Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Persona non grata

Mark Olson (photo: Minnesota House of Representatives)According to Wikipedia, "Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Article 9, a receiving State may 'at any time and without having to explain its decision' declare any member of a diplomatic staff persona non grata. A person so declared is considered unacceptable and is usually recalled to his or her home nation. If not recalled, the receiving State 'may refuse to recognize the person concerned as a member of the mission.'"

Although eight-term Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake), the GOP endorsed candidate for Senate District 16, is not a member of the diplomatic corps, he's getting an intimate lesson on what persona non grata means.

The Star Tribune reported that "Olson was convicted last year [2007] by a Sherburne County jury of misdemeanor domestic assault for causing his wife fear of bodily harm when they collided and fell to the ground behind their home in November. He was acquitted of intentionally harming or trying to harm her after his attorney argued that he had acted in self-defense in an abusive relationship." On the floor of the Minnesota House in February, Olson acknowledged his need for forgiveness from "God and my wife, my family, my constituents." Since then, Olson has reportedly reconciled with his wife.

The reaction to the endorsement from outside SD 16 has been swift and merciless. The Republican House Caucus expelled him. Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Senjem supported Olson before the endorsement, but now he is against him (the caucus officially will be supporting Olson's unendorsed primary challenger, Allison Krueger). Blogger Michael Brodkorb (Minnesota Democrats Exposed) repeatedly said on his "Last Word" radio show with King Banaian (SCSU Scholars) that the message of the Senate District 16 endorsement is: "crime pays," drawing a cause-and-effect relationship between the crime and the endorsement.

U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) would prefer that Republicans lose another state Senate seat than support Olson. "In the unfortunate event that Mr. Olson succeeds in the September Primary," said Coleman in a press release, "I would ask that our party refuse to offer any type of assistance to his campaign. While the loss of a State Senate seat is unfortunate... we must maintain and uphold our beliefs that violence of any kind, whether it is in word or in deed, should not be rewarded with our party’s support, or the support of voters in Senate District 16."

The DFL is wisely keeping mum about the Republicans' public display of internecine unpleasantness, presumably recording every word of the endorsement's critics to use should Olson win his primary election against Krueger on September 9.

Yet the good delegates of SD 16 gave Olson his endorsement on the second ballot. With all of the bluster, very little is being said about Olson's sterling, eight term, conservative voting record and deep understanding of our nation's founding principles. Olson has been a beacon of conservatism in a DFL-controlled legislature hell-bent on inventing exotic new taxes and accelerating the already runaway growth of government. Olson would bring his fortitude to stand up to the liberals in the state Senate, a virtue that has been in shorter supply since former state Sen. Michele Bachmann moved to Washington, D.C.

Banaian offered his radio show's final word on Olson: "The [party] base gets to be the base." No one is contesting the endorsing process, flawed though it may be. On primary election day, September 9, the rest of the base will weigh in. If SD 16 sends Olson to its special election on November 4 (also general election day), and if Olson wins, it would still be easy for the Republican caucus to treat him as untouchable. Considering the large DFL majority that is likely to be sustained, one vote won't make much difference, right?

For some perspective from an SD 16 activist and Olson supporter, see Chris Krumpula's blog, What The Republic Can Do.

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