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GOP victory party offers a first look at a new, and different, Minnesota Republican Party

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Attendees of the Minnesota Republican election night party celebrating the results Tuesday night at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America.

If the face of the Minnesota Republican Party is going to change with the election of Donald Trump, some of those new faces were at the Radisson Blu celebrating Trump’s victory.

Aside from the party officers, this was not the usual cadre of GOP activists, at least not the ones I’ve encountered at similar events over the years. 

They were young. There were faces of different colors. And some were older, a little rougher around the edges than the usual suits who traditionally show up at Republican events.

In fact, if you just looked at the crowd and erased the political signage, you might not guess what their common dominator was.

It was Donald Trump, of course.

“He’s gonna shake things up,” was the phrase I heard most often. “We’ve all had enough of the establishment, talking points of both parties. Start listening to the people,” said one Trump supporter, who was swallowed by the crowd before I could get her name.

In Minnesota, 45 percent of voters believed that Trump was listening to them. Democrat Hillary Clinton won the state by only 1½ points.

Andy Post
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Andy Post

“The suburbs are not as much for Hillary as they had hoped, so that’s a Minnesota story,” said Andy Post, Trump’s Minnesota campaign director. “Outstate — these pockets of DFL votes — they’re just not coming through for Hillary.”

Post believes that means a change for the better.

“There’s a new Republican party,” he said. “Four years ago, the pundits, everybody said, ‘We’ve got to change. We have to bring in Democrats.’ You saw tonight tens of millions of Democrats [nationwide] voted for Donald Trump.”

There were no badge-wearing DFL-ers at the Radisson Blu on Tuesday, but there was only polite applause when party officers delivered positive results for Republican state legislative and U.S. House candidates. 

“We’re actually going to pick up more seats than we currently have,” Kurt Daudt, speaker of the House, told the crowd. (He was right; the GOP went on to extend its majority in the House.) “And I’m particularly excited to announce that when you run into Ron Erhardt on the street, you can call him former representative Ron Erhardt,” he said referring to the victory of Republican Dario Anselmo, which reclaims a prized Edina seat for the GOP. 

The cheers that greeted the names of the Republican winners seemed to come mainly from the House members who had joined Daudt on the podium.  

Ryan Hamilton
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Ryan Hamilton

The voters at the GOP party were, first and foremost, for Trump, although the president-elect’s flaws and divisive campaign themes were noted by at least a few of his Minnesota supporters.

“I don’t like the rhetoric that may have been used to earn this victory,” said Ryan Hamilton, who asked to be identified as an African-American Republican. “But we are judged by our actions, not our words. Sometimes we say things. We’re all guilty of that, right? I wish he wouldn’t have said those things, but again it just comes down to what he does. That will be the ultimate decision.”

Be they true Trump supporters or Trump skeptics, state Party Chair Keith Downey said these voters will not only be welcome but could create a significant new wing of the party that will “cut across a lot of demographic and ethnic boundaries.”   

And even though candidate Trump created more boundaries than he knocked down, the crowd at the Radisson Blu may offer a preview of a new kind of Republican voter.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 11/10/2016 - 08:08 am.

    The Republican were dysfunctional before the election

    Before the election the Republican Party was made up of Republicans and they were totally dysfunctional because they didn’t have a leader. The new Republican Party is a disparate group of angry individuals who are Republicans, Independents, Democrats, and others. Attaining party unity is going to be like herding cats. You still don’t have an effective leader to pull it all together. Good luck with accomplishing anything of substance. You are still going to be dysfunctional, just on a larger scale.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 11/10/2016 - 08:47 am.

    Tom, you and so many others are missing the message

    sent by the voters because you’re so stunned Trump won….. It is a simple message, change… There was no major policies being talked about by these 2 candidates (I personally couldn’t stand either) just the normal tax the rich by Hillary and “drain the swamp” by Trump. Folks picked change over standard party talking points. I actually heard a Democrat legislator from NYC say the people didn’t know what they were doing when voting and if they thought about it they wouldn’t have voted for Trump…. Hubris at its highest level. That is why folks voted for change, the liberal elites have lost touch with regular folks, who care more about jobs than some silly bathroom law.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 11/10/2016 - 11:27 am.

