You Don’t Take Sides Against The Family

The Minnesota State GOP Central Committee had its big annual meeting over the weekend.

The act that’s gotten the most publicity has been its vote to boot over a dozen former MNGOP elected officials from the party for supporting Tom Horner during the gubernatorial campaign just past.  By a 58-55 vote, the committee banned…:

Arne Carlson
Al Quie
George Pillsbury
Peggy Leppik
Neil Peterson
Dennis Ozment
Roger Scherer
David Jennings
Ed Oliver
Lynne Osterman
Dave Bishop
Bill Schreiber
Art Seaberg
Rod Searle
Dave Durenberger
Doug Kelley
Joanell Drystad
Al Olson

They’re not allowed to be delegates at conventions for the next two years, among other things – not that that was likely anyway, as Party Chair Tony Sutton noted:

“I get frustrated because a lot of people on that list only come out and say they’re Republicans when the want to stick it to Republicans,” Sutton said. “The rest of the time they say they’re an independent or a Democrat and support nothing but Democrats.

Sutton’s right there; none of these people have been active in any way as “Republicans” in years, maybe decades – except to come out and use their old affiliation against  the party.

Some of the usual suspects – almost all of them DFLers – are caterwauling about the move, calling it a “purge” or a “witch hunt”.

Here’s two suggestions for any DFLers shedding crocodile tears over the expulsions of people who, let’s remember, campaigned against the party’s endorsed candidate this past election:

  1. Remember Randy Kelly.  You do remember Randy Kelly, don’t you?  Saint Paul’s last successful mayor?  Held the line on property taxes?  After  along career as a loyal DFL soldier, he endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 – rightly, in hindsight.  And the party’s long knives came out.
  2. Why not start a party of your own?:  And when you do, you can write rules about how your party’s members are supposed to behave as re campaigning against the party!  So next election when, say, “DFLers for Laura Brod!” starts getting some publicity, you can climb up on the tall horse of principle and say “These people are members in good standing of our big, big, big tent party!”

But until they do, just hush.   Our party – our party – did just fine this cycle without a bunch of people who once called themselves “republicans” but governed like Democrats.

Look – there’s a case to be made that the party shouldn’t be in the retribution business – and a better one, I think, that the party has every right to protect its own brand from being undercut by its former elected officials.  The GOP owns its own brand – not the DFL, and not Lori Sturdevant.

In an excellent piece over the weekend, Craig Westover also hits the “Brand Defense” angle:

Those rebuked by the Minnesota GOP were of value to the Horner campaign primarily because of their one-time endorsement by the Republican Party of Minnesota. They were sought out and welcomed by the Horner campaign because of the Republican brand. Their coming out for Horner was headlined by the Republican brand. What made the story significant was the Republican brand. What the Minnesota GOP has the obligation to protect is the Republican brand…

…A “Progressive Republican” is nothing more than a Progressive who used to be a Republican. The action by the GOP State Central Committee banning Horner supporters from participating in Republican Party activities simply makes them honest souls by wedding them to their actions.

There’s a case to be made that the party should “reach out” to “moderates”, and find a place for them in the party.  There’s a better case to be made that that outreach needs to be met halfway; not by supporting a DFL-lite hamster like Horner for governor against the endorsed candidate, and that the party doesn’t need to tolerate former members dusting off their old titles and waving them against the party.

35 thoughts on “You Don’t Take Sides Against The Family

  1. Progressive Republican is only the latest tag, they used to call themselves Socially Liberal but Fiscally Conservative, which translates in practice into plain old Liberal, as easily demonstrated:

    Social Progressive: Abortion is a Constitutional right.

    Fiscal Conservative: But we can’t afford to pay for it.

    Social Progressive: Then you are denying poor people their Constitutional rights. Fundamental human rights trump a balanced budget.

    Fiscal Conservative: Fine, how much?

    Once you give up the moral high ground to the Moderates, Progressives, Liberals, Social Democrats . . . whatever their name du jour, you’ve lost.

    I say purge ’em and let them start their own party. The can stand on their commitment to having no principles in the middle of the road and see how far that gets them.

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  3. Progressive Republicans or Conservative Democrats. They’re one and the same. They simply don’t have the courage of their convictions. They spend their lives trying to balance on the middle of the fence.

    Nuke ’em.

  4. When did Arne Carlson win an endorsement? I believe even when he was a sitting governor in 94 we endorsed someone else who he beat in a primary.

  5. Let the circular firiing squad begin shooting at will. Time for the purity test. Someone has to be sacrificed for the lost governorship – can’t blame campaign mistakes like waitergate.

