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Michelle MacDonald and the anatomy of a political train wreck

MinnPost photo by Doug Grow
Greg Wersal, left, delivered Michelle MacDonald’s nominating speech at the GOP convention

It had to happen. At the moment state Supreme Court justice candidate Michelle MacDonald was about to begin a news conference Wednesday, the lights went out in the State Office Building room where the event was to be held.

“The lights went out in there and I’m trying to shine a light on the system,’’ MacDonald said as reporters left the dark and powerless room.

After a few minutes of waiting to see if power would be restored — it wasn’t — the event was moved outside, where MacDonald announced that she has filed documents with the Office of Administrative Hearings against the state’s Republican Party, GOP Chairman Keith Downey, the party’s executive board, executive board member Pat Anderson and attorney Patrick Burns. She says this could be the start of a process that could lead to civil and criminal complaints against the party.

All things considered, the lights going out in the midst of filing of formal complaints against the very party who endorsed her seemed about right, at least when it comes to MacDonald’s efforts to be elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court — a race that’s quickly become one of the most bizarre campaigns in state history. 

A brief history of a troubled candidacy

If you have any doubts about just how strange MacDonald’s saga has become, let’s review: 

April 5, 2013  — A Rosemount police officer arrests MacDonald, a 52-year-old family law attorney, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. Denying she’d been drinking, MacDonald refuses a field sobriety test unless she was in the presence of a judge.

May 28, 2014 — After paying the $200 fee, MacDonald files with the Secretary of State’s office to run for the state Supreme Court against incumbent David Lillehaug. “I’ve always wanted to be a judge,’’ she said of her decision to file.

May 31 — At the Republican Party of Minnesota’s convention in Rochester, MacDonald is recommended for endorsement by the GOP’s Judicial Elections Committee. Afterward, delegates to the party convention vote overwhelmingly to endorse her. She gives a Bible-waving speech and is received warmly by delegates.

Candidate Michelle MacDonald’s speech at the GOP convention, courtesy of the UpTake.

June 13 — The Star Tribune publishes a story about MacDonald’s DWI arrest, an article that includes other courtroom behavior problems MacDonald has dealt with over the years. Downey, the party chair, is quoted as saying he was “unaware’’ of MacDonald’s issues and that the convention delegates didn’t know about the issues, either.

Aug. 1 — MacDonald is ticketed in Wright County for violating the terms of driver’s license restrictions, limitations put on her pending her drunk driving trial.

Aug. 19 — GOP executive committee creates new policy, restricting access to the party’s State Fair booth of any candidates with pending criminal cases.

Aug. 21 — MacDonald is escorted from the Republican Party booth at the State Fair, but not before the scene was captured on video.

Aug. 22 — The candidate starts receiving a series of calls and texts from an attorney, Patrick Burns, attempting to get MacDonald to repudiate her party endorsement. Downey said he didn’t know about the calls. Burns later says he was making the calls after getting clearance from his friend, Anderson, a party executive committee member. 

Aug. 22 — Downey sends an e-mail to party officials, executive committee members and those who had been delegates to the convention. It says that though MacDonald is the “endorse candidate’’ she is “undermining the conservative argument for electing judges.’’

Sept. 3 — Prior to the lights going out, MacDonald files her complaints with the Office of Administrative Hearings against the Minnesota GOP, Downey, Anderson and Burns. 

And there’s more to come.

Next week, MacDonald says she plans to ask the Dakota County courts to allow television cameras in the courtroom for her DWI case. Her motion, she said, will be based on the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right of defendants to a public trial. “I want people to see what’s happening in our courtrooms,’’ she says.

Then, on Sept. 15, her trial will be held in Dakota County before a six-person jury. “If there’s justice, I won’t be found guilty,’’ she says. 

Flawed candidate — or judicial ideal?

This bizarre theater has been the headache from political hell for the GOP hierarchy. 

The party label, which leaders have tried so hard to rebuild in the last two years, is taking a beating. The credibility of some party leaders is raising eyebrows. And GOP-endorsed candidates are being forced to take sides. (Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson recently backed away from MacDonald, after initially saying he’d stand by her. U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden says he won’t vote for either MacDonald or Lillehaug, rather he’ll write in somebody else, while the party’s candidate for attorney general, Scott Newman, has endorsed Lillehaug.)

