Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Plenty Of Room In The Tent

Last night, I attended the SD44 convention in Hopkins. The turnout was great and the crowd was enthusiastic and eager to participate. There were a lot of new faces and judging by the show of hands when Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Carey asked how many were first time convention goers, I'd say close to half were rookies to the process.

This lead to a lot of questions, motions, and delays in the proceedings, but that's a small price to pay to add new blood to the mix. I think that while most of my fellow convention veterans were more than happy to welcome the infusion of youthful energy, there were some signs of tension between the newcomers and the old guard (of which I am very much a member).

It wasn't nearly as contentious as this report that Mitch relates, but a couple of arguments over ballots and voting for the state and congressional district conventions did get a bit heated. Part of this is understandable given the difficulty in balancing the needs of rewarding those who have devoted their time, money, and energy to the senate district in the past versus keeping doors open for those new to the process. If possible, you would like to be elect a combination of delegates and alternates that fills both needs, but it's not always easy to find the right mix.

I didn't witness any obvious attempts by Ron Paul supporters to coordinate voting for a slate of like-minded attendees, but they had a significant presence and it wasn't difficult to tell who they were. People interested in becoming delegates/alternates to the state and congressional district conventions had been given the opportunity to submit their name and a short pitch for themselves before last night, thus securing a place on the ballots and their background on the agenda. We also took new nominations from the floor and allowed these folks to give a brief speech on why they should be elected. Even without their campaign buttons, the Paul supporters were easy to differentiate by the key words they used.

After already spending three hours in an uncomfortable auditorium chair, I decided not to stick around to hear the results of the voting. (If I can find the results, I'll post them here.) Personally, I voted for a blend of old and new. You have to recognize the people who have previously done the hard work in the district as well as giving the more promising new faces a crack.

This is going to be a big challenge for the Minnesota GOP this year. Lots of people (many of them young and many of them Ron Paul backers) are getting actively involved in politics for the first time. We need their energy and their enthusiasm and we need to do our best to keep them involved. That's why this reflexive urge by Republican regulars to mock and dismiss Paul supporters needs to stop.

Yes, some of them are a little too enthusiastic and can veer to the extremes at times. But that's part of the package that you tend to get with youth. They're passionate and they care deeply, two qualities in short supply in today's GOP.

It's true that some will become disillusioned quickly and will leave the party to chase windmills. But if we show a little patience and a little tolerance, we can (and need to) work with many of them. The fact of that matter is that Ron Paul is a Republican and that people who support him should have a place in the Republican Party. We should listen to their arguments on limited government and the Constitution. Hopefully, they will listen as we acknowledge their positions and encourage them to pursue the possible instead of the perfect.

A few notes on the key speakers we had a chance to hear last night:

- I'm not a big Ron Carey guy, but he did a nice job kicking things off. He delivered an upbeat yet challenging message. He acknowledged that it's going to be a difficult year, while also providing plenty of reasons for people to get motivated.

- I hope that Barb Davis White just had an off night or that she's just beginning to get her campaign legs. It was a pretty awkward performance that didn't do much to inspire confidence that she's got the skills or the message to pull off what would be an upset of historic proportions in the Fifth District. Hopefully, she'll find her stride soon or else Ellison is going to beat her by forty points. When I mentioned that to Dan from Northern Alliance Wannabe last night, he quipped "Yeah and if she gets within thirty points the Strib will run a hit piece on her." Sad but true.

- On the other hand, Erik Paulsen looked and sounded like he's ready for a prime time campaign. He acknowledged that even in the Third District it's going to be tough sledding for Republicans this year. He also was willing to say that Republicans have lost the mantel of fiscal responsibility and need to reclaim it if the party is to have any chance of success. It was a solid message, well-delivered.

Finally, it was gratifying to speak to a couple of NARN fans who recognized me last night. This happened at the precinct caucuses as well and it's always nice to know that people appreciate the show. Heck, it's just nice to know that people actually listen to the show. It looks like we'll be broadcasting from the GOP State Convention in Rochester in late May and it'll be fun to hang with the hardcore party faithful once again. Yes, that includes the Ron Paul people too.

(Cross-posted at Fraters Libertas)


Brad Kadue said...

I'm really curious to see the results. If anybody knows, please post. Thanks for all you do!

Nate said...

right on right on, I like what you had to say about the convention, I was there too

Dan S. said...


I did stick around to "see the sausage being made," as it were.

The convention wrapped up around 11:00 pm, but the tallying of ballots continued until around 12:30 am.

At that point, the action stopped because of the late hour. The tallies were completed and verified, but the individual vote counts still needed to be sorted to determine the delegates and alternates.

Glyde (the BPOU chair) said that he would finish that, but probably not until Thursday night due to other commitments.

So results will be available soon, but don't expect anything for another couple of days.


Brad Kadue said...

I hate to say it, BUT we'd have the results by now if we had passed the motion to allow less that 46 votes for the district delegates.

As I was trying to decide on 46 candidates, I realized how ridiculous that really was. In hindsight, I should have voted yea to that motion.

Chad The Elder said...

I didn't quite understand the logic of forcing us to vote for a full 46 either. With the number of people voting even if every voter only picked say, twenty names, there still would have been more than enough votes to determine the Ds and As.