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GOP convention preview: Senate, Governor endorsements ‘not personal — it’s business’

Sen. Julianne Ortman

Even though most polls place Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton in safe territory for re-election, most Republican activists don’t believe them. That’s why this weekend, at the Republican Party state convention in Rochester, political pragmatism may prevail over the usual Hatfield-McCoy games that delegates play.

The best setting for this theory is the U.S. Senate endorsement. There are seven candidates; four are taken seriously and, after a few ballots, the 2,200 delegates will make their choice between two: Julianne Ortman and Mike McFadden.

Ortman has stressed her opposition to Obamacare, her support of gun rights, her opposition to NSA surveillance techniques, and her contention that U.S. policy is best directed by following the Constitution. She supports the party platform on opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Sarah Palin, still a conservative sweetheart for many delegates, has endorsed her. 

If the delegates had any suspicions about Ortman, about some of her more middle-of-the road votes as a state senator, about why she wasn’t endorsed when she ran for the state senate in 2012, they may be reassured by her choice of campaign director. Andy Parrish served in the same position and also as a chief of staff for retiring Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Mike McFadden
MinnPost file photo by Brian Halliday
Mike McFadden

McFadden has chosen not to compete with Ortman, or fellow candidates Jim Abeler and Chris Dahlberg, on experience or conservative credentials. He’s drawn criticism, even among activists, that he has been too vague on issues and positions. He indicated from the day he announced his candidacy, he would go to a primary, if not endorsed. 

So why is he considered a competitive number two for endorsement? First and foremost, he’s the only candidate that has the ability to raise enough money to compete with the ginormous Franken campaign war chest. His campaign has $1.8 million cash-on-hand. Also, as a wealthy businessman, he has the ability to lend his campaign cash infusions.

And the delegates, whom McFadden has courted, may see him as a candidate who, once he’s head-to-head with Franken, will have the same focus and intensity as Norm Coleman, who narrowly lost to Franken in 2008.

In other words, it’s not personal, it’s just business. 

Governor’s race

Rising above family feuds is harder to do in the endorsement for governor.

Marty Seifert, who lost the GOP endorsement for governor in 2010 to Tom Emmer, is running again, this time not promising to abide by the endorsement. The Emmer-Seifert factions still exist among the delegates — as do Seifert fans who believe he would have beaten Dayton.

Complicating the decision for the delegates is the certainty of a primary with two strong candidates, businessman Scott Honour and State Rep. Kurt Zellers, who essentially have bypassed the endorsement process.

That leaves State Sen. Dave Thompson and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. They are hoping to scoop up the delegates conflicted about Seifert. This three-man contest is where hard decisions must be made.

Seifert has made a good showing in greater Minnesota and could be seen as offering voters a reasonable alternative to the metro-liberal Dayton. But he’s weaker in the suburbs with their cache of Republican voters.

Thompson’s from Republican-rich Lakeville. He appeals to the party’s influential Liberty wing. He’s an attorney and a good speaker who can match Dayton’s intellect. But his days as a radio talk show host offer ample fodder for Democrats who are drooling at the chance to remind voters of Thompson’s flame-throwing past.

Johnson, from Plymouth, has equal appeal to the staunchly conservative yet pragmatic group of delegates that will determine the endorsement Saturday as the final act of the convention. His drawback is his poor showing in his only other statewide race, as a 2006 candidate for attorney general. His base is Hennepin County, a good place to attract independent voters but not a GOP stronghold.

Still, he may be seen as the one candidate with ability to unite the Liberty wing, the Tea Party activists, and the traditional pro-business Republican voters who have to be mobilized to give the GOP a chance. He bills himself as “the candidate who can win.”

Sixty percent of the Republican delegates may agree with him on Saturday. 

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Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/28/2014 - 08:57 am.

    I Can’t Help But Suspect

    That our Republican’s enmity toward the Democrats,…

    who actually accomplished many useful and important things in this past legislative session,…

    provoking loud whining, anger and jealousy (and, of course, MASSIVE denial) on the part of those Republicans who couldn’t manage to do anything at all while they held the legislature,…

    and their visceral dislike of Gov, Dayton who, like FDR, is seen as a traitor to his class,…

    will still not be sufficient to reunite the various factions of their party behind the candidates they choose this weekend.

    Whether it blows up into a figurative public explosion or simply simmers in quiet resentment and greater dis-involvement, this convention is going to further separate the various Republican subgroups,…

    and since none of them can look in the mirror for the source of their struggles, nor give any consideration to how much the public is convinced that their same-old, same-old ideas have been tried and have absolutely failed to benefit the general public,…

    the aftermath will be endless rounds of blaming and verbal beatings aimed in every direction when their candidates, once again, fail to gain any traction with the majority of the citizens of Minnesota.

