Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SD 45 Chili & Chat II

Kudos to the 50 or 60 good folks, conservatives, and party faithful who turned out on a beautiful late spring evening, forsaking the lawn mowing and precious family time for some serious hobnobbing and party building at Senate District 45's second "Chili & Chat," served in the Robbinsdale Cooper High School lunchroom. This is the topsoil of grassroots politics. Your BPOU must tend to the networking, fellowship, and yes fundraising early in the season if you expect to reap some victories from the fall elections.

SD 45 includes the northern suburbs Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope, Robbinsdale, and a few precincts in Plymouth. It is a deep blue district, represented by multiple-term incumbent DFLers Sen. Ann Rest, Rep. Sandra Peterson (45A) and Rep. Lyndon Carlson (45B). (You may remember the name Sandra Peterson from her union days: she served as President of the Minnesota Federation of Teachers (MFT). After the merger with the Minnesota Education Association (MEA), she was Co-President of Education Minnesota.)

After unsuccessfully challenging all three of these DFLers in 2006, you couldn't blame the local Republican Party in SD 45 if they were feeling less than enthusiastic about their future prospects. On the contrary, SD 45 seems to be happily girding themselves for battle in 2008.

Although the seeds for their comeback seem to have sprung from a bowl of chili (the first two Chili & Chats in 2007 were a rousing success, with a third scheduled for October), a core group of activists is also employing a wide range of tactics to contact and build relationships with the base, to understand their district precinct-by-precinct (what Sun-Tzu called "terrain") and to get the conservative message out in a clear and unapologetic manner. Author Malcolm Gladwell might say that with their deliberate cultivation of people connectors, mavens, and salesmen, the SD 45 Republicans might be creating the conditions for a "tipping point" in 2008.

Take the simple idea of a chili dinner, for example. It provided the medium or vehicle for like-minded folks to gather in an informal, pleasant setting (make connections), while the Senate district committee gathered names, phone numbers, and cash contributions.

Take the maven bloggers Michael Brodkorb (Minnesota Democrats Exposed) and King Banaian (SCSU Scholars) for example, and the salesman/lawyer Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano). In addition to running their must-read blogs, Banaian and Brodkorb host a weekly talk radio show (Saturday afternoons on AM 1280 The Patriot; BTW where was the promotions department with our Patriot swag and Operation: Patriot cards?). I was pleasantly surprised when these three featured speakers did not take the podium one-by-one to deliver a standard after-dinner speech, but instead staged an "unplugged" version of their Northern Alliance Radio Network's "The Final Word."

I'm a fan of the show, so it was a real treat to watch (not just listen to) Brodkorb and Banaian interview Rep. Emmer, and share a laugh with King at the representative's deadpan delivery of the funniest quips of the evening — including a showstopping malapropism that made everyone happy we weren't on the air! Rep. Emmer is truly the House Republican caucus's secret and unsung weapon, successfully producing with Minority Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) and Governor Tim Pawlenty a united front against this last session's DFL tax increases, a freedom-to-poop law, granting illegal aliens the right to vote, funding without accountability, and other far left nonsense. (Emmer also predicted, to applause, that a special legislative session is not needed and will not occur this year.)

I left the dinner last night recharged and inspired to help jump start my own Senate District 43 by emulating the happy warriors in Senate District 45.

UPDATE: Derek Brigham ("Chief") shares the secrets of his success, with photos from Nancy's camera before the batteries ran out. (I'm the one wearing the bow tie.) Professor King "I wish more freshmen learned how to write in high school" Banaian also provided his C&C2 thoughts. The event earned space on Mr. Brodkorb's MDE.

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