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Candidates for state GOP chair agree the party’s a mess

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
GOP chair candidates Bonn Clayton, Bill Paulsen, Keith Downey, and Don Allen participated in a debate Thursday night.

At a debate Thursday night in Eagan, the four candidates for chair of the Minnesota Republican Party were in solid agreement on one issue: Their party is in a sorry state.

To reverse the course, each offered a different answer to the overriding question of the night: How to pay off the party’s $1 million-plus debt and make it a force in the 2014 elections.

Former Edina legislator Keith Downey insisted that the next chair needs to implement a new plan on day one. “It’s critical we have a plan,” he said. “I was the number one fundraiser when I ran for the House and Senate and I will spend over half my time fundraising.”

Don Allen, a Minneapolis activist and owner of the on-line Independent Business News Network, suggested that donors won’t give until they see Republicans offer new ideas. “There’s a need to change the attraction to the party,” he said.

Bill Paulsen, an engineer at Seagate Technology, rejected the need for big dollar donors. “We’ve got to strengthen the party and energize and empower the grass roots,” he said.

Bonn Clayton, a Carver County activist who has just been fined $1,200 for misrepresenting the party’s position on judicial endorsements (he supports them, the party does not), maintained the state GOP should return to the fundraising strategies of the ‘70s and ‘80s. “We need a grass roots fundraising plan,” he said, “like the Century Club and neighbor-to-neighbor.”

On other issues like retaining the caucus system, streamlining the party’s platform and accepting candidates who differ with the party’s policies, only Allen advocated reform.  “You will continue to take traumatic losses until you change,” he told the crowd of nearly 100 who packed a room at the Eagan Community Center.

This weekend, the candidates continue their ground campaign of wooing delegates who will be part of the party’s state central committee, the group that will elect the new chair. The first, third, fourth, and fifth Congressional districts hold their conventions on Saturday. The state central committee meets April 6 in Bloomington.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by David Frenkel on 03/22/2013 - 10:49 am.

    Get into the mainstream

    Political parties at either political extreme do not survive. The vast majority of Americans are in the middle politically. Demographics are changing nationally and locally, accept it or become extinct.

  2. Submitted by Don Allen on 03/22/2013 - 08:30 pm.

    No “Tag” for Don Allen?

    Respectfully, I find it troubling when the media (fringe at best) attempts to tamper with important political issues – even something as minor as a “tag.” You could of tagged all of the participants in Thursdays forum – but you only tagged Keith Downey.

    I understand Downey “looks like the GOP chair,” but if the MN GOP continues to go with “profile versus professionalism” – look for some kind of “drop-off” before we can get our feet wet in the governors race.

    So MinnPost, be like Fox – fair and balanced, tag everyone.

    Don Allen – Candidate Minnesota GOP Chairman 2013.

  3. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 03/24/2013 - 11:19 am.

    The GOP is exclusive

    After the mess the GOP made of there one time in power, they won’t be again until the become inclusive. They want a grass roots power, but they exclude all but the insiders in determining who is going to run for office. They need to open up the party, include the people on the street and have a primary. If they don’t, they have dictatorship, which no one is going to support anymore. I know I am retty much done with them and I have been a GOP supporter for over 45 years.

  4. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 03/24/2013 - 11:48 am.

    You’re It


    I hardly think that Fox is a media outlet that Minnpost should be emulating. “Fair and balanced” would be better characterized as “smoke and mirrors.” Taking the effort to visit Minnpost, an outlet you label as a “fringe,” and complaining about the perceived preferential coverage Mr. Downey got just seems petty. Do we really want someone that thin skinned and petty leading the GOP party of Minnesota?

    If you want gratuitous tags go to Facebook.

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