Republicans In The City: The Good News, Part 1

There may be few more frustrating jobs in American politics than being a Republican in the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis is sort of like Berkeley on the Lakes, while Saint Paul is a mini-Chicago on the Mississippi.  Both are one-party liberal gulags.  And Republicans in both cities continuously batter themselves against the unthinking masses of DFL droogs, year after year, with seemingly no result.  Good candidates?  Bad candidates?  It seems to make no difference whatsoever.

Years like 2012 are especially frustrating.  The GOP fielded some excellent candidates, and some hard-working campaigns in CD5 (Minneapolis) and CD4 (Saint Paul).  And all of that hard work and effort and occasional inspiration held up like a stream of pee in a hurricane on November 6, as the GOP efforts ran smack-dab into the anti-marriage-amendment tsunami.

On the face of it – expressed in terms of percentages – it looked as dismal as ever – like the cities in the Twin Cities were the same 70-30, or 75-25, cesspools they’d always been.

But if you dig into the numbers a little, things brighten up nicely.

I’m going to look at a couple of races in traditional DFL country, just to see what I come up with.

———-

Tony Hernandez ran a solid, spirited race against Betty McCollum in CD4 in 2012.  There were flaws in the campaign; fundraising was slow, among other things – but Hernandez worked hard, and he had a group of very hard-working volunteers.

So what happened?

Well, Betty McCollum won.  She won big.  Part of it was the votes siphoned off by a Ventura Party candidate that ran to Hernandez’ right.  Part of it was the fact that it’s CD4.  And a big part was the epic DFL turnout against the Marriage Amendment.

The first illustration shows that it’s nothing new:

The top two rows show the head-to-head vote totals between the GOP and DFL candidates in CD4 for the past seven cycles, back to 2000.  The bottom two present the results as percentages.  Note that some of the results will not match the Secretary of State’s numbers; I presented the numbers as DFL/GOP totals, leaving out third-party candidates.

And the news?  Well, it’s not news.  The 4th CD is a 70-30 district.

Right?

Sure.  But look at that top row – the number of GOP votes.  109,000 people voted for Tony Hernandez in 2012, which was a fair-to-middling Republican year (against a great base-burnout campaign for the Dems nationwide, and a huge “new-voter registration” campaign in Minnesota).

This chart shows two more sets of data:

The top two rows show how many more voters there were for each party in 2012 from the selected year.  In other words, in 2012 there were 10,723 more Republican votes than in 2008 (and 418 more Democrat votes).

Compare presidential years (which always have better turnout for both parties than non-presidential years).  Hernandez drew 10,000 more votes than in 2008 (even without the thousands of conservatives who voted for the uncharacteristically-conservative Independence Party candidate), which was not a great year for Republicans; he was up 4,000 from 2004 (a decent GOP year) and 25,000 from 2000 (a very good GOP year).

The interesting part?  The bottom two rows.  They show a “rematch” of the selected years’ races using Tony Hernandez’ 2012 GOP vote totals.  The 2012 match shows they actually exist (in part due to redistricting, although that wasn’t nearly as favorable to Hernandez as one might have hoped); this time, they  happened to exist against the backdrop of an epic DFL turnout.

But what if those Republicans could be inveigled to turn out against a more prosaic DFL turnout?

Hernandez’ numbers against BettyMac in 2008 (which was also a great DFL year – notice the fact that the epic 2012 turnout only added 400-odd votes to McCollum’s 2008 totals?) makes it a 66-33 race.  Against her 2004 numbers (blah year for Democrats, base-turnout year for Republicans) it was 60-40, which is a whole world apart from 70-30.

And against 2000 – a good GOP year with a functional state party and average DFL turnout – Hernandez’ numbers make it a nine point race.

And against off-year DFL turnout?   If the GOP were to pull off a miracle and generate presidential-year turnout against off-year DFL turnout, it’d be a ten point race.

Which still isn’t victory.

But Hernandez – running an underfunded all-volunteer campaign with no outside funding to speak of, endorsed by an intensely-dysfunctional party Congressional District unit of a state party that sat out the 2012 election completely, against a cash-sodden union juggernaut and a media praetorian guard that seems sworn never to mention the great unspoken secret (that McCollum is one of the dumbest people in Congress), “aided” by a redistricting that seemed designed to be as benign as possible to the incumbent, and attenuated by a conservative third-party candidate – turned out more Republicans than the 4th has seen in decades.  He had the bad fortune to do it into the teeth of a DFL GOTV wildfire.

So if he’d had $500,000 instead of less than a tenth of that?  If he’d had a state party that could help, and a CD committee that could help marshal support?  If he’d had experienced management, and maybe a full-time field staffer?

Just saying – not only are there grounds for optimism, but they may be stronger than we thought.

So that’s Hernandez against history.   How about in the Fifth CD?

We’ll look across the river tomorrow.

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The 4th CD GOP: All The News That’s Fed To Print

I’ve had a few people ask me what I thought about Frederick Melo’s piece in the PiPress the other day about the 4th Congressional District ousting its chairman.

Well, Melo did have one quote – where the ousted chair “…characterized the vote to remove him as a split between “old guard” Republicans and younger supporters of Libertarian figure Ron Paul” that was just plain untrue.

The group that moved to oust the former chair included Ron Paul supporters and “old guard” activists (the scare quotes are intentional; many of the “old guard” were Tea Partiers, some were considered “insurgents” two years ago).

In a body that had been largely taken over by Ron Paul supporters, it is utterly impossible to view the constitutionally-mandated 2/3 vote for removal as a “Paul Versus Establishment” factional issue.  Everybody joined in.

———-

But those are the facts.  The question was my reaction.

My reaction is “who cares?”  It’s a week old, and it’s already ancient history.  And it’s more of the same tail-chasing that has helped make the 4th CD GOP what it is.

And it’s just plain wrong to focus on this sorry little incident, when there is actually reason for hope buried under the headline.

The Fourth CD GOP has been through a rough 65 years or so.  The past seven months  fit into the district’s long-term tradition as the sad sack of Minnesota politics.

And the elections this cycle were pretty uniformly dismal for the 4th CD GOP – although we were far from alone.

And yet there are some signs of hope in this past seven months, in the past election cycle, in the ousting of the chair, and in the cards for the near future.

Fractions Of Factions:  The big story in the GOP statewide this past year, right up there with the state GOP’s financial travails, was the virtual takeover of the state’s BPOUs and Congressional Districts by Ron Paul supporters.  This takeover has manifested itself differently in different districts; it had little visible effect (to an outsider, anyway) in the 3rd or 6th CDs; it led to a fractious primary in the 1st; the 5th initially ceased to exist, and then resurfaced as an intellectually-onanistic vanity project run by a group of autocrats in “liberarian” clothing.

In the 4th?  A sizeable group, maybe a majority, of Ron Paul supporters realized that you have to back your ideology up with some shoe leather.  The “new guard” largely sacked up, buried the hatchet with the “old guard” (har di har) and learned how to write, print and drop lit, pound signs, and the zilllion other non-ideological, non-rhetorical bits of blocking and tackling that you gotta do to run elections and, one day, win the big prize, affect policy.  And while the result were disappointing, it’s worth pondering how the races would have turned out had Ramsey County not been the epicenter of the state’s DFL turnout effort (with ballots cast totaling over 99.5+% of election day registrations, six points above the state average, almost all Democrat).

But that’s for another day.  The big takeaway is – for once, the 4th CD GOP managed to bury hatchets in something other than each other’s foreheads.

At the campaign level, at least.

Buyer’s Remorse: While the various factions in the 4th CD GOP don’t agree on everything, they did manage to agree that the district’s current direction, as of last Tuesday, was not the right one.

And that’s something.

Forward Motion:  Republicans in the Fourth CD have a chance – almost unprecedented in recent history – to have a role in rebuilding the party into a credible, and perhaps one day formidable, force to be reckoned with.  There is talk, for the first time since I’ve been involved in the district, of trying to agree on a long-term plan, on a message that resonates with people in Saint Paul andand , of reaching out to people who may be conservative but don’t yet know they’re Republican, and who may have been told that they were shut out of the GOP…

…all of which are things the 4th CD GOP has badly neglected ever since the last time a GOP candidate was a real contender in the district (1994, when the late Dennis Newinski came within six points of toppling the sainted Bruce Vento).

