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Libertarians begin takeover of state GOP Party this weekend

Ron Paul

ST. CLOUD — The Minnesota Republican Party that opens its state convention this morning in St. Cloud is a different party animal than it was in 2010.

It has $1.3 million in debt. The libertarian wing of the party, many of them young and new to politics, has replaced numerous traditional activists as delegates. Social media and independent expenditure groups are threatening the party system – DFL and GOP – as a useful political structure.  

That backdrop sets the stage for three convention agenda items that will capture the interest of the general public. The first will be the most newsworthy. Today, probably by late afternoon, the Republican Party will endorse a candidate to run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

The three contenders — state Rep. Kurt Bills, former state Rep. Dan Severson and Afghan war veteran Pete Hegseth — each brandish endorsements, respectable war chests and loyal followers. But Bills holds the edge with delegates who have pledged their support to presidential candidate Ron Paul and who are now the dominant coalition. Bills’ supporters and detractors both predict he will get the endorsement, probably on the third ballot.

Party’s money troubles

Noteworthy item No. 2 on the agenda will be the report of the party’s financial oversight committee. Some of the same Ron Paul delegates are strident critics of the party’s operation under former Chair Tony Sutton. The committee has acknowledged “misreporting… questionable decision-making… and lack of accountability” and will likely face direct and even barbed questions from the delegates.

On day two of the convention, Ron Paul supporters really get a chance to flex their muscle as the 2,000-plus delegates elect a slate to represent Minnesota at the national Republican convention in Tampa. Paul delegates have already claimed 20 of the 24 delegates elected from the state’s congressional districts. Three delegate slots automatically go to party officers. Another 13 national delegates are chosen on Saturday. With the force behind them, it’s possible — maybe probable — that 33 of the state’s 40 delegates will be pledged to nominate Ron Paul.

Mitt Romney, of course, will get the presidential nomination, so that begs the question: What do Paul supporters, specifically his Minnesota supporters, want as the end game? It’s not just a moment in the Tampa sun. Paul supporters want to control the infrastructure of the Minnesota Republican Party.

They’ve already taken the first step with leadership posts at the state Senate and congressional levels. Dominance in the selection of delegates to the national convention will solidify their position. The final frontier is to hold a significant number of seats on the party’s state Central Committee, the party’s center of power. 

The action begins at the 2012 Minnesota GOP convention.MinnPost photo by Brian HallidayThe action begins at the 2012 Minnesota GOP convention.

Libertarian vision

But given the competition of independent expenditures and campaigns that can leapfrog the party through websites and social media, the willingness of Paul supporters to stick with the party is uncertain. Critics point out that they are united more behind the libertarian vision of one man rather than a vision of conservative principles.

But in a political caucus system like Minnesota’s, a party takeover can start with a single cause and bloom into control if grassroots activists practice patience. It happened in the 1980s when social conservatives united in their opposition to abortion and drove out Republicans more moderate on social issues.

Ron Paul delegates persevered and gained through the 2012 caucus and convention cycle. They have delivered the delegates to St. Cloud and they have changed the Minnesota Republican Party, at least temporarily. If they stay with the party, they may pump energy, youth and money into a system that needs all three to survive.

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/18/2012 - 09:20 am.

    Cult of Personality

    I fear many libertarians are devoted to Ron Paul, rather than to any true vision of libertarianism (of which Paul’s version is a peculiar mixed bag, uniquely held by him and him alone).

    NONE of them seem able to question or even consider questioning anything that spills out of Mr. Paul’s mouth. NONE of them seem able to think in deep and broad enough ways to consider the vastly negative consequences which would occur if Mr. Paul’s pipe dream ideas were carried out.

    If, indeed, the libertarians take over the Minnesota Republican Party, they will take it in new directions which the general public and both the “Christian” “conservative” and fiscally conservative wings of those who used to call themselves Republicans will find anathema to them.

    A strongly libertarian-flavored Minnesota Republican Party will find it has a VERY difficult time getting anyone elected to anything, but it should be a fun show to watch.

    • Submitted by Douglas Davis on 05/19/2012 - 11:27 pm.


