Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Make or Break

It was Labor Day 2008 when I met Colonel Joe Repya for the first time. He was leading a group of grassroots GOP supporters in downtown St. Paul in an effort to keep a watchful eye on the radical group of protesters who came to town to disrupt the Republican National Convention. It was difficult not to be impressed by Col. Repya, given he had honorably served our country in three different wars.

After a failed run for MN GOP chair in 2007, Repya was very critical of the reelection of then chair Ron Carey, and predicted much peril would face the state party down the road. Two years later, Repya penned an op ed stating why he was leaving the Republican party. One key paragraph appeared to be hauntingly prescient.

When a political party becomes so dysfunctional that it no longer can operate without tyrannical domination over the grass-roots, it is time to stop enabling bad behavior from that party. I have come to the conclusion that a majority of Minnesotans and many Republicans no longer trust the message of the Minnesota GOP. After years of ineffective party leadership resulting in a record number of defeats, lack of transparency in party dealings, alleged financial impropriety by former party employees, and numerous Federal Election Commission problems, can you really blame the electorate for abandoning the Minnesota GOP?

At that point in the Summer of 2009, I felt that the sentiment of most GOP supporters was that it was grassroots activists, not some state party officials, who were the lifeblood of the party. As such, the wave of enthusiasm amongst the grassroots in the 2010 election cycle allowed the MN Republicans to attain a majority in both chambers of the legislature for the first time in nearly forty years. Unfortunately, the state party issues were an impediment in the Governor's race as well as all the Constitutional offices, all of which went to the Democrats.

With all 201 state legislative seats up for election this November as well as a US Senate seat, Repya ponders in his latest op ed whether the MN GOP can survive the "one-two-three punch it has taken since the beginning of the year." Specifically, Repya refers to the state party's financial mess (including being threatened with eviction from its party headquarters), the inappropriate relationship involving then Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Brodkorb, and finally the "civil war" pitting the party "establishment" against the Ron Paul supporters. 

I don't have a crystal ball to see how all this will end. But from where I'm sitting it does not look good for MNGOP, which won the state House and Senate in 2010 and whose lawmakers are all up for re-election.

The DFL smells blood in the water and sees an opportunity to regain both legislative chambers. We are very possibly witnessing the death of MNGOP as we know it. If so, it will have died from within, not from outside causes.

Just imagining the distinct possibility that this state could be under complete DFL control ought to be more than enough incentive to fight for maintaining the legislature. Hopefully the MN Republicans can cease with the circular firing squads long enough to focus on the real opposition.


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