Minnesota's GOP had their state convention on October 3rd. The night before they held a forum for the Governor candidates. For those just tuning in, two term Governor Tim Pawlenty(R-ish) will not be running for re-election in 2010. Most assume that he is interested in a 2012 run at the Presidency. This leaves the race wide open, without an automatic nominee for either side.
What was the most interesting fact of all about the candidate's forum is that all of the serious candidates could be easily characterized as conservative. Let me introduce a few of them -
Pat Anderson - Former State Auditor who is running primarily on a "cut government" platform. Her main points at the candidate's forum revolved around cutting the state government's spending, taxing and influence in the lives of Minnesotans. Her presentation at the convention itself before the straw poll consisted of filling the stage and the area around it with MN, US, and Gadsden flags, brought in to the beat of a revolutionary era dressed drummer.
Tom Emmer - Current member of MN state house. Is a passionate and fiery conservative, not afraid to yell a little in his presentation. A big focus of his campaign is making MN more business friendly. In the candidate forum he spoke for photo ID laws for voting, removing excess government and stated that in reducing government, "the sky is the limit". He also took the time to emphasize that he would continue the Pawlenty tradition of being present at every military arrival and departure for MN troops.
Paul Kohls - Also a member of the MN state house. He has repeatedly called for a state spending freeze. One of his top priorities is education. He used the term "educrats" in his discussion of state education. His strategy for victory is to use his good temperament to persuade the middle to choose conservative ideas.
Marty Seifert - Former minority leader of state house. His most recent claim to fame is doing a very good job of keeping the caucus together to give Governor Pawlenty the ability to veto bills without fear of Republican defectors overturning them. Making Minnesota a favorable environment for business is his biggest pitch, focusing on taxes, fees and regulations that have been driving businesses out of the state. He said that we don't need to hold the line on taxes, we need to reduce them. He also released a "contract with Minnesota" type plan so that the MN GOP can run with a coherent message. When asked about bipartisanship, he turned the conventional definition of it around and said that he is all for bipartisanship, he would be very happy to have the democrats vote with us.
There are other candidates, but I focused on these because they either have the best chance of winning or had some interesting things to say. The other candidates either were completely uninteresting or a little fruity.
The moderator noted that all of the expected and announced DFL candidates for Governor are on record wanting to raise taxes and asked for a show of hands who would raise taxes. None of the GOP candidates did, bringing chuckles from the crowd.
I managed to speak one on one with every one of the candidates mentioned above, and think highly of the conservative principles I sensed in all of them. At the end of the post I'll talk a little bit more about who is the best choice in my opinion. But first...
If you are still reading, you are either a Minnesotan, interested in Minnesota politics or you want to know why I referenced the 1994 GOP in the subject line. Since shortly after the 1994 sweep, the Republican party lost its way. In a quest to grow and maintain power, it fell for the idea that it needed to be in the center to win elections. The argument continuously put forward was that conservative principles could not be implemented and defended if Republicans did not win elections. The result a decade and half later? Conservative principles have not been implemented or defended and Republicans have not been winning elections.
The political landscape is changing very rapidly right now. If the GOP can channel the energy from the tea parties into election victory and follow that with legislative success, conservatism will once again drive this country forward. If they don't, it may be nightfall for the U.S. and for freedom in the world and the west.
It is exciting that all indications are the MN GOP understands this. Every one of these candidates recognized the importance of the tea parties. Every one of them recognized that the GOP can not expect anything out of the middle of the road other than getting run over. It is my hope that this filters up to the national party very fast. One of the key indicators to me about the future of the GOP and the future of the U.S. will be the Rubio - Crist contest in Florida. If Rubio wins the primary, there is hope that the darkened sky is signaling the sun coming up on another morning in America. If Crist wins...well, I would recommend buying flashlights.
Although the GOP has failed many times in the last decade, they have been generally trying to go the correct way. Contrast that with the left. The left's assault on reason, economics and liberty have brought them to the place they occupy now. America cannot afford to be at the mercy of the anti-intellectual left any longer.
Minnesota Governor Conclusion:
I am very strongly in support of Marty Seifert. Check out his website Seifert for Governor and drop him some money if you can. He is an incredibly personable man, a good speaker and he has a real plan. His experience in the legislature shows he has the leadership and the contacts in the house to accomplish his agenda. He is also committed to electing more Republicans to the state house and senate, and in my opinion he is the only candidate with a real shot at doing so.
I spoke with every one of these candidates at length and discussed them with many of my Minnesota political contacts. Marty is the first MN statewide candidate I feel comfortable and confident in supporting in at least a decade. I will be overseas and unable to help much with his campaign next year, so I hope some of my fellow conservative Minnesotans can step up. Governors races are very important, particularly as we see more overreach by the Federal government. We need conservative Governors who can tell the feds no from time to time.