It’s easy to say “the past is passed”.  When you’re a 4th CD Republican, it’s absolutely vital; there has been, for 18 years, virtually nothing good about the district’s recent history.

And it may sound pollyannaish to say “let’s focus on the future”.

But this is one of those rare moments in life when a group can literally say it has nothing to lose by going forward – that, indeed, tossing the past aside can be purely a liberating thing.

So here you go, 4th CD History:

Onward!

The Goat Rodeo

I spent most of Monday night – as in, from 9PM to 1AM – at a 4th CD GOP meeting.

As I probably foreshadowed the other day, I figured it’d be an ugly, contentious meeting.

It certainly was.

I haven’t had time to write an actual recap of the evening – I certainly will – but until then, check out Joe Schultz’ take on the event.

Here’s the capsule summary:

I do want to commend the chair for bringing the potential FEC violations to the attention of the Full Committee. It is certainly his duty to bring such issues to light. The problem I see is the circumstances under which the audit was conducted. First, to the best of my knowledge John is not a qualified auditor. There were several people at the meeting who have more experience in FEC matters than John that were questioning his legal interpretations and fine conclusions. Second this issue seems to be being used as a way to withhold funds from CD4’s endorsed candidate Tony Hernandez. Remember John didn’t want to call a meeting to discuss disbursement of funds before he had any inkling of FEC violations. FEC fines are uncertain. It certainly seems like an excuse. Finally a big issue is what was not discussed. What were John’s plans for usage of the $5k before he knew about any potential FEC fines? Why was there no associated fundraising plan to waylay such funding concerns so that CD4 could continue to support its candidates? Where is John’s plan for victory in CD4?

Perhaps the most obvious problem stemming from the meeting last night was the combative atmosphere between John Kysylyczyn and what looked like 95% of the CD4 Full Committee. Several members of the Full Committee shouted – or typed – profanities during the meeting. John, for his part, showed a healthy dose of condescension and egotism bordering on contempt. One thing was amply clear: CD4’s Republicans will not move forward with John Kysylyczyn as Chair. There is too much animosity. Regardless of the merits of the issues John brought to the CD4 Full Committee meeting (and there were merits), the way in which John went about it destroyed any chance for progress.

More, most likely, tomorrow.

Idle Hands – Part 2: So Let’s Debate

As we’ve noted a time or two in this space, the new leadership as of this past April in the Fourth District MNGOP has taken what appear, to a rank outsider, to be some odd stances on what it takes to lead a major party unit in an election year – at one point saying it wasn’t, in his opinion, the job of the Congressional District to take a role in any elections at the BPOU or Congressional District level.

The chairman, of course, is John Kysylyczyn, former mayor of Roseville.  I don’t know Kysylyczyn from Adam, and have no ambitions whatsoever in the party; I chose to serve on the District executive committee previous to Kysylyczyn’s purely as a matter of putting my actions where my mouth was.  I have no personal reason to attack him at all.

There is, of course, quite a bit of video of Kysylyczyn’s term as mayor of Roseville; according to the video (which, it’s fair to point out, was clipped from hundreds of hours of City Council meetings by his detractors), the then-mayor seemed to be prone to subjecting his City Council to bladder-busting gales of Roberts’ procedural pedantism.  On the other hand, the Twin Cities press – largely but not exclusively the sophomoric howler monkeys at the City Pages – savaged him during his regime, in a manner that even the media sometimes called unfair (which is ironic, given the way he wrapped himself in the “Society of Professional Journalists “Code of Ethics”  when I sought clarification from him, like journalists do, on rumors from within his own committee that he was considering spending the district’s money to send pro-Ron-Paul delegates to Tampa rather than support candidates.  He used the CD4 official website to take his potshot back at me, in fact – which is an odd use of a district party resource.  Of course, the irony springs from the fact that I, being a conservative pundit, bend over backwards to support, or at least be fair to, libertarians and conservatives, while the SPJ COE is nothing but a framework that “journalists” can use to whitewash their own abuses – it’s a whitewash they apply to their biases as needed.  Lori Effing Sturdevant waves the SPJ COE around like Ignatius Reilly’s bedspread).

At any rate, as we noted a few weeks ago, Kysylyczyn  had a meeting scheduled for the fall – only the third since his election, and the only one before the General Elections.  He then cancelled it because it fell on the same night as the Vice Presidential Debate.

A groundswell of district activists overrode him, and met the district’s constitutional requirement to call a new meeting.   The meeting is taking place tonight.  The main subject – at least, according to the activists involved in demanding the meeting – is the topic of the donation of the other $5,000 to the Hernandez for Congress campaign – which is, let us not forget, the campaign endorsed by 97% of the convention’s delegates, and a solid majority of CD4′s primary voters.

Kysylyczyn posted the meeting on the CD4 website – as well as a “notice” with a whoooole lot of questions and Kysylyczyn’s answers.  85 of them, to be exact – which, with all due respect to Chairman Kyslyczyn, tells you a bit about his communication style.

While I’m not a member of the committee, I’ll endeavor to respond, from the perspective one one activist anyway, to Kysylyczyn’s statements – many of them, anyway – below the jump.

UPDATE:  I just looked at the meeting call.  Kysylyczyn has pivoted from “We have no need to take people off the streets before an election” to a bladder-bursting, buttock-numbing budget question along with the issue of the donation.  A meeting which starts at 9PM will likely be dragging on into the wee hours.

Amazing what a week’s worth of focus will do, isn’t it?

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What The Hell Is Up With The MNGOP?: Truth And Consequences

There has been much sturm und drang within, and especially outside of, the Minnesota GOP over last spring’s coup de main by the Ron Paul campaign in Minnesota.  Paul activists, organized as tightly as a Marine basic training company, swarmed the precinct caucuses, the BPOU conventions, the CD conventions, and finally the state convention.  They completely took over some districts (including the Metro 4th and 5th CDs) and took the lopsided majority of the state’s delegates to the national convention.

Now, unlike my friend and longtime activist John Gilmore, I’m doing my best to see a silver lining to the takeover, especially in the 4th CD in which we both live.  Gilmore is the lightning rod of the anti-Paul faction in the 4th and the state, of course, and pulls no punches on the subject, and makes it clear he’s not in the business of finding silver linings.

Being a mere foot soldier, all I can do is note that whatever the problems the Paul takeover has brought at the leadership level (and, as I’ve noted, there are most definitely problems), the takeover has had a few benefits, at least at the grassroots level.  There are fewer “warm body on the ballot” candidacies this year in the Fourth CD than any year I can remember.  More of those races hit their number to get the state funding match than in any recent year.

That’s all to the good.

On the other hand?  I’ve documented some of the problems that we’ve had in the 4th CD from the top down rather than the bottom up.

And compared to the 5th CD, we’ve got it good.  Nancy LaRoche – a longtime activist in CD5 – chronicles the disintegration of the leadership in the CD5 GOP under the “watch” of some especially cynical Ron Paul personality cultists.

Nancy’s been trying to find if there’s even a faint sign of life among the elected “leadership”.  Money quote:

None of the executive leadership have responded to the web site bill as of today. Then I wondered, was the 5th District organization as a whole part of their kill plan? There has been no fundraising, no full committee meetings, and no sign of leadership since their election. Mitch Berg wrote about similar issues of idle hands in CD4.

Jason Lewis talked about the misled direction of some Paul supporters who can’t see the forest for the liberty trees. They refuse to elect a better President now to buy the country time for more liberty-minded candidates later. 5th district leaders appear to have no intention of shaping the party, only destroying it. I tend to agree that these Libertarian “tributes” are happily exploiting the Republican party only to advance their sponsor, Ron Paul — then trashing the vehicle they commandeered.

This, of course, was the big concern many in the “establishment” – including this former “establishment” member who in 2010 was one of those pesky Tea Party insurgents – had with the direction of so many of the Ron Paul crowd.  While many – including the vast majority in my own SD65, including its leader, Joe Schultz (who writes an excellent blog, by the way) came to stay and make a difference within the party, there are not a few that quite clearly did not, and have no intention of it.   And plenty of people are not amused.  And in a year when the Fifth CD fields one of its strongest candidates ever – Chris Fields – it would have been spectacular to have had him backed with a functional district.  (Likewise with Tony Hernandez in the Fourth).

On MPR this morning, I heard a bit by Mark Zdechlik comparing the reactions of the “mainstream” Republicans in the party and the Tampa delegation with those of the “Ron Paul”-faction, who were the majority of the delegates.   Zdechlik quoted a Mark Zasadny of Roseville.  I’ll add emphasis:

Minnesota Ron Paul delegate Mark Zasadny of Roseville said if the election were held right now he would vote for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president.

