With his eyes on U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and his dreams of creating Republican strength in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Tony Sutton announced today that he’s going to run for a second term as the chair of the state party.
Sutton, 43, likely will face little serious opposition when he stands before the party’s central committee on April 16.
“There’s work left to be done,” said Sutton of why he’s going for a second term.
And Sutton vows that much of that work will be done in the DFL’s metro strongholds.
“If you look outside Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Sutton said in an interview this morning, “this is a red state.”
Outside of the two major cities, he pointed out, Tom Emmer had more support in the governor’s race than Mark Dayton. The statewide constitutional races also would have tilted Republican.
“For too long, the cities have been our version of flyover country,” he said, adding that when the party is in Minneapolis, it’s typically at the Minneapolis Club to hold fundraisers.
Sutton believes the message of fiscal — and to a lesser extent social — conservatism should play far better in the cities than it has.
“We’ve let stereotypes of our party go uncontested,” he said.
What are those stereotypes?
“My dad was a Teamster,’’ Sutton said. “When I told him (years ago) I was doing work for the [Republican] party, he said, ‘why work for those rich crooks?’ ’’
Though Sutton admits the party will have to work hard simply to hold onto the massive gains it made last November, he said a major target for the party will be the U.S. Senate race between Klobuchar and a yet-undefined Republican opponent.
Given her poll readings, that would seem like a huge task.
But do recall that long before the DFL figured out that longtime Congressman Jim Oberstar was in trouble, Sutton was predicting that an unknown, Chip Cravaack, might just pull off an upset. Sutton said that he believes Klobuchar’s voting record is far more “liberal’’ than her image as a moderate. The party will go to great lengths to get that message out in the next two years.
Sutton said that he’s long been intrigued by voters in the 8th Congresssional District. He has relatives on the Iron Range.
“They’re pro-life and they’re pro-Second Amendment but then they vote DFL,’’ Sutton said.
He believes that’s because of the traditions of such DFL giants of the past as Rudy Perpich and Hubert Humphrey.
“But the Democratic Party of today doesn’t represent those people the way that Humphrey and Perpich did,’’ Sutton said. “They’re beginning to understand that. … I see a state in transition, and I want to see it through.’’