What Conservatism Needs In Minnesota

In the middle of a year that promises to be a good, if not great, year for Republicans nationwide, Minnesota Republicans are hoping to flip the House, so as to at least contest control for the state, and praying for an upset in the Senate and a come-from-behind miracle for Governor.

It was ten years ago that the conventional wisdom was that Minnesota was purple, flirting with red.

Today, it’s a bluish-purple state – some bright-red points, some dingy blue swamps. 

In 2002, after the death of Paul Wellstone, the DFL was in disarray;  they lost the state House, the Governor’s office and Wellstone’s Senate seat.   The grownups controlled all of the state offices except the Attorney General; the DFL held the State Senate by a hair, and was well behind in the House. 

Inside six years, they turned that into nearly-complete domination of Minnesota.  They held Mark Dayton’s old and barely-used Senate seat, they took Coleman’s they took both chambers of the Legislature in 2008, lost them in 2010, and took them back in 2012, and have controlled all of the state Constitutional offices – Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor – for eight years now. 

How did they do this?

The 24 Month Campaign:  Ben Kruse got it mostly right Monday morning on the morning show on the lesser talk station; Republicans need to learn something from the Democrats.  For them, their 2016 campaign will start in earnest on November 5.  The Republicans, in the meantime, will meander about until State Fair time, 2016. 

I know – to be fair, Jeff Johnson and Dave Thompson started their governor’s races back in 2012 in all but name; Mike McFadden was aggressively moving his Senate candidacy at the State Fair in 2013. 

In contrast, the DFL’s attack PR firm “Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota” never stopped campaigning.  The group – financed by unions and liberal plutocrats with deep pockets, including Mark Dayton’s ex-wife Alita Messinger – does something that goes beyond campaigning. 

It bombards Minnesotans with Democrat propaganda, 24 months every campaign cycle.

The Communications Gap:  The Minnesota GOP has plenty of strikes against it; while it’s made up a lot of financial ground since its nadir two years ago, it’s still in debt, and still scrambling to get back to even.

But even when it’s in the black, it only does so much communicating – and then, it only does it in the run-ups to elections and, maybe occasionally, during legislative sessions (and that’s mostly the jobs of the GOP legislative caucuses). 

In the meantime, the Democrats (with the connivance of regional media whose reporters may not overtly carry the water for the DFL, but whose management largely most definitely does) shower the Minnesota voter with a constant drizzle of the Democrat version of “the truth”. 

Which means the low-information voter – the one that might start thinking about next month’s election any day now – is kept on a constant drip, drip, drip of the DFL’s point of view.  It means the baseline of thought for those who don’t have any strong political affiliation of their own leans left of center; they assume that raising taxes helps schools, that Republicans are rich tax evaders who hide their wealth out of state, that there is a “war on women”, and on and on.

There’s No-one To Fly The Flag – Nobody Seems to Know It Ever Went Down: So how was the situation different when the GOP was contending to take MInnesota away from the left? 

Other than the DFL having an endless parade of checks from plutocrats to cash? 

For starters, back then Minnesota had a number of overt conservative voices on the media, statewide, day in, day out.  It was when Jason Lewis was at his rabble-rousing peak; I call him the Father of Modern Minnesota Conservatism, and I’ll stand by it.  With Lewis on the air, a lot of people who didn’t know they were conservatives, figured it out – and a lot of conservatives who figured they were alone in the big blue swamp realized there were others out there. 

And Joe Soucheray was on the air three hours a day talking, not so much directly about politics, but about the absurdities that the left was inflicting on the culture.  It may have been a decade before Andrew Breitbart noted that Politics springs from Culture, but Soucheray knew it, and made it a constant topic for a long, long time. 

Lewis and Soucheray had record audiences – not just in the Metro, but outstate, where both had syndication in Greater Minnesota. 

And between the two, the media’s left-leaning chinese water torture had competition.

And for a few years, MInnesota had a couple of voices that did for conservatism in the state what Rush Limbaugh helped do nationwide; dragged it out of the basement, aired it out, made it relevant to the challenges Minnesotans faced then and today, and made being conservative, unapologetic and smart a thing to be proud of. 

And this happened at a time when Minnesota conservatism…came out of the basement, aired out, and started grabbing Minnesota mindshare. 


Feed The Cat:  Of course, this doesn’t happen on its own.  While conservative talk radio is still, along with sports, the only radio format that’s paying its bills, the format has atrophied – largely because it’s become, for money reasons, a national rather than regional format.  Syndicated network programming – Limbaugh, Hannity, Prager, Hewitt, Michael Savage, what-have-you – delivers ratings on the relative cheap.  And they deliver political engagement, nationwide.  

But they don’t have a local political effect like a solid, firebrand local lineup does. 

