political consequence. Cycle after cycle, candidates claim they will meet that challenge and take bold action to serve their constituents. Cycle after cycle, voters remain disappointed by bland performances delivering lack-luster results.

Perhaps we get what we deserve. Perhaps we only say that we want bold statesman who will do the right thing without regard to their next election. Perhaps we actually reward bland performance while punishing aggressive leadership.

A case study presents in Wright County, where activist-turned-legislator David Fitzsimmons serves Minnesota House District 30B. This Saturday, Fitzsimmons will seek his party’s endorsement in the face of three challengers hoping to wrest it from him.

Two years ago, Fitzsimmons was a shoe-in for endorsement and handily defended a primary challenge before earning his freshman term. His victory seemed predestined, given the conservative leanings of his district and a well-earned reputation for effective activism on behalf of his party and its candidates.

Hudson notes that in a party full of talkers – myself included – Fitzsimmons is a do-er.  He’s a guy who’s actually made things happen; a long-time activist, he engineered Tom Emmer’s campaign up through the convention (before handing it off to less-successful management), and has been a founding chair of the GOP Liberty caucus.  He’s been a right-libertarian Godfather, including to Hudson himself:

Coming up through the Tea Party, I learned the ropes from candidates and activists who owed their political education to Fitzsimmons. His name became synonymous with expertise, hard work, and discernment. He blazed a trail of credibility which up-and-coming activists were able to follow into the Republican Party, growing its ranks and sharpening its conscience.

And, as Hudson notes, with that sort of resume he could have followed the usual Freshman route and made himself a very small target while he learned the Saint Paul ropes and built a political career.

But that’s not who David is. He didn’t go to Saint Paul to be something. He went there to do something. When the opportunity to make a difference presented itself, he seized it at great risk to his political future.

Long story short:

  1. With the collapse of the Marriage Amendment and the sweep to power of the DFL, the passage of a gay marriage statute was a foregone conclusion.
  2. Fitzsimmons – a gay marriage opponent – tried to offer an amendment that would have made same-sex marriage a matter of civil law, preserving clergy’s right to abstain from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages on religious grounds, thus protecting the First Amendment freedom of religion in a way the DFL wasn’t going to.

Hudson:

Democrats consented to the amendment. However, Fitzsimmons knew that his amendment could be stripped out of the final bill unless he sat on the conference committee which would reconcile the House and Senate versions. To ensure his place on that committee, he would have to vote for final passage.

Surely, he understood the political fallout which would occur in Wright County – likely the most conservative political district in the state – if he voted yes on final passage. He also understood that voting yes was the only way to ensure some protection of his constituents’ religious liberty.

As the vote for final passage took place, Fitzsimmons watched the vote totals to make sure his would not decide the question. Only once it was certain that the bill would pass did Fitzsimmons cast his vote for final passage, securing his place on the conference committee to preserve his amendment.

I’ve seen arguments over the mechanics of the amendment; I’ve seen none that convince me Fitzsimmons offered his amendment for reasons other than the ones Hudson detailed.

I’ve only been acquainted with one of Fitzsimmons’ challengers – Dayton city councilman Eric Lucero.  While I’m told Lucero is a capable enough activist, the first impression I took away was that he didn’t really speak to any issues beyond marriage (and information security), that he was fairly inarticulate about even those issues, and that he couldn’t possibly fill Fitzsimmons’ shoes.

And the propensity to judge an entire political career – a stellar one, one of the ones that needs to be emulated all over this state, one of the ones this nation is going to need thousands more of if it’s going to survive - by a disagreement over the mechanics rather than principles behind a single vote – is one of the Minnesota GOP’s biggest handicaps today.

District 30B’s activists have a chance to make a clear declaration on this, one way or another, at their convention.  Here’s hoping they choose wisely.

The GOP’s Stockholm Syndrome

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Thomas Sowell has an interesting column that contains this line:

“Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them.”

He’s got a point.  If we applied Democrat’s immigration logic to other laws in a reductio ad absurdum analysis . . . .

There are 750,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, of which 400,000 are child molesters.  Applying the same criminal justice probabilities to child molesters as we do to other rape, we can assume there are 10 non-convicted offenders for every offender who was convicted.  Therefore:

There are 4 million child molesters in the United States, living in the shadows, unable to freely pursue their dreams.  They live in constant fear, looking over their shoulders for government agents.  They are forced to live in an underground, cash-based, off-the-books culture.  These are hard-working, productive members of society with families.  They pay sales taxes.  They would vote Democrat if they weren’t convicted felons.  Society must legalize their status, bring them out of the shadows, brush away the obstacles and make them full members of society. Do it now, for the children.

Okay, that’s idiotic.  And so is this latest round of immigration amnesty.  House Republicans selling their souls for Chamber of Commerce donations are killing their own party while they destroy the future of the nation.

Joe Doakes

Yet another reason the Tea Party really, really needs to complete its takeover of the GOP.

Caucasus Tonight

It’s Caucasus night throughout Minnesota tonight.

Mount Ushbra, Georgia

Throughout the state, people will be joining their favorite tribe, dancing traditional their traditional folk dances, getting drunk on fermented goat milk, arranging marriages, and firing guns randomly into the air.

At the end of the evening, all the tribes will declare war on each other, duke it out, and adjourn til next year.

