After keeping up via the magic of Twitter with the Republican Party of Minnesota's candidate bus tour of twenty Minnesota cities over three days, after work on Friday I headed over to the last stop of the tour to have a grilled hamburger, hobnob with fellow GOP activists, and meet and greet the Republican-endorsed candidates for the Constitutional offices, namely, Governor and Lieutenant Governor (Tom Emmer and Annette Meeks), Secretary of State (Dan Severson), State Auditor (Pat Anderson), and Attorney General (Chris Barden).
The tour was meant to fire up the base across the state, a tactic that is usually saved until October for the home stretch to Election Day. To hear the barnstormers tell it, mission accomplished.
By far the number one issue on the minds of the voters is the economy. Gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer called for a new kind of Minnesota Miracle: a business climate that is improved enough for 3M to open a new plant in Minnesota, or for Marvin Windows to expand in Minnesota, or for Minnesota medical device firms like Medtronic to keep the hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes created by Obamacare and use the money instead for research and development and the creation of new high-tech jobs. Emmer said that we can get the job done by putting partisanship aside and working for the good of Minnesota.
Supporters of Minnesota Majority would be pleased that Secretary of State candidate Dan Severson talked about the problem of convicted felons illegally voting in the 2008, and the common-sense, low-cost reforms needed to restore integrity to Minnesota's elections. Attorney General candidate Chris Barden promised to prosecute cases of election fraud. State Auditor candidate Pat Anderson made the case to get her old "taxpayer watchdog" job back, not a tough sell to this crowd.
Speaking of making a case, Republican-endorsed candidate for the state Supreme Court, Greg Wersal, spoke on meaningful campaigns for those elected judgeships, and encouraged everyone to "flip over the ballot" and vote for the Republican endorsees.
Several times, the candidates emphasized the importance of electing the entire slate of Republicans, from the governor's office to the House and Senate districts across the state. To underscore the point, many local candidates were also present, including Norann Dillon (SD43), Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie), Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), Emmer campaign chair Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), and Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN3), and Fifth Congressional District candidate Joel Demos.
I counted four or five Tea Partiers for Emmer buttons, including my own, and a similar number of Women for Emmer buttons, including one worn by former gubernatorial candidate Sue Jeffers. Jeffers received kudos from attendees for her feisty appearance earlier in the day on the Chris Baker show on 100.3 KTLK-FM with guest host Ron Rosenbaum. There was also some buzz about the growing Tea Party movement in many towns in outstate Minnesota. One vocal Tea Partier reiterated the widely-held belief that the movement should emphasize the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and liberty over candidate endorsement.
Among the other conservative activists present were author and blogger Sheila Kihne of The Activist Next Door, and Nancy Laroche and Derek Brigham of Freedom Dogs. Along with SD43 and other BPOU and CD3 volunteers, we took the opportunity to meet party staff and peek inside the GOP's new Cheshire Lane offices.