With Tom Emmer trailing in the polls but the campaign convinced he can win, the Minnesota Republican Party is leaving no stone unturned in outreach — even if that stone is an irritant to many of the party faithful.
Hence last week’s meeting between Michael Brodkorb, deputy chair of the Minnesota GOP, and the Minnesota Log Cabin Republicans, gay Republicans who work for inclusiveness in the party and to promote gay rights legislation, like the repeal of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
It was the first time in recent memory, if ever, that a party official had addressed the group. According to Brodkorb, these were no strange bedfellows, in fact, they had much in common.
“I clearly think we need every Republican to vote for Tom Emmer,” he said. “On matters related to gay marriage, civil unions, these will be issues where the platform in its current form — we wouldn’t agree — but on 90 percent of the others issues we can have a discussion. These are Republicans.”
But with the remaining 10 percent of the issues, there’s a wide gulf to close, largely because of one Emmer affiliation. Emmer has supported You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Intl., Inc., a ministry with a strident, some say openly hateful, anti-gay message. The group is based in his legislative district.
Log Cabin Chair Mark Knief invited Brodkorb to the group’s monthly meeting, where Brodkorb gave an election update. The move is part of Knief’s effort to draw the Log Cabin closer to the official party structure.
He’s doing this despite the GOP’s plank against gay marriage. “I don’t think the platform is the party, frankly,” Knief said. “Our belief is we want to work with the party to change that platform. I think that will happen, but it’s not going to happen if people just give up.”
Knief said the meeting was largely positive. “People were impressed, they really liked the message,” he said.
And the message that Broadkorb delivered: “There is always a place in every election to discuss social issues but in this campaign the overriding theme is jobs and economy, where we are going as a state and a country,” he said. “From the folks I spoke with it’s about jobs and the economy. They are not supportive of any way, shape or form of [Mark] Dayton.”
Knief said he has talked with Emmer about the candidate’s association with You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. “I would have preferred to see more distance between [them] and the Emmer campaign,” he said, despite the campaign’s effort to portray the relationship as one simply between legislator and constituent. Knief says the association has caused the resignation of one Log Cabin board member and the departure of several in the membership group of 300.
“This is not helpful to Republicans running. The Minnesota Family Council, the National Organization for Marriage, they are doing Tom more harm than good,” he said.
Still, Kneif says that Emmer is “always open to having a discussion,” and that there are Log Cabin members who are working very hard on his campaign. “We can’t sit this one out,” he maintains.
The Log Cabin Republicans remain a partisan group. “We endorse Republican candidates,” Knieff said. “Obama has not been a friend. And a fierce advocate, he’s been anything but. People need to wake up to the fact that just because there’s a ‘D’ after someone’s name [it doesn’t mean] they’re supportive of our issues.”
Other GOP developments: Coleman campaigns for Emmer
Caught up with my old boss Norm Coleman yesterday afternoon and he confirmed he will be campaigning Friday and Saturday for Emmer. Coleman’s taking in a larger GOP rally Saturday and more targeted campaign events on Friday.
Snagging a Coleman campaign appearance was not a sure thing for the Emmer campaign even though Coleman’s former campaign chief is now Emmer’s. There was a period of — shall we say — adjustment.
“I’ve gotten to know Tom and gotten to know his wife. He brings the right values, the right kind of passion,” Coleman said.
Coleman acknowledges that as a center-right Republican, he believed that certain government spending could cover some economic ills. But he also admits a change of thought. “We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” he said, adding that he believes Emmer has the capacity to put the state on the right economic track.
Coleman is off to China for eight days after the election with a group of former U.S. Senate colleagues.
Considering the delicacy of U.S.-China relations, what does another delegation bring to the mix? “We’re going to talk about the exchange rate, intellectual property — and they’re going to talk about Taiwan,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s important to be candid and challenging.”
In case you’re keeping track, this is the first time in 19 years that Coleman is not in office or not running for office.
“It’s nice to wake up, read the paper, and not have worry about someone who’s trying to kill you,” he said.