The DFL is heading toward a convention that will bestow its usual “kiss of death” to whomever gets it – usually the candidate that makes the “progressive” activists that control the party the most tingly; this will lead to a summer of hammer-and-tong DFL fratricide leading up to a September primary that will determine the real candidate for governor.
This combined with the fact that the DFL is in a historically disorganized state, and heading into a headwind of disaffection with Barack Obama and a GOP with new leadership at its head and a Tea Party chasing it to relevance, and the DFL and its minions are desperately in need of a sideshow to draw attention away from their own cage match.
Dave Mindeman at mnpAct wants to direct the reader to the sideshow they’re counting on – the neck-and-neck GOP endorsement battle between Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer:
The Emmer vs. Seifert free for all on the GOP side of the governor’s race is heating up. Both sides are capable of some prolific attack dog politics. And it will get nasty.
It is gradually developing into a conservative base vs. party establishment fight. Emmer is increasingly drawing endorsements and support from conservative bloggers, conservative activists, and conservative leadership. Seifert has support from old line party leadership and the more traditional Republican base.
Which is an interesting way for the local leftysphere to put it, given that both Emmer and Seifert are routinely portrayed as “conservative extremists” whenever they’re mentioned in any other context. But it’s not untrue; Seifert’s got the organizational mojo, Emmer’s a conservative firebrand and the best stump speaker in Minnesota politics today.
The two have developed a recent history. Emmer had challenged Seifert for Minority Leader a few years back and then refused to vote for him for Speaker in 2009. Emmer has been waiting awhile for this opportunity and he is cashing in.
Add to all of this the fact that delegate strength to the convention is nearly evenly divided and you have the makings of an old style, no holds barred, nasty party convention.
Yep. The GOP convention is going to be a donnybrook, very possibly crazier than the 2002 convo.
It is noteworthy that Seifert has been particularly critical of Emmer’s voting record of late. The in-depth research style has the definite ring of a Brodkorb type tactic. Although the former MDE attack blogger has been careful to be neutral in his capacity as party deputy chair, his fingerprints are almost detectable in the current Seifert strategy.
It’s no big secret; Seifert’s the “insider”. The party has several years invested in Seifert as minority leader.
But this – and the idea that for every yin there needs to be an opposite yang – leads Mindeman to a fatally flawed assumption or, if you are more cynical, to the gaping whopper the DFL wants you all to believe about the MNGOP in the upcoming election; the sideshow, if you will, to try to distract the voters and encourage the DFL troops as they go through their own cage match this summer.
He starts out OK…:
Looking over the general Republican landscape, let me make a speculation…and mind you this is only an opinion.
The conservatives are putting a vested interest in Emmer. He is emerging as their consensus choice. Emmer has a wind at his back as he makes his case for the convention.
Yep. The GOP’s conservatives are using the endorsement process as it was intended to be used; as the time to reject compromise, to declare “death or glory”, to come home with their shields or on them; to campaign for the most conservative candidate left in the race. They don’t want the consolation prize; they want it all. And correctly so; now is the time to fight like hell for the brass ring.
Seifert’s supporters, by the way, are doing exactly the same thing. Because now is the time for the fight.
But it’s on May 2 that Mindeman’s theory goes to pot.
If Seifert manages to wrest the nomination away from Emmer in a bloody convention, you will see a party that will go into the fall campaign divided. A conservative backlash might just stop the conservatives from coalescing around Seifert, reducing his turn out and possibly moving toward some other third party or maybe even forming one.
Let me take you back in time to 2002. Brian Sullivan – who was and is every bit as conservative as Tom Emmer – had the backing of the conservative base. Tim Pawlenty – who held the same position in the GOP caucus that Seifert does today – and Sullivan were every bit as closely locked together as Seifert and Emmer are today. And some of the punditry, especially on the left, predicted exactly the same result; that Sullivan’s supporters would stay home, that conservatives would break away, that the GOP would battle itself into irrelevance.
But the convention, as long and brutal as it got, had exactly the opposite effect. To win the endorsement, Tim Pawlenty had to adopt one of Sullivan’s key driving points – the Taxpayers League’s “No New Taxes” pledge. And for the imponderably vast majority of Minnesota conservatives, that was more than enough.
Tim Pawlenty took the pledge – and, more importantly, has honored it for eight years, now. And I, as a fire-breathing conservative talk show host, could care less if he took a trip to the arctic with Will Steger that had absolutely no policy ramifications, as long as he stuck to the point that mattered – stymying the DFL’s plan, “spend like crack whores with stolen gold cards”.
In short, the bruising endorsement process had exactly the effect it was supposed to; a candidate won, but as a result of his fight to get endorsed, he took the keystone of his challenger’s platform to the Governor’s Mansion with him.
Emmer may have a better chance of holding the party together but he is going to carry some baggage as well.
Look – I’m not backing any particular candidate, at least not publicly. Not yet. But I’ll tell you this; even if you are a stone-cold Tom Emmer zealot, you have to realize that not only would Marty Seifert be a better governor than any of the DFL’s pack of hamsters, but that Marty Seifert’s voting record in the House is more conservative than Tim Pawlenty’s ever was. Seifert is a conservative. As conservative as Emmer? Perhaps not – but plenty good enough.
So campaign like hell for whomver your candidate is – Seifert or Emmer. Because for once, conservatives are in a win-win situation. Whomever gets the nomination will be a better, more conservative governor than any of the alternatives available to us today. Neither will be perfect – but perfect, as they say, is the enemy of “plenty good enough”.
There will be blood.
No. There will be coffee, and shouting, and more coffee, and pictures of delegates sleeping at 2AM with drool coming out of the corner of their mouth, and more coffee, and Excedrin, and five or ten or fifty ballots, and concession and acceptance speeches, and handshakes, and meetings, and buried hatchets and smoothed feathers, and looks out the window at the Tea Partiers who are done asking nicely for results.
And on the morning after the final gavel, there will be a campaign that hits the road at the head of a mostly-unified GOP that has a three month headstart building a winning campaign, on its way toward capping off an epic comeback.
There will be coffee, drool and victory.
Three words to live by.