      I am a life long Republican, and I am 39 years old with two children. My first experience with the GOP was when my parents caucused for Ronald Reagan. Since then I have been involved in some way, volunteering or campaigning for George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Bachmann to name a few. This weekend I was filling my duties as an elected State Delegate for Scott County. This last Summer when the campaigns were first starting I was very interested in Romney and Santorum. In 2008 I was told that Ron Paul is just that crazy wacko the GOP allows in to make the other candidates look stronger. Well it backfired. The entire Romney establishment campaign has failed and that failure was very predictable by following Ron Paul’s fundamental libertarian belief that all force is violence and all force is met with resistance. The force on us was the dirty tricks and money buying support by Romney. Ron Paul was the resistance that is fed up with CEO’s trying to run the country and running it into the ground broke and the Constitution on life support.
      How long and how many administrations have former Wall street CEOs, Banking board members, Weapons of war corporations (Raytheon), big oil, Pharma, and Seed and food suppliers (Monsanto) and others use their influence to surround themselves in the Presidents cabinets. Do your research.
      The USA is NOT a Corporation and should not be run or treated as such. Corporations and CEO’s stifle creativity and demand loyalty to company policy. The government is supposed to work FOR us not the other way around.
      We are not a cult. Today the comments I heard most during the photo opp with Ron Paul in the one second we has was, “Dr. Paul we are doing it for us.”
      I am not alone when I say, we do ask questions, we do not step blindly into the Paul Camp. If we did not ask questions, and continued to listen to the lies the Main Stream Media gives us. We would be Romney supporters. Romney’s political support is spread very very thin and is about as deep as a piece of paper. Every caucus I went to us Ron Paul supporters just had to wait a few hours and over a third of the Romney delegates would go home, except for the most severely brainwashed. I was very friendly with Romney delegates and supporters and was very open to debate and even just listening to them.
      The opposition always call us “ridiculously organized”. Well, I am going to let you in on a secret, and I probably shouldn’t. The truth is we are no more organized than the Romney camp, however the difference is, that we truly believe in our candidate’s ideas, we are all on the same page, we listen to each other. The idea of Liberty is so difficult for people like you because it is such a simple idea, and Paul hatters have to make it complex in order to rationalize it. Liberty is opposite of Tyranny, and its that simple. Strive for less tyranny, or roads or tyranny, and we get personal freed and LIBERTY. We don’t sit around and talk about what Ron Paul’s ideas or motivations, because we HAVE ALL DONE our research, and I guarantee the research consists of hundreds of hours. We watch a lot of older Ron Paul videos from the 90’s and guess what he is saying the same thing now as he did in the 90’s. How many consistent politicians can you think of that stick to their principals. And what a great principle, it’s called the US Constitution.
      We find reliable sources for documentaries, texts, and other videos on the US constitution, and the history of money, Presidential history, and Washington Politics. We have watched more CSPAN broadcasts of house and senate than people do in a life time. In fact I can personally say I have learned more about US and world history in the last year than I did all though high school and college.
      And those sorts of things are what the majority of what we talk about between Paul supporters. We thrive on leaning from histories’s mistakes, which is something people don’t do anymore, and we are as pissed as most others at some of our youth caught up in television, and the occupy movements. We rally against the Marxist social direction Obama is pushing us in. We are very concerned about UN res.21, and we ask QUESTIONS. When we ask questions of our leaders or government we get called tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy nuts. It is our job as citizens to ask questions and not settle for the NOBLE LIE.
      You and others assume Paul supporters believe that the US is responsible for 9/11. Guess what there are legitimate questions that the Government refuses to answer through freedom of information act. Most importantly is there will be wing nuts in all parties, and we all like to think outside the box and speculate, but most of us are able to check ourselves before we get sucked into the rabbit hole of conspiracy. The point is we are not afraid to ask or discuss among others our concerns.

      None of us are under the delusion that Ron Paul will immediately make things glorious over night. We fully expect a hard but quick hit to the economy at first, but the difference is the Federal Reserve won’t be there printing money out of thin air prolonging and worsening the economic wound. Ron Paul will have not only the support of the Republican Congress but he will be able to reach across to the independent or blue republicans, and moderate liberals. Can Romney do that? I say no, because he is exactly like Obama and plans to surround himself with the same CEOs who think the USA is a corporation.

  2. Submitted by Steven Houghton on 05/18/2012 - 11:38 am.

    The “Takeover?”

    Good morning from Australia,

    Cyndy these All-American folks are exercising their right as informed voters to ensure balanced debate goes on in the nominee process. It’s a checks and balances system that prevents abuses to the party apparatus and ensures that the rights enshrined by your Constitution be upheld. Ronald Reagan won this way. He was popular and a great ambassador for your country.

  3. Submitted by Steven Houghton on 05/18/2012 - 10:20 pm.

    The “Takeover?”

    Good morning from Australia,

    NDAA, Patriot Act, CISPA. Your freedoms are being stripped away.

  4. Submitted by Steven Houghton on 05/18/2012 - 12:11 pm.

    I disagree with Greg

    Greg I believe your argument is being dismantled right now. Dr Paul basically seemed to commit nomination suicide this week, yet his support is growing stronger. It’s the idea of personal liberty that appeals to the people, not the politician who has stuck to his principles on said ideals for 30 years. When an ideas time has come… etc.