But all the drama obscures something far more important, a reality to this that party leaders don’t necessarily want to acknowledge: that there likely are a substantial number of Republican Party activists (and voters) who don’t see MacDonald as a flawed candidate. Rather, they see her as the judicial ideal.

When she says, “We’re supposed to be a government of the people, by the people for the people, not a system of the lawyers, by the lawyers for the lawyers,” they say, ‘‘Amen.’’

By refusing to take a sobriety test when stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence last year, “She stood up to a cop; she stood up for her rights,’’ said former justice candidate Greg Wersal, who delivered MacDonald’s nominating speech at the GOP convention.

By defending a client in a 2013 child custody case that led to a bizarre incident in which MacDonald was ordered to be handcuffed and placed in a wheel chair during a hearing, her defenders said she showed how the “system’’ clamps down on her passion as an advocate.

Said Wersal in his nominating speech, “Some say Michelle has been controversial in the past because she stood up to judges. Well, you know what I say? That’s just the kind of person we need on the court.’’

Perhaps MacDonald wouldn’t have received the endorsement had convention delegates known of all the baggage she brought to the campaign. But there’s a different way of looking at that. The party’s 18-member Judicial Elections Committee did know about the problems — and still voted 14-3 to recommend her for endorsement by the convention.

There’s other evidence suggesting that the convention might have endorsed MacDonald even if it had known her entire story. The party has been endorsing judicial candidates since 2006 and, according Michael Brodkorb, a former deputy party chair who now runs, none of those endorsees have won an election. That might be a hint that GOP convention delegates are not swimming in the same stream as most Minnesotans when it comes to judging the qualifications required of a judge.

But even if the delegates and party leaders didn’t know MacDonald’s full story, the episode still is a black eye for the party, reflecting a fundamental communications problem in the GOP. Key leaders weren’t talking to each other about important political matters.

Brodkorb, who has had party problems of his own, received a tape of the 30-minute interview the judicial committee held with MacDonald prior to recommending her for endorsement. In that session, Doug Seaton, chairman of the Judicial Election committee as well as a major party funder, clearly stated to the committee and MacDonald what the future could hold.

“We’re going to have a situation where the party’s endorsement process is going to be held up to ridicule and you’re (MacDonald) going to be held up to ridicule and attacked in a campaign as not having judicial (temperament) and being a bit of a wild woman,’’ Seaton said during the interview.

Seaton did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But it’s worth noting that Downey said he had not been informed by Seaton of MacDonald’s backstory.

And the soap opera was off and running. 

‘Exposing the Republican Party … for what it is’

“There’s a schism in the party,’’ Brodkorb said. “When I was working for the party, the most calls we’d receive ahead of elections were about judicial elections. There’s a strong group within the party that believes that the courts need to be reined in. They (committee members) wanted to endorse, they wanted to overlook and there is a presumption of innocence.’’

Surprisingly, Downey, who was a business consultant and state legislator prior to taking the GOP post,  hasn’t yet figured out a way to deal with media questions about MacDonald. Rather than deal in any sort of straightforward way with the media, Downey typically refers to written statements he’s made about MacDonald and then ducks for cover.

Even in his strongest written statement, the one he e-mailed to the spectrum of party leaders and activists on Aug. 22, Downey seemed intent on trying to please everyone in his party.

Republican Party Chair Keith Downey

“Michelle MacDonald is our endorsed candidate. Period,” he wrote. “Since her endorsement however, new information about her legal and judicial philosophy and personal legal issues have been disclosed which the delegates did not know about when they voted for her endorsement. … In addition her campaign has raised $120 (not a typo) and has not signed up for data center access calling into question the seriousness of her campaign effort. … Unfortunately, this whole episode and her candidacy is undermining the conservative argument for electing judges and judicial restraint and is calling into question the merit of endorsing judicial candidates.’’

Wersal believes lack of enthusiasm among some in the party hierarchy about judicial endorsement is at the core of what’s happening with MacDonald. Wersal, with the support of the GOP, pushed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for a fundamental change in how judicial races can be run in Minnesota.

Before Wersal’s case, judicial candidates in Minnesota were prevented from talking about their views when it came to political and legal issues during their campaigns. Wersal argued that Minnesota’s law made a folly of the notion of judicial elections, and in 2002, the Supremes, on a 5-4 vote, agreed. That decision set the stage for judicial endorsements — at least within the state’s GOP. The DFL has rejected the idea of judicial endorsements.

