Counterpoint: Jennifer Carnahan is the best thing to happen to the MN GOP

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In response to John Gilmore’s misleading article attacking Jennifer Carnahan as one of the “dumbest Republicans” in Minnesota, I feel beyond compelled to detail the true record of our phenomenal MNGOP Chairwoman.

In Spring of 2017, I walked into the Minneapolis MNGOP offices to meet with our new Chair, Jennifer Carnahan on her first day in office. I was shocked to see the size of the massive offices, and learn about the poor condition of the party she was left with.

I quickly learned that the state party had $1 million remaining in debt, had a mere $19,000 left in the bank (but $16,000 in staff payroll – including the outgoing Chairman’s salary – was due payable at the end of her first week.

Carnahan had to quickly raise a substantial amount of money, and immediately cut expenses to keep the party afloat.

Within a matter of weeks, something truly incredible had begun. Through Jennifer’s extreme dedication, things became much more promising than ever before.

Instead of writing an emotionally driven article like Mr. Gilmore’s, I prefer to focus on the actual factual numbers that nobody can deny.

When Jennifer Carnahan took over the State Party, the debt was almost $1,000,000. Within her first six-months, she reduced the total debt by 27% and further decreased the long-term legacy portion of that debt to below $380,000 – an accomplishment the party has not seen since it racked up that debt.   In total she has reduced the debt by over 40% in 18-months, a debt reduction payoff faster than her predecessors.  This is a promise many have made before, that did not yield results.  And, she is the first chair, who has not added to the debt, but has focused on the party ‘living within its means’ which has made for a healthy organization.

– Jennifer wisely managed operating expenses, re-negotiated the lease on the existing office from $9000/month to $6000/month by the end of her fourth month, to immediately save the party thousands of dollars in her first 18-months. She further went on to negotiate a new lease for the office which will decrease the rent to below $3000/month, beginning February 1, 2019, which over the course of a five-years lease will save the party more than $200,000 in operational costs.

– Small dollar fundraising by the state party this cycle exceeded $1,600,000.

– In regards to Jennifer’s small commission on large donors – to set the record straight – Carnahan only received commission for four months (January – April, 2018) and received a payout of less than $15,000 on a comprehensive fundraising stream of more than $840,000. That’s far less than what the standard professional Minnesota Republican fundraisers receive – a 15-20% fee – that virtually all professional Republican fundraisers charge to raise campaign cash. Not to mention she received no commission whatsoever from small donors or the Lincoln Reagan Dinner, which was the largest dinner the party has seen in many years with nearly 1000 in attendance.

– More than that, Carnahan has been innovative with raising money for our party.  Just take a look at the MN GOP State Fair Booth.  Under her leadership and vision, the state fair booth sold more than  $200,000 worth of merchandise in 2017-2018, a more than 300% increase from past sales.

– Additionally, Jennifer has been a positive face, voice and spokesperson for our party during her tenure. The traditionally liberal media have come to embrace her and she has directly appeared in over 300 television, radio, and print publications to share our candidates and the party’s vision for Minnesota.

– Also important, she stood behind our endorsed candidates and our grassroots process, by ensuring the MNGOP would protect the State Party endorsed candidates over every single challenger, on a federal and statewide level.  This includes defending the endorsement of Jeff Johnson in the Primary over Former Governor Tim Pawlenty, even though being massively out spent.  Her strategic decision to run two flights of sample ballot mailers and direct the field program to make 200,000 + direct voter contacts pre-primary helped carry all of our candidates through with Republican primary voters.

– The MNGOP with NRCC funding also had a record 40 literature mail pieces sent on behalf of our endorsed congressional candidates, including: Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn, Jason Lewis, and Erik Paulsen.

– Under her leadership of changing the culture in Minnesota and placing a priority on the ground game, the MNGOP had over 1,000,000 direct voter contacts with a focus on door-knocking, another impressive record.  How did this all matter? Republican candidates on the ballot received major Republican turnout numbers this cycle.  Jeff Johnson received more votes than any other candidate for Governor in Minnesota history…besides Tim Walz. The same can be said for many of our candidates in midterms.

Even with all this work, focus and strategy, this was simply not enough to overcome the tremendous national Anti-Trump voting group that would simply vote Democrat as a protest to Trump leading to losses even in suburban Republicans seats in Utah and Texas.

However, the long evasive CD 8/1 candidates were finally victorious, and the MN GOP went on the ground in both of those districts very early to ensure when the margins mattered, the party would play the role it should.

As President Ronald Reagan would say, “Facts are stubborn things”. The Chairwoman has a record of major accomplishments that simply cannot be ignored.

To cease the momentum the MNGOP has gained since Jennifer Carnahan’s term began would be the same as suggesting to fire Vikings coach Mike Zimmer for not winning the Super Bowl, yet while being one of the top defenses in the NFL.

Some in the Party are truly afraid of the new wave Jennifer Carnahan has started. The names floated to run against her are a direct step backwards to the same old, same old. If these individuals truly cared about the party and continuing to build it, these men would’ve stepped up to help Jennifer along her journey, not jump out to tear her down, tear the party down and work against the great work she’s started.  We must move the party forward and work off the accomplishments we can continue to grown on and if this party does not give Jennifer another two years at the helm, then we should only look within if we continue to fail.

Ken Martin has been the MN DFL Chair for eight-years and will be re-elected for another two years.  We need continuity in leadership. We need Jennifer.

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Anton “Tony” Lazzaro is the founder and Director of Big Tent Republicans PAC, a unique group dedicated to broadening the appeal of the Republican Party.

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