Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The journey to 2012 begins with one step

In spite of the historic 2010 wave that gave Republicans control of both houses of the Minnesota legislature for the first time in two generations (not to mention the U.S. House of Representatives and nearly the U.S. Senate), in SD43, it's close but no cigar. Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) continued the A-side Republicans' unbeaten streak going back to Jeff Johnson in 2002 (the first election after redistricting), while Norann Dillon and Brian Grogan improved the GOP's performance, just not enough to unseat DFL incumbents Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) and Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka).

Anderson won her third election handily by 15 percentage points, winning 13 of 15 A-side precincts (the Medicine Lake precinct was a tie at 111 votes each). Dillon and Grogan both finished with around 3.5 percent deficits. That was a half-point improvement over Judy Johnson's close 2006 finish against Bonoff, and an over 8 point improvement over Grogan's first run against Benson in 2008. Grogan captured all 4 Plymouth precincts and 4 of 13 Minnetonka precincts. (The 2010 results are unofficial until certified by the canvassing board.)

The good news for Republicans is that the SD43 team now has another election cycle worth of experience, and significant Republican momentum, at the start of the road to 2012. Dillon and Grogan are seasoned campaigners could run or support other candidates in two years. Dillon in particular did an excellent job of using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in her campaign, and Grogan's opposition voting record research was very thorough. Judging by campaign communications that played down partisan labels and portrayed them as "moderate," and by narrowing election margins, the DFL incumbents have recognized SD43 voters' desire for less spending, lower taxes, and a more favorable business climate.

The wild card for 2012, even more so than the outcome of a gubernatorial recount in Minnesota, will be legislative redistricting. In the first election after redistricting, the entire legislature will be up for election (including the Senate), as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and President. This will present a challenge to the new, post-redistricting BPOUs, or Basic Political Operating Units. After redistricting is complete in February 2012, the new BPOUs must organize, adopt by-laws, elect leadership and delegates, and endorse and elect candidates, all before November.

Activist interest will be high for the presidential election year. People like to get elected delegates at their precinct caucus, but many end up being "inactive activists." The new BPOUs would do well to set a high bar of commitment for delegate and leadership posts, including attendance at conventions, active networking within the precincts, active campaigning for endorsed candidates, volunteer recruiting goals, and lead fundraising.

BPOUs should host monthly informal coffeeshop discussions and special events, to draw supporters who won't attend a formal BPOU committee meeting, and capture their names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and social networking contacts. SD45 Republicans has been very creative and successful in this regard. As soon as possible, groups of suburban BPOUs should meet to share ideas and plan over the next two years so the new BPOUs can hit the ground running after the redistricted maps are drawn.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

More like a party this time

I arrived at the Republican Party of Minnesota's victory party Tuesday night, at the Bloomington Sheraton (née Radisson South), already in full swing: the main ballroom was crowded with activists, staff, and media, lots of media. Party animals roamed the halls in search of candidates and the best free food. These parties are a combination of a huge New Year's Eve party and a political rally-palooza. I look forward to them as a great biennial reward for all of the volunteer political and campaign work.

My first stop was the hospitality room of Sheriff Rich Stanek, who ran unopposed for the top lawman in Hennepin County. I congratulated the Sheriff and greeted his campaign manager, both of whom accompanied HD43B candidate Brian Grogan and a group of campaign volunteers on a neighborhood door-knocking this fall. Sheriff Stanek made many visible endorsements of legislative candidates (including Grogan) this cycle. A five-term former Minnesota legislator with a commanding presence, some wonder whether Stanek is doing some advance planning for a run at higher office.

I got the bad news about Norann Dillon's challenge for the SD43 state senate seat from the candidate herself. (Detailed analysis of the Senate and House races in SD43 to follow.)

I stopped by the media pit to say hello to Mitch Berg and Ed Morrissey, who where live on the air for AM 1280 The Patriot. Live blogging at the same table was Luke Hellier of Minnesota Democrats Exposed. Minnesota Public Radio and several small local radio stations also had live broadcasts underway. The TV people had raised platforms along two walls of the ballroom, stuffed with their lights, gear, and boxes of pizza and soft drinks.

I remembered struggling in previous years to get a decent photo of the candidates delivering their victory speeches, so this year I planted myself at the front of the stage, under the TV lights, and waited. This enabled me to get some great video of Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN3), Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN6), and Rep. John Kline (MN2) all deliver their re-election victory speeches.

Fellow blogger and activist Walter Hudson was fresh from speaking to a group of Carleton College students about conservative ideas. "They just don't get it," said Hudson. We agreed on the need for conservative outreach to younger people (an idea also advocated by Katie Kieffer, katiekieffer.com), but lamented about the entrenched liberal mindset in the public schools and higher ed.

Derek Brigham (Freedom Dogs) was the first to alert me to rumors, later proven true, of double vote counting, ballot machine malfunctions, and other irregularities in the election process on Tuesday. While we were conversing, someone told us that the Star Tribune on its web site called Republican majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate, a stunning announcement. Minutes later, Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester) confirmed the projections from the podium.

Later, Republican Party of Minnesota chairman Tony Sutton announced that over 60,000 votes erroneously tallied for Mark Dayton were just moved into Tom Emmer's column, closing Dayton's lead to 5 percentage points from 7, where it had been stuck throughout the middle part of the evening.

All of the local results were happening on a backdrop of the national wave of Republican victories. We cheered when, on the big screen, Fox News announced the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and other key races across the country. This made for an overall happier party than in the past three cycles, more like 2002.

VIDEO: John Kline wins re-election

Video: Creative Commons by-nc-nd

VIDEO: Michele Bachmann wins re-election

Video: Creative Commons by-nc-nd

VIDEO: Erik Paulsen wins re-election

Video: Creative Commons by-nc-nd