Rand Paul makes a bet on Minnesota

Courtesy of Zavier Bicott
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.

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.” 

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.

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Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/15/2015 - 09:51 am.

    The most important thing to recognize about Paul

    … Is that the “Libertarian” ideology is fundamentally incoherent. At the base of this ideology is a bizarre narrative that our nation has been slipping towards totalitarian ruin ever since the Constitution was ratified. Basically the idea is that 200 years of expanding individual liberties from the end of slavery to the voting rights act represent a slide BACKWARDS wherein our freedoms have been under constant attack. This is simply delusional.

    Libertarian economics is likewise delusional in the sense that once again, contrary to all human experience, it claims that free markets (which don’t actually exist) will concentrate wealth and distribute economic benefits fairly and proportionately, basically the argument is that the destruction of the middle class is actually good for society… again, a bizarre claim.

    • Submitted by Garrett Gebhardt on 09/16/2015 - 04:33 pm.

      The most important thing to recognize about libertarians…

      …Is that historically speaking, statists will always attempt to argue with them from the position of Alexander Hamilton or worse yet, a Tory loyalist rather than a Thomas Jefferson. Don’t even mention Lysander Spooner to statists.

      It has been established that liberty in various forms has expanded greatly since the dawn of this republic due in no small part to the hard-fought principles of liberty, not the good grace of government. At every step, the agents of government have fought to preserve the status quo. It was not the bus companies which prohibited blacks from sitting in the front or the faucet companies that prevented them from using the same water fountains but the Jim Crow laws passsed by the state. That a government was needed to remove such restrictions is only a testament to its only tool being force, and that force can surely be used for both good and more often throughout history, evil.

      Freedom has been, always has been under constant threat from those who stand to profit through purse or power by its existence. The well-worn warning on the tree of liberty and its need of the blood of both patriots and tyrants is of no bygone era. Whether it be brutal, violent war in one man’s time or merely steadfast vigilant activism in another, the Paul Revere of yesteryear or the Edward Snowden of today, we must be thankful to have had those heroic souls who put their lives at risk to save the liberties of others.

      You, sir, know nothing of liberty or of those who fight every day to keep the preciously thin line between freedom and fascism intact. It has only been the Constitution itself, flawed as it may be, and the reverence Americans have for it that has preserved what indulgences we still possess.

      Rand Paul is the only one currently under serious consideration for the office of President who has a clue in this area. Like him or dislike him, his fidelity to the nation’s founding document and its principles cannot be denied.

      • Submitted by chuck holtman on 09/18/2015 - 11:36 am.

        An elegant bit of discourse.

        Now you – and your fellow libertarians – should put some effort into understanding how government functions conceptually as a modality for the exercise of power by private interests and the effect of concentrated private wealth on freedom in a society. Do you want economic freedom or existential freedom? You can’t have both.

        And thanks for the tip about Lysander Spooner.

  2. Submitted by John Smith on 09/15/2015 - 10:36 am.

    Rand Paul supporters really look like a diverse group.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/15/2015 - 12:02 pm.

      Diverse in the sense

      that a libertarian ideology sounds great when you’re in college and passing a bong around. It’s only when you leave the nest that you come to grips with the reality of living in a society. A cursory glance at “Aqua Buddah’s” rhetoric illustrates that some never grow out of it.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/15/2015 - 12:10 pm.

      I think John was being sarcastic.. but

      Someone around here at some point in the comments said it best… If you think: “You’re not the boss of me” can be a compelling political ideology… Libertarians are your guys.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/15/2015 - 11:17 am.

    Who says there can’t be three dynasties in one race.

  4. Submitted by Joseph Stans on 09/15/2015 - 11:26 am.

    Rand Paul

    Please don’t mention rand Paul and in the same paragraph with Minnesota. It is just embarrassing for the state.

  5. Submitted by Brad James on 09/15/2015 - 12:03 pm.

    Good use

    of your time to profile a guy polling at 2%…

  6. Submitted by Brian Simon on 09/15/2015 - 01:30 pm.

    Interesting story. if this is representative of a similar national strategy, Paul could surprise some pundits. Winning the nomination is about collecting delegates. Polling 6 months in advance is irrelevant. I’m curious about how Paul’s efforts compare to the others nationally.

  7. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/15/2015 - 01:44 pm.

    Must . . . Stick . . . to the Narrative!

    “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.’”

    Where to begin? Mr. Bicott is so set on seeing Senator Paul as a Champion of Liberty that he can ignore the obvious contradictions in his statement.

    First is the idea that laws represent “values . . . forced on people through government.” In a democratic society laws reflect the values of the people. Legislating–or refusing to legislate–in any area, on any topic, is a reflection of some of the values of the people. Contrary to what the tinfoil hat crowd may like to think, the government is not some brooding omnipresence. It exists through the consent of the people. It’s easy to sit and complain about “that government.” It’s no fun to come to the realization that we are responsible for that government.

    Second, and more obviously, is the idea that prohibitions on same-sex marriage and abortion are somehow consistent with libertarian opinions. Marriage and reproductive freedom are very intimate, personal decisions that affect virtually all individuals. Restricting our range of choice in these two areas is a much greater and a more direct infringement on our freedom than EPA rules will ever be.

    Rand Paul is just another empty suit, without his father’s quirky charm. I’m surprised he’s polling as high as 2%.

  8. Submitted by mike tudor on 09/15/2015 - 06:49 pm.

    I stand with Rand

    Rand Paul will be more cautious with waging war than Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. Sen. Paul has called Obama’s ISIS war illegal and isn’t against defending American interests through military intervention, but stresses the importance of Congress making these decisions. Hillary Clinton, in contrast, thinks we should have armed the Syrian rebel groups several years ago. Try naming even one of the Syrian rebel groups and explaining their differences with ISIS. Furthermore, The Week states that “Clinton’s instincts appear to be far more hawkish than Barack Obama’s.” Imagine a more hawkish Obama and you’ll get the next President Clinton. Also, famed neocon Robert Kagan is one of Clinton’s advisers and states in The New York Times, “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy.” That should tell you how liberal Clinton will be on matters of perpetual war in the Middle East.