But Wersal, who ran and lost as an endorsed candidate for the Supreme Court in 2010, said that many party elites never wanted judicial endorsements, and MacDonald is being set up as excuse for the GOP to avoid judicial endorsements in the future. “There always has been a wink-wink to the endorsement process,’’ he said. “Two groups in the party fought me every step of the way. Attorneys and pro-abortion people in the party never wanted endorsement. … All of this is exposing the Republican Party for what it is.’’

Wersal said that the “issues being used against MacDonald are meaningless. She’s not been found guilty of anything. Nobody in the party is telling Emmer that he can’t come in the State Fair booth.’’  (Emmer, the GOP’s candidate for governor four years ago and current candidate for Congress in the 6th District, pleaded guilty in 1991 for careless driving. At the time, two charges for DWI were dropped.)

‘There’s somebody behind the curtain, but who is it?’

The State Fair affair represented a classic political train wreck. Up until the day before the Fair opened, MacDonald says, she believed she would be welcome to spend time at the GOP booth. But on the evening before the Fair, she said she received a call from Downey telling her that she wouldn’t be allowed in the booth. 

Until that call from Downey, she said, “I had no idea I wouldn’t be allowed. All along, I’d been telling my supporters to meet me at the Fair. They (the party) knew I planned to be there.’’  She showed up. She was escorted out. The incident was news across the state. 

Immediately after that, Burns made his repeated texts and calls to MacDonald attempting to get her to drop the GOP endorsement, yet another series of incidents that would go on to backfire against the party. Burns said he was under the impression that the conversations with MacDonald were confidential. But she recorded the calls, and soon handed over the recordings to Brodkorb. In the tapes, Burns can be heard saying  such things as “they (the party’s executive committee) will squash you like a bug’’ unless she repudiated the endorsement.

It should be noted there is context to Burns’ role in all of this. He is a long-time friend of Anderson, the former state auditor who is on the GOP’s executive committee. Burns was the campaign manager for Anderson in 2002 when she was elected auditor. He says he called Anderson to see if he could be of assistance to the party in dealing with MacDonald. She gave him the go-ahead, he said.

Though no longer active in party affairs, Burns was “alarmed’’ by the damage he believed MacDonald was doing to the party. Burns thought he could be helpful, he said, because he’s known MacDonald for more than 10 years. In fact, he said, following her endorsement, MacDonald asked Burns to be her campaign manager.

Even at that point, Burns said, he was blunt about her limitations as a candidate: “I told her I wouldn’t be her campaign manager and that I couldn’t support her candidacy.’’ He also said he told her she didn’t have “the background to run a state wide race and that her criminal and legal matters would overshadow any issues she wanted to bring to the campaign.’’ 

He said he now regrets using such expressions as “squashed like a bug,’’ but he added that he was trying to be as candid as possible about what her candidacy was doing. 

“I said as clearly as I could that my advice is that you’re going to lose, you’re causing irreparable harm to yourself, to the party and to the office you would hold. … I was just trying to extricate everyone from an embarrassing situation. No good deed goes unpunished.’’ 

MacDonald said she has a hard time believing that Downey wasn’t aware of Burns’ calls and texts. “The party is like the Wizard of Oz,’’ she said in a recent interview. “There’s somebody behind the curtain, but who is it? The chairman?  At some point, the chairman has to be responsible. I know that in my office, if somebody goes off, I’m ultimately responsible.’’

And rather than cause her to re-evaluate her candidacy — and the potential damage its done to the party — each incident, each ticket, each GOP effort to thwart her, each media report that questions her temperament, seem to make MacDonald more convinced of her own rightness.  

“I’m bringing light to the invisible corruption of our system,’’ she said. 

Comments (30)

  1. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 09/04/2014 - 10:48 am.

    The Republicans want

    Representative government, and they got it.

  2. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/04/2014 - 10:54 am.

    Revisit whether they knew of her DUI arrest…

    According to Brodkorb (reliable? jury is out):

    The voters may not have known she had been arrested on a suspected DUI & was going to court, but the party guys knew it when she ran.

    The party endorses candidates.
    The party has other lawmakers with multiple DUI violations.

    She has not been to court yet & the case is pending.
    Innocent until proven guilty?

    She’s not a great candidate, but their excuse is not a reason to subvert the process – and to make very special laws banning her specifically from the booth.

    IF there is a better reason for her to be dropped –
    why haven’t we heard it?