Mr. Zasadny: thanks for hammering home every stereotype the “establishment” had of the Paul movement; that you had not the faintest interest in the GOP, but hijacked it to serve as a vehicle for the Ron Paul Personality Cult.

(Yep, I said “Ron Paul Personality Cult”.  Anyone who doesn’t honestly think that a Romney/Ryan presidency won’t be better for the prospects of liberty in this country, especially and even if only economic liberty, but also the rest of the First Amendment, than a second Obama term seriously needs to get a grip.  Incrementalism is not a dirty word, if it’s incremental in the right direction, especially if that’s a springboard to further bigger increments.  Increments are better than excrements).

“It seems like the clear message was like the grassroots movement is not really welcome in the Republican Party. So that’s kind of hard to swallow when they come around and say, you know, ‘OK, are you ready to unite behind the Romney campaign and the RNC,’” Zasadny said. “And it’s like, ‘well you just tried to cut our throats.’ So how are we supposed to respond to that?”

Well, you can respond in any of a number of ways, Mr. Zasadny.

  • You can come back for the next round of caucuses and conventions, and try to consolidate your control of the MNGOP.
  • You can replicate your Liberty movement organization that suceeded so wildly – at least at conquering the party organization – in other states, and take over more states, to gain more control of the party apparatus so that the next time the rules fight comes up, you’ll fight the battle with more than just a thin rump of delegates from Minnesota and Nevada.
  • You can learn the lessons that every spunky class of political newcomers does; that politics is a marathon, not a sprint.  And all of you Ron Paul supporters that got into the game last February at the caucuses?  You’ve just been sprinting.  You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Or you can react to the perceived “throat cutting” (which wasn’t; the party has every right to organize itself to present its winning candidate in as monolithically-positive light as possible, free of the yelping of what is, let’s be honest, a small minority of the delegates) by doing what Mr. Zasadny and the “leadership” of CD5 have done; taking the knife out of their throats and jamming it into their eye sockets, and twisting it 720 degrees.

Mr. Zasadny:  You were sent to Tampa to represent the Republican Party.  Part of being a delegate to a Party convention is supporting The Party.  Whether you agree with it or not.  That’s not to say you can’t be a principled dissenter – I’ve done that myself – but not   while speaking as an elected delegate at the party’s convention.

The MNGOP is, and should be, a big tent.  It should have room for fiscalcons and libertarians, and even the odd “moderate” who doesn’t screw the rest of the party on taxes and regulation.  As a Tea Party libertarian conservative, I’m more than sympathetic to the Libertarian cause; I came back to the MNGOP in 1999 mostly to try to push the libertarian-conservative cause in the GOP.  So not only am I a sympathetic ear – I was pushing the Liberty cause long before most of you were involved in the MNGOP.

But when you betray the party while serving as a party delegate?

The question isn’t “should Mr. Zasadny and those who think like him make themselves absent from future GOP events”.  The question is “how badly have people like Mr. Zasadny and the CD5 “leadership” hurt the cause of the genuine Liberty supporters that have come to the GOP to do some good – and in many cases, have delivered on it?

Because there are a few babies among the bathwater.

The District, Part V: Idle Hands, Redux

The other day, we mentioned 4th CD GOP chairman John Kysylyczyn’s canceling of the only meeting scheduled for the district’s full committee before the election.  Under district rules, the full committee is the only body that can authorize the district to donate the second half of the district’s customary $10,000 donation to its endorsed candidate, Tony Hernandez.

The committee did, in fact, vote last May to donate the first $5,000 installment to Hernandez.

The vote on the donation passed…:

VC6 Brown : Yea

VC5 Mueller: Yea

VC4 Windsor: Nay

VC3 Taylor: Yea

VC2 Grinols: Yea

VC1 Williams: Yea

State Exec VC Regnier: Yea

Secretary Overlander: Yea

Deputy Chair Boguszewski: Yea

Chair Kysylyczyn: Nay

So back when the district did, in fact, vote on donating money to Hernandez, Kysylyczyn voted no.

He had a reason, of course:

Chair Kysylyczyn: While I supported the donation of $5000 to the Hernandez campaign, I vote NO on the motion before the committee because I support the idea proposed by Mr. Boguszewski of disbursing funds through a matching funds donation process as he has done in his BPOU for their endorsed candidates. A portion of the funds would be provided up front, and the balance provided on a one to one match with private dollars, up to a $5000 cap. Calculations for the matching funds process would start the day the candidate was endorsed. It is my hope that a matching funds policy can be adopted in the future.

The point  of making your district donations a “match” is to provide an incentive for the candidates to work hard at fundraising.  It works just fine when you’re a BPOU trying to get a new, or recalcitrant, candidate to raise funds on a somewhat level playing field.

When fighting for a Congressional seat in a district that hasn’t sent a Republican to Washington in 65 years, with a party unit that can be fairly said to be “rebuilding”, and where Betty McCollum will have a million dollars coming right out of the gate?  While I get the idea, it seems at best to be just a little overelaborate over $5,000.

So what does it say to future candidates?  ”We’ve just endorsed you to spend the next seven months of your life working pretty close to full time, putting your job, family and real life on the sideline to take a run at one of the most difficult assignments anywhere in American politics, running as a Republican in CD4 against an incumbent candidate who sleeps on a king-size bed made of union money and will, if you are lucky, only outspend you 20-1.  So here’s a few hoops you gotta jump through.  Oh, you’re welcome!”

Of course, that was then – in May.  Now, there’s the little matter of getting another meeting called to get the second $5K installment voted on.

The District, Part IV: Idle Hands

Last spring, this blog got into a bit of a flap with the sitting leadership of the MNGOP’s Fourth Congressional District over airing out a report that the district’s chairman, John Kysylysczyn, was pondering not getting involved in the district’s various legislative elections or, for that matter, the CD4 Congressional race.   The evidence?  An email from Kysylyczyn to a BPOU chair which circulated to a much, much wider group.

Along with that came a report – from a source inside the district’s leadership who asked for anonymity to protect themselves from reprisal - that Kysylyczyn was pondering not making the customary donation to the district’s endorsed candidate, Tony Hernandez.

While that idea apparently never got past the pondering stage – the donation did in fact pass the full committee - if current plans remain in effect, the district’s leadership apparently still doesn’t believe there’s a role for the district in the campaign (the flap also earned me a stern tongue-lashing from Kysylyczyn, who in a move unprecedented in CD4 politics, used the district’s website to tell the membership that he wouldn’t talk with bloggers because, apparently, the mainstream media is fairer to Republicans or something).

In a couple of announcements on the CD4 GOP website and the district’s Facebook page, the district’s leadership cancelled the October meeting – the only meeting remaining before the election.

And while under normal circumstances it’s just another meeting, these aren’t normal circumstances.  It’s election season.  CD4 endorsed a candidate for Congress, Hernandez, who is running an aggressive and active campaign.  Campaigns take money.  The Fourth CD reportedly has a decent little chunk of cash, in its “federal” account - $6139.48, as of the August committee meeting - which has to be spent, by law, on matters pertaining to federal races.  It’s a broad category; it can be spent on training, software, computers, consulting…

…or, naturally, the race its endorsed candidate is running.

The district can donate a maximum of $5,000 from this amount (on top of the earlier donation) to the Hernandez campaign – but not without a full committee vote.  Which requires a full committee meeting.

Which has just been cancelled until after the election.

Is this what the 4th CD GOP is supposed to be doing with its mandate?

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Speaking Of Primaries

We have one in Saint Paul and the Fourth CD.  There’s a primary challenge for the Fourth CD Republican endorsement to run for Congress.

Tony Hernandez is the endorsed GOP candidate.

Tony won the endorsement at the April convention by a 195-5 margin over his challenger, to whose name recognition I will not contribute here.  The other candidate agreed – according to a couple of sources  - that he’d not challenge Tony Hernandez in the primary.  And then he promptly turned around and filed to run in the primary.

Anyway, while the other candidate has not had any sort of presence at all in the race so far – after reportedly promising he could raise DFL-sized money for the general election – I don’t expect that he’ll be much of a challenge for Tony Hernandez.  But it is hypothetically possible that the other guy who is not Tony could spend $30,000 between now and Monday night trying to build instant name recognition over Hernandez.  It’s happened – Arne Carlson did it, more or less.