    Some of those on the list seem far more real, ‘old time’ style Republicans than those calling the shots now. Too bad – I liked many of those on the list, and you all would be far better off with them than without them.

    Time for the purity tests!!!!!!!! Start the purge!!!!!!!!!!! Tsk tsk tsk.
    You might want to go back and revisit those wise words of Ronald Reagan about not taking pot shots at your own over disagreements and differences…….

  6. This was one of the stupidest thing the GOP has done in a while.

    It has no real effect.
    Those people don’t participate, so telling people who don’t want to participate they can’t is meaning less.

    But what it did do is let MPR, Star Tribune and every other media outlet run a story saying that the GOP does not want Tom Horner supporters as part of the party in the future.

    Let me know if my math is wrong, but in the last statewide election didn’t the GOP not get a majority of votes.
    So exactly where are the votes supposed to come from in the next election in 2012?
    I am thinking that maybe we need to invite a few of those Tom Horner supporters to come over to our side?

    If you wanted to make a statement say what the Chair said – These people are irrelevant and only call themselves Republican to bash us.

    This stupid vote does not change anything. Story will now read:
    Arnie Carlson, Former Republican says that Republicans suck. Arnie and many others are now banned from the Republican Party for supporting Tom Horner.

    And I guarantee that those folks will now be making the News circuit to give interviews to say how they fell bad for ALL the people who supported Tom Horner who are now banned from the Republican Party.

    And that will be the story line until next election, not what the Republicans are doing for the state, but that the Republican party does not want anyone as a member who didn’t vote for their candidate in the last election.

    Headline 2012:
    Republican lose another statewide election as thousand say they wanted to Vote Republican but read that if they supported Tom Horner they were banned from being a Republican.

    Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

    (As a unrelated side note, The Liberty Caucus supported some Libertarian candidates and some write-in candidates against Republican candidate in the 2008 election, should all those people equally be banned?)

  7. DG,

    Let the circular firiing squad begin shooting at will. Time for the purity test.

    With all due respect, this is a rancid crock. This is not a generalized circular firing squad. It’s punishing a small group of “high-profile” turncoats who used their former GOP endorsement to try to discredit the party.

    And I think it’s interesting that in a year when the DFL Party apparatus engineered a campaign that lost both houses and failed to get its endorsed candidate through the primary, the phalanx of DFL chantingpoints bots (like DG and Flash) are expending this much energy commenting on the activities of the party that won.

    Misplaced priorities?

  8. Sam,

    But what it did do is let MPR, Star Tribune and every other media outlet run a story saying that the GOP does not want Tom Horner supporters as part of the party in the future.

    I don’t entirely disagree. But you have to admit that when it comes to the media, the GOP is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. Had they not tubed the turncoats, the media would be carping about how fractured the GOP is (“lookit all the votes they lost to Horner!”).

    Shakespeare’s advice – to thine own self be true – is always the best. Questions can be asked about the Central Committee’s action – but deferring to what the media will say about the GOP’s actions is always a losing game.

  9. Dog Gone paraphrased:

    “You got rid of all the Republicans I liked”

    Sam paraphrased:

    “Don’t forget to reach out to all the Stupid-Republicans, you know, the one who will believe anything they read in the paper”

    *shrug* I think it’s good and bad.

  10. “But what it did do is let MPR, Star Tribune and every other media outlet run a story saying that the GOP does not want Tom Horner supporters as part of the party in the future.”

    Okay, your point being?

  11. It’s astonishing that basic concepts from Social Studies baffle liberals.

    The definition of a political party is a collection of like-minded persons working together to gain political power. Those like-minded persons make statement of their principles (called party platform) and expect candidates who seek party endorsement to abide by those principles, and also expects party members to support the candidates endorsed by the party.

    Anybody not willing to abide by the party principles, or to support the endorsed candidates, is free to leave the party to join any of the dozen other recognized political parties in hopes of finding a better fit of like-minded persons there.

    Those who are not willing to abide by party principles or support the endorsed candidate, but who lack the courage of their convictions to leave the party in search of a better fit elsewhere, should be shown the door.

    This is the universal model of political parties everywhere. It is perfectly logical, natural, and ordinary. Only in a subset of the population that can reliably be counted upon to be dumber than a 5th grader, could it possibly be controversial.


  12. oh and DG the Reagan quote was, “people who agree with you on 80% of the issues are not your enemy”. I don’t think that we would agree with most of these “Republicans” on even 50% of the issues.

  13. DG, about those shirts; is it beyond you ability?

    Is the iron too complex? Squirt bottle a mystery with all those moving parts? Get your hand tangled up in the ironing board?

    I’ve factchecked it, and all my multisources agree that it appears you don’t have anything to offer society beyond a sad lesson in what a life of alcoholism brings.