  3. Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 09/04/2014 - 10:58 am.

    Well, at least . . . . . . .

    Well, at least – unlike in the Brodkorb affair – GOP fighting this one won’t end up being billed to the taxpayers.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/04/2014 - 11:03 am.


    I may be in a tiny minority here, but my own $0.02 is that Ms. MacDonald is not someone whose language and apparent temperament qualify her for a position on the bench of the state’s Supreme Court. I will certainly not vote for her.

  5. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 09/04/2014 - 12:02 pm.

    I hope they televise…

    I think the video of her trial would fit well on the Comedy channel right after Colbert. Same flavor of absurdity.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/04/2014 - 12:36 pm.

    This is an embarrassment for the MNGOP, no doubt. But it’s far from out of the ordinary in Minnesota politics.

    We remember, for instance, that candidate Keith Ellison’s history with Louis Farrakhan was no sooner swept under the rug than his feckless driving habits (resulting in the suspension of his license) and failure to pay fines appeared before the public.

    That issue swept aside, and his public expressions of support for members of the Vice Lords street gang who were accused (and subsequently convicted) of the murder of MPD cop Jerry Haaf pops up.

    We also remember that the good folks of Minneapolis elected him to office in a landslide, and continue to do so.

    No only is MacDonald more mainstream than anyone wants to admit, as Ellison proved, outrageous conduct isn’t always a deal breaker. Well, for Democrats at least.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/04/2014 - 01:58 pm.

      Thanks for that “blast from the past” Swift

      I hadn’t thought about Chris Fields campaign strategy for a long time….it never gets old. What’s next….ACORN, Saul Alinsky, birth certificates or cartoon characters that turn our kids gay?

  7. Submitted by John Ferman on 09/04/2014 - 12:40 pm.

    MacDonald, GOP, Brodkorb, etc

    Nice article, well research, but way too long. I got bogged down by the 5th or 6th paragraph. Could Doug post an executive summary of the main elements of drama.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/04/2014 - 02:16 pm.

      If You Want Your News Pre-digested

      You’re on the wrong website.

      You can’t decide what makes sense to YOU if you want every article you read to “cut to the chase,”…

      which means the writer tosses aside everything that doesn’t support their own perspective,…

      which gives you much shorter articles, but also makes sure you never get a chance to read the evidence which might cause you to come to a very different conclusion than the author of those shorter articles does,…

      or reduces every article to simply regurgitating what each side says without any background, leaving you no basis by which to determine which side has solid evidence behind their position and which side is just spinning “truth”-sounding B.S. talking points.

  8. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/04/2014 - 02:04 pm.

    Which part is the “embarrassment?”

    That she is running, or that they really don’t want her?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/04/2014 - 03:32 pm.


      The real embarrassment is that they were so bent on making a partisan endorsement for a judicial race that they couldn’t bother to check her out for themselves (“She’s holding a Bible–she must be alright!”).

      These are the people who somehow managed to unearth a 12 second video of Senator Franken in a juvenile-minded prank, but who couldn’t figure out how to run an independent background check on their candidate for Supreme Court justice.

  9. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 09/04/2014 - 03:10 pm.

    The GOP and in particular Kieth Downey is the train wreck. I have no doubt in my mind they Downey and the gang have tried very hard to get rid of McDonald. They have been silent about Emmers arrests, which had they occurred under current law would have been far more serious. I also believe that if the Strib dug into this they could find a couple more GOP representatives have far more serious arrests or pending legal action. How about
    GOP Rep. Ernie Leidiger not paying taxes in the amount of $144,000 for several years, he may have paid them now. He tried to pay a speeding ticket out of campaign funds, which resulted in $800 in fines. And he found the time to go to a nursing home to disrupt an anti-photo ID amendment session offered by the League of Women Voters. State senator Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) made headlines and not in a good way. Senator Nienow, the fiscal conservative, is being sued for defaulting on a small business loan to the tune of over $600,000.

    Rep Bob Barrett was fined $1,000 and given a misdemeanor for making false claims on campaign literature about his opponent, that’s how he won his race. . . .

    Rep. Kurt Daudt (Minority Leader) allowed a person with a criminal history of assaulting police officers to have access to his loaded handgun. . . .It goes on and on.
    State Rep Pat Garofalo Says NBA Players Are Criminals and went on racist rant.