So I’ll just give you a little reminder, for yourself and your Republican friends, family and neighbors in the Fourth CD:

Vote for Tony Hernandez, not the other guy, on Tuesday.

By the way – Tony is fundraising in a tough district; if you can peel off a few bucks to fight Betty McColllum’s juggernaut, that’d be huge.   And if you’ve got an afternoon to spend lit-dropping, or an evening for phoning, please hit Tony’s volunteer page.

Disclosure:  I am a volunteer for the Hernandez campaign.  As if you couldn’t tell.

…Or You’ll Fall For Everything

Congresswoman Betty McCollum – my “repreentative” – put out a press release after yesterday’s SCOTUS decision:.

“Two years ago, I was proud to vote in support of the Affordable Care Act. Today’s historic Supreme Court decision affirms President Obama’s leadership to extend healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.

…and destroying the healthcare system and Americans’ sovereign rights to make key life decisions for themselves, rather than having them mandated by the government.

It is now time for Republicans in Congress to end their vitriolic repeal campaign and work on effectively implementing this law to the benefit of the American people.”

And there you go,.  ”Vitriolic”.

Dissent is hate!

We need to repeal Obamacare.  And we need to repeal Betty McCollum’s job as Congresswoman.

If you can spare a buck or two – or an hour or two – please donate or volunteer for the Tony Hernandez campaign.

Tony Hernandez: Five Paths To Congress

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln.

As a matter of full disclosure, I’m a worker-bee volunteer at the Tony Hernandez for Congress campaign.

When I mention this to people in my relentlessly-DFL neighborhood – and among some of my stalkers on Twitter – I get some fairly predictable responses:

  • “Wow.  Sounds like a difficult race“.  Stipulated!
  • “You are teh looser! Bettty MacGolum will win teh race, and you shoud not even try two stop her!” More below.
  • “Why?”

The “why” is easy; to win.  To send the first Republican to Congress since the 1940s from CD4.  Not to “move the needle”, or to make the DFL spend money to keep Betty in office, although both will be byproducts of a campaign to win the Fourth CD.  But this isn’t about half-measures and consolation prizes; it’s about winning.

Of course it’s a difficult race.  In 2010 – as good a year for the GOP as we’ve seen in recent years – Betty McCollum trounced Teresa Collett by 2:1 which, ironically, is the same margin of IQ that Teresa had and has over the Congresswoman.  Name every candidate in recent memory in the Filthy Fourth – Ed Matthews in 2008., Obi Sium in 2006, Patrice Battaglia in ’04, Linda Runbeck in ’00.  Every one of them would have made a better Congressperson than Betty McCollum who, near as we can tell, serves no purpose other than pom-pom girl for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

(No, seriously – read and listen to her.  She talks like a junior high kid trying to get through a civics class presentation.  Look at her website sometime; she seems inordinately proud of having rid America of the scourge of National Guard ads at NASCAR events – which seems to be her signal accomplishment.  Or something).

Nobody doubts that this is going to be a very, very tough race.  Just as the CD8 race in 2010 and the CD6 bout in 2008 were very, very tough races.  Nobody doubts that the DFL considers CD4 “their” turf.  And for the next ten years – until the next round of redistricting, with ten more years of DFL mismanagement driving more and more people out of Saint Paul and its’ more DFL-addled inner ‘burbs – it may well stay that way.  That’s life.

But CD4 isn’t the same district it was in 2010.

The way I see it, there are five paths to victory for Tony Hernandez.  And he is going to need to take all five of them for this to be a victory, or even an especially close race.

It’s Not Your Grampa’s Fourth CD - Redistricting didn’t do Betty any favors this time.  Where the old Fourth was as solidly DFL as could have been designed – Saint Paul and a bunch of DFL-addled inner ‘burbs – the New Fourth includes the entire swath east of Saint Paul all the way to the Saint Croix River, including Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Stillwater, and a slew of other suburbs full of people who, in many cases, fled the blight that the DFL brought to places like Saint Paul., Roseville and Maplewood.  They’ve spent years working hard, building communities run in many cases by good, solid, thrifty, competent conservative GOP city and county governments – working far to hard to see it all dumped in the sewer of incompetent, spendthrift, venal DFL perfidy that seems to have chased them down.  This is especially true of the wave of minorities who’ve moved to places like Woodbury, seeking decent schools and streets safe from that most noxious DFL constituency, petty criminals.

This is especially vital for Asian-American voters – those who moved up and out of Saint Paul to Woodbury because they were tired of a school system that marginalized their young men, and the ones who still live there and whose businesses along University have been sacrificed by the New Mandarins of the Met Council.

And for Latino voters, who came to America to find the kind of opportunity that McCollum seems to think awaits them only by dint of Government favor.

There’s also the little matter of all those Stillwater people sitting in endless traffic jams all summer because of the years McCollum spent opposing a new Stillwater bridge (before shamelessly flip-flopping).

It’s possible they may vote DFL.  We’re going to try to fix that.

Betty Is Long Past Her Shelf Date - McCollum has been in Congress for what?  Ten years?  And the interesting thing is this – election in, election out, her numbers just keep dropping.  Wave year or slow year, fewer and fewer people turn out to vote for her.  Oh, the unions keep funding her, and lavishly so, but when it comes to actual voters, even in landslide Democrat years, people just don’t care about her that much.

And they don’t have to – in a “safe” district where the DFL can traditionally run a set of wind-up chattering teeth and count on 55% of the vote.

But the Fourth isn’t like that any more.  It used to be a 70-30 district, maybe 65-35 in a bad year.  Now it’s probably more like 60-40.  Which is still a tough race – but it’s also about where the 8th CD was two years ago.  And we know how that turned out.

No Coattails:  The DFL can usually count of 40-odd percent of Minnesotans voting for whatever piece of crap the Democrats endorse for President, Govenror or Senate.  It’s a fact of life.

But Americans are much worse off than they were four years ago.  And to the extent Minnesotans are better-off, it’s because of GOP policies held to by Tim Pawlenty against the DFL’s best efforts, and by a GOP majority against Mark Dayton’s obstruction.

Now, the DFL’s paid PR arms – Common Cause and Alliance for a Better Minnesota – will be doing their best to try and obscure and confuse that fact.  It may even work – the 2010 gubernatorial election showed that 43% of Minnesotans are ill-informed, incurious, or just gullible – but they’ve got their work cut out for them, because in this election, Barack Obama is going to have all the coat-tails of a Daisy Duke tube top.

It’s Not Your Grandfather’s GOP:  While the Fourth CD GOP seems to be planning to be irrelevant in the coming election, it’s a different GOP than in previous years.  The Ron Paul surge brought a flood of new, passionate voters, activists and candidates to the fore.  In the past, I’ve challenged them to make sure they express some of that passion down-ticket from Ron Paul and Kurt Bills – and to a gratifying extent, many of them are.  There are more young Republicans running credible campaigns this year than in any year I can remember; unlike previous years when half the GOP legislative candidates were “warm bodies on the ballot” that didn’t fund-raise or door-knock, every single Republican race in CD4 this year is a real effort.

And that’s not all.  Four years ago, when it came to outreach among New Americans and minorities, the GOP had nowhere to go but up; it couldn’t have gotten any worse.  But over the past two years, conservatives – especially Dan Severson and his crew – have been actually doing the long-neglected work of building relationship among all those New Americans.  Will it make a difference in this election?  Perhaps – and the effort is as much about 2020 as about 2012.

So will the combination of newbie fervor, outreach and Obama and Dayton’s underwhelming record make a difference?

We’ll see.

Just Plain Passion:  Tony’s running a hard, aggressive race.  He’s got some good people working on his campaign – one of the fruits of the previous 4th CD GOP “establishment’s” effort to find and train campaign-management talent.  The campaign has nothing to lose, everything to gain, and is doing something the GOP in the 4th has tried before – taking the battle to the enemy – but hasn’t had the resources to pull off.

Will those five paths lead Tony to the Capitol?  Well, if I, a simple volunteer, have anything to say about it, absolutely.

Will it be a brutally tough race?  Absolutely.  But I’ll send you back to the Lincoln quote at the top.

And of course, these races don’t happen without help.  Tony’s campaign needs volunteers – and unlike some previous campaigns in the district, if you volunteer, you will be put to work!