But radio stations pay for very little in the way of “local lineup” anymore; KSTP has turned Soucheray into just another sports talking head; AM1280 has the NARN; AM1130 has Jack and Ben and, temporarily, Dave Thompson. 

Minnesota business – at least, the part of it that realizes that a conservative outcome benefits everyone, themselves included – needs to pony up and sponsor the next generation of rabble-rousing Conservative media with a cause; the fact that it’s actually a good ad investment is a collateral benefit, compared to flushing money down ABM’s drain. 

And yes, I’m focusing on radio – but this rabble-rousing presence would need to cover all of the social and alternative media, not just the traditional AM band.  Still – there is no (affordable) medium that reaches, or can reach, more Minnesotans.

And through that, maybe, we start turning the intellectual tide in this state. 

It’s happened once.  It can happen again.

Needs to happen again, really.

15 thoughts on “What Conservatism Needs In Minnesota

  1. Radio is great, but perhaps MN conservatives also need podcasts that reach a broad audience of the younger generation that doesn’t yet know they’re conservative.

  2. I have wondered this all along. Is there a valid reason the GOP is required to select their candidates a mere three months prior to the election? If not, this is plain and simple lunacy!

  3. Very sound points. Instapundit has been lobbying some rich center-right type to buy a womens magazine if only to stanch the tide of propaganda women (especially single women who are +22% Dem in the battle ground states) have bombarding them about what awful sacks of garbage Republicans are. Salem is taking a step in that direction, but as noted, only offers one local show and even that is four hours on the weekend.
    I think many businesses learned from when Target was made the, well, target. Target gave money to a pro-business group that gave money to Tom Emmer. Tom Emmer at one time opposed same-sex marriage (as did many of his constituents and our brave, good looking, erudite, too smart for his job President). From this, the oil heiress and her goon squad ginned up (with constant help from the DFL Dominated Media Culture) a boycott and protest that affected Target sales… not at all. But the Public Relations staff at Target went on over time to distance themselves from the business group and Emmer. No business of any size wants that. Look what happened to that diner in Stillwater when as an act of protest/keeping their customers informed, they listed the cost of the minimum wage increase. The free media received by the Left will continue to overwhelm a MN GOP that can barely tie it’s shoes let alone make it out the door.

  4. It drives me nuts when I see a Republican ad on Fox News. You are getting 80-90% of that vote anyway. Put that ad on where you can reach the mushy middle.

  5. Adrian, it is the same way for the Dems too. Problem is we can’t win statewide races so we almost never have an incumbent.

  6. David Strom is an excellent communicator….I wish he’d stop gazing longingly at his iPhone 6 and communicate again.

  7. It strikes me that, just as a lot of football games are won with guys who start on the bench, and how great baseball teams become dynasties with the farm club system, so a great political party needs to have a compelling grass roots.

    The idea of a constant campaign cycle horrifies me, to be blunt, but if we were able to start enunciating conservative ideas in mass media consistently, then it would not matter that the Democrats have a constant campaign cycle. People would simply know why they do not want to support the left.

  8. Radio is great, but perhaps MN conservatives also need podcasts that reach a broad audience of the younger generation that doesn’t yet know they’re conservative.

    I don’t disagree.

    But a metro or state-side radio show makes a great mechanism for marketing podcasts. Not to mention serving as a source for material.

  9. I imagine many unions and larger democrat donors (ptr) make a lot of money from government, so growing government provides them with real monetary benefits. Don’t they call that greed?

  10. How did they do this?

    Don’t forget lots and lots of voter and voter ID fraud once Ritchie was in office and turned a blind eye to it.

  11. Wow. It sucks an awful lot that Jason Lewis is off the air. His show was the only thing that made me almost not completely hate the commute home after work. Him and his “BeatIe-bumper Fridays”!
    I always thought he was exactly the conservative we need to run for and get elected to office – the higher office, the better. Hopefully he can and will do a healthy amount of good with his new venture – but we need a Jason Lewis.
    How do we force a Jason Lewis to run for office?

  12. I’d like to see something radio-wise that focuses more on culture. Perhaps a revival of “Rabuse on the Right” or something like Dan Conry is now doing out in Sacramento with Immaculate Heart Radio. Conservatism never had very deep roots in MN. In the political sphere, it was rarely more than an uneasy alliance of pro-life Catholics and evangelicals with “don’t tread on me” libertarians.The business community will always run like scared rabbits when pressured by the left. Perhaps it’s time to concentrate on rebuilding foundations.

  13. I completely agree just a mom. We are losing the culture war, talk radio and Fox News are echo chambers reaching a minority. The left has education and most media wrapped up.

  14. “Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.” – Jerry Garcia

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