      I understand the voters message

      I’m just saying the Republicans have not been good at running the country i.e. Bush and Cheney. The Republicans want to brush Bush and Cheney under the rug like they never happened. I’m just saying the Republicans have not done anything to improve their chance of providing good governance that will be any different from the Bush and Cheney days. Because their base is now so eclectic it will be harder to lead. Trump is not what I consider a leader. McConnell is only interested in torpedoing everything and Ryan is badly wounded. Governance goes beyond just repealing. The entire Republican base doesn’t want a cost prohibitive wall. 20,000,000 people don’t want their healthcare taken away when no viable alternative is offered. We have been waiting 8 years for the ACA alternative and still there is none. I wish them well, but they need to prove themselves before I get any comfort that they are in charge and are willing to move the country forward.

    • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 11/11/2016 - 11:25 pm.

      No Sir, This Wasn’t About Change

      Given that we know now that Trump voters were almost slavish in their loyalty to Republican incumbents or Republican challengers for U.S. Senate and House we can pretty much put the “change” or “drain the swamp” claims to sleep.

      This election was about Mr. Trumps personality and perceptions about him or Ms. Clinton. Most Trump voters were clearly drawn to his personal style and/or willingness to say aloud what they already believed or imagined about government. The Trump voter just as clearly didn’t like Ms. Clinton for myriad reasons, real or imagined.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 11/10/2016 - 12:03 pm.

    Bush was a progressive who grew Government

    I was not a fan of his. Obama was a progressive, who grew Govt, I am not a fan of his either… Govt has grown out of control the past 40 years under both parties and our lives have not improved. With huge Govt, crony capitalism driven by DC lobbyists, DC elites and politicians has replaced capitalism. With crony capitalism you pay to play, that eliminates 99% of the regular folks and they fight for crumbs. Under Obama, due to taxes and regulations, more small businesses are closing than opening for the 1st time in history, that is bad Governance, plain and simple. That is why folks voted for Trump…. Hope and Change quickly became hopeless and no change…. To say that only Republicans can’t govern only hits half the mark, the other half is Democrats don’t govern well either. That was just proven by the American people voting in Trump.

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/10/2016 - 12:47 pm.

      Um, no

      Small business closings were higher than small business openings in 2009 and 2010 only in the wake of the Great Recession. From 2009-2014 (per the Census Bureau), the U.S. has netted over 85,000 new small businesses.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 11/13/2016 - 11:45 am.

      Bush was NOT a “progressive”.

      It seems definitions have become opinions. Your version of “Progressive” begs an illustration. Wild spending and tax cuts is reckless and stupid.

      The labeling of individuals, philosophies and even actions needs to either stop altogether, or be moderated with clear real-world examples.

      As it is we can hardly communicate with each other, due to the decline in word menaings and the rsie of such nonsensical words as “neo-liberal” (which I assume means the Clinton version of “capitalism”).

      Look at the words bigot or racist or stereotype. All three mean something to those who speak or dare to define someone else. Yet the outcome is not clarity of communication but defensiveness, resentrment, ans eventually violent words and then a breakdown in civility.

      Then what comes next smells tastes and feels like vengeance.

      Americans cannot get even by vengeance, we can only continue the distrust and decline by trying to hurt our opponents. Children have been listening and it is very sad that they had to witness what should have been our national conversation become a filthy, smear-and-destroy campaign to ruin others’ reputations, presumably to win because the other guy is so bad.

      Bush was not a progressive, nor was anything we witnessed during his administration have progressive qualities. The Civil Rights part of the Dubya administration never prosecuted a single case in 8 years. Budgets were done by “Supplementals” to wage wars with pallets of money and bigger debt while making tax cuts his economic program. Today all we hear is how Obama ran up the debt. This is an untruth and you know it. The management of revenues again is being billed as tax cuts. Who raises money to pay bills? NOT REPUBLICANS, NOR BUSH, and it is NOT PROGRESSIVE policy to continue to skim for the rich while leaving the debt for us all.

      Trickle down is not an economic plan, nor is it anything close to “progressive”.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 11/10/2016 - 03:23 pm.

    How sad, that there are young voters who believe that Trump only SAID awful things, and didn’t really mean them.

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