Saturday, February 26, 2011

More than one fresh face elected in SD43

At today's lightly-attended convention held at Wayzata Central Middle School in Plymouth, Senate District 43 Republicans elected a new chair and executive committee that includes both new energy and experience. The day began with an official censure of its 2010 endorsed candidate for state Senate, Norann Dillon, followed about four hours later by its dramatic retraction from the floor.

Brian Grogan, the 2008 and 2010 endorsed candidate for House District 43B, was elected to chair the district. He owns a financial services business, serves on the board of the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation, and was recently appointed to the Citizens Advisory Council for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed Board.

Grogan will be joined by Treasurer Jeff Kulaszewicz, Secretary Audrey Fresh, two at-large vice chairs, and vice-chairs for House Districts 43A (northern Plymouth) and 43B (southern Plymouth and northern Minnetonka)

David Gaither, one of the newly-elected at-large vice-chairs, was the senator for SD43 from 2003-2005, and served as assistant minority leader. Gaither is currently the executive director of International Education Center, a non-profit that teaches English and provides education and employment assistance to adult international students. Tracey Taylor was also elected an at-large vice-chair.

Long-time Republican activist and community volunteer Lavonne Sjoberg was elected district 43A vice-chair. Former construction contractor and Grogan campaign volunteer Mike Seuss was elected vice-chair for district 43B.

Dillon censured

SD43 chair Larry Thompson read to the convention an executive committee resolution that censured 2010 endorsed state Senate candidate Norann Dillon for representing the endorsement of former governor Al Quie without obtaining the endorsement in writing, per state law.

Neither Dillon nor her supporters disputed not having Quie's endorsement in writing. Quie told Minnesota Public Radio in October 2010 that "a telephone conversation with Dillon this morning resolved the issue," and Dillon posted an apology at that time on her campaign web site.

Dillon, an SD43 delegate, remained at the convention. Close to the end of the convention, a motion was made from the convention floor to retract the censure, debate was conducted, and in the end the motion passed.

After the motion passed, an emotional Dillon addressed the convention, thanking her supporters and stating that her efforts are about stopping what she sees as the state's move toward socialism. She said that she intends to remain active in the district. The convention reacted with a standing ovation for Dillon. Dillon was also one of four elected by the convention to represent SD43 at the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Dillon was a passionate, articulate, respectful, upbeat, and tireless conservative candidate in 2010. She is a relative newcomer to the area and to politics who received long odds from some on the day she was endorsed, and came up short three percentage points in a year that the Republicans retook the majority in the state Senate for first time since 1972. A verbal conversation with Quie was apparently mishandled somewhere along the way, for which the candidate has already apologized. Yet what could an official censure have gained for the district?

Guest speakers say thanks, pitch their candidacies

Many guest speakers took the microphone to thank district activists for their work in helping to bring about Republican victories in 2010, and majorities to both houses of the Minnesota Legislature.

Hennepin County Commissioner and favorite son Jeff Johnson and 2010 endorsed GOP candidate for governor Tom Emmer both announced their candidacies for National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee.

HD43A Rep. Sarah Anderson reported on how Republican majorities in the House and Senate began cutting the size of government immediately, "as they were elected to do."

Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen noted "what a difference two years makes," while noting that Democrats are already busy organizing and targeting him with protests.

State Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb thanked local activists (including several mentions of Norann Dillon), and along with state party secretary-treasurer David Sturrock, asked for state central committee delegate support for their re-election along with chair Tony Sutton.

Former Plymouth Mayor, current city council member, and SD43 Senate candidate Judy Johnson encouraged Republicans to volunteer locally on city boards and commissions, and as election judges.

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