MNGOP Leadership Update April 13, 2009 – 2 Months Out
We’re now just 2 month away from the big day. On June 13th the Republican Party of Minnesota will pick a new chair. As BPOU Conventions have wound down, the race turns to garner the pledged support of the newly elected State Central Delegates and Alternates. Over the next month, the candidates will roam the State attending Congressional District conventions and a handful of debates/forums.
The big news this week is Dave Thompson‘s entrance into the Chair’s race. Thompson brings in the X factor. He is widely known for his radio and TV work in the Twin Cities. He has spent the last 8 years pushing the conservative message on radio and TV so it is pretty enticing for those of us who are sick and tired of lame press conferences and gimmick gotchya communication strategies from the party.
So yeah. Thompson’s conservative principles are well known via his work. His skills as a communicator would be much appreciated and are sorely needed in the party. On that point, he clearly has the advantage to his competitors. I know some people out there are wondering if this is the guy being put up to diffuse the anti-establishment (read: Sutton) vote, but I don’t believe that is the case. He’s got too many serious players in the conservative movement and supporters for this to be a bogus campaign.
Former State Senator Carrie Ruud is also still in the race. Thompson’s entrance does make her task much harder, but I think the two of them do stand a good chance to build a consensus against Sutton and the establishment. You have a great communicator who made a living from persuading people and debating in the public eye, plus you have someone who has had her name on the ballot, asked for the public’s vote, and worked to pass legislation. Both of them offer something Sutton hasn’t ever done and something the party has all but forgotten how to do.
Tony Sutton is the establishment candidate, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. His campaign seems to be based on the notion that things were good back in 2001 when he worked for the Party as Executive Director or other jobs through the years, and it has all gone south only recently. But then he glosses over how he has been basically #3 at the MNGOP since 2005. He has been there for the last 2 election cycles when the wheels have come off the bus.
Now maybe he is not an actual carbon copy of current Chair Ron Carey, but I just don’t get that picture based on the things I see with my eyes. The results have been dreadful, and the operations of the party have been on the steady decline of effectiveness. Gone are the principles, embraced are the pollsters and strategists who have recommended all that has transpired. (The all your eggs in one basket and no policy policy) Add to that the disrespect being paid to the grassroots, and well the Party has become a very poorly run organization the last few years thanks to a few people at the top. Sutton was either with them or sitting right next to them and couldn’t stop them. How, having him slide over one seat would change anything….. the powerborkers of the party must clearly know, since they have jubilantly gone from Supporting Carey last time to Sutton this time……
Sure, Sutton’s supporters say, “but you weren’t in those Executive Commitee meetings, you didn’t see him stand up to Carey.” But Sutton was incapable of keeping Carey from destroying the grassroots and demoralizing the base, and with a view from a powerful and influential position within the party, no less. If this race was between Ron Carey or Tony Sutton…… well it isn’t, and I’m not sure Sutton is much different then Carey. He may be better then Carey, but I just don’t think taking a guy who knows where the bathrooms are at MNGOP HQ and has been around the last 2 decades is all this party needs right now.
A Command and Control, top down leadership attitude is well entrenched at MNGOP HQ and I am not sure (pretty dang) that Sutton would do away with it or the people who believe on the party staff is smart enough to know how to do anything. Arrogant is an understatement. Smug, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t let them watch my 90 pound bulldog.
The distrust and fear of the grassroots base of the party is what has divided State leadership from the wheels on the ground. We’ve lost supporters and alienated many long time activists by the abuse of them from those at or near the top. Whether it be dictatorial conventions or wasting their time on cold voter ID calls to Colleen Rowley, the conservative base has lost faith in the party since it has walked away from fighting for conservative principles and taking a stand on the issues that matter to the base of the party. (No matter where Coleman & Pawlenty came down on them!!!!)
The Deputy Chair’s race is still a head to head race between Dorothy Fleming and Michael Brodkorb. I’ve written a lot on this in the past, so I won’t go into it too much. I will say though that it doesn’t appear the whole boyish game from Sutton and Brodkorb and them not running together isn’t working. Everytime I talk with people about it, everyone just says they are the ticket and working together. Oh sure, separate campaigns, but ….. yeah, we all know who the powerbrokers and establishment want to win. Sutton/Brodkorb.
They are both running on the notion that they will do the jobs with out drawing a salary. A noble talking point coming from a guy who ran the campaign of the highest paid MNGOP Chair that I can remember. Oh yes, Micheal Brodkorb managed the campaign of the current 6-figure Chair Ron Carey. So noble of him to now stand up and try to win the votes he had to discredit last time. Pathetic.
I know he thinks it is winning him some favor to say he will work for the MNGOP for free while drawing from his ‘accumulated’ wealth of polictical operativeness and that of the State of Minnesota, but it raises a few big questions for me.
1) Where did he get all that money so that he doesn’t need to get paid for the work? He was a Senate Staffer, then a Party staffer, then a freelance campaign advisor.Oh wait, there was the stint with Weber Johnson or something, but that was a year or two. Seriously, how’d he get to be independently wealthy? For a guy in his mid 30′s who has worked in politics or for Government, he sure seems to be pretty “well off”.
Not that there is anything wrong with it, or maybe that isn’t the case at all. And that brings me to …….
2) How can he do both jobs? His current employer is the State of Minnesota. He is the communications director for the Senate Republicans. While being paid by the State of Minnesota he can’t do Party work. It raises big legal issues as well as just who would he being working for, and when? The Senate will need him focussed on the business of the Legislature whenever they are in session, but what if the party does too? Imagine if we actually become an activist party again, where we organize our supporters to call Legislators about legislation and some Republican Senators happen to be on the wrong side of the issue. I just don’t think you can be in two places at once, nor can you serve potentially competing masters.
3) I’ve had a chance to see the guy in action at BPOU conventions and other functions lately and the stress of this and his temper are getting to him. I just don’t think he is cut out for a role like this. He carries grudges and seems to be more interested in being a pitbull of the State leadership, not one sent into their meeting. (A dig from a quote from Politics in MN he has on his website) He’d be the official party bully now, that is when he isn’t working at the State Senate. I really don’t see how it is possible to do both jobs.
Our party needs to reunite right now, that means pulling all the people who have disagreed in the past back together – and all work together for the good of the party. Brodkorb is not a guy who I have seen any evidence of doing that. I believe he is a very divisive person who is as far removed from the grassroots as one can be. In my personal dealings with him, of late especially, I just don’t see him to be a person that will rise to the position and responsibility.
He’s been something far too different in the past, and the Brodkorb I know is not fit for party office. Attack blogger, or radio sidekick, maybe, distinguished party leader who will help reverse the trend in MN and get conservatism back on the map? Just what has he done to make you think that?
The problem with this party is that whenever there was a disagreement about a candidate, people like Michael Brodkorb and Tony Sutton were more often then not- the guys who were laying down cover fire and keeping the passionate and principled conservatives from, at the very least, having their concerns even heard. From the National Delegate and State Convention fiasco last year, to the Railroading of Sue Jeffers in 2006, dissent is not in the Brodkorb Sutton GOP vocabulary.
I would see their election to be a giant step backwards for the party.