Monday, March 26, 2012

Gaither to challenge Bonoff in SD44

The former Republican state senator from Plymouth, David Gaither, will challenge incumbent Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) in SD44 (the former SD43). Gaither was the incumbent in SD43 until then-Governor Tim Pawlenty named the freshman senator his chief of staff in 2005. Gaither was endorsed by acclamation at Saturday's BPOU convention at Wayzata High School in Plymouth.

In a demonstration of unity, Gaither yielded the floor during his acceptance speech to previously-declared SD44 endorsement candidate Norann Dillon. Dillon told the convention that she withdrew her candidacy because she did not want to be used as "an excuse" by some for a continued rift in the BPOU. The conservative activist will manage the campaign of Mark Stefan, who was endorsed to run against Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) in HD44B. Dillon has always been politically involved to advance a conservative agenda, not personal ambition. On Saturday she showed this again with grace and class.

In his endorsement candidate speech, Gaither hit the right notes with delegates, starting with his community roots as a  Wayzata High School alumnus and a youth football program coach, member of the Wayzata public school district's Citizens Financial Advisory Council, member of the Plymouth Planning Commission, children in the Wayzata schools and Providence Academy, his wife on the Wayzata School Board, executive in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Gaither was also assistant minority leader in the Minnesota Senate.

Gaither's statements about equal opportunity over equal outcomes and his pledge to wage a war of ideas and facts also resonated with delegates.

Contrary to stereotypes portrayed by the DFL and media, what Republicans may not be able to match is the apparently unlimited source of money from wealthy donors like Alida Messinger (who was mentioned by name a couple of times at the convention), state-protected labor unions, and Alliance for a Better Minnesota. Instead, said Gaither, Republicans must win by making the case to Minnesota voters with better ideas rooted in the principles of The Founders, individual responsibility, and government that lives within its means.

The majority caucus in the Minnesota Senate will need all the help it can get to retain its majority, not to mention recover from a season of scandal and advance the conservative agenda. If the Ron Paul and Tea Party supporters in Dillon's brigade join with BPOU activists from the former SD33, a rejuvenated SD44, and Gaither's get-er-done, pragmatic A-Team, Gaither will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012 and beyond.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dillon would be new sheriff in town

Norann Dillon
Norann Dillon is running for the Republican endorsement for State Senate in SD44 (relatively unchanged from its SD43 boundaries prior to this year's redistricting court ruling).

"My priorities are to pass a truly balanced budget without borrowing, shifts or other accounting gimmicks," said Dillon in an e-mail to SD44 delegates. "We also need to reduce the tax and regulatory burdens on employers. Together, these changes will signal certainty to the marketplace and should restore the confidence needed for investment and expansion.

"Additionally," added Dillon, "let's simplify the funding and mandates on local school boards to return more control to the people best placed to judge the values and needs of the children in their communities."

The eventual Republican candidate for Senate will face Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka).

The SD44 BPOU will have to get past some contentious intramural battles if it hopes to turn its full attention and energy to defeating Bonoff and Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), who represents the southern "B side" of the district. A campaign lit miscue by Dillon in 2010 involving former Governor Al Quie and the resignation in 2011 of Brian Grogan as BPOU chair left party regulars split and newcomers bewildered.

SD44 convenes its 2012 BPOU convention at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 24 at Wayzata High School in Plymouth.