Thursday, July 23, 2009

When pigs fly

Papa John Kolstad (photo: John R. Kolstad)Politics makes strange bedfellows. —Charles Dudley Warner

People used to use the expression "when they send a man to the moon" as a way of saying, "it will never happen." Then they did send a man to the moon, several actually. Some used the expression, "when a black man is elected President of the United States," then that happened too.

You would think that "when Papa John Kolstad runs for office as a Republican" would never happen. Well, it seems, it's gonna happen.

As reported by Mitch Berg in Shot in the Dark, and First Ringer at Truth v. The Machine, the Minneapolis City Republican Committee endorsed musician, businessman, and political activist Kolstad for mayor of Minneapolis last Saturday. Kolstad was also endorsed for mayor by the Independence Party of Minnesota on Monday.

This is not your father's Republican candidate. In his DFL endorsement speech for a state senate seat in 2000, he said, "It has troubled me, as it has so many others, that we are experiencing the failure of the three pillars of democracy — the elected officials, the media, and the courts — to protect the public interest."

(Oops, he forgot about free markets, limited government, and the right to bear arms!)

When Kolstad ran as the Green Party endorsed candidate for Minnesota Attorney General in 2006, he promised that as AG he would fight any efforts by private insurance companies to block the creation of state-run "single payer" health insurance.

According to the Minnesota Independent, "Kolstad has long been frustrated by the centrist tendencies of the DFL." (Huh?)

Has Kolstad suddenly made a sharp turn starboard (not likely), or have the last Republicans in Minneapolis turned hard to port? My first reaction was that Kolstad and his Green Party cronies decided to co-opt the Republican endorsement to advance their agenda. (This is not an unheard-of tactic in the political game where there is a weak or non-existent opposition party organization.) Some of my fellow conservatives felt a mixture of shock, embarrassment, and rage at the endorsement.

Nik Ludwig, chair of the Minneapolis City Republican Committee (certainly one of the most thankless political jobs in the state), told me in an e-mail that Kolstad's endorsement speech "talked a lot about reducing taxes, reducing regulations on small business, eliminating wasteful spending, auditing the city books, and restoring economic opportunity in the city." (I have asked for a transcript.) As for political credentials, Ludwig said that Kolstad beat the other endorsement candidates in "political experience, civic involvement and advocacy, and obviously name recognition."

As only Nixon could go to China, maybe only Kolstad could win as a Republican in Minneapolis. Kolstad could wage a highly-visible, nonpartisan campaign that paints Rybak's city hall as wasteful and unfriendly to small business (like the message of Eva Ng's campaign for mayor of Saint Paul). That in itself could win friends and influence people, and cause more Minneapolitans to take a second look at the GOP.

Perhaps "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," but if Kolstad wins (a possibility with instant runoff voting), would he really follow through by cutting taxes and regulation, and increasing the responsiveness and transparency of Mill City government?

Stranger things have happened.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Minnesota Majority protest took a lot of...

Photo voter protest (photo: Dick Taylor for Minnesota Majority)Drew Emmer (holding box) distributing "Election Integrity" golf balls to visiting secretaries of state. (Photo: Dick Taylor for Minnesota Majority)

Minnesota Majority launched its "ballsy" campaign to oust Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie with a humorous protest to get its message in front of Ritchie's peers. Last week, the group handed out free sleeves of golf balls as National Association of Secretaries of State conference attendees boarded their golf outing buses in Minneapolis.

According to Minnesota Majority's Dan McGrath, the golf balls were imprinted with the phrase "Election Integrity," and recipients were verbally encouraged to "keep your eye on the ball."

"With elections being decided by increasingly narrow margins," said McGrath in a press release, "even a fractional level of errors or abuse can call the legitimacy of elections into question. The only definite way to ensure an accurate reflection of the will of the people in an election is by requiring photo ID to verify identity and eligibility before voting."

The protest dovetailed with the launch of another campaign to unseat Ritchie, announced separately by the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Palin takes the ball into her court

I learned of Sarah Palin's resignation from the Alaska governor's office while walking around Times Square, on vacation last Friday (see my grainy tourist video, above).

The left (and many on the right) are bewitched, bothered, and bewildered by Palin's resignation, as they were last summer when John McCain announced his pick for Vice President. Is Sarah Barracuda taking the basketball and going home? On the contrary, the ball is in her court, and she intends to use it. Even as the left gleefully pronounces the death of Palin's political career and the GOP, conservative grassroots activists continue to network, train, plan, and build for campaigns from the school board to the White House. Now Palin is in the game, ready to lead a new full-court press in 2010 and beyond.