    2. The Los Angeles Times has referred to Paul as “one of the foremost critics of the government’s domestic spying program.” In early 2014, Sen. Paul filed a lawsuit against the NSA over domestic spying. Neither Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, nor any other candidate in 2016 has made this a top priority in their campaign. Sen. Paul has also voted against PATRIOT Act Extension bills, voted for an amendment that prohibits detention of U.S. citizens without trial (which of course didn’t pass the Senate), and his voting record protects American citizens from politicians paranoid over terrorism. Sen. Paul was vehemently against the NDAA Indefinite Detention Bill that passed in 2013, because, “This bill takes away that right and says that if someone thinks you’re dangerous, we will hold you without a trial. It’s an abomination.”

    3. Rand Paul has teamed up with liberal Democratic Sen. Cory Booker toreform the criminal justice system. Their bill would improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve been adversely affected by non-violent criminal sentences. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush don’t care about reforming the criminal justice system, and if they do, it’s on the bottom of their to do lists, far behind cozying up to Wall Street and increasing America’s military presence in the Middle East.

    4. POLITICO states Hillary Clinton is “Wall Street Republicans’ dark secret” in 2016. I don’t see Clinton as being any more liberal than Paul on Wall Street or banking, although perhaps she’d be more willing to save failed corporations than the Kentucky Senator. Also, Paul is one of the few Republicans who’s addressed the GOP’s love affair with corporations, stating that, “We cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street…corporate welfare should once and for all be ended.”

    5. Sen. Paul thinks Edward Snowden was treated unfairly as a whistleblower and should have only spent “a few years” in prison. No other candidate in 2016 would dare take that position. The Wall Street Journalcriticized Paul’s position on the Snowden matter, and their criticism actually makes me like Rand Paul in 2016 even more. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is “puzzled” why Snowden would want to leave the U.S. and feels he might have helped terrorists with his disclosures.

    6. Rand Paul publicized the issue of a possible government drone strike, on American soil, against American citizens. No, I’m not making this up. I don’t want to get blown up eating a burrito at Chipotle because I visited Egypt to see the pyramids and happened to sit in a café frequented by a terrorist. In 2013, Rand Paul asked Eric Holder whether or not American citizens could be targeted by drones on American soil. Jon Stewart has a great segment about this. Eric Holder actually answered that theoretically, yes, drone strikes to kill Americans on U.S. soil could be viewed as legal, depending on the circumstance. If this doesn’t frighten you, then vote for Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush, since neither one cares about this matter. Issues like drone strikes on American soil, against Americans, is why I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. This sort of thing is being discussed today in plain sight, yet only Rand Paul and a few others have shown outrage over the potential of our government to possibly target its own citizens. If it’s not an ISIL beheading video, nobody seems to care nowadays.

    7. Rand Paul could bring back an era in American politics when conservatives and liberals socialized with one another. This alone would solve some of the gridlock in Washington. Paul has worked with 7 leading Democrats on a number of issues; working on everything from judicial reform, NSA surveillance, the limits of presidential authority to launch strikes in Iraq, and other issues. Imagine Ted Cruz reaching out to Nancy Pelosi, or Mitch McConnell having lunch with Hillary Clinton. Rand Paul, on the other hand, has worked to emulate this picture.

    8. Rand Paul will not gut the economic safety nets of this country in the manner espoused by Paul Ryan and others. He doesn’t want to dismantleSocial Security. I do disagree with his view of the SNAP Program and certain other issues. However, Paul has stated, “I’m for a social safety net, but it should be minimized to helping those who can’t help themselves.” I don’t ever recall Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan making that type of statement and mainstream Republicans do everything in their power to promote the view that safety nets equate to communism or socialism.

    9. Neoconservatives hate Rand Paul. They like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush a lot more, and The Weekly Standard, National Review, and others have voiced their reservations about a Rand Paul presidency. If neocons disagree with you, then you must be doing something right.

    10. Rand Paul could be the answer to our philosophical conundrum as a nation. We’re stuck with a GOP who thinks the globe is one giant Stratego board game with God helping roll the dice, a Democratic Party more focused on defending Obamacare than stopping endless wars or protecting civil liberties, and a populace that cares more about beheading videos than the erosion of rights or the welfare of our warriors. Is Paul the answer? I’m not certain. But compared to Hillary and Jeb Bush, I’ll take the man who stated, “I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East.”

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/16/2015 - 09:11 am.

      Actually no…

      “10. Rand Paul could be the answer to our philosophical conundrum as a nation… (snip)”

      Philosophically Rand Paul is incoherent. You might like a particular position of his here or there but he gets to those positions via a mish-mash of mumbo jumbo about everything from the US Constitution to economic theory. Basically he thinks we can move closer to a more perfect union by moving closer to a Somali model of government and economics, the only way you can get to that conclusion is by ignoring history and deploying a considerable level of magical thinking. The fact that he claims to hail from something called “Objectivism” (i.e. Randian dystopic fantasy) is simply a toxic irony.

      Libertarianism is the little engine that can’t because when you look under the hood you find a squirrel cage pretending to be a V-6.

  9. Submitted by Sean Huntley on 09/16/2015 - 09:40 am.

    Jade Helm

    Anyone deluded enough to buy in to, or pander to those who believe in ludicrous conspiracy theories like the Jade Helm nonsense are not suitable to be POTUS. Cruz and Paul fall into this category.

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