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.

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!

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

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.

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?

Growing Pains

 Some of you know my political backstory – I’ve written about it a time or two.  In 1994, disgusted by the GOP’s capitulation to Clinton on the 1994 Crime Bill along with George HW Bush’s reversal on taxes, I left the Republican Party and joined the Libertarians. 

Over the course of four years, I did what most libertarians do; thought big thoughts about liberty.  I also ran for office under the Big “L” banner - and did better than I thought I would.

But it was mostly thinking big thoughts.  Libertarians were big on debating principles, and even bigger on deriding those who, by their calculus, didn’t – or at least those whose principles weren’t drawn in as big, stark letters as their own seemed to be, to them and each other. 

I left the Big “L” after about four years.  I had – and have – principles. 

  • One of them is “don’t screw up the country, and try to prevent other people from screwing it up too bad”. 
  • Another?  A slight modification of Buckley’s Eleventh Commandment:  “Vote for the most acceptable candidate, from a fiscal, security and liberty perspective, that can win
  • One last one?  “Perfect is the enemy of good enough”.  If I eschew imperfect candidates – say, candidate who champion my principles 51%-85% of the time – then I’m doing my little bit to make sure someone who agrees with me even less, as in “0-15% of the time” (that’s the current, extremist version of the DFL’s track record) is actually running things.  Raising taxes.  Vacuuming my personal info into “MNCare”.  The whole nine yards.

 And I figured there was a better chance of doing my part toward that end, and actually having some effect in the great scheme of things, by working within an actual party that had a chance of doing something useful than via endless navel-gazing in the Libertarian echo chamber. 

And so I left the Libertarian Party – partly because the party line on foreign policy and national security is (I’ll be charitable) simplistic, but mostly because the Big “L” Party is never, ever, going to have anything to do with passing actual policy into law; the most it can ever hope for is to serve as a spoiler, taking liberty voters’ votes away from the other parties, mostly the GOP.

And in 15 years of varying involvement – from observer to amateur pundit to even-more-amateur activist – the party has come a long way.  In 1998, Arne Carlson’s legacy loomed large in the party; today, it’s virtually gone, and good riddance.  It’s been largely squeezed out (everywhere but in the media’s consciousness) by an uneasy, sometimes fractious assembly of business conservatives (who may or may not care about social issues or liberty), Tea Partiers (who focus on the “limited government” aspects of “liberty”) and, over the past couple years, “Liberty Republicans”. 

These last came to the party in 2012 as an organizational juggernaut that acted about as “libertarian” as a North Korean synchronized dance team - at least in terms of taking control of party functions and sending people to Tampa.  The best of them – the ones in CD4 were among ‘em – brought with them the pragmatism that led to a couple of really promising campaigns.  The worst of them – I’m not naming names – left us a display of nihilistic principles-over-pragmatism that bordered on onanistic

None quite as dismal, thankfully, as the recent resignation by a group of libertarian Maine Republicans, who resigned in protest over…

…convention rules?

Walter Hudson has an excellent piece over at Fightin’ Words on this whole deeply dumb incident.  And I think there are lessons for both of the “sides” of the debate in the GOP – especially the “Liberty” clicque’s penchant for walking away from it all when the “establishment” doesn’t carry them up to the front of the room on their shoulders:

The critical failure which informs this move manifests from activists’ perception of the party as a servant which ought to work on their behalf, rather than a vehicle which must be actively steered in a desired direction. If I had a nickel for every time I heard an activist whine about the party not treating them well, as if that were its purpose, I’d be set for life…This common sentiment from libertarian activists completely absolves them of any responsibility for changing the party. Instead, they proceed from the rather absurd notion that Republicans ought to advocate views they do not agree with in order to earn libertarian support. That’s not how politics works.

Or, in many cases, endless prate and gabble about how stupid – racist, homophobic, war-mongering – Republicans are for not folding like a Wal-Mart end table. 

And then there’s this line’s first cousin – the “Under Thirty” crowd.  The GOP, we’re told, must embrace the Ron Paul Agenda in whole because so many under-thirty conservatives and Republicans are so very libertarian.   More on this next week.    

