GOP family feud erupts over racino proposal

Political party platforms are tricky documents. They usually contain positions on issues that even the most loyal party member do not always support. So, when a Minnesota Republican Party officer publicly bucks the platform by taking on a new client, the result is a high profile spat that illuminates the political pitfalls of wearing several hats.

Newly elected national committeewoman Pat Anderson has registered as a lobbyist for Canterbury Holdings to promote racino, casino-style slot machines at the track — running headlong into the GOP position against expansion of gambling.

Deputy Party Chair Michael Brodkorb minces no words about how he perceives Anderson’s conflict: she should resign as national committeewoman or drop her client. “Ultimately she’s going to have to choose,” he said.

Pat Anderson
Pat Anderson

But the only conflict, Anderson says, is within the platform itself. “One of the platforms in the party is to support free markets,” she points out. “Another is opposition to the Indian casino monopoly.”

As for conflict, she says it’s Brodkorb that will find himself in the cross-hairs as he negotiates his volunteer post as deputy party chair with his day job as senior staff of the Senate GOP caucus. She notes that Senate President Michelle Fischbach, the Republican from Paynesville, “and Michael’s boss,” is supporting a larger gambling proposal than racino. “Is he planning on kicking both of us out of the party?” she asked.

‘It’s going to be difficult for her’
Brodkorb is having none of the semantics. In fact, he is characteristically blunt. “She is a party officer, she sits on the executive committee,” he said. “There is an expectation she will support the party platform. Plus the timing of this and how she has handled this, it’s going to be difficult for her.”

Brodkorb says Anderson should have made her position on gambling clear when she was running for the national committee post.

But Anderson, a former state auditor and gubernatorial candidate, maintains she has, well, a clear track record on her support of racino and that “a majority of Republicans in the state have a similar position.”

This sort of political family squabble would never make it outside of a convention hall except that an expansion of gambling looks more and more likely to be part of the legislative solution to the state’s budget gap.

“We have a thriving gambling business in Minnesota but most of it is not taxed, and that’s bad public policy,” says Anderson. It’s also tempting to Republicans who need to find more revenue without outright tax increases.

Michael Brodkorb
mngop.com
Michael Brodkorb

A dozen Republican committee chairs have signed on as co-sponsors of racino which, according to Anderson, would net the state $200 million every two years.
 
If, at the end of the session, political realities trump political idealism, Anderson predicts “a month from now, the party and the caucus will not have same position on every issue.”

But Broadkorb insists, “The issue isn’t about hypotheticals that happen at the end of the session. A national committeewoman is a very important role inside our party. There is an expectation of working with others. I’ve spoken with some activists who really disagree with how this was handled.”

Disconnect with party platform
Anderson says she too has spoken with GOP activists. “I was talking to a bunch of people at the Freedom Club dinner last night who were all supportive.” She says it was those activists who pointed out the disconnect between the platform and legislation supported by Fischbach.

For his part, Brodkorb says he has a clear conscience when it comes to maneuvering the bumpy road of end-of-session deals. “The activists all knew I was an employee of the Senate when they elected me twice for deputy chair,” he says.

Ultimately, Brodkorb says, it’s those party insiders — the grass roots precinct and district organizers — who will decide what the party does next. In other words, with respect to the Republican Party and its support or opposition to gambling, don’t place any bets just yet.

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Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/27/2011 - 10:39 am.

    Look, let’s be honest…Principled Pat Awada will sell herself to the highest bidder, whatever side they’re on.

  2. Submitted by Madeline Anderson on 04/27/2011 - 10:47 am.

    This is all so rich. Remember, when Anderson was running for governor, she said “the problem with lobbyists is that they exist.”

    Now she is one. How does she reconcile that?

  3. Submitted by B Maginnis on 04/27/2011 - 11:15 am.

    By being a lobbyist that lobbies for something that potentially benfits the common good.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/27/2011 - 11:16 am.

    It would be interesting to know what the REAL issues are, here…

    In other words, how Ms. Anderson has offended MR. Brodkorb sufficiently to cause him to direct such a frontal attack on her,…

    Because I strongly suspect that what’s really going on is not contained anywhere in the text of this article.

  5. Submitted by Keith Butcher on 04/27/2011 - 11:27 am.

    Let’s explore this concept a little bit further. Anderson says that it is “bad public policy” to have a thriving business not pay taxes. The corollary must therefore be true (ie. that it is “good public policy” for businesses to be taxed). It would be interesting to hear from her what she believes an appropriate level of business taxation is and at least we know that her answer isn’t going to be ZERO. In addition, considering the report that some other businesses, General Electric for example, also don’t pay taxes it would seem that even further tax cuts for those folks is also “bad public policy.” Perhaps there is an opportunity here to finally move the budget debate between the Republicans and the Democrats forward.