    I do understand your concerns on the other issues and what we must remember that Dr. Paul’s “pipedreams”could only be enacted with the approval of congress. Checks and Balances. I don’t want to tell you who to vote for, just clear some of the hubris.

  5. Submitted by Tony George on 05/18/2012 - 01:14 pm.

    Libertarians Above Koch Brothers clones

    The Ron Paul Libertarians are at least better than the Koch Brothers clones wing of the Republican Party, but that is not saying very much.

  6. Submitted by Matthew Brillhart on 05/18/2012 - 01:50 pm.

    Greg nailed it.

    I completely agree with the first commenter’s assertion that this is much more of a “cult of personality” than a surge of “true libertarianism”. There’s a reason that Ron Paul supporters are derided as “Paulites” and “Paul-bots”.

    It will be interesting to see where these recently politically-active folks turn after the 2012 election cycle. Also, who will Dr. Paul endorse in the Presidential race? Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson? Mitt Romney? No endorsement? The die-hard Paul-bots will be looking to their dear leader for some guidance on whom to vote for. I have stumbled upon numerous comments online from folks who say they will be voting for Ron Paul no matter what, even if it means writing his name in.

    This young progressive would not mind if a few “true libertarians” got themselves elected. There is certainly enough common ground between progressives and libertarians that could bring positive changes on important issues like defense spending, the war on drugs, corporate welfare, abortion, and marriage equality (just to name a few). Obviously there are major differences in how these groups interpret the role of government, especially concerning healthcare, and that’s ok. Anything that reduces the role of the religious right in our government would be a step in the right direction.

    Can you imagine a government made up of progressives and libertarians who nearly agreed on the role of government in social/personal issues and stuck to arguing over economic issues?

    • Submitted by Susan McNerney on 05/18/2012 - 02:51 pm.

      The Paul libertarians are not good on social issues

      Unless you don’t consider the basic rights of women to be a “social issue.” I’ve heard it said many times that modern American libertarians are just republicans who smoke pot, and that’s basically the extent of it – they’re opposed to draconian drug laws, which is a good thing, but are either silent or downright hostile to social issues related to poverty, equality, and reproductive rights.

      This is a major reason women are overwhelmingly not interested in the movement.

      • Submitted by Jeff r0x on 05/18/2012 - 09:39 pm.

        Smoke pot?

        Where in the world did you get the impression that Ron Paul supporters were in it for the marijuana? Oh yeah, that right. You watched it on the news, rather than researching it. Man, I support Paul wholeheartedly and I’ve never smoked pot in my life. So much for ignorance. States have laws and municipalities do as well. Why in the world do we need the federal mandate known as the “War on Drugs,” which is just financial irresponsibility. Economists have already analyzed a savings for $7 Billion a year to the taxpayer, just by ending this federal bureaucracy, not to mention taking federal guns off our city streets.

        Don’t call yourself a conservative if you are willing to cut government waste. Most of the Ron Paul, $1 Trillion plan can be done by executive order and requires no Congressional approval. He can abolish the five cabinet departments, bring the troops home and cut foreign aid, all at the stroke of the pen. The main thing he will need Congress on is balancing the budget, but that’s a three year plan.

        What will Mitt Romney cut? Nothing.

        It’s not so much about being a libertarian or not. It’s about being Constitutional.

        • Submitted by Douglas Davis on 05/20/2012 - 12:28 am.

          Yes yes

          It should only be my concern about what I want to put in my body. If I wanted to smoke the pot, then I should have every right and freedom in the world to smoke or ingest a gosh darn plant. There are some risks, health wise, but they are so much infinitesimally smaller than alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs. If someone HAD to force one of those previous choices on a child or an adult in great quantities which would you choose?

      • Submitted by Nathan Fisher on 05/19/2012 - 12:29 am.

        80% of refugees are women and children

        War is a women’s issue

      • Submitted by Mitch LeClair on 05/19/2012 - 05:18 pm.

        Forget about the nonsensical folks; Investigate the ideas


        I invite you to peruse the websites for the Association of Libertarian Feminists [], Reason Magazine [] and the Center for a Stateless Society [], where you will find many voices speaking on social issues “related to poverty, equality, and reproductive rights.”

        Many younger self-described libertarians are as outspoken and passionate about issues dealing with gender, sexual orientation, child rearing and illegitimate monopolies that create class struggles as they are about the Fed, Obama, Roosevelt, the drug war or U.S. imperialism. Many also follow in the ideological paths of abolitionists such as Lysander Spooner and women’s rights advocates like Voltraine de Cleyre. (Many also read Chomsky, Emma Goldman and Marx.)