And of course, money.  Betty McCollum can count on her masters, the government unions, to prop her up with close to a million dollars this cycle (because “Money in politics is evil”, as long as it’s not Democrat money).  If Tony’s gonna win – or qualify for any of the big national donors – he’s gotta earn money here at home.  If you can pony up a few bucks, please do.

Jesse Ventura was nothing but a fraternity prank run amok.  If you want to really shock the world – as in, make Chip Cravaack’s victory look like a fart in a tornado – let’s give Tony’s campaign a push.

When In The North Metro Tonight…

I’m doing a little campaign volunteering these days, for the Herndandez for Congress campaign.

There’s a ton of work to do – but if there was ever a year when a Republican could upset Betty McCollum, this is one of them.  Tony needs plenty of help, by the way – financial and volunteers.

But for tonight?  Tony’s going to be appearing at “Ignite the Right”, at the Blue Fox in Shoreview.  Tony’ll be on the bill with US Representative Michele Bachmann and GOP Senate candidate Kurt Bills.

The event, sponsored by the North Metro Tea Party, will take place at the Blue Fox, in Maplewood.  Social hour starts at 5:30, with the program kicking off at 6:30.

The Blue Fox Bar and Grill is at 3833 Lexington Avenue North in Arden Hills.


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Time For A Change

I posted about this yesterday – but it came out in the afternoon, after most people have read my blog for the day.

So I’ll try this again:  I would like to ask you a favor.  Get out on Twitter and “Follow” Tony Hernandez’ Twitter account.

Tony’s running for Congress in Minnesota’s Fourth CD - my district, the district of Betty McCollum, who has been taking up space in the US House for a long, long time.

Conventional wisdom says the race can’t be won – that the 4th is just tooooo Democrat.

It’s not true, of course; it can be won.  Redistricting shaved down the DFL advantage from 70-30 to maybe 60-40.

And the Dems’ ugly secret – Betty McCollum isn’t even that popular among DFLers.  Her vote totals just keep dropping.  Oh, she raises all sorts of outside money – but her “passion index”, even in 2008., was pretty low.

I live in CD4, and I’m not going to lie – I’m ready for it to take ten years to make the GOP in CD4 a viable party.

But with a little help, we juuuuust might be able to jump-start things a bit.

Whaddya say?

A Project For Today

Output’s a little light today.  I’ve had a lot going on outside of work, family and blogging.

But I would like to ask you a favor.  Get out on Twitter and “Follow” Tony Hernandez’ Twitter account.

Tony’s running for Congress in Minnesota’s Fourth CD – my district, the district of Betty McCollum.

Conventional wisdom has it that it just can’t be done.

Of course, conventional wisdom also had it that Jim Oberstar was untouchable, Obama would keep unemployment under 8%, and that the Wisconsin Recall was a “coin toss”, so you’re better off spending your time going to Tony’s Twitter feed and clicking “Follow” than you are paying any attention to “conventional wisdom”.

Tony’s a solid, small-government, low-taxes, family-values conservative, a second-generation American, with no freaking hyphens, and would be a much, much better Representative than Betty McCollum, for a district that direly needs some common sense in government at all levels.

So please follow his Twitter account – and if you’re so inclined, maybe peel off a buck or two, and maybe sign up to volunteer to help the campaign.

The 4th CD needs this.  And all you gotta do, for now, is follow!

Foot In The Door: Tony Hernandez

If you live in the Fourth Congressional District and are anything but a teachers union member, a transit zealot, a peace creep, a radical supporter of the civil sacrament of abortion or an environmentalist weenie, you get used to not really being represented at all.  Some of us have taken to adopting John Kline and/or Michele Bachmann as our representative in Congress.

Because Betty McCollum is an out-and-out disaster.  If she were representing any district other than Saint Paul (which, up until this past redistricting, really was the Fourth CD), she’d have never gotten endorsed for soil and water commission.

And in normal times, she’d be the punch line for a thousand jokes starting “Everything else in the USA must be fixed, because look what Betty McCollum is babbling about…”;   read her website:  her big mission is cutting off military advertising…with NASCAR, “ultimate fighting” and professional fishing.

Seriously – watch the woman speak.  It’s like she memorizes chanting points from her staff, mentally tosses them up in the air, and randomly re-orders them before speaking, without really understanding any of it.  She is not, as they say, in line for a MacArthur Fellowship.

Redistricting is a potential game-changer.

Not as in a “flip the chessboard over” kind of game-changer; it turned the Fourth CD from a 70-30 district to a 60-40, probably.  But some of those 60 have reason to be upset; McCollum voted with her environweenie string-pullers in Saint Paul to keep her new constituents in Stillwater driving across a bridge built in 1452, or so it seems when you drive across it.  And some of those “60″ were people who may have voted DFL most of their lives – but fled Saint Paul and Minneapolis to get away from all the results of having voted for people like Betty McCollum all their lives.

But politics is a little like dating; a lot of money can make a dim Congresswoman just as formidable as a homely guy. And McCollum has the bottomless pockets of the unions backing her up and, seemingly, doing all her thinking for her.

And so CD4 Congressional Candidate Tony Hernandez needs our help.

I’m not sure if he qualifies for the same sort of state match that the legislative candidates we talked about earlier this week do – but that’s even more reason to see if you can dig down and pony up a buck or two for Tony’s campaign.  Tony’s gotta fundraise like a madman to even have a shot at this – but every little bit helps.

So if you can spare a few bucks – well, you know the drill.  Now’s the time.

There hasn’t been a chance like this in the 4th CD in a long, long time.  You gotta try to run with these things.

Foot In The Door: CD4 Senate Candidates

As we noted yesterday, House of Representatives candidates that can raise $1,500 in $50 increments can qualify for a sizable bump in financing from the state.

Each Senate district covers double the area,  so it has to raise double the money  - $3,000 – for double the bump.

Here are the MN Senate candidates in CD4.

SD 38 – Roger Chamberlain – I haven’t actually heard if incumbent Chamberlain has hit the hit the threshold yet – I wouldn’t doubt that he has.  But if you’re a Tea Partier, a Ron Paul supporter or a fiscal hawk of any stripe, Chamberlain is one of the brighter spots in what was a dismal year in the Senate.  It’d be a nice sign if he were not merely to win his race, but to crush his opponent.  He hasn’t updated his page for the new race yet – I’m sure that’s coming – but I suspect his “donate” link works just fine.

SD 39 – Ray Vandeveer Another incumbent, Vandeveer is a hawk that voted against the stadium and has been a solid conservative throughout.

SD 41 – Gina Bauman - Bauman, a New Brighton businesswoman and city councilwoman, is in her second campaign for the Senate.  She’s the kind of person we need more of in the Senate.  And SD41 is winnable – but getting the bump from the state would be a huge help. She’ll be up against Barb Goodwin.  Need I say more?.

SD 42 – April King is running in the new 42; the good news is it’s an open seat; the less-good news is that it’s one of those twisty-turny gerrymandered districts that pairs some good right-leaning districts up north with a few bat spittle crazy ones in Vadnais Heights.  But this is winnable; that extra bump from the state would help a lot. (UPDATE: I had an outdated link up there before; if you haven’t been there, go!  If you went to the old one, go back!)

SD 53 – Ted Lillie - Ted’s another fiscal hawk.  I suspect he’s doing fine – but again, the worse he crushes his DFL opponent, the better.  Any help will be appreciated.

SD 65 – Rick Karschnia‘s got a tough race – but I’l be donating, since it’s my district.

 

The District, Part III: Shut Up, He Explained

Last week, I asked – what role should a Congressional District GOP committee and administration have when it comes to assisting its associated Congressional District’s congressional candidate, as well as its various BPOUs’ legislative races?

Yesterday morning, I went over some of the feedback I’d gotten.  And yesterday at noon, we looked at an email by newly-elected 4th CD GOP chairman John Kysylyczyn which seems to mean that he thinks that, as regards the district’s various races, there really is no role – and that, in Kysylyczyn’s own words, “To be frank, it does not matter if we are up to any particular speed for this fall’s elections…I sat down the first week on the job and read the state and CD constitutions and the bylaws. My analysis is strictly based off of those documents”.

In writing this series, I wrote to Kysylyczyn to ask him what he, the chairman, thought the role of the 4th CD in fact was.  His response:  ”I read your blog and with all due respect, it didn’t rise to a journalistic standard where I would feel comfortable participating”.   Further:  ”Because I own a print newspaper, maybe my standards are unreasonable high, but they are my standards and I would ask for your understanding”.