Libertarian Republicans need to dispense with the notion that their “individual integrity” is defined by the party’s compliance to a libertarian agenda. Holding the reigns of power in a party office does not mean you “support” every little thing anyone in the party says or does. If resignation remains the default response to any deficiency within the party, it only enhances the victory of those who remain.

Yep. 

Principles – or at least saying you have them, as opposed to having to defend them against a lifetime of real-world experience – are easy.  Convincing other people about them is not.

No one has ever “learned their lesson” from an activist resigning in protest. The concept ignores political reality and smacks of a narcissistic valuation of one’s political worth. “Oh, you resigned?! Well then, let me completely realign my entire worldview in order to get you back,” said no party officer or elected official ever.

And the corollary of that truth, as I’ve been saying for years; political parties don’t “learn lessons”.  They respond to the will of those who show up. 

Which is why I, and my impure mutt’s-breakfast of conservative and libertarian and pragmatic beliefs keep showing up.

Read Walter’s entire article, if you would please.

What The Hell Do We Do With Our Society? (Part 1: What Can We Learn From New Orleans, The Rockaways And Detroit?)

I grew up in pretty boring times.  If you’re reading this and you’re under the age of 86, so did you, really. 

And let’s be clear; when it comes to the march of human history, boring is good.  “May you live in interesting times” is often attributed as an ancient Chinese curse; it appears to be as “Chinese” as Leann Chin, but the sentiment is dead-on.  For most of human history (and the entire time before it), life was fascinating, brutish and short.

In contrast to most of human history, with its wars and plagues and cataclysms, human history as known to people alive today has been blessedly, wonderfully boring. 

Some react to the boredom by turning the idea of the collapse of civilization into entertainment, from campy “zombie” fiction (The Walking Dead) to breathlessly pompous asteroid fantasies (Armageddon) to moralistic sermons about being our own undoing (The Day After Tomorrow) to conjuring genocidal invaders from the world of fiction (from the sublime Battlestar Galactica  (the 2004 version, not the loathsome seventies one) to the ridiculous Independence Day). I find “end of the world” p0rn unseemly; I didn’t spend this much time and energy raising kids to laugh about the whole world collapsing.  (And may I add “stop being an idiot”).

Others react by hedging their bets against what, throughout human history, seems to be an inevitable. sooner or later; stocking up on food, land, ammo and other supplies to ride out a bad spell the best they can. 

What goes up must come down.  Things tend to move from a state of order to disorder. 

S**t Happens.

And it’s happening all around us. 

And not only is it inevitable – sometimes it can be a very good thing.

———-

A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Williamson of National Review Online.  We talked in re his new book, The End Is Near (And It’s Going To Be Awesome).   Like all of Williamson’s writing, it’s as breezy and readable as it is intellectually beefy.  He’s like a modern-day Paul Johson – and that’s a huge spiff.

I recommend you read it.  Like, go get a copy.  You’ll thank me later

I’ll oversimplify; the book has a few major premises:

  • Politics is the worst possible way to allocate scarce resources.  Not because people are evil or democracy is wrong – but because while every other aspect of life has evolved, politics remains essentially unchanged over the centuries.  Politics is a perfectly valid way of dealing with many of the human condition’s issues – contracts, justice, dropping bombs on people who try to kill you, issuing restraining orders and the like.  But for purposes of driving the allocation of our society’s resources, it just doesn’t work.
  • No, really.  It’s a disaster.  Our national debt is hanging around a years’ worth of our national GDP.  But the unfunded mandates that nobody wants to talk about currently equal, roughly, the GDP of the entire planet.  As in every single bit of economic output from every man, woman and child on the planet for a full year.  Every Big Mac sold, every Android Phone built, every bag of rice hauled in from a paddy in Bangladesh, every Justin Bieber download sold, everything – just to pay our nation’s mandates.  And most of the world’s other “advanced” economies are the same, and maybe worse – they have no senses of dynamism, little familiarity with the notion of “Creative Destruction”, and even nastier senses of societal entitlement than Americans have developed.  Go ahead – tell a Greek that she can’t have nine weeks’ vacation. 
  • It literally can not go on.  It’s like trying to run a family when your significant other is running off to Ho Chunk with the credit and debit cards six days a week.  It is not sustainable.  No matter how vigorously the world’s political bodies affirm their interest in building roadmaps and finding solutions, bla di blah di blah, it is virtually inevitable that the system is going to misallocate its way straight out of business.   Only instead of a divorce or a painful stretch of credit counseling, it’s going to involve some degree or another of the government running out of money, presuming it stops short of taxing every Big Mac sold, every Android Phone built, every bag of rice hauled in from a paddy in Bangladesh, every Justin Bieber download sold, everything. 