    Nationally the GOP looks like a bunch of thugs and rapists:

    Senator John Ensign (R-NV.) confessed to serious cheating on his wife with a staffer and caught paying hush money to the husband, his chief of staff.
    Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), confessed to serious cheating on his wife after leaving his state unsupervised for a week.
    Senator Larry Craig (R-ID.), caught in a gay sex sting operation in a Minn. bathroom.
    Senator David Vitter (R-LA), found to have been a client of prostitutes in D.C. & Louisiana.
    Rep. Mark Foley, (R-Fl.) forced to resign when he was found to be having inappropriate communications with male pages.

    In Connecticut, the holier-than-thou Republican party chose the mayor of one of the state’s largest cities as its candidate for the U.S. Senate. If Joe Lieberman had caved in to Republican demands in the year 2000 that he not run for relection to the senate at the same time that he was running for the vice presidency, then our nation would have had a Republican Senator from Conn., named Philip Giordano at least until he was sentenced to serve his 37 year sentence in Federal prison as a result of the FBI investigating him for financial shenanigans and discovering in the process that this crooked, disgusting Republican office holder had been repeatedly molesting two pre-teen little girls related to his prostitute-mistress (in the mayor’s office among other places).

    Bob Packwood, Senator (R-Ore.), resigned in 1995 under a threat of public senate hearings related to 10 female ex-staffers accusing him of sexual harassment.
    William “Wild Bill” Janklow was promoted to many high offices in very conservative South Dakota, including the 27th and 30th Governor, 25th Attorney General, and the United States Congress. He was only removed from office when he was forced to after being convicted of killing someone with his car while speedy through a stop sign. ( The superintendent of the state highway patrol, reported at his trial that Janklow had 16 traffic stops by troopers during his last term as governor, but was not ticketed due to “respect for his authority” and out of a “fear of retribution.”)
    It is amazing what turns up when you google a name. I think one of out leading news providers should run a criminal and civil background check on all candidates of both parties.

  10. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/04/2014 - 03:27 pm.

    We can sum up the “embarrassment” as the fact that the Republicans have this wing-nut as an endorsed candidate for the highest judicial position in the state of Minnesota.

    Running against someone with proven gravitas, like David Lillehaug.

    She is a case study, all by herself, of why Wersal’s insistence that we have party endorsements of judicial candidates is unwise.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/05/2014 - 12:48 pm.

      Why don’t we coverage of Lillehaug?

      That’s a good mention – what about alternatives to the train wreck?

      Scandal sells & we all love to talk about it.
      She’s getting an awful lot of name recognition and mileage out of this GOP hissy fit.

      Meanwhile, we’re not hearing much about the candidate without scandal.

  11. Submitted by Mr. Larson on 09/04/2014 - 04:56 pm.


    Political parties aside… this becomes an issue of personal stability. For someone who is supposed to be a master of the legal process… She rejects it when it applies to her, and fights it… and wants people to vote her in as a judge of these same laws.

    Who wouldn’t have concerns with this? – Do what I say but not as I try to get away with…-

    I would prefer a judge candidate to not have pending legal cases against them. (Did I just write that? Oh man… is that what we’re left with?)

  12. Submitted by Tom Lynch on 09/04/2014 - 04:56 pm.

    Perfect candidate

    —–“there likely are a substantial number of Republican Party activists (and voters) who don’t see MacDonald as a flawed candidate. Rather, they see her as the judicial ideal.”—-

    She’d be a perfect candidate in a Republican-dominated state. Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, etc. have tons of Republican politicians(and voters) that think and act just like her.

  13. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/04/2014 - 05:12 pm.

    The religious right dream candidate for the MN GOP?

    In the video MacDonald holds aloft a Bible and says,

    “Did you ever wonder why when a judge enters a courtroom you hear the words [3 gavel knocks] “all rise!” Let me tell you why. When judges used to enter the courtroom they would hold a Bible over their head like this.

    In the words of George Washington, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

    The George Washington quote is spurious, a fact that might trouble a more serious legal mind. But, the quote and the Bible waving—as if she suddenly thought she was at some evangelical religious revival, which by the clapping in the Republican audience suggested she may have been—serves her purpose as a badge identifying her as a staunch ally of fundamentalists, theocrats, and religious conservatives.

    It’s possible that it has never dawned on her that this sends an unmistakable message to all non-Christians, as well as Christians who don’t hew to a right-wing theological line: ‘Your interests, values and rights are not necessarily aligned with my vision of a Christian America. Further, it’s my godly duty to impose through judicial fiat my right-wing religion-based views on everyone else for their own good.’