Are Kysylyczyn’s standards as a print newspaper owner too high (he owns the Anoka County Recorder, a paper that prints public notices, syndicated copy and press releases)?  Are mine too low?

Maybe he’ll answer questions for the mere peasants who live and work and try to support a party in the 4th CD?

UPDATE:  Yesterday, on the CD4 Facebook page and website, it was announced that the district will have its first full committee meeting, on June 11.

What else do you notice about the CD4 website/blog?

The Foot In The Door: CD4 House Edition

Elections take money.

Especially if you’re a Republican in what is, for GOPers, a pretty hardscrabble place, the Fourth Congressional District, where the GOP is in an extended period of rebuilding, even as it faces the smothering miasma of union money keeping the DFL fat and happy and fat once again.

Minnesota does, however, offer a bit of a leveler; campaigns that meet a certain threshold in donations get a nice chunk of matching money from the state.  (Yes, it’s government funding of elections – but I’m paying for it, so I’m going to do my best to help my party use it).

Here’s the deal:  candidates for the House of Representatives need to raise $1,500 – in denominattions of $50 or less - to qualify for this match.  In other words, 30 $50 donations, or 1,500 $1 donations, or 150 $10 gifts, all work.  15 individual $100 donations, however, only count for $750 – only the first $50 of each donation counts.  A single $1,500 donation would only count for $50 (and is, I suspect, illegal anyway).

Anyway – the GOP candidates in the 4th CD need to top that threshold to get that money, which in turn gives them both a reasonable amount of money to work with as well as giving them proof they are viable races for purposes of bigger, better fundraising later in the race.

So I’m going to ask you to help out by ponying up something – anything – to help out these GOP candidates for the Minnesota House in the 4th CD. The list, by the way, includes challengers for seats; I’m not going to include incumbent Republicans (of whom redistricting has brought several to the 4th CD; also, for now I’m only including candidates with websites), along with notes about their current fundraising status.

HD 42A – Russ Bertsch

HD 42B – Ken Rubenzer

HD 43A – Stacey Stout - Stacey may have actually hit the threshold.  While she’ll be happy to get any help she can, she may be set – for purposes of matching the state threshold.

HD 53A – Pam Cunningham:  Pam’s about 2/3 of the way there; she’s got about $500 to go.  She’s doing well, but could use any help she can get.

HD 64A – Andrew Ojeda is about halfway there and climbing.  He’s in a tough district – but he’s a good candidate.  Help if you can.

HD 64B – Brandon Carmack is fairly new to the race, running against eleventy-teen term union tool and stadium stooge Michael Paymar.   He could use a financial leg up.

HD65A – Dan Lipp is running against Rena Moran in my district.

HD 65B – Carlos Conway is in one of the tougher districts – but one where he should be able to make a dent, a heavily Hispanic district for whom Obama’s tenure has been a disaster.  Let’s make this one a fight, shall we?

HD 66A – Mark Fotsch and HD 66B – Ben Blomgren are running against Alice Hausman and John Lesch, two DFLers that will be kept alive in suspended animation by the unions for centuries if that’s what it takes to keep their reliable votes.  They could both use a hand.

Senate tomorrow.  The Hernandez campaign on  Wednesday.

The District, Part II: Not My Job, Man

At last month’s 4th Congressional District GOP convention, John Kysylyczyn was elected Fourth CD chairman after a short, acrimonious campaign.  He unseated Jim Carson, the architect of Senator Roger Chamberlain’s successful Senate race in 2010 – which was, before redistricting, one of the Fourth CD’s very, very few successful elections.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was the Secretary for CD4.  I was “the establishment” – for exactly a year.  And I did purely because someone challenged me, once upon a time, to put up or shut up; as a pundit, I freely criticized party officials who I felt were falling down on the job; they asked me if I thought I could do it myself.  They had a point.

And so I got involved,  And I found that some of it, I actually can do!  Anyway – I have no ambition within the party except to help good (i.e., conservative) people get elected.  Which its he same ambition I have outside the party – on this blog, and on my show.

Long explanation short;  No sour grapes.  To blame this article series of articles on “sour grapes” is to dodge the point.

Which is why I’m elaborating on the point so careully.

———-

Beyond that? I’m not one of the “establishment” Republicans who are especially upset that the Ron Paul crowd took over.  Especially in the Fourth CD, the influx of passionate newbies is more than welcome.  I’m a former big-L Libertarian; I disagree with Ron Paul, but I agree with 80% of what his supporters believe.  Oh, I believe the baby got thrown out with the bathwater – the 4th was making some headway – but as a general thing, I think some good people got elected to BPOU and Executive Committee offices.

Now, Twin Cities Republican activist, attorney and blogger John Gilmore is upset.  John – a Saint Paul GOP activist and one of the bloggers at Minnesota Conservatives, has railed against Ron Paul and his movement since the very beginning.

And some of his railing is pretty acerbic…:

The hideous Ron Paul invasion of the Minnesota Republican Party is not quite over–the denouement known as its state convention in St. Cloud this weekend awaits–but enough evidence is in hand to draw some grim conclusions for those who are not enamored of a Jew hating fringe cult political figure who speaks to alienated, fairly ignorant and frequently unwashed lost souls. There are just enough exceptions to this characterization on an individual basis to prove its general truth.

The Paul zombies™ tried their best last cycle and were rebuffed by the party establishment. To these strange persons this was akin to living in North Korea. Their bleating about tyranny is perhaps the easiest example by which to show how they are simply not serious people in a political sense. They have no idea what tyranny is except the infantilized one fed them by friend of David Duke Ron Paul.

…and some of it was counterproductive, in my humble and inbidden opinion; John’s a friend, but let’s be honest; he’s about as subtle as Jesse Ventura on a coke binge; if you know John, you know I’m right.  Right?

Notwithstanding that, I generally support John, because he’s generally right, or at least right enough.

At any rate, at the last convention, CD4 got a new chair – former Roseville Mayor Kysylyczyn (who, combined with deputy and incumbent vice-chair Mike Boguszewski, gives CD4 the least-spellable executive 1-2 team in Minnesota politics).

And while the leadership at different Congressional Districts has many ideas about what the CD committee should do when it comes to helping races for the Legislature and the district’s affiliated US House seat (as we discussed this morning), Kysylyczyn seems to have a different one altogether, if one is to believe an email he apparently sent to CD4 activists. (Gilmore carries the letter in its entirety; I have a copy of the whole message):

…CD’s have nothing to do with legislative races.  It is clearly stated in the constitution.  We also have little to do with the congressional district race.  We are not the candidate’s committee.  In fact, we are not the committee of any candidate running for office this fall.

The email was apparently in response to concerns that, in the month-and-change since the CD4 convention, the 4th CD has not held a committee meeting.

Kysylyczyn (with emphasis added by me):

To be frank, it does not matter if we are up to any particular speed for this fall’s elections.

If you are a Republican in the Fourth CD, you may be wondering if you read that right.  Did the Chair of the 4th CD GOP, in the middle of a hotly-contested election season, coming off a redistricting that gives CD4 Republicans a welcome boost in numbers, really just say the district doesn’t really need to be “up to any particular speed” come election-time?

We’ll come back to that.

I understand that many may not agree with this or maybe things have been done differently in the past.  As someone new to the position, I sat down the first week on the job and read the state and CD constitutions and the bylaws.  My analysis is strictly based off of those documents.

Now, I can’t speak for Kysylyczyn (and as we’ll discuss in tomorrow’s installment, either will Kysylyczyn). but I’ll try to summarize what the thinking appears to be, here:  the constitution doesn’t say we have to do anything, so we won’t.

Read the Minnesota and CD4 GOP Constitutions - I did. The Consitutions spell out relatively few actual duties; elect officers, hold endorsing conventions where delegates elected by BPOUs endorse candidates for Congress, elect State Central Committee members and State and National convention delegates when needed, and a bunch of other little bits of electoral administrivia.

But the two Constitutions are pretty silent on lots of things that Congressional Districts do as a matter of course; fundraising, Voter ID and database maintenance, organizing volunteers, working with candidates, or allowing committee members to go to the bathroom during meetings, for that matter.

And yet Congressional Districts do – and in the 4th CD, did - all those things.  The 4th CD has a few thousand dollars in the bank.  What does the Constitution say to do with it?