So eventually, and pretty much inevitably, government is going to grind to a halt. 

And to Williamson, that’s the good news.  Again, read the book.  You’ll thank me.   Because once you get government out of the way, things actually look pretty good.  We’ll come back to that later.

And you can thank the good folks in New Orleans, Detroit and – soon, I suspect – Camden New Jersey for giving us a previous of how it’s going to work.  Or not work.

And if you think about it, there is some good news in there. 

More tomorrow.

Pol Position – The Race to Summit (Ave)

We broke down the GOP race for US Senate here.  We now take a similar look at the Governor’s contest.

—–

To listen to the polling establishment that gave us Govs. Mike Hatch, Skip Humphrey and the ’02 version of Sen. Walter Mondale, Republicans should just give up any notion that Mark Dayton could be defeated in 2014.  Dayton posts a 57% approval rating, up from 43% just this past February.  Of course, Tim Pawlenty was sporting a 54% approval rating around this time in his first-term, in what turned out to a nail-bitter of an election decided by Mike Hatch’s failure to attend his anger management class.  And Dayton’s polling numbers, like most politicians, seem to go up when the legislature is out of session and thus his name is off the front pages.

Unlike with the Senate race, GOP interest in the gubernatorial nomination is high and has attracted among the best Republican office-holders still standing after 2012.  The highest profile Republicans may have passed on running (Pawlenty, Coleman, Kline, Paulsen), but if the current crop of candidates represents the GOP “B Team,” they’re certainly stronger than the 2010 field.  And unlike 2010, they probably are more aware of what advertising deluge awaits the winner from the Alliance for a Better More Expensive Minnesota.

Continue reading

To All Those Seeking Candidates In CD6

Remember:  the goal is to find someone who agrees with you 100% on principle. Not 99%; if they fall to 99, you throw them under the bus. Electability is not only irrelevant, it’s a sign that they *could* compromise! Impure!

And if they’ve ever held office, and have ever compromised with the other side (or anyone!) on any issue for whatever reason (which every elected official in history has had to do, either publicly or privately – because that is the roots of the term “politics”), that’s prima facie evidence of impurity. Shun!

And if you lose the primary to someone you only agree with 80% (which is a zero, really), or the general to a candidate you agree with 0% – well, it’s irrelevant, because 99=0, anyway, and you can spend the next 2-6 years telling all the other rubes how what bovine sheeple (?) they are, and how screwed we all are for not listening to you.

Which is the real goal.

Clear on this?

Food For Conservative Thought

There are times when “Republican” just isn’t good enough.  We need conservative Republicans.

I thought I’d drop in this Erick Erickson piece from RedState below the jump as a mental apertif.

The conclusion?  It’s a Ben Domenech quote:

The Republican Party needs to understand that shrinking its policy aims to more modest solutions is not going to be rewarded by the electorate. Yes, they need to tailor their message better and find policy wedges which peel off chunks of the Democratic base (winning political strategy is built on an understanding that every drama needs a hero, a martyr, and a villain). But what’s truly essential is that the party leadership rid themselves of the notion that politeness, great hair, and reform for efficiency’s sake is a ballot box winner, and understand instead that politicians who can connect with the people and deliver on their limited government promises – not ones who back away from them under pressure – represent the path forward.

Especially worth remembering as the media tries its damnedest to pound the GOP back into the “great hair/nice suit/benign reformer” box…

…they jammed us into from 1976-2002.