    I can’t help but wonder if the boomer generation has to pass from the scene before the Republicans will begin to regain their footing, create useful solutions to the problems our state actually faces, and unite behind those solutions and the politicians who will seek to bring them to reality,…

    as opposed to their current crop who seem only to want to tear down everything that works in state government because doing so allows them and their cronies to pay even less taxes than they already pay,…

    and pad their own pockets by “privatizing” government functions at far greater expense to their fellow citizens and massive profit for themselves.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/28/2014 - 10:40 am.

      Traitor to his class?

      Since Dayton’s fortune is safely tucked away in a South Dakota trust fund, immune from Minnesota income taxes, you’d think the Left would find his tax dodging as a being a traitor to their cause.

    • Submitted by Mike Downing on 05/28/2014 - 03:37 pm.

      MN Problems Caused by Democrats

      The GOP only has had control of the MN Legislature for 2 of the last 38 years. Therefore, the problems of poor business climate, high taxes, unfunded pensions, MNSure, etc. were caused by the Democrats.

      The Democrats have created an entitlement society of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) people at the public trough.

    • Submitted by Pat Brady on 05/30/2014 - 01:15 am.

      Republicans are a shadow of their former selves

      The comments below show the dead ends the GOP in MN have driven down in recent years.
      The days of Arnie Carlson are over.
      The MN Republican parrty has become a group of extremists,whether on social issues or mainstream fiscal issues.
      Good luck at their convention trying to unify the party into common sense.

  2. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 05/28/2014 - 10:48 am.

    It’s not personal, it’s business…

    … except when it’s personal.

  3. Submitted by mark wallek on 05/28/2014 - 11:14 am.

    Boon to business

    The “adult” entertainment industry will no doubt get a boost during the convention, as it usually does during all conventions. Wish the pols of any party were actually serving human citizens.

  4. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 05/28/2014 - 11:46 am.


    I seem to remember that Republican activists didn’t believe the polls in 2012 either. They may be caught off guard again this year.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/28/2014 - 01:01 pm.

    These guys are sooo funny

    Policy according the Constitution? Yeah, like everyone else believes in unconstitutional policies. Meanwhile these guys consistently misinterpret the constitution every chance they get… because it’s a Christian nation don’t ya know… based on the Bible.

    I wonder if Republicans will ever comprehend the difference between a constitution and religious scripture?

    McFadden’s “zero growth” government management plan may play at the convention, but most people in the rest of the world are still in a recession, may not go over there.

    So Emmer and Seifert will duke it out to see who’s gonna lose to Dayton. I suppose there’s some entertainment value in that.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/28/2014 - 02:02 pm.

      I’ve often wondered what society/country can be used as a successful model of religion/government intermixing that seem to be the goal of the Republicans?

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/28/2014 - 02:54 pm.

        I’m not a religious person

        But if you don’t believe that the founding of this nation was not inspired by the belief that all human rights come from God and not men, then you should take some time to read the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s rationale for the founding. In this one-page document, you’ll read the reference to God four different times. Then you should sue your former government schools for education malpractice.

        • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/28/2014 - 03:53 pm.

          “Endowed by Their Creator?”

          Historical/educational malpractice can be had in many places.

          For example, if you explore the religious ideas and ideals expressed in other places by Thomas Jefferson it’s very clear that when he said “their creator,” he did not have in mind the “god” worshiped by our “conservative” Republican “Christian” friends,…

          who, as often as not want to limit or completely wipe out the rights of people they disagree with or disapprove of, even when THOSE people’s rights are based on religious beliefs of their own.

          In fact, the nature of American religion, as practiced and expressed at that time, was so markedly different that NONE of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind “god” as our Republican friends currently understand that term.

          • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/28/2014 - 08:52 pm.

            It doesn’t matter

            who’s God Jefferson was referring to. Rovick’s question was “what society/country can be used as a successful model of religion/government intermixing.” He didn’t say “Christian,” he said “religion.”

            The point is, which is always lost on the Left, is that even Jefferson, a deist, believed that the uniqueness of the American founding was that for the first time in recorded history, the government was going to recognize that its citizens rights didn’t come from the king, or from any man, but were endowed by their Creator. And it didn’t matter to the Founders who you believed your creator to be. The Declaration of Independence uses Creator, Nature’s God, Supreme Judge of the world, and divine Providence to refer to God. It all means the same thing … not man.

