Gubernatorial hopefuls at SD43 picnic with Rep. Sarah Anderson (center, holding microphone). Photo: SD43
Monday evening, six hopefuls for the Minnesota GOP endorsement for governor broke bread, gave stump speeches, and answered questions in Plymouth on their statewide tour of Republican summer picnics. According to the SD43 Republicans, about 250 gathered at picnic tables and lawn chairs, around a shelter decorated with red, white, and blue bunting, to hear the candidates, gossip about politics over barbecue sandwiches, and watch the kids play nearby.
Die-hard conservatives won't have just one candidate to line up behind, as in 2002 with west metro favorite son Brian Sullivan, or Sue Jeffers in 2006, we will have to choose from several dedicated, well-spoken, proven public servants (maybe we can send two of them into the general election —as governor and lieutenant governor, that is?).
Some of the stars of the minority caucuses in the state Senate and House, and a star of the Pawlenty administration, appeared at the picnic: former minority leader Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall), third-term Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano), former assistant minority leader Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), and former state auditor Pat Anderson.
Seifert proved his mettle as House minority leader again this session, effectively holding his caucus together and working with Governor Pawlenty. Hann is a stalwart, principled conservative. Emmer's no-nonsense, forceful "gimme a break" style would serve him well in campaign debates and negotiations with the legislature. Anderson has a proven record of reform as state auditor and commissioner of Employee Relations, which she merged into the Department of Finance (thereby shrinking government and eliminating her own job). All have unquestionable conservative reform records.
Also stumping in Plymouth for the endorsement were Sen. Mike Jungbauer (R-East Bethel), former Rep. Bill Haas, and Phil Herwig. Compared to the previous candidates, they are at a disadvantage in name recognition, experience, and star power to get endorsed and elected.
From now until the endorsement, there are going to be many of these events happening around the state (see the True North calendar for details). I encourage you to attend. They are lots of fun, and enable you to effectively put that post-TEA Party energy into winning hearts, minds, and elections.
Picnic table notes
I had the good fortune of sharing a picnic table with Glenn Ray, one of the proprietors of the Minnesota Prager Discussion Group blog, which is widely followed among Minnesota conservatives. Ray is an outspoken, thoughtful old gent (I mean that as a compliment!) with cogent political and ideological insights: think a west metro Craig Westover. He provided a running commentary to me during the stump speeches and Q&A; it would have made a great liveblog.
Visiting from SD33 were Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) and Rep. Connie Doepke (R-Orono) (pronounced DEP-key: the "O" is silent). Before I got in line for the dinner buffet, I learned from Doepke how the Republicans in the Legislature executed a successful minority strategy, while the DFL majority was frequently at intramural loggerheads thanks to Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller. Doepke also warned that next session, the DFL will have a strategy for Gov. Pawlenty's 2009 unallotment gambit. ("Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.")
Pat Anderson must have been on her way to another important event, because she left the picnic after delivering her speech, and she was wearing a striking gubernatorial power suit with some snazzy heels, not unlike another certain female, former suburban mayor, state commissioner, and cold-weather state governor we know!
After the candidates spoke, I looked for the sign-up table or booth run by Big Insurance, Big Pharama, or other "special interest groups" for town hall meeting disruption actions. I am tiring of showing up to protests as an unpaid concerned citizen, and am looking to make some extra money to help pay for TARP, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Cash for Clunkers, cap-and-trade, and federal health insurance reform (that is, in addition to Medicaid, Medicare, state Medical Assistance, state General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), MinnesotaCare, and Hennepin County's various medical assistance programs, which I am already paying for!). When I asked around to see if anyone else was getting paid to be an "astroturf" protester, I was told I would have to "join a union."