        Even organizations like the Institute for Humane Studies [], which might appear to be a Koch-funded Republican shill-base from an impatient perspective, consistently host speakers and students who focus on the issues about which you are concerned.

        Most members of the “modern libertarian movement” simply hold opinions and values that are paradoxical for mainstream news production and consumption—and possibly the public-at-large, due to comfortable lifestyles resulting from school poppycock and exported inflation, among other reasons. Say the word “praxeology” at a dinner party, and the struggles of an honest, sexism-hating, racism-fighting, peace-loving libertarian will appear to you in an instant.

        With all that said, many self-described libertarians are “either silent or downright hostile to social issues”—or worse. And, you made reference to the “Paul libertarians,” who I have found to be shallow and ignorant at times (though such characterizations are unfair, and we all make that discovery [and mistake] during our days).

        So: Investigate the ideas.

    • Submitted by Steven Houghton on 05/18/2012 - 09:30 pm.

      Social issues?

      The Patriot Act, NDAA, CISPA. Good luck with protecting all your rights when you no longer have freedom of speech. A people willing to sacrifice freedom for security will have neither – Benjamin Franklin.

    • Submitted by Mark Borchardt on 05/19/2012 - 07:19 am.

      Oh by the way Matt the reason the Ron Paul supporters are derided is hundreds of millions of dollars in super PAC money. It is easier to marginalized someone than engage them

  7. Submitted by Mark Borchardt on 05/19/2012 - 07:14 am.


    I agree with you Steve. But I think it is fear disguised as hubris. When the status quo no longer works, you have to expect or at least hope that changes will be made.

    Interesting that the one candidate everyone pegs as a wacko with mindless acolytes is the one who is willing to sacrifice personal ambition for a cause.

    Oh wait, in todays political climate, not being greedy self serving, and a megalomaniac IS wacko. I stand corrected.

    • Submitted by Douglas Davis on 05/20/2012 - 12:18 am.

      You bring up status-quo…

      It stirs up strong emotions in me, especially now I have listened to Ron Paul, when people are stagnant settling and comforted by the imaginary bubble of safety the status-quo gives them. The truth hurts when your life and everything you believe in turns out to be a lie. Their defense is to force back at the threat of collapsing their reality. The problem is I don’t ask the right questions. I need to watch John Stossel and read his book, because he seems to ask the right questions to get people engaged and thinking about the principals and not so much the person (Ron Paul) who is delivering the message.

  8. Submitted by Michael Milner on 05/19/2012 - 11:49 am.

    Ron Paul

    Ron Paul is the only candidate who sees the constitution as a document to secure our freedoms & is willing to defend the document, because he knows it is right. Obama sees it as something that gets in his way. The Constitution originally stated that we had the right to earn our money freely. Income tax is not earning your money freely! By it’s very name Social Security is a socialist program. Both of these programs were brought into the modern America by Democrats. Has Congress been responsible with your money? Do you have the promise of Social Security when you retire or are disabled? What happened to all that money you put into the system all these years? Do you think Congressmen & our Representatives should have the number of terms they can serve limited? Do you think that the budget should be balanced yearly? Should we continue to allow lobbyists to bribe our lawmakers, & do nothing about it? Ron Paul thinks there is a better way than what has been shoved down our throats for to long. We all complain that Washington is corrupt & does not get it. Ron Paul does get it, & he will do things about the corruption. He is a man who sees right & wrong & is not afraid to correct what needs to be corrected.

    • Submitted by Douglas Davis on 05/20/2012 - 12:16 am.


      You are asking the right questions. Instead of convincing people to listen to Ron Paul, which would be a method of force, we have to ask the right questions to get others engaged. John Stossel on Fox Business and the former host Judge Napalotano are able to ask the right questions. So instead of forcefully campaigning for Ron Paul, which is met with resistance, I will ask questions.

  9. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/20/2012 - 02:37 pm.

    Libertarian invasion

    To paraphrase one of Ron Paul’s Libertarian minions at the Caucus in Minneapolis:

    “Why start your own Party when you can take one over?”

    This reminds me of how the Green-Dems (the left wing of the DFL) was able to endorse Keith Ellison and gain control of the DFL. The Ron Paul activists are no different. Who is it, besides the activists, show up to the caucuses? What happened to the Republicans answers that question. Again.

    At the Minneapolis Republican caucus, I did not join the Party, I signed up as an observer only. The convener was a Ron Paul supporter, and I told her very directly that I didn’t leave the DFL to be spit on again.

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