            I find it so instructive that when conservatives talk about the Founding and God, the Left immediately assumes we mean Jesus or the Christian God, which only exposes their own biases and/or prejudices.

            • Submitted by jason myron on 05/29/2014 - 06:57 am.

              We don’t have to assume anything…

              the GOP has made it abundantly clear that the only religion they care about is Christianity. If you really want to see bias and prejudice at its apex, just ask what these flag wavin’, constitutionalists think about Islam. Or are they really being complimentary when they accuse Obama of being a secret Muslim?

            • Submitted by Jon Lord on 05/29/2014 - 07:18 pm.

              wait a minute…

              What God do they mean? Just any old God? My assumption has always been there is only one. I believe that is the most accepted assumption in all religions. Although I do believe conservatives rarely have Jesus in mind when they talk religion. Leviticus is their usually preferred book of choice.

        • Submitted by Tom Lynch on 05/28/2014 - 04:41 pm.


          I think these posts are by some liberal mocking right-wing talking points. They’re such a stereotype of the modern right-wing “conservative” that I think you must be made up.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/28/2014 - 04:10 pm.

      The Constitution is not ALL They Misinterpret

      Our “conservative” friends routinely misinterpret the Bible as well,…

      gathering scattered verses from hither and yon to proclaim that what they wish to believe is “proven” to be true by the Bible,…

      while consistently ignoring the parts which call them to act and live in ways that they find uncomfortable, distasteful, inconvenient, or which might require financial contributions on behalf of others of God’s children whom, they, despite the Bible’s condemnation of such attitudes, find to be unworthy of their help,…

      those 700+ verses which call God’s people to love or act lovingly toward other humans.

      Indeed, if you ever feel beaten down by a “conservative” quoting scripture at you, simply ask them what the verse before the one they’re quoting (or after it), says. Most of them don’t know the overall sweep of the Bible at all, but only those scattered verses they can use as a shield and battering club against those who might challenge their beliefs,…

      beliefs which often run completely counter to God whose presence is woven through the Bible and, for those who are paying attention, through our lives and our world, even today.

      Come to think of it our “conservative” friends use the Bible and the Constitution in exactly the same way,…

      not to discover the truth of what’s really there, not to discover and connect with the source which inspired the wisdom found in those documents, but only to identify the snippets to which they can point in order to proclaim that their preexisting beliefs are timeless and undeniably correct (no matter what God might think).

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 05/28/2014 - 03:55 pm.

    It will be interesting

    to see if the Republicans can get any answers, any at all, out of the candidates their own candidates? I suspect it will be more evasive, no content, answers. The kind that leave you wondering what the heck did they say or what did they mean? It will also be interesting to see if Minnesotan’s want more social engineering and can kicking done by the Republicans or do they want more real progress. My guess is there will be another election lost by the Republicans in November.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/28/2014 - 08:55 pm.

      Gay marriage

      and legalizing pot is not social engineering?

      • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 05/29/2014 - 09:39 am.

        No. It’s Liberty.

        I thought you were a fan of Liberty.

        Marriage Equality and legal marijuana really ought to be Conservative ideals, but then that would require extracting Christian Religious extremism from the Republican party…among other things.

  7. Submitted by Wesley Volkenant on 05/28/2014 - 04:58 pm.

    But, Dennis….

    .. the nation wasn’t founded on the Declaration of Independence, as beautiful as that document may be.

    But Dennis, the actual founding of America, after the failure of the Articles of Confederation, came with the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and the subsequent approval of a super-majority of the States. And the Constitution is a set of processes and rules and laws, that allows for the freedom of religion, but does not invoke a religious state nation, which has subsequently been interpreted as giving us a separation of church and state. You go practice your religious beliefs, I can practice mine, and others can choose to sit out religion, if they so choose. Now, admittedly, many of those rules and laws come down through English Common Law, which has a basis in laws that Christians – and non-Christians – have set forth down through the centuries. But, perhaps those we all have in common, have less to do with the Puritan New England Christian beliefs pervasive in the 17th & 18th Century Americas culture, than just good common sense.

    But, Dennis, Jefferson wasn’t a Christian, and neither were Washington or Franklin. And, as Deists, who played key roles in our fight for Independence, and each – to a different extent – was involved in the Constitutional process, they apparently believed in God or an entity responsible for theirs and our lives, but they clearly didn’t practice the conforming religious edifices of a “Christian Nation.”

    But Dennis, Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, who was born and raised a Virginia Episcopalian, was probably also a Deist – or even a Theist. Madison is remembered for writing, “The religion, then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and that it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.”

