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Rand Paul makes a bet on Minnesota

Presidential campaign operations in Minnesota are so embryonic as to be undistinguishable, with one exception, that of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

At Paul's state fair booth, state director Zavier Bicott said he collected more than one thousand names of interested voters that he will contact over the next few weeks.
Courtesy of Zavier Bicott

At this point, presidential campaigns in Minnesota are so embryonic as to be undistinguishable, with one exception: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign has the distinction of having, thus far, the only local paid staff.

Zavier Bicott, a Republican activist from Bloomington, is Paul’s state director for Minnesota. “My responsibility is going to get people to show up and be delegates [at the March 1 precinct caucus],” Bicott said.

Bicott spent his first days on the job at the Minnesota State Fair, setting up a booth for Paul, who was the only presidential candidate of either party to have a free-standing operation at the event. 

At the Paul booth, Bicott said he collected more than one thousand names of interested voters that he will contact over the next few weeks. Then, he and a group of about 20 active volunteers will reach out further. “We will do some training to teach people about the caucus process,” he said.  “I’m confident we will do very well.” 

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Bicott, 31, is chair of the Minnesota Young Republicans, although he does not represent the group in his work for Paul. But young people and college students are a target demo for Paul, as they were for his father Ron Paul, who controlled Minnesota’s 38 delegates to the Republican National Convention in 2012 that nominated Mitt Romney. 

Bicott believes that Rand Paul holds the same appeal as his father.  “They both do a very good job of getting new people into the party,” he said. And Bicott says the candidate has a special attraction for millennials who, he said, tend to be libertarian. 

“Millenials are not necessarily about what party you belong to but what you support,” he said. “[They] support smaller government and more voluntary solutions. The libertarian philosophy is that government shouldn’t be involved in social issues.”

Paul opposes same sex marriage and abortion, but Bicott said he still gets libertarian support “because he [Paul] doesn’t think values should be forced on people through government.”

A booth at the State Fair and a staff campaign director aren’t Paul’s only ties to the state.  Matt Pagano, formerly political director for the Minnesota Republican Party, is in Iowa working for a political action committee that supports Paul. And Paul’s national communications director is Sergio Gor, who served as press secretary to former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Paul himself has yet to step foot in Minnesota, unlike candidates Gov. Scott Walker and Gov. Chris Christie. But Bicott says an appearance is in the offing.

And there is soon to be a bigger Paul real estate presence. Bicott said he’s looking for space for a Rand Paul for President office that he hopes to open soon.