As a life-long Republican voter and strong supporter of the Republican Party, I am afraid our ability to win statewide races in Minnesota remains scarce. After the enormous losses Republicans suffered in Minnesota on Nov. 6, a new approach to elections and governing in Minnesota is necessary if Republicans want to remain relevant in statewide races. I do not think the answer is to criticize our message or our candidates, but the answer lies in invigorating a diverse yet united party. This will necessitate something new, but very familiar in both the Democratic and Republican parties of the past.
It is undeniable that Republicans have struggled over the past quarter century to win statewide, while at the same time great success has occurred outstate in state and federal races. The last Republican re-elected to the U.S. Senate in Minnesota was in 1988, the last Republican attorney general was elected in 1966, and statewide success usually occurs when the Democrats experience a low turnout. When Republicans win statewide, re-election is not easy or possible. The population of the Twin Cities metro area overwhelms the exurbs and rural part of the state, and the political priorities and views diverge between these parts of the state.
A common phenomenon
This is a common phenomenon around the country and we see Republicans having a hard time winning statewide races in states like Michigan, Illinois, among others. We have run great candidates, and frankly our message works in many areas of Minnesota. Also, I think it is too simplistic to say that President Donald Trump is completely at fault for the 2018 results in Minnesota. In some parts of the state, the president has greatly helped elect Republicans.
The way forward is to do something different in Minnesota so my party is competitive in all parts of the state. Therefore, I do not see it as a negative if we have two party platforms, two messages, two different types of candidates that disagree amicably with each other on issues such as social issues, immigration, and others, but agree on the core issues of a free market economy, school choice, support for law enforcement, and a strong and prosperous country.
Two wings, working together
The reader may say Republicans already have diverse candidates and voters, and while this may be true, I would like to see a party that officially has two wings, an urban and more rural wing that work together like a well-oiled machine. Both wings of the party should have a seat at the table, and a candidate should be able to go back to his or her voters and show tangible results. For many decades in Minnesota, the Iron Range Democrats and Twin Cities Democrats made up the DFL, but the urban Democrats are way too progressive to make up a coalition. But today a moderate urban Republican could work very effectively with a more conservative Iron Range Republican. Candidates who represent both urban and rural areas of the state the most effectively would be chosen to run statewide.
Nationally, the southern Democrats and northern Democrats had much success while having some very deep differences on issues. During the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan, my hero, achieved much conservative policy success with a diverse Republican Party. Today, many members of the media and the opposition will try to exploit these differences in the Republicans Party, but if the party can officially admit there are two different wings of the party and there are official policy differences, I think our common goals can lead to some very impressive electoral successes. I admit I tend to lean to the conservative side of the political spectrum on most issues, and I can see my conservative friends saying that my suggestions would end the Republican Party as the conservative party. I respectfully disagree with this assertion as a common goal of preserving a free market economy is vital to the success of the conservative movement and, frankly, to the well-being of Minnesota.
The Democratic Party, in my opinion, is monolithic. It is really a party that is moving toward European socialism. For the Republican Party in Minnesota, and eventually nationally, the only way to becoming a majority party is to have a united party that is made up of two distinct wings that coalesce around common goals.
Harry Andrew Frankman, an attorney in Minneapolis, is a long-time supporter of the Republican Party, and he is tired of losing.
WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)