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.