A Caucasus event in Chaska, 1994.

Hope to see you there.

UPDATE:  Ooops.  My bad.  Tonight is Caucus night.  Not Caucasus night.  I regret the error.

Tonight’s the night the the four major parties in Minnesota (the GOP, the Independence, and the DFL/Take Action Minnesota) pick the delegates that will lead to the endorsements to run for the major offices – Governor, Senate, and the various Congressional and State Legislative seats.  If you don’t like the way your party is working, tonight’s the night to try to do something about it.

I’ve never been to a DFL caucus, but I know Republican caucuses are usually not a huge time investment, especially if you duck out before the endless debates over the meaningless resolutions. Which I usually do.

DFL and Take Action Minnesota canvassers at caucus night, South Minneapolis, 2012.

If you’re new to caucuses, here’s the deal:  the point is not to write resolutions about issues that matter to you.  It’s to get people who support your candidates for the various offices – Governor, Senate, Congress, the Legislature – elected as delegates to the various rounds of conventions.

  • If you get selected as a delegate tonight, you’ll go to your “BPOU Convention” – that usually means your legislative House or Senate district, although in outstate Minnesota it might mean your county party convention – in March.  Those usually happen on a weekday evening, an hour or two.  No big deal.  There, you’ll endorse legislative candidates, and elect delegates to go to your…
  • …Congressional District convention, in (I think) April.  They usually eat up a Saturday morning.  There, you’ll endorse people to run for Congress, and elect delegates to the…
  • State Convention, in May, in Rochester.  This eats up a couple days.  There, the delegates that are at the end of the chain will endorse candidates for Governor and Senator.

It seems convoluted – but it makes sense, more or less.  To the extent the “Ron Paul” faction took over the GOP two years ago, or the Tea Party four years ago, or Michele Bachmann did it in the 6th CD eight years ago, they did it by getting their people out to caucuses and electing delegates that moved up the chain and elected more delegates. That’s pretty much it.

(On the DFL side, the conventions are run according to a system designed for utmost political correctness, so they are long and grueling, and lead to a series of conventions that end in the endorsement of candidates who will then lose in the primaries to whomever Alida Messinger and Take Action Minnesota support).

For further information on where and when your party’s caucuses are:

Hope to see you there!

Seven Arguments

This year may be one of the greatest opportunities for the conservative movement in recent memory.  Greater than 2010?  The polling says “why not?”.  Greater than 1994, in terms of reversing an unstoppable liberal juggernaut?  Maybe.

And maybe not.  Because the GOP – meaning the party, but including some of the parts of the conservative movement that speak from within the platform of the Grand Old Party, continue to show a complete inability to portray conservatism in a form that could attract the unaligned middle class.

And while the insurgent parts of the party – the Tea Party, mainly – can do better, no single Tea Party contender seems to be able to articulate a vision on more than a few issues, consistently and clearly, that resonates with middle class voters.  Now, a few may be enough – Obamacare is a deal-breaker for many people, gun-grabbing for others, and a few Americans even have the foresight to be terrified about long-term entitlement debt.

Victor Davis Hanson – the smartest person in any room he’s in – articulates middle-class approaches to not one, not two, but seven vital issues.   If I pulled one quote, I’d have to pull the whole thing.  I’m just going to commend it to  you for your attention.

And I humbly suggest certain GOP candidates read them, internalize them, and use them on the trail.  Stat.

Doakes Sunday: Prediction Time

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Prediction January 24, 2014:  Hilary will win in 2016.

Why shouldn’t she, the contest already is going by default.  She would have crushed McCain in 2008 if Black didn’t trump Woman in the Democrat Victim Hierarchy, making Obama the walk-on starter instead of the woman who nearly wheedled her way to the nomination.

Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey who shut down the bridge to punish his own public, is a fat slob and an arrogant jerk.  That plays in New Jersey but nobody else likes him and soccer moms won’t vote for him.

Rand Paul is young, handsome and slender but his father is Ron Paul who is a Libertarian kook.  The Pauls are hated not just by the media, but by the old guys in the mainstream Republican leadership and big business who see free-trade as a threat to corporate crony favoritism.  Neither group will do much to support him.

Jeb Bush is a Bush and we’re tired of them.  Ted Cruz is a racist, Scott Walker broke the public employee unions, Mario Rubio sounds too Mexican . . . the Republicans simply don’t have a candidate.

George Bush was the last Republican who will be elected President until the inevitable crash comes.  Meanwhile, Hilary in 2016.  I should get my button now.

Joe Doakes

Too many Republicans think “perfect is the enemy of good enough” is an obscene phrase.

Debate

Last Saturday, Brad Carlson and I had the great pleasure of hosting the first ever North Ramsey County Republicans Gubernatorial debate.  The event was put on by the three BPOUs in northern Ramsey county – House districts 42A, 42B and 66A.

We had five of the GOP governor candidates on stage with us; Marty Seifert, Jeff Johnson, Rob Farnsworth, Dave Thompson and Scott Honour.

We had about 100 people in the house at Concordia Academy – which, for a first-time GOP event deep in Blue Ramsey County on a day with greasy roads was excellent turnout.  A lot of people also tuned in via the live stream and, of course, on AM1280 (the debate was during my show’s regular time slot).

Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press was there, and wrote about the event in a piece titled “Debate reveals similar messages from GOP’s five candidates for governor” – which was a perfectly valid first impression of the event.  Candidates are being cautious now, playing largely to the party base (for caucus purposes) while trying to woo uncommitted and non-activist Republicans (for the primaries, which look pretty inevitable at this point).

Salisbury:

But the audience of about 100 partisans and students at Concordia Academy wanted to know: Who is the most electable?

That’s the biggest difference between this year’s Republican contest and the party’s 2010 nomination battle.

“No one asked that question four years ago,” former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert said after the 90-minute debate. In 2010, Seifert lost the GOP gubernatorial endorsement to conservative firebrand Tom Emmer, who then was defeated by Democrat Mark Dayton despite a wave that swept Republicans into control of both houses of the Legislature for the first time in four decades.

This year, Seifert said, grassroots Republicans are hungry for a win and less concerned about ideological purity.

It’s a different race than it was four years ago; bidding to replace Mark Dayton is different than trying to follow-up Tim Pawlenty.

The audience questions were sharp and incisive, and I think they accurately reflected the concerns of real Minnesotans pretty clearly; the economy, the disintegration of health insurance under Obamacare and MNSure, and – most poignantly – a lot of high school kids wondering what kind of economy they were going to be graduating into.

From my perspective as a co-moderator?  The candidates were pretty similar; all various shades of “conservative enough”.  Farnsworth was pragmatic, and a bit of a homespun technocrat, with fairly detailed ideas for solutions to problems raised.  Seifert was sharp – like someone who’s spent four years working through the questions, having a brisk, calibrated answer to everything.

m.twincities.com/twincities/db_295955/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=604T07tB

When Out And About This Weekend

This Saturday, AM1280 will be joining with the North Ramsey County Republicans in putting on the first really good gubernatorial candidates’ debate of the season!

Brad Carlson and I will host the event, at the Concordia Academy in Roseville (just north of Highway 36 on Dale Street).  The debate will start promptly at 1PM, and will be heavily audience-participation focused. 

As this is written candidates (in alpabetical order) Rob Farnsworth, Scott Honour, Jeff Johnson, Marty Seifert and  Dave Thompson are all on the line-up.  This may be the best debate you’ll hear before the caucuses. 

It’s a fund-raiser for the North Ramsey County Republicans (House districts 42A, 42B and 66A).  Admission is $10 if you register in advance.  Refreshments will be provided, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume some of us are going to adjourn to a local watering hole afteward for a post-debate wrapup. 

So sign up and come on out!  It’s going to be a fun event!

Take Heart

2013 was a decent year for grassroots Real Americans. 

In Minnesota, we shut down a full-court press for gun control, in a DFL-controlled legislature that should have passed at least some gun-grab bill in a walkover.  The good guys – and there were plenty of DFLers among those good guys, from outstate – broke the unaminity of the DFL majority, and issued the Metrocrats, their media praetorian guards, and their darlings “Protect” MN and “Moms Want Action” a humilating rebuke. 

Of course, guns are about principle; when money’s involved, the DFL cracks the whip even harder.  Minnesota’s home daycare and home-care providers, working in their spare time around their jobs and families, couldn’t quite beat back the unions’ lavishly-funded onslaught; with $2 million a year in union contributions to the DFL at stake, no dissent could be tolerated.  But the plucky providers launched a grass-roots effort that not only won the moral battle and showed the DFL to be even more cynical and craven than we thought before – but they took the fight to court.  And, so far, won. 

Of course, in Colorado Real Americans came within a trice of taking back the state Senate via a meticulously-organized recall campaign against Democrat senators who served as puppets for Michael Bloomberg’s gun-grab campaign; the Democrats held the Senate only because the next target resigned (allowing her seat to be filled with a Democrat) rather than get tossed in a recall (which would have flipped the Senate). 

This past five years have at times been discouraging for conservatives; we’ve felt like the GOP at the highest levels is in the thrall of people with careers and pals to look out for, and the money to make it stick, and who are not above defeating their unruly grassroots erstwhile allies before worrying about the Democrats.  It’s felt at times like the Beltway GOP is more worried about the Tea Party – which is the real soul of the conservative movement – than about Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. 

The GOP needs to learn something from its grass roots, here and nationwide.

Pol Position Deux – Frankensense

We return to look at the nascent Minnesota GOP race for U.S. Senate.  We broke down the GOP governor’s battle royale here.

____

While the Minnesota GOP governor’s race has attracted most of the attention from the state’s punditry and conservative activists, the race for U.S. Senate has been at best a political red-headed stepchild – an electoral Clint Howard.  A bevy of unheralded candidates and little money raised hasn’t fundamentally altered the state of the race since July.  This despite the increasingly polling weakness of Sen. Al Franken.

Much like the man who he’ll likely be sharing the top of the DFL ticket with, Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken has seen his approval rating collapse, with the last six months essentially undo six years of polling gains following his contested 312-vote margin of victory.  Franken’s approval rating has dipped to 39%, with a bare majority of 51% disapproving.  Ideologically sympathetic pollsters have pegged Franken’s percentages much higher, but his 10-12% early head-to-head numbers against a mostly unknown GOP field suggests Minnesota’s junior senator hasn’t found the political elixir that Sen. Amy Klobuchar rode to victory just a scant 12+ months ago.  The question remains whether Republicans can take advantage. Continue reading

Pol Position Deux – The Race to Summit (Ave)

We breakdown the state of the GOP race for governor.  We offer a similar analysis of the GOP Senate contest here.