Kysylyczyn:

There seems to be this mistaken belief that the CD is some sort of super campaign committee.  It is not.  There also seems to be this mistaken belief that CD’s win elections.  This is not true.

While it’s entirely possible that there are people who believe those things, it’s not nearly as important as the question “then what is a Congressional District Committee there for?”

Marshaling volunteers?

Helping with fundraising?

Transferring expertise?

Collecting and helping to maintain voter lists?

Candidate committees win elections.  There also seems to be a mistaken belief that CD’s sort of bind together BPOU’s that choose to operate as house districts.  This is not true.

So what is true?

If the 4th CD isn’t there to help provide expertise and data and boots on the ground to the BPOUs, and to help drum up help and fundraising and volunteers for the Congressional candidate…

…then what is it there for?  Why does it exist?  To hold conventions, to elect officers, and to kill time until the next election cycle?

Remember – campaigns come and go with electoral seasons. The party?  It’s the part that’s there between the elections.

We’ll come back to the actual “role during campaigns” bit.  Kysylyczyn responds to questions about the dearth of meetings since the CD4 convention (emphasis added):

We are required to hold four full committee meetings per year.  It is my intention to have 4 full committee meetings a year.  It is my intention to have actual agendas for meetings and a real purpose for having a meeting.  Every time we have one of these meetings, there is potentially 100 of our best volunteers who are not spending an evening on the campaign trail.

The emphasized bit is a red herring.

While the 4th CD held monthly meetings over the past year, those were suspended during the thick of campaign season; Carson made it clear that campaigning came first, and excused committee members readily and without question for campaign activities.

Sum total of volunteers taken off the street during committee meetings in 2011:  0.

In the past, there appears to have been a cattle call mentality concerning the calling of meetings.  Just have one every month.

I’m not aware that John Kysylyczyn attended a meeting at CD4 over the past year.  I certainly did – I was the secretary, and except for three meetings where family health issues intervened, I was there for every one.  None of them were held for “the sake of holding meetings”.

It doesn’t matter if we have any agenda.  Don’t bother sending out agendas.  Whoever shows up does.  Fill the time allotted.  To be clear, I do not operate in this fashion.

To be clear and honest, either did Jim Carson.

But all that is administrivia behind the real question:  if the CD4 leadership doesn’t plan on doing something to help candidates – even something as simple as being a clearinghouse for volunteers, training, and the social engagement that helps bring a district together in pursuit of a common electoral cause – then what is it there for?

A launching pad for delegates to Tampa, with quarterly meetings to look at the slide shows?

The big question is this: If you’re a Republican in the 4th CD, do you think your CD should be sitting on the sidelines during the campaign, as the email seems to indicate Chairman Kysylyczyn says it should?

———-

In the interest of fairness, one might ask “is that really what Kysylyczyn meant to say?”

It’s a good question.  More on this tomorrow morning.

There Was Some Good News…

The Fourth CD is one of the more challenging districts in which to be a Republican.

And this is a challenging year to be a Republican, at least if you’re expecting financial support from the state party (hint: there’s not going to be any).   The districts – congressional, state senate/house and county – are bracing for a year of no money from the state.

So the Fourth CD GOP, at its convention on the 21st, did the sensible thing; jacked up the admission price for delegates, and started charging for guests.  They also canvassed aggressively for additional donations.

One upside of this?  Usually the party raise $5,000 or so at its convention (part of which – $2K or so, if I recall correctly – has to go to cover the cost of rending the hall).

This year?  More like $11,000.

That’s good news!  The district’s coffers can get replenished!  The district’s candidates can look forward to some help!

What could possibly go wrong with that theory?

More later today (or, let’s be honest, maybe tomorrow…).

Nothing Here But Us Mensheviks

One of the most unsettling things you hear from Ron Paul supporters – some of them, anyway – is that if you don’t vote for Paul, you’re basically voting for someone just the same as Barack Obama.

As if Mitt Romney will carry on exactly as Obama has.

In the world of the purist – and many of the Paul supporters are exactly the same purists I shook my head at as I left the Libertarian Party – incrementalism, no matter how far and how fast it moves, is never enough.  It’s all, or it’s nothing; nothing less matters to way too many of them.   The fact that Tim Pawlenty was way way way more conservative than Arne Carlson or Dave Durenberger counts for nothing, since he wasn’t as conservative as the one we should have had.  The fact that Norm Coleman was a moderate is all that counts; not that he was the most conservative mayor Saint Paul had had in decades, and that he replaced a Senator who was much worse, and but for a wave of fraud or incompetence, could still be much better than who he replaced, rather than better than the one who replaced him.  

Mr. D, like me, notes that he agrees with Ron Paul probably 80% of the time – but is also a little concerned about their sense of absolutism as well as their rather incomplete sense of history:

Perhaps it’s just me, but my sense is that while the takeover now underway may be a tactical triumph, it holds the seeds of an epic failure. The GOP of the recent past was not the province of Arne Carlson or David Durenberger; those gentlemen of a different era have long been free to be the operational Democrats they always were. For all the problems of the party organization, it’s worth remembering that the GOP of the recent past is as much John Kline and Michele Bachmann as it is Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman and Ron Carey.

And there’s the rub; I’ve seen more than a few prominent Paul supporters say, with straight faces, that Bachmann and Kline aren’t sufficiently pure for a Paul supporter.

It will be very important that the Paul supporters understand that it will take everyone, even those they might ordinarily disdain, for there to be electoral success in the fall. Right now, there’s a lot of anger out there. That needs to change. Leadership of a political party means more than taking control and dictating terms. Leadership means building. And the first step will be to make sure those who were defeated are not disdained.

It also means you’ve done something no Big-L Libertarian has ever done; you have to learn “Politics”, which means, more or less, the art of compromise.

And to a purist, that’s a four-letter word.

 

The New 4th CD?

I spent most of Saturday at the Fourth CD GOP convention.

The Ron Paul crowd swept into almost all of the leadership and delegate positions in the Fourth CD on Saturday; only Mike Boguszewski remains from the old executive committee.

The Paul crowd replaced everyone else, myself included, with their slate of candidates – for whom they voted with almost vapor-lock-tight discipline (and no, no sour grapes; I am not “District Secretary” material, and wanted to move over to Vice Chair for Media and Commiunications; I finished closer to the money than anyone who wasn’t on the “slate”, which I took as a mild compliment).

Now, I’ve met a lot of the district’s Ron Paul supporters.  They are, in a lot of ways, the type of people everyone’s been trying to attract to 4th CD GOP politics for years; young, idealistic, motivated.   Unlike 2008, most of delegates that had been forwarded from the House/Senate district conventions showed up for their third straight session of sitting in their delegate chairs until their butts went numb.

And that’s all to the good.

Less good?  Some of their leadership was motivated by fairly palpable anger over the “way they were treated in 2008″, when quite a few GOP activists gamed the system to keep the first wave of Paul supporters out of power.  To their political credit, they spent their four years organizing, and did a good job of it.

Less to their credit?  While anger is a good motivator, “anger at the inner workings of a political party” has, I’m going to guess, a short shelf life.   And at least in the Fourth CD, the anger was manifested by ballot.  The twitter stream during the convention indicated that at other districts, Paul supporters booed Dan Severson and Pete Hegseth, whose main transgression was “not being Kurt Bills”, the Paul crowd’s candidate for Senate, or refusing to stand to support John Kline at the 2nd District convention when he was re-endorsed.

Still, it made for an interesting day.  Rumors on the floor had it that there’d been negotiations going on to keep Jim Carson – who did an excellent job leading what was bound to be a long rebuilding effort, after having led Roger Chamberlain’s upset victory for the Senate two years ago – in place as district chair.  For one reason or another – rumors on the floor varied, but most of them seemed to come back to “we’re still pissed off about 2008″ – the negotiations broke down and the Paul crowd voted their straight slate and replaced Carson with former one-term Roseville mayor John Kyslyczyn.

So now, with the exception of Boguszewski, we have an entirely new Fourth CD; in much of the district, the leadership is new from the “BPOU” (MNGOP talk for the lowest level of the organization, which might be a House district, a Senate district or a County) level on up.

So what do we have, other than the hardest-to-spell leadership team in all of Minnesota politics (Kyslyczyn / Boguszweski)?  It’d tempting to say “a big slate of leaders who’ve never won a political race outside the party”, but then outside of Kyslyczyn’s term as mayor and Carson’s management of Chamberlain, the old and new teams are both tied at zero, so we can call that a wash so far.