    When Governor JimBeam checks in at Hazeltine in a few weeks, why not see if you can join him as his personal secretary?

    Really, seek help, dear.

  14. As a conservative I’m thrilled they’re all out, sent to the IR/Dem-lite ash-heap. GOOD RIDDANCE!!!

  15. So nate, say the party endorsed some who is a moderate republican: Will call him John and you want someone who is a true believe, will call him Ron.
    So if you don’t do everything you can to support John but instead insist that Ron is the only true voice – then you should leave the party???

    Or is it that you think that also decision about who should be leaders at the local level should be made at a state level.
    That local party people are too stupid to elect their own representatives and that the State Party should decide who is best to represent them?

    Silly me, I always thought that the purpose of the party was to elect folks who Represented our ideals, not place a purity test for who could attend our meetings.

    Luckily for us, Republican registration out number DFL and Independents in the state – we don’t want any of them supporting our candidates.
    Only those that agree 100% with the State Party are allowed to be Republicans and support us.

    (And to Scott, we didn’t send anybody out, they had already left. That is why this was meaningless except to give both Independents and DFL a chance to say that if you didn’t vote Republican last time they don’t want you back ever)

  16. Sam, I’m happy (make that elated) with the fact that these RINO’s have been shown the door. I frankly don’t give a rats behind what the “Independents” or DFL might have to say. If they want these losers and has-beens let them have them.

  17. This is not about elected officials or candidates.
    What was voting on was participating in the party.

    And no one was shown the door, they had left a long time ago.

    What we did was shut the door to new people.

    The message sent was that if you supported Tom Horner, please go look somewhere else for political ideas because we do not want you.

    Outside of Tim Pawlenty (and that was more of a DFL screw up), Republicans have not won a statewide race in a long time.

    Telling independents to go away is not the way to win elections.
    Saying, come on in and let us tell you what we are about is a much better message.

  18. What we did was shut the door to new people.

    I disagree. I think the last election showed that independents and especially young people are waking up to the fact that the Democrat party is not doing them any good. Quite the contrary.

    Liberals and “progressives” have come to believe that average people are just stupid (see any angryclown comment). Guess what? Those days are over.

  19. What we did was shut the door to new people.

    Door’s always open. Or didn’t you notice all those Tea Partiers coming through it?

  20. Arnie Carlson shoulda been thrown out the effin door the moment he endorsed Obama for the presidency.

  21. Sam,

    Telling independents to go away is not the way to win elections.
    Saying, come on in and let us tell you what we are about is a much better message.

    I have always agreed with this. It’s one of the reasons I was an early supporter of Emmer; he excels at this (which is why the Dayton campaign was forced to focus the media on bloopers and ancient DWIs).

    But I disagree that controlling the party’s brand against people who dust off 30-40-year old endorsements to discredit the party keeps “independents” away. Oh, maybe the “independents” that plan on joining the party, rising to positions of prominence, and then using that position to undercut the party, but I don’t suspect they’re a large faction.

  22. I’ll try again.


    Yes. If you supported Horner through the nomination and endorsement process because you thought he’d be a better candidate in the general election, fine; but once Emmer became the party-endorsed candidate, your continued membership in the party obligated you to swallow your pride, throw your support behind Emmer, and present a unified front for the general election to beat the enemy. No, not Emmer – Dayton.

    Hillary didn’t run against Obama as an Independent. She knows the rules, and she knows the penalty the party would have exacted for breaking the rules. She’s working behind the scenes – her chance will come. That’s what Horner should have done.

    The Republicans-in-name-only who supported Horner over the party-endorsed candidate aren’t as graceful or subtle as Hillary Clinton, which is saying something. They got what they had coming to them.


  23. Sam, you put me in mind of a favorite quotation from Florence King:

    “Now, a word to Catholics who would follow the dictates of their consciences instead of the dictates of the Vatican. Congratulations, you’re Protestant.”

    Now, let’s see if you can puzzle out why I think the reasoning behind her line also is applicable to you.


  24. Mitch,
    But we did nothing about the Brand.
    If the motion was that those people are not Republicans because they have not supported the party for years and should stop calling themselves Republican, That would be smart.

    This was stupid.

    None of the people on the list claimed to be Republicans, they all claim to be former Republicans – this did not change this.
    The vote was not about RINO – it didn’t say they couldn’t be endorsed, it said they could not participate.

    Read the reporting on this:
    “Republican’s tell Tom Horner Supporters they are not welcome”.

    So explain to me how you plan to win any elections in the future, since we didn’t win the last one.