___

The seasons have changed significantly since our last detailed analysis of the GOP governor’s race – and so has the political climate.

Last July, Minnesota’s political commentariat had all but official declared Gov. Mark Dayton the winner in his 2014 re-election effort.  Sporting a 57% approval rating, despite a legislative session that saw no shortage of controversial bills (including a warehouse tax even the Star Tribune editorial board begged Dayton to reconsider), Dayton looked in good position to cruise through the fall and winter political doldrums.

Fast-forward six months and Mark Dayton’s numbers are dropping as quickly as the temperature.  Dragging a 52% disapproval rating into the 2014 session, Dayton has been eager to recast his imagine as a traditional tax-and-spend liberal, suggesting he’d return the bulk of Minnesota’s projected $1.1 billion surplus (minus erasing the shift in education dollars) as tax cuts.  The reception to the concept has only been slightly warmer than absolute zero in the DFL caucus, framing a potential conflict between Dayton’s yearning for re-election aid and the legislative desires for more spending.

Tax cuts or not, Dayton’s greatest potential saving grace may simply be his opposition. Continue reading

Messaging

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The conversation I’d like to hear . . . .

“I’m losing my health insurance because of Obama-care. You’re a Republican Congressman, what are you going to do about it?”

“Nothing.”

“What? Why not? Don’t you care about people?”

“Sure, I care; but Obama-care is the law of the land, passed by Democrats, implemented by Democrats, enforced by Democrats. As long as Obama-care is the law of the land, you’re sunk.”

“Can’t you fix Obama-care to let me keep my policy?”

“I’m afraid not. The only way to fix the problem is to junk the entire plan and start over. All of us Republicans support repealing Obama-care so you can keep your insurance but Democrats in Congress and the President agree they won’t let us solve the problem. The President and all his Democrats insist that you must lose your insurance policy, pay more for a replacement policy, and probably lose your doctor, too.”

Joe Doakes

Concise, truthful, and politically devastating among voters who are smart enough to be allowed the right to vote.

Rudymentary

Christie’s Real Weight Problem – the punditry’s baggage of Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 bid

Does Chris Christie have a Rudy Giuliani-sized lump on his body politic?

While the fat jokes about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie started long before he was elected (recall Jon Corzine’s much-maligned ad from 2009), Christie’s political weight has been the only thing in the governor’s mansion packing on the pounds in recent months.  Thanks in multiple parts to a weak Democrat challenger, a compliant press corps, and a Democrat-leaning special election held weeks earlier, Chris Christie’s 22% margin of victory in ultramarine blue New Jersey has vaunted him to the top of the incredibly-too-early-to-reasonably-speculate GOP sweepstakes.

Christie’s critics suggest his numerous derivations from conservative orthodoxy and penchant for picking fights with his own party spell his early primary doom – presumably because they’ve never met Mitt Romney or John McCain.  But the early line of attack that does seem to be gaining some traction with the only segment of the electorate who cares this early – the punditry – is that Christie is too east coast, too combative.  Too Rudy Giulianiesque: Continue reading

Principle

To:  Principled Libertarians
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity “Establishment” Tea Party Peasant
Re:  Bamboozled

My Libertarian Friends,

I likely agree with you all on more than we disagree.  Some of you like to focus on the disagreements, which makes for fun rhetoric, but whatever; I would call myself a constitutional limited government conservative.  The battle to limit the power of government is a long, uphill slog – against the gleefully statist Democrats, and against a GOP establishment that has plenty of constituents that benefit from the Big State, as well as a crucially large Tea Party faction that is quite the opposite. 

Whatever.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Anyway.

Now, one of you folks’s signature lines is that you’d rather be irrelevant at the polls than violate your principles.

And generally – and I say this with all due respect – Libertarians achieve that wish with flying colors.  Their irrelevance at the polls is legendary; most LP candidates are doing well to poll in full single digits – to the left of the decimal point, anyway. 

And the big “Ron Paul” takeover of the Minnesota GOP has had mixed results.  Some districts - like my SD65 – saw excellent efforts by solid candidates that turned out lots of new GOP voters.  Others – the 5th CD – turned out more like frat party gags gone awry, run by people who chuckle amongst themselves about the contempt they feel for the GOP and Republicans. 

As a general rule, Libertarians (with the Big L) are happy to remain magnificently above the scrums of daily life, gazing down on all the silly worker ants and their door-knocking and sign-pounding, focusing on big thoughts and dreaming of the utopia we’ll all share (from our neutral corners) once  you get those damn brainwashed sheeple to see the light. 

All is in its place, right?

So for the Virginia Libertarian Party, it must have seemed like Free Pot and Raw Milk day; someone gave them actual money to run a campaign. 

Of course, that “someone” was an Obama bundler

And the Libertarian candidate for Governor came in with a little over six percent of the vote.  And I’m going to hypothesize with little fear of contradiction that in and among the people who wouldn’t have voted anyway there was a preponderance of a couple of Republicans, maybe several, for every Democrat. 