My big concern, now as then?  While the crowd of Paul supporters at the convention Saturday carefully replaced their “Ron Paul” posters and stickers with “Kurt Bills” goodies, and voted to endorse Tony Hernandez by a 190-5-5 margin (after running a skillful campaign to win support from most of the establishment and Paul crowds), I have yet to hear a lot of support for, or even especially much awareness of, races farther down ticket or, more importantly, for candidates who get endorsed even if they’re not on the Paul slate.

Now, I know that there are a lot of good, committed people among the Paul crowd who are committed to using their positions in the GOP to work for the party, not just a candidate or two.

But I get a different impression from some of their leadership.  Ronald Reagan once said that if someone agrees with you 70% of the time, it doesn’t make them 30% your enemy.

And from some of the Paul crowd’s leadership, I do get the impression that, whether motivated by single-candidate zeal or roiling anger over 2008 or one of the mind-boggling number of byzantine interpersonal pissing matches that seems to motivate so much of CD4 GOP politics no matter who the nominee or the cause celebre or what the defining issue is, the Paul crowd’s leadership, in the district and beyond, sees “70% friends” as “30% enemies”.

About a month ago, I issued a challenge to the Paul supporters in the 4th CD.  Some Paul supporters complimented me on the piece.  Some took umbrage.  At least one of the Paul crowd’s “leadership” took out after me pretty aggressively over the article, denouncing me as Not A Libertarian At All in that Maoist-y way people adopt when they’re higher on political zeal than common sense.

But now he, and all of you in the Paul crowd, are the establishment, and I don’t have to mince words like some sort of party officer anymore.

Ron Paul’s not going to get nominated.  There is not a chance in hell he’s going to even get past the first ballot.  You fought the fight – successfully, here in Minnesota – but in August your national delegates will announce their votes, and the whole effort will wash down history’s drainpipe, and Paul will retire from Congress, and life’ll move on.

But there’s an opportunity to make a statement that’d be even bigger, at least here in Minnesota.

I’ll restate my challenge; exert some of that newfound power and influence down ticket from Paul and Bills; you have a golden opportunity to use your numbers and energy and organization to push Tony Hernandez to an upset victory over Betty McCollum.  There hasn’t been a better  opportunity to do that since the late Dennis Newinski got within six points back in 2000; between redistricting, anger in Stillwater over McCollum’s opposition to the new Stillwater Bridge, Obama’s anti-coattails, and the fact that most of Saint Paul is much worse off now than it was four years ago, this will be as good a chance as we get until 2020.

The chance, in short, is to do the unthinkable; to flip the unflippable Fourth.

Of course, for all your district-flipping numbers, you can’t do it alone.  Obviously, either could the former leadership.

It’ll be a brutally tough job to do even if we do all pull together.

And I know most of your hearts are in the right place.  But, Paul supporters, I’d like you to honestly ask yourself; does your leadership see the rest of the GOP as a bunch of 30% enemies?

Because if they do…I was going to say, “that road leads to Palookaville”. But 4th CD Republican politics has only rarely been anything but Palookaville for as long as anyone can remember.

Now there would be some change we could believe in.

Open Letter To Ron Paul Supporters In The 4th CD

To: Ron Paul Supporters, especially in the 4th Congresisonal District
From: Mitch Berg
Re: Your Shot At Making A Real Difference

All,

Some of you know me.  I’m Mitch Berg.  And long before I had a blog, and even longer before I hosted a talk show, and longer-still before I got heavily involved in “establishment” party politics, I was a Libertarian, with a big “L”:.  I even ran for office as a big-”L” Libertarian  - and won a moral, if not literal, victory.

I support liberty.  I also support being in a position to actually affect policy, rather than being an eternal protest-voter.  All of your chanting and zeal witthin the GOP are of no value – zero, nada, zilch – if you don’t have the ability to actually affect policy in the world outside the party.  And while having your guy win the presidency would do that, you also need to push candidates with your worldview into the US House and Senate, Governors and state constitutional offices, state Legislators and Senators, the county commission, city hall, the school board – the stuff you actually have to win if you want the government to, y’know, audit the Fed and stuff.

Which is why I endorsed Paul – Rand Paul, that is – last winter.  Libertarian purism, like any kind of purism, is a fun self-indulgence – and like any self-indulgence, it will have no affect on society around you.

So I have no beef with libertarianism.  I don’t even have so much a beef with Ron Paul, either.  I approve of many of the issues he runs on.  The stuff he wrote 30 years ago is a big problem – don’t kid yourself.  But I want to support him, or at least what he stands for.

The problem, I’m sorry to say, is many of you, his supporters.  Part of it is that so many of you do in fact propose using the power of the executive branch in a way not a lot different than liberals propose using the judicial branch – as a cudgel.

But the bigger part is that, for too many of you, Ron Paul is a personality cult.  I’ve run into too many Paul supporters who support Paul, but can barely articulate what he stands for; indeed, I do a better job of speaking for what Paul believes than they do.

Worse?  Just like four years ago, you flooded GOP precinct caucuses, and are in the process of flooding the BPOU Conventions, and trying to push your delegates on to the CD, State and (you hope) National conventions.  And that’s fine; that’s how the process works.

What’s “worse” is that, like four years ago, so very very very very very many of you will never be seen again after your next round of conventions.  You’ll show up, do your bit for Ron Paul – but not the GOP – and disappear, likely not to be seen again.  There are some exceptions – but they are rare.  Your commitment is to Ron Paul, not to the GOP, even in the context of “Changing the party into a more-libertarian institution in the long term” – with which I’d be completely on board.

And so those of us who have committed to the party – some of you call us “the establishment”, which makes me laugh, since I’ve been a libertarian insurgent in the party for 12 years now, and being “the establishment” means “campaign after campaign of door-knocking, phone-calling and lit-dropping – do feel a bit of resentment, like when you cook a big dinner and some stranger eats the whole thing and doesn’t even say thanks.

Anyway, I’m not here to bag on all you Ronulans.  I’m here, actually, to propose a win-win solution; you get to push liberty, the GOP gets to make inroads in the arena of actually changing policy in a meaningful way.

We have a big opportunity in the Fourth Congressional District.  I’ll take a moment to remind you what the Fourth CD is, since a disturbing number of you Paul supporters have little concept of politics down-ticket from the Presidency.  It’s Betty McCollum’s Congressional District:

It’s been controlled by big-government stooges from the DFL for over sixty years now.

But the latest round of redistricting made it a lot more competitive.  It used to be pretty much Saint Paul – a 70-30 statist-DFL district.  But redistricting added in a bunch of the more-conservative, more liberty-friendly East Metro, including thousands of people who moved to Lake Elmo, Woodbury, Stillwater and Afton to get away from the DFL and the rot they bring.

Now, Tony Hernandez is currently the candidate running for the GOP nomination in the 4th CD.  I’ve interviewed him a couple of times – and the language he uses is the kind of thing that should make you Paul supporters (and me) happy to support him.  Big on liberty, shrinking government – most of the Ron Paul elevator pitch is in there.   Before redistricting, he might have been looking at a 65-35 campaign, if he was lucky.

Now?  The odds are not nearly so quixotic.  With a little luck and a ton of work, it’s doable.

So here’s the deal, Paul supporters; if all of you turn out between now and the election with as much enthusiasm and whiz and vinegar in support of Tony Hernandez – who likely will get nominated, as opposed to Paul – and work your asses off alongside all us “establishment” Republicans?  We might just pull off a miracle.

No, bigger than that.

And not just a miracle in terms of sending Betty McCollum back to work as a receptionist at Alliance for a Better Minnesota; not just a miracle in upending sixty years of statist big-government representation in the 4th CD.

It’ll be a miracle in terms that matter much more, both to you Paul supporters and to the GOP; you’ll have done some real, palpable good in bringing your beliefs to bear in a way that can actually affect policy.

If you’re interested in helping out?  I’ll see you at the conventions.  We’ll have a great time. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’ll have fun doing it.

If you’re not? If you’re one of those dolts who believes that by staying home on election day because your candidate didn’t get nominated you actually “send a message” anyone will care about?  It’s not true, by the way – politics, especially at the grassroots level, reflects the will of those who show up.  Not just once, mind you, but every month, every election.  Anyway – yeah, I’ll be working against you.  Totally.

Whaddya say?

That is all.