Friday, September 26, 2008

Garden Outdoor Party

On Thursday I attended an after-work gathering of a few dozen self-proclaimed (fiscal/social) conservative and moderate (pro-choice) Republicans in a particularly Republican-friendly precinct in Minnetonka (where Republican campaign signs dot the yards like dandelions). The gathering was held at the home of a landscape company owner, whose residential property is a hilly shade garden showcase. Brian Grogan, candidate for Minnesota House of Representatives in HD 43B, and Erik Paulsen, candidate for Congress in the Minnesota Third District, were on hand to meet, greet, and answer questions.

I asked Paulsen about the recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) direct mail and TV attack ads on behalf of Paulsen's opponent, Ashwin Madia, that broadly portray Paulsen as "turning his back" on military veterans on the basis of a few cherry-picked votes in 2003. A DCCC TV ad in the campaign was given a grade of "D" on a recent KSTP-TV "Truth Test."

As the KSTP-TV story by Tom Hauser details, Paulsen explained that the 2003 "golf course" vote cited by the DCCC was on an amendment to a bill, which would have sold a golf course in Blaine "on behalf of the Minnesota amateur sports commission" to fund educational materials for National Guard members. It's not even clear if this sale legally could have been made. The amendment was offered only to make a political point, a common legislative tactic. It was defeated on a bipartisan vote of 35 to 96. So where's the beef?

Paulsen showed this neighborhood gathering a passionate commitment to common-sense, conservative values. The Madia campaign tries to peg him as a "career politician," but I disagree. He just seems to me like the guy who has the legislative experience and dedication to help return Congressional Republicans back to their conservative roots (like Reps. John Kline (MN-2) and Michele Bachmann (MN-6)), and to stay connected to his constituents in the style of his mentor and former boss, the incumbent Rep. Jim Ramstad (MN-3).

Gorgan fielded questions about state issues such as taxes, business regulation, spending, corn-based ethanol, and education, clearly showing him to be well-informed and passionate. He refuted claims of his opponent, the incumbent John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), that portray Benson as a fiscal moderate, and the DFL leadership style at the Legislature as "bipartisan." Grogan seems to have the energy needed to energize Republican voters in November—and champion conservative values in Saint Paul starting in January. He would be a great addition to the House Republican Caucus.

Incidentially, Grogan has added a large new section to his campaign web site, "Benson's Voting Record." Check it out.

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