Read the rest of it below the fold.
Continue reading

The Game-Changer

After eight years in office, Michele Bachmann is retiring from Congress:

A few questions for the audience:

Who Is Emanuelle Goldstein?: Extremists like the MNDFL has become need enemies.  The Minnesota Left will need to invent a new bete noir, someone on which to focus all their  insecurity and hatred, to keep them motivated.  Bachmann has served this role for over a decade and a half, between her Congressional, State Senate and educational organizing careers.  Bachmann bedeviled the local left by seeming to thrive on their hatred, turning it back on them with a wink and a smile and a dismissive quip.  So who does the MNDFL’s depraved, insane fringe pick as their new Demon?

Next?:  The Sixth is one of the few districts in the state with a deep bench of solid, polished GOP contenders.  Who should run to replace Michele?

Dead Air?:  With Michele Bachmann out of public life, what will Jack Tomczak talk about?

(I’m a kidder.  I kid.  I love Jack and Ben’s show.  But still…)

Tarry Not:   Does Tarryl Clark already have her U-Haul loaded up, or what?

The Way The Racket Works

Joe Doakes notes the MNGOP’s big problem.  I’ll add emphasis:

The DFL Governor and DFL Legislators have cut a deal to give more money to children and unions and have it all done by Tuesday. If only those pesky Republicans would agree.

Which they won’t of course, since this is the same pie-in-the-sky nonsense the DFL has been spouting all along, when not devoting the session to social issues such as gun control, gay marriage and bullying in schools.

And when Republicans don’t blindly sign on to the DFL program, why then the shut-down and special session and laying-off-of-cops will all be Republicans fault. Because Democrats had it all worked out, you see, and the Republicans ruined it.

We need better PR people, so WE can get ahead of the news cycle, for once.

Joe Doakes

I wonder if the MNGOP and the caucuses will ever figure that out.  The way they’re doing it just isn’t working.

Republicans In The City: The Good News, Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the changes in voting in the 4th Congressional District after redestricting, and tried to give some context to what were, at face value, disappointing election results.  As I noted yesterday, the Tony Hernandez for Congress campaign had some big handicaps – fundraising was as terrible for him as it was for every other Republican, and a redistricting that was pretty benign for Betty McCollum – and a huge one, an epochal DFL turnout against the Marriage Amendment.

Most of those issues were writ larger across the river in the 5th Congressional District, covering Minneapolis and most of Hennepin County.  By all accounts, Keith Ellison was the biggest beneficiary from redistricting; the 5th CD became, on paper, even more strongly DFL than it was before.  And if anything, the 5th CD’s Republican party was even less functional last year than the 4th’s was.

But Chris Fields, the GOP-endorsed candidate in the 5th, brought the kind of game the GOP hasn’t seen in Minneapolis in way longer than I can remember.  Fields was a great candidate; he was elected Secretary of the State GOP last weekend, so hopefully he’ll be in a position to be one again soon.  He worked the district hard, had a small but highly-motivated staff, and raised a lot more money than Republicans normally do in the dismal 5th.

And so what happened?

Here are the vote totals and percentages going back to 2000:

But what does this mean in a larger historical context?

As yesterday:  the top two rows show how many more voters each party turned out in 2012 than in the year shown below.  The additional turnout for the DFL – and Ellison – in 2012 was staggering; 33,000 more than in 2008 (a great DFL year by itself), 43,000 more than in 2004 (a decent GOP year), 85,000 more than in 2000 (an excellent GOP year, outside the 5th anyway).

And as yesterday, the bottom two rows show a “rematch”; the DFL’s numbers in the listed year against Fields’ 2012 numbers.  Fields turned out over 30,000 more Republican votes than in most presidential off-years (2002 was a great year for the MNGOP), and 30,000 more than even in 2000, which was a very good GOP year throughout the US.

So what do these numbers mean?

Simply this:  the 5th remains a difficult district for Republicans.  But the combination of a strong GOP candidate, a motivated campaign that knows how to message the district (as Fields most certainly did, although the Minneapolis media was an even more bald-faced Praetorian Guard for Ellison than it was for McCollum) and raise money makes it possible for the district, as badly as it was gerrymandered, to edge closer to being a 60-40 district than a 75-25 one.  And as dismal as that seems, that’s at least within striking distance; Chip Cravaack overcame a 60-40 district in 2010.  It’s difficult – but not impossible.

