With the recent turn of events, Minnesota delegates couldn’t be happier

GOP Chair Ron Carey
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
An enthusiastic GOP Chair Ron Carey praised Minnesota’s GOP congressional candidates.

A couple of Minnesota Republicans, Ed Matthews and Phil Krinkie, went to a speech given by Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt Monday night.

“Blunt says, ‘The only things government should take care of is defense and delivering the mail,”’ said Matthews, who is running for Congress against incumbent Democrat Betty McCollum in Minnesota’s 4th District. “That made sense to me, so I started clapping. But Krinkie wasn’t clapping.”

Matthews said that after the applause died down, Krinkie leaned over to him and said, “What’s with this mail stuff?”

Both men started laughing.

“You’ve heard of big-tent Republicans,” said Krinkie. “I’m more of a pup-tent Republican.”

Again laughter.

Now that the Gustav crisis has passed, the Minnesota Republicans seemed to be in celebratory spirits this morning, when they gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn for a morning breakfast.

These delegates seem to represent the most conservative portion of the Republican Party, but that doesn’t mean they have anything against a good time.

When they weren’t talking about the splendor of Sarah Palin, they were talking about a Monday night party hosted by Medtronic.

“The bar was made of ice,” said Nathan Hansen, an alternate delegate from Little Canada. “Couldn’t tell you how long it was. Amazing. They must have spent a million dollars on that party.”

Others joined in about the wonders of the party, and of how they felt obligated to try several of the free cocktails.

“But we’re ready to go today,” said Hansen, who noted that there’s supposed to be a free bar somewhere in the bowels of the Xcel Energy Center.

Congressional candidates draw applause
Mostly, however, the talk was of politics.

Barb Davis White, who is running an uphill fight against incumbent Democrat Keith Ellison in the 5th District, was hugging everyone in sight, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, a genuine celebrity among Minnesota Republicans.

Barb Davis White
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
The GOP’s Barb Davis White is challenging 5th District Reo. Keith Ellison.

“You’re so great,” said White to Bachmann.

“So are you,” Bachmann said to White.

“We’re taking back the 5th District,” White said to Bachmann.

“I know you are,” said Bachmann as she headed out the hotel door for another interview.

Sure way to draw applause: Mention Palin
During the main portion of the meeting, the delegates listened to — and applauded wildly for  — a number of their congressional candidates. The easiest applause line for any of the candidates was to merely mention the name of Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Rep. Michele Bachmann is a real celebrity for Minnesota Republicans.

Glen Menze, who is running against incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson in the 7th District, got hearty applause with this mention of Palin:

“Sarah’s a perfect fit for our district. When people in our district see that picture of her holding that M-16, they’re going to yell, ‘Yeah!’ ” he said.  “God blessed us with her!”

Big applause.

Menze wasn’t the only one using God and Palin in the same sentence.

White talked about God and her uphill struggle against Ellison.

“God can change things in one day,” she said of the intervention she might need in the traditionally DFL district. “In one day, God gave us a great vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.”

Huge applause.

White, by the way, dropped the bombshell of the day during her 10-minute address to the delegates.

First, she noted she is a Christian. Then, she said, “If my opponent (Ellison, a Muslim) is elected he will push for Shariah (Islamic religious) law. It will tear our Constitution in half. We can’t let that happen!”

More big applause.

“It’s exciting to have such great candidates,” said Ron Carey, chairman of the Republican Party, after White’s remarks.

Other candidates weren’t quite so alarmist.

Erik Paulsen
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
State Rep. Erik Paulsen is seeking to keep retiring Rep. Jim Ramstad’s 3rd District seat in the GOP column.

Erik Paulsen, for example, talked about his very close 3rd District race against Ashwin Madia, for the seat left open by the retirement of Rep. Jim Ramstad.

“It’s a tough Republican year, but it’s improving dramatically,” said Paulsen. 

And still more big applause.

Gustav’s gone. The Republican convention is about to shift into full gear. There’s a real conservative on the presidential ticket.

Minnesota delegates couldn’t be happier.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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