Which was precisely why an Obama bundler rounded up all the money, of course – for the same reason that Liberals With Deep Pockets ® donated to Tom Horner.  To siphon votes

Now, many of you believe there’s no difference between the two major parties.  I reject that premise (while stipulating that the GOP has a ton of room for improvement, which is why I’m firmly in the Tea Party wing of the party, and have been since long before there was a Tea Party). 

But whatever it is you believe about the difference (?) between the two major parties, I gotta ask you; what do you think about having your movement and its principles co-opted in all their above-it-all grandeur to help solidify the control of the most gleefully, overtly statist of the parties?

“It’s not my fault” might be true and is still an evasion. 

Only Libertarians and Republicans in the comment section on this one, please; the kids have all sorts of other places on my blog to romp and play; comments re the Democrat point of view will likely be deleted without ceremony. 

I don’t do that often – but I am today.

It’s my blog.  Don’t like it?  Talk to the hand. 

 

12%

That’s what got Betsy Hodges the victory in Minneapolis’ mayoral election last night.  About a third (36.55%) of a 34% turnout in the first round.

Cam Winton came in just under 10% with 7,500 votes.  Which is about ten percent better than a Republican did in the last Minneapolis mayor race.  Or the one before.  Or the one before that.  Ad infinitum (or at least back to the nineties, which was the last credible GOP candidate I can recall in Minneapolis).

Now, we know there are more than 7,500 Republicans in Minneapolis.  240,000 people in Hennepin County voted for Mitt Romney, for crying out loud – and the “Republican districts” in Henco would fit into a phone booth and leave you enough room for someone to come in and ask you what a phone booth was.  If even 20% of those 240,000 were in Minneapolis, and they’d come out to the polls last night, Winton would have crushed Hodges.

But Republicans never come out for local races.  My theory:  they’re so used to getting beaten down in local, county and Congressional elections, they only come out for statewide and federal races, where their votes actually end up mattering; a GOP vote from Longfellow is worth exactly the same as a GOP vote from Dassel.

The upsides last night?  The fake Republicans, Bob “Let’s Build a Bike Skyway” Carney and Ole “Will Run For Office For Food” Savior, got less than a percent of the vote.  In a cycle in which the 5th CD GOP started out being run by people whose main goal was to destroy the GOP, that’s not a bad job of protecting the brand – although most of the credit goes to Winton, who ran a great race.

Nationwide?  I can’t be too disappointed.  Christie isn’t my favorite Republican, but he had my favorite result – crushing his opponents in a blue state.

Ken Cuccinelli outperformed expectations immensely last night, coming within two points in a race everyone counted him out of – and (this is important) losing to a Democrat vote surge in the only part of the country that’s doing well financially right now, the DC suburbs.

Takeaway?   A good candidate is better than a bad candidate.  A well-organized party in an area is better than a party that’s a Bulgarian goat rodeo.  A two-party city is a better prospect for a challenger than a one-party cesspool.   And all three factors matter, every election,every time.

And it’s going to take either a Detroit-style calamity, or several cycles of rebuilding the GOP as credible contenders, to change either Minneapolis or Saint Paul.  Which would mean spending less time in a circular firing squad shooting other Republicans and more time actually making a case to actual voters.

And I think I started saying that seven years ago, and it’s only gotten worse in the metro.

Winton For Mayor Of Minneapolis

I don’t “endorse” candidates on this blog or on my show. 

Partly because I’m not under the illusion that anyone cares what I think.

And partly because on the off-chance someone does care what I think, I’d much prefer they make up their own mind for themselves, rather than piggyback on anything I, or anyone, says. 

But if you live in Minneapolis, I’m going to urge you to vote for Cam Winton for Mayor.

If you’re a Republican in Minneapolis?:  Here’s the deal; 25-30% of Minneapolis is Republican.  The DFL vote is split six ways – or, perhaps most realistically, two ways (the DFL-endorsed Hodges and the well-funded Warner).  If every GOP voter in Minneapoliscomes to the polls and closes ranks and puts Winton as their #1 choice, he’s got a decent shot.

If you’re a conservative voter:  Winton’s no paleo.  He admits it up front.  He’s a former DFLer and it shows.  But Buckley’s dictum holds true; if you’re a good conservative, you vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.  There is no way around it – if there’s a more conservative candidate on the ballot, they are not in a position to win.  Seriously – who’s raised any money?  Who’s knocked a single door?  Who’s gotten any media?  Nobody.  Winton is not a movement conservative – but in the context of Minneapolis in 2013, it’s a miracle that someone even this close to conservative is on the ballot at all.  Winning would be a great step forward. 