    I suspect Grow missed the actual basis of her support, which isn’t that she’s a system-bucking maverick, but that she’s a maverick who is going to ‘take America back’ on the court for white right-wing Christian Minnesotans.

    Are there any serious judicial temperaments left in the MN GOP–or any serious minds for that matter capable of complex intelligence and possessed of broad learning—or have all potential contenders left for the Independence Party and the Democrats?

    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/04/2014 - 07:35 pm.

      Oh I think she’s well aware of the message she sends

      These people hold contempt for anyone that doesn’t follow their religious conformity and view them as morally inferior and not true Americans.

  14. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 09/04/2014 - 06:12 pm.

    This is about way more than a dui

    This train has been building steam for a long time from what I read. It wouldn’t be worth caring about if it were only a simple dui. But her behavior after the dui hints at deeper personal problems. I wish Minnpost would do an article about her actual constitutional positions. From the hints I’ve seen they are as far out as her personal life.

    This campaign is going to be a real life version of Fatal Attraction with the GOP playing the Michael Douglas part and Michelle MacDonald filling in for Glenn Close. He likes her at first but then starts to notice some bizarre behaviors and pretty soon he can’t shake her as she self destructs.

  15. Submitted by Doug Gray on 09/04/2014 - 06:54 pm.


    the argument for effective election of judges is not only a “conservative” one, and these latest shenanigans do nothing for the cause. i’d settle for ending the too-common practice of judges deciding to “resign” just before the end of their term so their appointed successors can run for (s)election with all the benefits of incumbency.

  16. Submitted by Josh Ondich on 09/04/2014 - 09:48 pm.


    I have observed this mess between the MNGOP and Michelle McDonald in the media. Mrs. McDonald does not displayed proper ethics to be a supreme court judge through examples of being charged with DWI and other unethical behavior . I am not looking at a person to be a judge based on their personal political views, I am looking at person to be a judge based on their character. If The MNGOP wants to end this negative press for them, then the answer is simple. The MNGOP executive committee should just vote to withdraw their endorsement of Mrs. McDonald.

    Josh D. Ondich
    Prior Lake

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/07/2014 - 07:59 am.

      Do they DARE to yank the endorsement?

      It would upset the part of their party base in her corner to yank the endorsement, I’d guess.
      That number may not be many, but could be a less in-your-face way to undermine an endorsed candidate.

      Right now you see them wind on how she’s not running a campaign – while they block her way!

      If they just yanked the endorsement, without making her appear to implode first, of her own accord
      then it becomes way too obvious GOP bosses don’t care what the voters think and that they are at least partly culpable.

      I see the whole thing as tainted.

      She’s not the only one in the running: Lillehaug may be the obvious choice.

  17. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 09/04/2014 - 11:10 pm.

    Fudge not that ye be judged…or something like that?

    One can only hope that the majority of future voters are not sleeping or resting in some catatonic state as this corrosive community called the Republican Party desperately try to find a viable candidate?

    Yes it is half sad/half hilarious as conservatives keep getting all twisted up in most pathetic attempts to find something with, or beyond simplistic fundamentalism? Still selling religion as a marketable product? The ultimate heresy I would say, be it religion or politics…is one scary story in one sense; funny too in its pathos?

  18. Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/04/2014 - 11:13 pm.

    The gift that keeps on giving

    She is, if nothing else, a perfect illustration of the type of person the GOP is made up of these days. In some places not a problem, in a state in which the GOP gubernatorial candidacy rests in no small part in convincing voters who are NOT right wing zealots to trust that the candidate is not going to take that tack, BIG problem. Mind you, I couldn’t be more ecstatic about this turn of events, but truthfully I wasn’t all that concerned with the GOP’s prospects anyway.

  19. Submitted by Susan Lenfestey on 09/07/2014 - 12:25 pm.

    McDonald’s personal demeanor aside . . .

    The bigger issue here is political party endorsement of judicial candidates, championed all the way to a (narrow) victory at the MN Suprem Court by right wing activist, Greg Wersal, who wants to ‘rein in” judicial activism by creating political activism in the elections. And boy did he get some activism here. Kudos to the DFL for not going down this thorny path, and to people like Al Quie, the Quie Commission, and the Coalition for Impartial Justice for working tirelessly to keep politics out of our judicial system. MN has always had a pretty good system of balancing judicial appointments with non-partisan judicial elections. What Wersal hath wrought is vividly illustrated here, from Ms. McDonald waving a bible over her head at the endorsement convention to her being escorted from the IR booth at the State Fair by a nameless bouncer. Nicely played Mr. Wersal.