    Remember Ronald Regan and the “Regan Democrats”.
    Regan didn’t change, but he welcomed those who had made mistakes in the past (democrats and independents) to change.

    What we did was allow a “Not Welcome” sign to put up.

    And for what purpose, to Tell Arnie Carlson he couldn’t come to a meeting he never attended anyway.

    And to use nate’s quote/analogy:

    What we did is tell a bunch of Protestants who claim to be former Catholics and don’t want to be Catholic that they can not be Catholic.

    And then put up a big sign on the front door that say,
    “unless you are already a Catholic please do not enter.”

    You might want to read the story of the Prodigal Son some time.

    or at least look at the last vote.

    Explain to me how you expect to win statewide in 2012 will just Republican voters from 2010? Unless you attended a MN public school, you will see that we will need some of those Tom Horner voters to vote Republican.

  25. Sam, you haven’t answered a simple question.
    What is the point of electing a “Republican” who votes Democrat?

  26. Kermit –
    I will answer your question –
    You should never elect a Republican that votes Democrat!
    They should never be endorsed and never get party support.
    If a candidate goes along with Dayton as Gov they should be shunned, not supported, kicked out of the caucus etc…
    No Money to RINOs, no disagreement there at all.
    And just to be clear, we should not have a candidate who will “attract” moderates by being moderate. We want people to join us because of what we believe, not because we changed our beliefs.
    (See above, Regan = Regan Democrats, Regan didn’t change he changed them)

    But your question has nothing to do with the Stupid Motion.
    The people are not elected Republicans, they are not anything.
    They don’t participate and haven’t participate and don’t want to participate.
    They are not looking for endorsement and the motion was not about endorsement of elected officials.

    But by passing that stupid motion we said:

    If you supported Tom Horner in the Past, we do not want you to participate in Republican party at all.

    If you voted wrong in 2010, please do not change in 2012, just go somewhere else. That is what is wrong.

    I am pretty sure that Regan was happy that people who had voted for and worked for Jimmy Carter in 76 voted for him in 80.

    I am also as sure that if we want to win back a Senate Seat in 2012, that we will need some of the people who voted for, supported and maybe even endorsed Tom Horner to see the light and come vote for our guy.
    But we told them to go look else where.

  27. Nate, you said it right in your 1st comment. The DFL should be dealing with their own problems. The republican party should not be their concern right now.

    Ben, Lieberman wasn’t kicked out of the party. He still caucuses with the democrats. He wasn’t removed from his committee seats. Sure, he wasn’t endorsed in CT, but it’s not like the national party held a vote to expell him or anything.

  28. The point, I think, that is being missed by most is that at one time or another nearly all of those listed had been endorsed by the RPM when they ran for election. Unlike the DFL, the Republican endorsement means something. It means that we will do everything possible to see the candidate through a primary battle and general election.

    As a one-time Party officer, there were times when my fellow Republicans endorsed moderates that I wasn’t happy with. Nonetheless, it was my duty to phone bank, fund raise, maintain and provide voter lists and door knock for these candidates. I did it because it was what I signed up for.

    It was also what the candidates expected and demanded.

    So what we have here is a list of folks who expected and received Party backing when it was THEIR name on the ballot. They demanded and received our loyalty.

    Fast forward to this year’s election. These moderates repaid this loyalty by deciding that they would rather see Mark Dayton elected than a conservative. Given their political background it is difficult to believe that any of them expected Horner to win the election. In my opinion they knowingly attempted to sabotage our Party’s endorsed candidate. They were successful.

    Consequently, I agree with the actions taken by the RPM State Central Committee. We have a history of endorsing moderates and working to see them elected. What some of them have forgotten is that its a two-way street.

  29. It was the right move. If a party–any party—is to be effective, party discipline has to be part of that. Taking sides against the party publicly simply has to have consequences. These are pretty mild consequences, but that’s okay.

    Party officials–and leaders, which sets don’t completely overlap—should be free to speak their minds, both publicly and privately, until the decision is made. After that, they should be expected to get with the program–even if the most they can do to get with the program is to shut up and not comment.

    This isn’t GOP-specific, or political party-specific, either. It’s as true for communist revolutionaries as it is for, say, Second Amendment activists. You don’t let the world think that it’s possible to divide and conquer, not and remain effective.

    Keeping the mainstream media happy just doesn’t stack up compared to the necessity of having some party discipline. If Emmer had won, it would have been an act of graciousness for him to waive discipline of the–word chosen carefully–perfidious party members. He could do that as governor, and as, ex officio, top party leader. (Whether or not he should have is another matter.)

    As others have suggested, the Minnesota GOP has been very accommodating to moderate/liberal party members. That’s a good thing, but it’s not a license for perfidy.

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