If you’re a “Liberty” voter:  one of the biggest problems too many “liberty” voters have is that they have nothing analogous to the Buckley commandment; for too many of them, anything less than 100% agreement is disagreement.  Because Winton is imperfect on a couple of Libertarian issues, he’s not perfect “Liberty” candidate:

  • He favors hiring more police.  The current fad among big-L libertarians is to distrust, even hate, the police.  I get that.  But Winton is running for office in a city that’s 60+% DFL and a fraction of 1% “Liberty” purists – and many of those DFL voters live in North Minneapolis, a place where abstruse Libertarian principle comes in way, way, way behing “stopping gangbangers from terrorizing the neighborhood”.   Public safety is one of very few legitimate jobs of government.  Follow-up question:  Who do you think is more likely to reform Minneapolis’ police department – a mayor from the establishment that made them what they are today, and is utterly beholden to the union that makes any reform via the DFL impossible? 
  • He supports background checks at gun shows – provided they can not be turned into a confiscation list.  Which is both a palliative for DFL moderates who might be thinking about coming over and voting for him, and a statement with no teeth whatsoever; it’s impossible to make a background check anything but a confiscation list, ergo he has no plan.  And – more importantly – Minneapolis’ pre-emption statute prevents the City of Minneapolis, or any city, from imposing gun controls more strict than state law.  And let’s not forget – while Winton may favor background checks under conditions that can never occur in nature, every DFL candidate in the race favors outright bans; they will throw your guns into a smelter if they get a chance.  But either way, anything Winton or any of the other Mayor candidates say about gun control is completely irrelevant.  Tell you what – we elect him Mayor, I’ll undertake the job of convincing him he’s wrong on gun control.  Deal?   
  • He supports modifying, rather than scrapping, the Southwest Light Rail:  The problem is, the mayor of Minneapolis has little influence over the project.  It’s the Met Council.  The SWLR is going to happen, barring a major change in state government – as in, a GOP (or, sure, “Liberty”, whatever) Governor and Legislature to completely gut the Met Council.  So – at election time, you want the mayor to piddle away potentially thousands of “moderate” DFL votes over an issue he has no meaningful control over, to win Minneapolis’ literally dozens of hard-line 100%-er Liberty voters? 
  • His company is in the wind power business:  Lots of misinformation here; I’ve seen “liberty” people claim his company builds wind turbines and collects the big government subsidies.  It does not; it maintains existing turbines.  Someone has to – why not his company?  If you’re a Libertarian who opposes bike paths but rides ‘em anyway because you already paid for ‘em, sound off here. 

For some “Liberty” voters, it’s like talking to the wall – and that’s leaving out the ones who aren’t voting because they just want the whole system to collapse anyway.  For those that are left?  Incrementalism may be a dirty word, but incrementalism in the right direction is better than the wrong direction.  If that makes any sense to you at all, please vote Winton.  Or vote your principle and put the “liberty” candidate, whoever it may be, as first choice but put Winton second. 

For DFLers who care about Minneapolis:  Minneapolis’ current system is unsustainable.  There is no way for the current system to keep running the way it is.  Minneapolis is going to bankrupt itself – maybe later than sooner.  Not only can you not tax yourselves to prosperity, but in Minneapolis under the DFL machine you can’t even tax yourselves to competence.  The streets are terrible.  The schools have among the worst achievement gaps in the United States – worse than Philly or Detroit, for crying out loud.  The North Side is a shooting gallery.  And yet Minneapolis is laying off cops but proposing building a trolley from where people aren’t to where they don’t want to be, at exquisite city expense ($53 million a mile!), and socializing the city’s power system. 

If you’re a DFLer with some common sense – and I know there are a few of you out there – isn’t it time to say “enough?”  To stop the crazy train?  To run a city like a city, and not an excellent frat party for government hangers-on? 

I can’t vote in Minneapolis.  I wish I could.

Narrative, Interrupted

The Tea Party are extremists that the American people refudiate.

Right?

Well, not so fast (emphasis added):

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of Likely U.S. Voters think the president’s views are closest to their own when it comes to the major issues facing the country. But just as many (42%) say their views come closest to those of the average Tea Party member instead. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This marks a small setback for the Tea Party from April 2010 when 48% felt closest to the average Tea Party member, while 44% said they had more in common with the president

On the other hand, it’s right after the full-fledged media narrative-attack over the “shutdown”.

Thirty-four percent (34%) now believe their personal views are closest to those of the average member of Congress when it comes to the major issues of the day. But slightly more (36%) say their views are closest to those of the average member of the Tea Party. A sizable 30%, however, are not sure.

Opposition by Tea Party Republicans to the president’s national health care law has been blamed for the recent government shutdown, and just 30% of voters now have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party. That’s back to the level seen in January and down from a high of 44% in May after it was disclosed that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups.

Many of the “unfavorables” are likely never voting conservative under any circumstances.

The GOP has to present an alternative to the Democrats.

Money And Organization

Great piece here from Mother Jones about how the DFL went from disorganized and on the ropes after Paul Wellstone’s death, to pretty much controlling Minnesota today.

I know.  It’s MoJo.  It shows obvious signs that it’s written from Alliance for a Better Minnesota press releases (did the DFL really “lower property taxes?”  Because I sure didn’t get mine lowered).

But check it out anyway.

What The Hell Do We Do About The MNGOP: 2013 Edition

It’s almost 2014.  Almost time for another mid-term election that’s going to pit the MNGOP – the party of plucky volunteers, creative fundraisers and circular firing squads – against the Minnesota DFL, the policy body on whose narrative’s behalf the Unions, the non-profits, the trial bar, the media, the Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota and a whooole lot of plutocrats with deep pockets and deeper white liberal guilt spend millions and millions and millions of dollars and hours of paid labor.

