Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nervous in the service

Republican Party of Minnesota State Central Committee delegates should take note of state party chairman Ron Carey's performance at Saturday's Tax Cut Coalition Rally, and, more importantly, the crowd's reaction to Carey.

While I do not condone the heckling and chanting of "No More RINOs" during Carey's reading of a letter from Senator Norm Coleman (was the crowd directing their chant at Carey or Coleman?), it shows that the conservative base is rising again, and they are not going to take it anymore. Coleman's letter was a nice gesture, but came off to the 7000-strong, pitchfork-and-torches crowd as a bit lame.

After a stint in North Carolina talk radio, if there was ever any doubt, radio personality and conservative prophet Jason Lewis is absolutely back in his blazing saddle again. Lewis is about more than ratings: he wants a conservative revolution. This time, Lewis will not be cowed by the Republican party establishment's talk of getting along, compromise, and smaller tax increases than the DFL. This time, Lewis is kicking butt and naming names: Don Shelby, the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Saint Paul Mayor Chris "Comrade" Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, even Jim Ramstad and Tim Pawlenty.

This time, Lewis has harnessed some Internet resources that were not available to him at the end of Jesse Ventura's term: a web site fueling an 18,000 member and growing Tax Cut Coalition, a list of allied conservative groups, and the independent blogosphere — which supports Lewis despite his apparent arms-length relationship with them. (Lewis owes the blogosphere, especially the MOB, for its extensive coverage of the rally, replete with eyewitness accounts, gigabytes of photos, and on-demand video. The revolution will be blogged.)

Lewis is also a more visible presence at meetings of the Twin Cities Republican Association and EdWatch. Taxpayers League of Minnesota's David Strom promoted the rally on KSTP-TV Channel 5's At Issue public affairs program, brandishing one of Derek Brigham's striking protest signs.

This time, Lewis and his followers are not giving up, and they are not going away. They used to talk about taking a loss if necessary to maintain their conservative integrity. This time, they are in the game to win. The adjacent, corporate sponsored, global warming "pup tent" rally's meager turnout compared to the grassroots Tax Cut Rally's several thousand gave conservatives a huge morale boost.

If conservatives won't be represented by the establishment, they are going to install a new establishment. RINOs should be nervous.

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