And that is the mission for the GOP in both the 4th and 5th CDs; take their turf from “Impossible” to “Herculean”, and thence maybe to “Difficult”.

More candidates like Fields, like Tony Hernandez and Teresa Collett, will certainly help.

Better-organized District committees will also go a long way, as will a functional state party capable of raising money and – this is important – not undercutting the messaging of the 4th and 5th CD candidates.

And this last year, top-line percentages aside, was a decent start.

Onward And Upward

As Jack Tomczak wrote on Facebook on Saturday:

Racist and sexist Republican party of Minnesota elects woman and black guy into leadership.

It’s true.  The MNGOP State Central Committee elected Keith Downey as chair, re-elected Kelly Fenton as Deputy, and Chris Fields as secretary.

Some of the races were, themselves, vastly more interesting than normal.  Fenton beat Ron-Paul-camp activist Corey Sax.  I’ve locked horns with Sax not a few times, but the guy had some useful ideas for “marketing” the MNGOP that the party could do much worse than look into.  I hope Sax takes his cue from the many “builder” Liberty supporters who’ve stayed involved in the MNGOP, and have improved it – if frustratingly incrementally – over this past year.

The Secretary race was difficult, pitting as it did two fantastic candidates.  Ryan Love is one of the GOP’s sharper tacks, one its most incisive Tweeps, and one of the more notably excellent activists.  He ran up against former CD5 candidate Chris Fields, who ran a spectacular campaign against Keith Ellison last year, and has only stepped up his game since then.  Fields ran straight into the teeth of the DFL’s GOTV tsunami, but…well, more on that later this week.   The only pity is that they both didn’t win.

Of course, the new leadership – and the entire party – faces a stern challenge.  After a year of grueling work, sparse donations and activist fatigue, the party is still over a million-and-a-half in debt.  The task at hand – decrease the out-go, increase the income, and start making the party a contender on the state level – is herculean.

More about that in the coming week.

Anyway – congratulations Keith, Kelly and Chris.  And good luck.

March Madness Speculation

Because it’s never too early to start the campaign season.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman’s announcement last week that he would forgo a challenge to incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton may be remembered in hindsight as the starting gun for the 2014 election cycle in Minnesota.  With Democrats holding all the offices of note, the only real interest among political junkies is which Republicans will make bids for statewide office.  Having only won two cycles in the past decade (2002 & 2010), the GOP cupboard is sparse, with many of the party’s once rising stars now out of office.

So who’s left to run for governor in 2014?  In the spirit of the upcoming NCAA Tournament, we’ve made our brackets (sort of) and started the ball rolling towards months of endless chatter on who should or could lead the MN GOP out of the statewide office wilderness: Continue reading

Question For Carver County Republicans

A little bird sent me a copy of the proposed agenda.  It’s a copy of a meeting agenda for a meeting last night.  I’ve added emphasis to the bit that concerns me:

CARVER COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY

AGENDA

Full committee meeting

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chanhassen American Legion Club

290 Lake Drive East, Chanhassen, MN

Call to order 7:00 p.m.

Pledge of allegiance and invocation

Recognition and welcome to first time attendees

Secretary’s report Vince Beaudette

Treasurer’s report John Kunitz

Annual Convention details and other updates Steve Nielsen

Comments by Rachel Horn, Political Director for Congresswoman Michelle Bachman

Comments by Keith Downey, Candidate for Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota

Update on early happenings in St Paul by Representative Ernie Leidiger

Consideration of Resolutions

  • Abolish the Met Council
  • Reject the National Party Rules change that requires delegates be bound by straw vote results on the first ballot for President
  • Ask Republican Legislators to rescind their “no new taxes” pledge and enter into a compromise solution in an effort to resolve the national debt crisis

Adjourn and socialize

A couple, of questions, Carver Party People:

  1. Did the emphasized resolution pass?
  2. Could whomever it is who’s putting this resolution forth kindly tell me if, when you’re buying a car, you start with the price that you’re willing to pay and then move up, normally?

Parts of the MNGOP seem to be stuck on stupid.  It’s dismaying that one of those parts is in bright-red Carver County.