The Minnesota GOP has always been a party of uneasy factions – although it really became an issue after about 1994, when the Reagan Revolution finally poked its nose out into the Minnesota cold.

The GOP has quite a few factions these days:

  • The “Liberty” Movement.  The “Ron Paul” clique took the party by storm in 2012 with a very effective organization – and, arguably, waned badly by the end of the year, as people realized that some parts of the organization -some (by no means all) of their delegates to the 2012 RNC in Tampa, the leadership in CD5 and CD4 – were more interested in sticking it to the GOP than going after the DFL.  Maybe they waned as their activists walked away.  Maybe they’re keeping their powder dry.  Maybe the dumb ones went away and the smart ones – like most of the “Liberty” activists in CD2, or my own SD65, among others – focused their energies on actually winning elections.   Either way, they’re a faction.  As, for that matter, is the more-mainstream but equally liberty-conscious “Liberty Caucus”…
  • The Tea Party – The wave of activists that came out, in many cases for the first time, in the wake of Obamacare.   They’ve had a disproportionate impact on the GOP; many of the most effective conservatives in the Legislature came from the Tea Party class of 2010 and 2012; go ahead, count the number of Tea Party candidates on the Taxpayers League’s Best Friends of the Taxpayers list.  The Tea Party class of 2010 drove the GOP to the right – which was a very good thing.
  • The Social Conservatives – They’re out there.  They don’t get much press these days – the media has moved on to calling fiscalcons “extremists” these days – but there are enough pro-lifers, traditional marriage supporters and anti-stem-cell people to sway endorsements in a good chunk of Minnesota.  They aren’t the power bloc they used to be, but they are still important – and not just at endorsement time
  • “Moderates”:  We know they exist – the media keeps telling us so. And someone voted for Tom Horner.  Seriously?  I may have met two Republicans in the past decade who still pine for the days of Arne Carlson.  But the GOP still has the likes of Jim Abeler, in whose district the conventional wisdom says he’s the most conservative candidate who can win (as it once said about Steve Smith and Connie Doepke and Geoff Michel; the conventional wisdom was right once…), and places like Minneapolis and Saint Paul where that same conventional wisdom says that the likes of Norm Coleman and Cam Winton are the most conservative candidates who have a shot at actually winning elections.  And the record shows they have a point.
  • The Establishment:  Who are “the Establishment?”   Good question.  ”The Establishment”, as cited by the Liberty clique in 2012, sometimes seems a bit like Keyser Soze; everyone’s heard of it, but nobody’s seen it.  Who is “the establishment?”  I’ve been called “the establishment”, as recently as last winter at my “Liberty”-dominated Senate District.  Near as I can tell, “The Establishment” is the network of big-money donors that have been the party’s fiscal major muscles.  Pragmatic, not especially invested in any ideology, infuriating to the people in all the factions above for whom principle reigns and pragmatism comes in a distant second if it shows up at all.

The Liberty movement likes to claim that the GOP can not win without it.  There’s a germ of truth to that.  The GOP needs the Liberty crowd’s numbers – and Liberty movement will never win anything on its own, either.

Beyond that?  None of the GOP’s factions is worth anything on its own; all of them are minorities within a large minority in this state.

And as long as the factions are bickering with each other, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell the Party is going to be of any use helping candidates reach out to enough undecideds, “independents” and newcomers to activism to help them get to the majority.

And the shame of it is, the factions do agree on almost everything!

The Party – as in, the office full of functionaries down at 225 Park Avenue, kitty corner from the Capitol – needs to hold a “meeting of the five families”.  They need – in my humble opinion – to get the leadership of the various factions together to agree to put aside the things they disagree on (in public, anyway), and focus on the things that do, in fact, tie us together as a party.  Which involves negotiating – something most of the factions eschew – but negotiating with an aim toward changing the state’s (and the party’s) political climate so that all of the factions  have a shot at making the difference they want to make.

This might mean carving up some “turf”, ideologically.  It might also mean all of the factions realizing that even if you’re a liberty Republican or a pro-lifer, having a Tea Partier or a business-first conservative in office is going to be a better proposition for your cause than, say, two chambers full of Paul Thissens.

Idealistic?   Sure.  I’m a conservative in Saint Paul.  Idealism keeps me alive.

Pollyannaish?  About as Pollyannaish as Don Corleone’s “meeting of the five families”;  the MNGOP’s fratricidal bloodletting is a waste of everyone’s time and effort.

Making the GOP effective means finding a way to get the major factions to work together against the real enemy.

That’d be the DFL, for the benefit of some people I’ve met lately.

And – just a quick poll here – how has two years of circular firing squad done us any favors?

When Principle Steers You Wrong

“My Way or the Highway” absolutists aren’t new to politics in any party, much less the GOP.  In 2000, it was hard to get any traction in some caucuses I remember if candidates weren’t not only pro-life, but weren’t sufficiently, convincingly pro-life enough.  It was the litmus test for a lot of people.

I think it was Ronald Reagan who said “if someone is 80% your friend, it doesn’t make them 20% your enemy”.  And beyond that, William F. Buckley enjoined conservatives to “vote for the most conservative candidate who can win“.

There are a few such groups in the GOP today that just don’t buy that; some of the Ron Paul crowd, and some traditional conservatives, have morphed over to the “Anything less than 100% might as well be 0%” school of thought.