    What is objectionable about those of you on the Right who continue to insist that this nation was grounded in Christian principles, that somehow have to continue to rule our lives 227 years later, without change and adaptation for the times, is that you’re so obviously wrong, and obtuse about it all – and that you somehow find it “sinful” that the rest of us don’t want to confirm to your perverse way of wanting us to follow that way of life.

    So, we just have to beat you again at the polls, so we can get two more years – and hopefully four and six years – of a better life for Minnesotans.

  8. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/28/2014 - 09:09 pm.

    Christian principles?

    Actually, conservatives believe that the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, which aren’t actually a religion per se and include principles found in both old and new testaments, like those found in the book of Exodus … thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, etc.

    My apologies to the clergy reading this. I said I wasn’t very religious. But here’s an exercise for you … other than crimes against the government (like tax evasion) name a felony that doesn’t have a Judeo-Christian principle as its basis.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 05/29/2014 - 07:36 am.


      The principles cited in the Ten Commandments aren’t even Judeo-Christian, but rather they are universal tenants promoted by civilized societies so it can grow without its members stealing from and killing each other all the time. Societies have a vested interest in keeping the peace as it’s tough to expand if each family group is trying to bump off the next one just over the hill. The chief or king can’t be everywhere at once though, so religion was created to spread the rules of society and keep order.

      These days we have governments that can fill that function in most places, which lessens the need for religion. Plus we have scientific reasoning, which takes place of another religious function: to explain the natural world around us. Maybe someday we can dispense with religion entirely and just use logic to make our way through life, but that’s doubtful. There will always be a subset of humans who feel they need spirituality to give their life meaning and balance.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/29/2014 - 12:47 pm.

      Problem is…

      “Exodus … thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, etc.”

      There’s nothing like that in the US constitution or the Bill of Rights.

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2014 - 08:19 am.

    “There will always be a subset of humans who feel they need spirituality to give their life meaning and balance.”

    A “subset”, you say?

    “Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.”

    Clearly, those who consider themselves the Masters Of The Universe are the subset.

    No good ever comes from living life in a bubble.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/29/2014 - 09:07 am.

    Thannks for stepping Tom and Dennis

    We couldn’t have asked for better examples, it’s clear now why some people can’t be trusted to interpret the US Constitution. For thing, such people frequently fail to understand the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Jefferson’s references to “God” are found in the DI, the Constitution contains not a single reference to God, let alone the Bible or Jesus.

    Yes, some conservatives believe that the nation was founded on J/C principles, and they are simply mistaken. The nation was founded on Enlightenment principles, the fact that man of the men involved were Christians doesn’t establish a religious foundation for their actions, they were men of reason, not clerics.

    While the historical ignorance frequently displayed by Republicans here and elsewhere is NOT necessarily a characteristic of a conservative thinker (believe it or not there are some conservatives who actually understand the Constitution and it’s origins) one characteristic of conservative mentality is a basic distrust of human intellect. Conservatives prefer authority over reason.

    The founders created a liberal democracy, the first in history, and it was in complete contrast to the J/C principles of the times. J/C principles in that era actually supported the divine right of kings and had done for hundreds of years. The enlightenment rejected those principles and reassigned political power to the “people”, it imagined a social contract with government rather than a duty to obey Royal dictates. The Enlightenment reframed governments and those running them, even royalty, as rational actors rather than divinely inspired dictators… that why we “elect” our president, we select our leaders, we don’t imagine that God has selected our leaders.

    The enlightenment turned its back on Divine Rights of kings and established human reason as the primary basis of governance. One thing that’s obvious about the US constitution is that it takes governance out of God’s hands and puts it firmly in control of “The People”. None of our Constitutional principles are found in the Bible nor are they historical descendents of J/C principles.

    The whole point of having independent judiciary’s, divided government with check and balances, and elected representatives, was to take power out of the hands of people claiming divine rights or inspiration and give it to “The People”. What part of: “Of the people, by the people, for the people” is confusing here? Our nation was founded on the principle that people could government themselves given their capacity for reason, not their faith in God. Faith in God had been around for a few thousand years, if that’s all good governance was about there would be no reason to invent a new kind of government.

    What’s interesting, and I know I’ve said this before, is the fact that if you look at conservative/reactionary values, principles, and historical misinterpretations, you see that on a very basic level conservative don’t actually believe in Democracy. Have you heard this one: “America is a “rebublic” NOT a democracy?”. Conservatives trot out these J/C and “Republic” claims all the time as if their representing original intent but in fact their repudiating original intent. From a J/C perspective on a basic level Conservative are all about sin, they don’t believe in government of people by people for people because they don’t trust people, people are sinners.

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