If you stop by the Minnesota State Fair booth of the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM), you'll see something completely different from previous years. Besides the snazzy new visual design (I saw graphic designer Derek Brigham's fingerprints all over it, FINALLY), the focus has shifted from the party to the people.
Counterintuitively, the booth no longer screams REPUBLICAN PARTY OF MINNESOTA. Instead, the main messages are "Repeal Obamacare," "Growth and Opportunity," and "The American Dream." The traditional emphasis on candidates, GOTV (Get Out The Vote), and volunteer recruiting are replaced with interactive issues surveys collected on iPads, with realtime results displayed on large-screen monitors. You can spin the prize wheel and buy a button for $2 with Republican messaging, like the PROUD CONSERVATIVE button I bought.
Maybe because it's a non-election year, or maybe someone at the RPM has realized that the party needs to attract new voters (and even win back a few former party-faithful). Whatever the reason, the RPM seems to be listening and engaging at this year's Great Minnesota Get-Together.
We found SD44's favorite son, Jeff Johnson, meeting and greeting folks at his Jeff Johnson for Governor booth on Underwood Street east of the Grandstand. Jeff is competing in a strong field of candidates for the endorsement of the RPM to challenge Gov. Dayton next year. An often lone conservative vote on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, Jeff could be the candidate most likely to win and work with both parties to move Minnesota forward in a long-term, sustainable fashion.