It’s easy to sigh and roll your eyes and chuckle “that’s naive” – and then catch yourself for doing it, since there’s almost nothing in the world (short of adults who hang around comic book stores) more annoying that people who roll their eyes and chuckle about other people’s politics. 

But chuckling and rolling is a bad idea, if only because it prevents the possibility of anyone learning anything.  And a little learning is simply desperately needed.

Here’s a great example; over the weekend, I interviewed Cam Winton, the moderate Republican candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis.  He’s a sharp guy, and he’s got a genuine chance to shock the world in Minneapolis next month, and if I were a dishonest guy I’d figure out a way to get to Minneapolis and vote for him a couple of times, just like the Democrats do.

Now, in the great Republican scheme of things Winton’s a moderate.  And I’m not.  On the show, since the topic came up, he specifically listed three areas where a base conservative – like the AM1280 audience – might disagree with him; he supported gay marriage, he supports background checks at gun shows (provided that it can be shown they can’t be turned into a registry for confiscation) and…er, something else that I can’t remember.

Against that?  Winton advocates bringing a whole lot of free market common sense to Minneapolis; cutting spending, prioritizing the spending that’s left better (cops and roads, in a city with the highest crime and worst roads in Minnesota), cutting the pork (streetcar lines, city power co-ops), slashing mindless regulation of small business and much more.  He favors giving Minneapolis’ taxpayer a bigger bang for fewer bucks – something Minneapolis desperately needs after two generations of DFL spendthrifts. 

And I had a couple of Minneapolis conservatives write me after the show.  One wrote and said he’d sit the election out until Minneapolis got “a real conservative” running for Mayor.  To which I replied “Tom Tancredo is never going to get 51% of any vote in Minneapolis.  Ever.  You’ll never even get Rhonda Sivarajah or Dave Thompson or Jeff Johnson over the top for mayor in Minneapolis.  Cam Winton is the closest to a conservative I’ve seen running for office in the 28 years I’ve been watching Minneapolis politics that’s had a credible chance of winning.  Perfect is the enemy of good enough, especially when you’re a Republican in a city full of Democrat workers and clients”.

Put another way; Minnesota conservatives complained about Norm Coleman’s conservatism.  But none of them have shown me how a more conservative candidate could have even gotten into position to stage a credible run for mayor of Saint Paul – and that was 20 years ago, when the Saint Paul DFL still had people like Norm, Jerry Blakey and Randy Kelley – all of whom have been purged.

Another critic, a Twin Cities Second Amendment activist, decried Winton’s stance on background checks.

To which I respond:  Minneapolis is run by people who invite Michael Bloomberg to town; people who support Michael Paymar; people who would schuss right past background checks to ban every gun you own, if they could.  So even if you leave out the fiscally-conservative stuff completely (and you must not!), how would electing a person who favors just about the weakest credible “gun control” there, is provided that it could be made non-threatening in terms of confiscation (an iffy compromise, but one we made, successfullly, on the NICS system 20-odd years ago) be any worse than the current, anti-Second-Amendment, gun-grabber-friendly Mayor, or all of the DFL front-runners for the office who are at least as bad as Rybak, and jointly and severally worse than anything Winton is proposing…

…all of which is completely irrelevant, since the Mayor of Minneapolis, or any city in Minnesota, can have absolutely no policy impact on gun control, or any impact beyond their “bully pulpit” at all (and ask Representatives Paymar and Martens how much that bully pulpit got them this last session) by state law?   That’s right – the state’s pre-emption statute bars cities from having gun laws more restrictive than the state law!

On the issue of victim disarmament, the Mayor of Minneapolis – whatever their party or their beliefs – is as relevant as a promise ring on Kim Kardashian.  If Minneapolis elected a mayor whose entire platform was “melt down every gun”, it would be the same as electing a mayor with no platform at all.  It’s the law.

More realistically – if Minneapolis elects Cam Winton (and I hope they do), it’ll be a huge benefit to Minneapolis citizens and property tax payers – and a net gain for Minneapolis gun owners from the bully pulpit (it’s just not a big issue to Winton), and an absolute “no change” in terms of policy – because the City of Minneapolis has as much control over gun control policy as it does over building nuclear submarines and setting the federal budget; it’s not a job the law gives them.

Principle is a great thing.  One of the most important principles, I think, is analyzing ones’ principles to see if they’re making you do dumb things.

You vote for the most conservative (or libertarian-conservative, if you’re me) candidate who can win.  At the moment, in Minneapolis, that candidate is Cam Winton – who I am proud to support, “imperfections” and all.  He is the most conservative candidate who can win; not just because Minneapolis is a solid blue city, but because he is the most conservative candidate to have posted a single lawn sign, appeared at a single debate, knocked on a single door, gotten a single media appearance – much less running a pretty masterful campaign to boot. 

Yes, conservatives; there could come a time in the future when government by “moderate” Republicans as a sensible and solitary sane alternative to Democrat hegemony starts to convince the unconvinced that “Republican” and “conservative” aren’t the untrammeled evils that their establishment and media (pardon the redundancy) have been programming them to think.  Hint:  You’re not going to get there with 20 more years of R.T. Rybaks and Chris Colemans in power.  It’s happened before, in a place you may have heard of; the state of Minnesota.