The Minnesota State GOP Central Committee had its big annual meeting over the weekend.
The act that’s gotten the most publicity has been its vote to boot over a dozen former MNGOP elected officials from the party for supporting Tom Horner during the gubernatorial campaign just past. By a 58-55 vote, the committee banned…:
They’re not allowed to be delegates at conventions for the next two years, among other things – not that that was likely anyway, as Party Chair Tony Sutton noted:
“I get frustrated because a lot of people on that list only come out and say they’re Republicans when the want to stick it to Republicans,” Sutton said. “The rest of the time they say they’re an independent or a Democrat and support nothing but Democrats.
Sutton’s right there; none of these people have been active in any way as “Republicans” in years, maybe decades – except to come out and use their old affiliation against the party.
Some of the usual suspects – almost all of them DFLers – are caterwauling about the move, calling it a “purge” or a “witch hunt”.
Here’s two suggestions for any DFLers shedding crocodile tears over the expulsions of people who, let’s remember, campaigned against the party’s endorsed candidate this past election:
- Remember Randy Kelly. You do remember Randy Kelly, don’t you? Saint Paul’s last successful mayor? Held the line on property taxes? After along career as a loyal DFL soldier, he endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 – rightly, in hindsight. And the party’s long knives came out.
- Why not start a party of your own?: And when you do, you can write rules about how your party’s members are supposed to behave as re campaigning against the party! So next election when, say, “DFLers for Laura Brod!” starts getting some publicity, you can climb up on the tall horse of principle and say “These people are members in good standing of our big, big, big tent party!”
But until they do, just hush. Our party – our party – did just fine this cycle without a bunch of people who once called themselves “republicans” but governed like Democrats.
Look – there’s a case to be made that the party shouldn’t be in the retribution business – and a better one, I think, that the party has every right to protect its own brand from being undercut by its former elected officials. The GOP owns its own brand – not the DFL, and not Lori Sturdevant.
In an excellent piece over the weekend, Craig Westover also hits the “Brand Defense” angle:
Those rebuked by the Minnesota GOP were of value to the Horner campaign primarily because of their one-time endorsement by the Republican Party of Minnesota. They were sought out and welcomed by the Horner campaign because of the Republican brand. Their coming out for Horner was headlined by the Republican brand. What made the story significant was the Republican brand. What the Minnesota GOP has the obligation to protect is the Republican brand…
…A “Progressive Republican” is nothing more than a Progressive who used to be a Republican. The action by the GOP State Central Committee banning Horner supporters from participating in Republican Party activities simply makes them honest souls by wedding them to their actions.
There’s a case to be made that the party should “reach out” to “moderates”, and find a place for them in the party. There’s a better case to be made that that outreach needs to be met halfway; not by supporting a DFL-lite hamster like Horner for governor against the endorsed candidate, and that the party doesn’t need to tolerate former members dusting off their old titles and waving them against the party.