  20. Submitted by joe totall on 09/08/2014 - 07:41 am.

    I wonder how it would have went….

    I wonder how it would have went for Ms McDonald if at the time of her encounter with the Rosemount police she was a 20 yr old black male?
    Insight into someones behavior under pressure that night is revealing.
    I can not imagine she would not feel pressure like that again at sometime in the position of a state supreme court judge and the irony of her actions towards the very system she wants to work for bemuses me. I will not vote for her.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/08/2014 - 03:19 pm.

    Actualy I’m a little surprised by Grow’s shallow account

    Grow’s summary kind of glosses over an important detail. The actual nominating committee sent out a letter stating that they knew full well of McDonald’s problems and decided not to inform the larger body.

    This indicates a much more pervasive level of dysfunctionalism within the party than we from Grow’s account here. For one thing, it looks like an attempt to manipulate the nomination outcome rather than simply inform it, and THAT points to a whole host of problems in-and-of itself.

    Beyond that it actually gets worse when the committee “explains” why they withheld information and decided to endorse McDonald anyways, the reasons they gave were:

    1) They decided she was innocent of all charges. Now, do I really have to comment on the problem of a judicial nomination committee arriving at a judgement of guilt or innocence regarding a criminal trial? How can these people actually understand the nature and function of our trial system while apparently conducting their own extrajudicial parallel hearing and arriving at an independent judgement?

    2) They decided that McDonald’s troubles typify the kind of problems they themselves had experienced with law enforcement. Setting aside the bizarro-world perspective that a bunch of affluent republicans are in some way regular victims of police profiling or harassment, what does this mean? Does this mean we have a bunch of DUI court-room disruptors sitting on the republican judicial nomination committee? If so, how did THAT happen?

    Fortunately for us, with the exception of Emmer, non of these nominees is likely to get elected. But if the republican party is to avoid an outright death spiral they’re going to have to get their house in order, get informed, and get smart rather than just opinionated.

  22. Submitted by Arthur Horowitz on 09/09/2014 - 04:42 pm.

    Where does the Repugnant Party find all these Michelles?

    First the GOP gave us Michelle Bachman, and now another Michelle the “Bible thumper” at her acceptance speech who obviously drove drunk. (After all why would she refuse a “field sobriety test” and insist on a test 12 hours later at a hospital when her blood alcohol level would no doubt be normal?)

    What is important to the current incarnation of the Minnesota GOP are the “social issues”. Make no mistake, although they masquerade behind claiming to promote a great business climate (perhaps by assisting Medtronics move offshore to lower taxes) destruction of OSHA regulations and spoiling the environment, the number one issue for the current GOP is outlawing abortion. They are even against birth control, as in the case of their senate candidate endorsing over the counter sale of oral contraceptives. If this were to become legal, it would prevent the Affordable Care Act for paying for oral contraceptives and allow all insurance plans to opt out of covering oral contraceptives as they were no longer prescription drugs. If you try hard, and earn the minimum wage, how would you be able to afford $600+/ year for birth control pills?

    What has happened to the Republican party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, Eisenhower, Arne Carlson and even Nixon? The Minnesota GOP in its current configuration would not endorse any of them for dog catcher, much less a state supreme court justice.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/10/2014 - 10:15 am.

    Absolutely Mr. Horowitz

    The Republicans are the party of bait-n-switch. They always promise more efficient government and then they just whack away at programs they don’t like, usually programs that actually serve people. They promise fiscal sanity and they deliver budget crises. They promise moderation, and they deliver reactionary extremism. The promise prosperity and they deliver recession.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, but they got nothing else. They say they’ll fix the roads and kill the choo choos but if you ask how they’ll pay for that they mumble something about priorities and walk away. They say they want to fix health care but all they really want to do is kill Obamacare. They say they want to protect our electoral integrity but all they really want to is prevent democrats from voting. They say they believe in “liberty” and then fight to deny all kinds of rights and privileges to anyone other than themselves. And so it goes.

    Hopefully someday this will change, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe that HAS changed at this point, so don’t get fooled again.

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