As far as hot button issues are concerned, the Republican primary race for governor has been a snooze, with the four candidates steering clear of controversy like gay marriage. But that’s not the case in a couple of legislative primary contests.
In house district 30B in Wright County, Kevin Kasel is challenging Eric Lucero, who won the party’s endorsement, in part, by criticizing incumbent David FitzSimmons’ vote for same sex marriage.
Then there’s Carver County’s house district 47A, where Waconia Mayor Jim Nash is facing off against Norwood Young America businessman Bob Frey, a race in which “sodomy” has become one of the campaign issues.
Neither Nash nor Frey could win the party endorsement last spring. Their respective websites state their allegiance to the GOP positions on taxes, health care and gun rights. But Nash maintains that his opponent “is more focused on social issues than the issues that Minnesotans care about. I am more of the conviction that they are interested in the issues that I’m interested in — education, transportation, taxes.”
“[Nash’s] comment is, of course, false,” Frey said.
Frey says he’s also talking about business and taxes. He says education is a particular passion, developed while working with then-state senator Michele Bachmann to defeat the “profiles in learning” education platform.
But when questioned about his position on social issues, Frey added that it “does certainly need to be addressed for what it is. It’s not about the gay agenda but about the science and the financial impact of that agenda. It’s more about sodomy than about pigeonholing a lifestyle.”
Frey then explained his view: “When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg. If the sperm is deposited anally, it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail. That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.”
(This explanation of AIDS has no scientific validity, but it may strike a familiar chord: It is essentially the same one given by Bob’s son, Mike Frey, in testimony given before the House Civil Law Committee last year during the debate over gay marriage.)
Of the financial impact, Bob Frey says, “It’s about sodomy. It’s huge amounts of money. AIDS is a long term illness, causing pain, suffering, death, a long-term illness that’s very expensive to treat.”
Both candidates say they prefer to talk about their experience and accomplishments. Nash has won his previous elections for mayor of Waconia by large margins. “The Taste of Minnesota came to Waconia. They didn’t come because it was a poorly run city,” he said.
Frey is not without supporters, though. Carver County commissioner Tom Workman has endorsed him, as have state representatives Glenn Gruenhagen, Cindy Pugh, Jim Newberger, Joe McDonald, and Steve Drazkowski.
Frey has also received the endorsement of the district’s retiring representative, Ernie Leidiger, perhaps best known for inviting anti-gay pastor Bradlee Dean to serve as guest chaplain for the House prayer, a prayer that was stricken from the record after Dean questioned President Obama’s faith.
For now, the candidates have stayed away from overt attacks on conservative credentials. “They have yet to attack my record as a conservative because they can’t,” said Nash.
Frey says that when his direct mail starts arriving in voters’ homes, the topics will be, “Second Amendment rights, pro-life, the responsibility to reduce the size of government.”
But the primary race in 47A race shows that even in Carver County, one of the most conservative in the state, there is friction among Republicans — a schism between traditional and socially conservative Republicans that won’t close.