  6. Submitted by jody rooney on 04/27/2011 - 12:11 pm.

    Yes she does give Republicans a bad name.

  7. Submitted by Richard Parker on 04/27/2011 - 12:21 pm.

    Repugnicans. Nationally, they badger Obama for two years about whether he’s American-born, distracting some of his administration’s attention and energy from addrsssing important issues. Today he holds a news conference to once again emphasize that his birth certificate certifies his birth in Hawaii. A GOP leader criticizes him for diverting his time and attention from important issues of the national economy and foreign relations to answer the Repugnican nagging. Repugnicans sweep to election victory promising to improve the business climate, get government off our backs and provide more jobs, jobs, jobs. Then they concentrate their energies on efforts to increase government’s say over who can get married, who can vote, whether to augment insufficient tax revenue by expanding gambling. Repugnicans.

  8. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/27/2011 - 01:04 pm.

    “The ‘Indian casino monopoly’ ” is not a monopoly business but an agreement by the state with the tribes, whose land we took by force, to provide a sure source of income to ease their poverty.

    Are we now going to renege on that promise??

  9. Submitted by Madeline Anderson on 04/27/2011 - 01:12 pm.

    I’m with Greg K. There’s something else going on here. Brodkorb picked a very public and very ugly fight. It’s payback for something. Wonder what that is.

  10. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 04/27/2011 - 01:23 pm.

    Regardless of the squabble, $100 million a year, when faced with a $5 billion deficit, is like putting out a forest fire with a Dixie cup of water.

    The Republicans just don’t get it. They don’t understand the numbers. It’s like none of them can handle numbers that they can’t count to.

  11. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/27/2011 - 03:06 pm.

    The only “debate” is which do Republicans despise more: Indian economic development, or unauthorized departures from the positions Republicans are allowed to take?

  12. Submitted by Barbara Miller on 04/27/2011 - 03:16 pm.

    “By being a lobbyist that lobbies for something that potentially benfits the common good.”

    Let us begin at the beginning.

    Gambling does not in any way benefit the common good. It is an activity that potentially (and certainly in many cases) cashes in on pandering to addictive behavior. A disease. A disease with sometimes diastrous outcomes. So that’s the foundation for casinos and racinos — irrespective of whether they’re operated by whites, browns, grays or greens, blues or reds.

    The notion that this generation of the GOP is even marginally interested in “the common good” is ludicrous. Look at their budget proposals, locally and nationally.

    That said, everybody enjoys a good bout of political in-fighting. Schadenfreude writ large. Anyone want to bet on the outcome?

  13. Submitted by Dan Johnson on 04/27/2011 - 03:44 pm.

    Appalling idea by Republicans to raise critical funds for state needs through expanded gambling. How does allowing video gambling terminals in bars and restaurants promote work ethic and family values? Doesn’t make sense to this conservative liberal.

  14. Submitted by larry boss on 04/27/2011 - 05:03 pm.

    Boy this is rich! Both Pat Anderson and Michael Brodkorb have the same moral compass – absolutely none. But what should we expect when their leader, big Tony (failed Taco King) Sutton and his wife recently tried to cash in on Sutton’s GOP Chair position and get him hired to support gambling. Fortunately some ethical republicans (and it appears that number keeps getting smaller) blew the whistle on their efforts to the Star Tribune. This is why the Minnesota GOP’s gains last election will be over turned in 2012. The party of the pious religious right seems to abandon their lofty principles where money is concerned. For these people it’s all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

  15. Submitted by larry boss on 04/27/2011 - 09:30 pm.

    Boy this is rich! Both Pat Anderson and Michael Brodkorb have the same moral compass – absolutely none. But what should we expect when their leader, Tony Sutton and his wife recently tried to cash in on Sutton’s GOP Chair position and get him hired to support gambling. Fortunately some ethical republicans (and it appears that number keeps getting smaller) blew the whistle on their efforts to the Star Tribune. This is why the Minnesota GOP’s gains last election will be over turned in 2012. The party of the pious religious right seems to abandon their lofty principles where money is concerned. For these people it’s all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

  16. Submitted by Michele Olson on 04/28/2011 - 12:07 am.

    A note about the birther fever here: in all fairness to the GOP, a good number of them did not support pursuing this issue.

    As to Anderson’s claim that this is for the public good, then I suggest she take on the work — for free. She was an embarrassment as a mayor, and she’s an embarrassment now. She simply cannot see past dollar signs to any bigger picture.

  17. Submitted by Dave Seitz on 04/28/2011 - 07:09 pm.

    The best way to end the debate on this entire situation is just let in Real Casino operators.
    All this stupidity and penny ante stuff is a joke especially the casinos in the state now. Bring in the folks from Nevada who know what it is about.
    Hey big gaming if you build a stadium for the Vikes we will let you build casinos in the state.
    We get Zero return from the Indian Casinos in this state, so why not make something off it?

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