Thursday, March 04, 2010

SD43 endorses two first-timers

At its well-attended BPOU convention on February 27, west metro district SD43 endorsed two first-time candidates to challenge the district's two DFL incumbents.

Norann Dillon ran unopposed and was endorsed by acclamation for the state Senate seat. SD43 activist and soccer mom of four, Dillon is already familiar to SD43 delegates because she was seemingly everywhere this winter campaigning for the endorsement: meet-and-greets, Facebook, on the web, on the phone, at the precinct caucuses, and in a few direct mailings. She has little name recognition outside the party, however, and has only lived in the district a short time. She will need maximum face time with district voters and some major money to oust DFL incumbent Sen. Terri Bonoff.

Kathy Dettman is another newcomer to campaigning, but a familiar face at the House Republican Caucus. Dettman served on the popular former Excelsior Rep. Barb Sykora's staff, so she has an intimate understanding of how things work at the Legislature. With no web site and no official social networking presence, she has some catching up to do, even to get to where Dillon is today. Dettman won the HD43B endorsement on the first ballot against Brian Grogan, who has been preparing for a rematch against incumbent DFL Rep. John Benson almost since the day after Election Day 2008. (Disclosure: I worked on Grogan's campaign, published his occasional blog posts, and delivered a nomination speech for him at the convention.)

Dettman made a rather aggressive electability argument for her candidacy, saying that Republicans never should have lost the 43B seat (when Rep. Ron Abrams was appointed to a district court judgeship by Gov. Tim Pawlenty). Dettman said that the reason the Republicans lost to Rep. Benson twice was that they ran the wrong candidates. I am sure that the SD43 DFL would agree, but this made candidates Dave Johnson, Brian Grogan, and their supporters feel a bit slighted. Should, God forbid, Rep. Benson win a third term, I would encourage the next endorsement candidate to eschew this ungracious assertion. To their credit, our BPOU's "losing" candidates are still working hard for the party. The current crop of candidates, including Dettman, could benefit from their support, goodwill, and experience.

Conservative Republican and HD43A "favorite daughter" Rep. Sarah Anderson also ran unopposed and was endorsed by acclamation. In her second term, Anderson's committee assignments are to Taxes, Commerce and Labor, Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division, and Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division. Anderson defeated her DFL challenger Clint Faust by nearly 9 points in 2008. This cycle, Anderson will meet DFL challenger and Minnesota Valley Transit Authority public relations director Audrey Britton.

Notes from the convention floor: Third Congressional District Rep. Erik Paulsen returned from Washington to pledge his help to send more west metro Republicans to Saint Paul. Gubernatorial endorsement candidate Marty Seifert's supporters were out in force on his behalf. Seifert's rival Tom Emmer's campaign circulated a slate of delegates who endorse Emmer. Both candidates delivered spirited stump speeches to the convention. State Auditor endorsement candidate Pat Anderson promised a return to run a more active OSA, and to examine the finances of school districts which consume 37% of the state's $31 billion budget. HD43A resident, self-proclaimed "taxpayer watchdog," devoted father, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson greeted delegates on his way to another of his sons' sporting events. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek connected with delegates and thanked supporters with a commanding and reassuring presentation. Judy Johnson, Plymouth City Councilmember and former mayor, and newly-appointed government affairs director for the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, greeted delegates with her characteristic, upbeat grace. Rep. Paulsen cited Johnson as an example of the "young future" of the Republican party.

Outgoing SD43 chair Greg Merz passed the gavel to his successor, Larry Thompson. Merz stepped in to perform chairman duties after the death of longtime activist Frank Weir in 2008.


Brent said...

I would encourage Brian Grogan to run in the primary in August.

Mark said...

Is Dettman a social liberal? Did she make the argument that only a moderate Republican can win in Minnetonka, such as Ron Abrams. How much experience does she have in anything by being a legislative assistant. That doesn't sounds like much of a background. Grogan at least had business experience.

The big question is whether Minnetonka has become so liberal that even a moderate Republican can't win. We'll see.

Master of None said...

I would encourage Brian Grogan to do what ever he can to support Kathy and to work towards a GOP victory in 43B.

I'm certain that is the kind of person he is.