Midterms: Playing Against Type, Minnesota Republicans Fight

"Here it is at last, the distinguished thing." -- dying words of Henry James

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Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow with Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, November 3, 2018, Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

We haven’t seen this before, really. The statewide Republican ticket has brought the fight to the far left DFL of Minnesota in the race for our statewide, constitutional offices this election and that may make all the difference in the outcome. Minnesota Republicans are used to losing, which is why I’ve said for a long time, accurately, that these campaigns aren’t about winning so much as who in the swamp makes money.

This time it’s different and even if we come up short, something fundamental and positive has happened. Whether it continues depends on Minnesotans who vote Republican willing to go back to the status quo of–let’s be blunt–being lied to: running as one thing, governing as another. I think those days are going, if not gone in Minnesota.

I’m a bit exhausted: aren’t you? The pace of this country, indeed the world, is being set by a 72 year old billionaire from Queens. Life at the Speed of Trump™ I call it. And while he was nowhere in the country on the ballot, nonetheless he was everywhere. How did that play out in Minnesota?

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Doug Wardlow was the preeminent candidate on the Republican side who understood how to campaign in this new age of the Emperor. I mean no slight to the other candidates, who I will get to in due course, but he foremost among them demonstrated what it takes to win: fearlessness coupled with smarts. It’s not even a matter of whether he’ll win, though I think he will, so much as an object lesson to the timid, strap-hangers known as Minnesota Republicans Inc.

From the start, Wardlow went on offense against Keith Ellison and stayed there, despite pleas from Congressman Tom Emmer to go soft on his friend. In his first term, Emmer postured as the Dario Anselmo of Minnesota Congressional Republicans; in his second, he was the foremost messenger for Trump, for which I repeatedly praised him in 2016. Not long ago he called me a hack, said I wasn’t “good for the cause” and wondered if I wasn’t a DFL plant. Phew, lads. Can’t please them all, at least all of the time.

Wardlow was also under pressure from some donors to back off from Ellison. That took guts to withstand, something the MNGOPe isn’t known for. They wanted him to run as what they are, cucks. “I’m Doug Wardlow, I’m not waycist because I know you’re going to call me that, my wife is Asian, here’s my favorite hotdish recipe, please like me.” In other words, the Mitt Romney approach. This is the permanent defensive crouch position of our untalented, permanent Republican establishment. Their continued failure attests to that strategy’s effectiveness.

Wardlow alone got Vice President Mike Pence to make a stop at Fort Snelling yesterday and alone greeted him, presenting him with a number 2 Vikings jersey. I’m not sure I can convey to readers the angst, bordering on anger, this caused among the Dumbest Republicans in the Nation.™ They wanted in on the photo opp they did nothing to create, often worked against, if not outright undermined, still feeling somehow entitled. No sale. Good for Doug.

Meanwhile, Keith Ellison last night held an event at First Avenue in Minneapolis, with a crowd so small I could fit it into my carriage house. The DFL banished him from their statewide bus tour to get out the vote. Local media, democrats with a byline, ask none of them why.

If Doug Wardlow, aided by the talented, astute Kory Wood, Billy Grant and others, hadn’t run the campaign that he has, Ellison would be on that bus. That, my friends, is the difference between victory and defeat.

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Jeff Johnson turned in the debate performance of his lifetime Friday against Tim Walz, who wants to make Minnesota a cold California but won’t admit to it. Johnson was relentless in calling him out on specific issues, time and again, as well as pushing back on the grossly false advertising about him by A Better Minnesota, largely funded by Alida Rockefeller Dayton Messinger. Where are our donors like that for Jeff?

Where has Tim Pawlenty been since his defeat in August? Nowhere. Instead, we’re treated to his courtiers Brian McClung, Chas Anderson, Kurt Zellers (there are others) preening and posturing as our betters in Minnesota. Nice people all, on a personal level, Chas in particular has great taste in Champagne, but on a political level the enemy of the middle class, the working class. In a word, Minnesota’s preeminent Never Trumpers. “It’s all so tiresome.”

Karin Housley has gone all out to tell Minnesotans how extreme her opponent, Tina Smith is, with resounding success. The rap on Housley has been that many don’t know her but she turned that around and made the issue “Who is Tina Smith?” Well done and, again, something we’re not used to seeing in Minnesota Republican politics. She’s not been afraid to embrace President Trump while laughing off, successfully it seems to me, that she’d be any president’s “rubber stamp.”

If she wins, I’d only remind her that one Lisa Murkowski and one Susan Collins in the Senate are enough, especially given some who surround her who, for their own abject reasons, like to be liked by the enemy. Me? I’m right about everything, don’t care about being liked. But then I graduated high school a long time ago, think it undignified to replay it in middle age.

Jim Newberger has waged the most thankless task in all of Minnesota Republican politics: running against that fraud known as Amy Klobuchar. Of all our candidates, Jim deserves the most thanks, not only for running, but for wounding. He rightly has emphasized Klobuchar’s deep involvement in the disgraceful treatment of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Amy’s two faces were exposed to the world and Newberger has gone to the mat to show them to Minnesotans.

His most recent ad is brilliant, created by a talented friend of mine, Jim Knutson. It already has Minnesota NPCs making angry noises.

Pam Myhra, running for State Auditor, was endorsed by the Star Tribune. She’s run a strong, under the radar race for this under the radar office.

John Howe wants to replace the highly partisan Secretary of State Steve Simon and he should. Cogent, learned, sound on the issues, in a just world he, like Myhra, would be fully funded.

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The Minnesota House remains the problem, led by an improbable Speaker who does what a Florida man tells him. When speaking to an MPR reporter whose first name reminds me of downmarket cheese, he said “In some ways, we see ourselves as the top of the ticket.” This is the delusional thinking that last biennium caused him to declare the session the most productive in history, even as he increased state spending by ten percent.

Minnesota Republicans: ensuring progressivism goes the speed limit. Please clap.

The downmarket cheese MPR reporter tweeted further “but he’s heard DFL candidate Tim Walz is easy to work with if he’s still House speaker.” And easy is what the swamp in the allegedly GOP controlled House wants. When I write of a “talent famine,” think of House leadership and their staff, some exceptions apply.

Growing the majority in the House wasn’t of interest to the recipient of Fethullah Gulen’s largesse, as it might provide more votes to remove him as Speaker. Pray we don’t get his designated successor, Ron Kresha, although the lazy, not too bright TwinWest Chamber set would applaud it, seal-like.

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Here’s the problem: the last remnant of Never Trumpers in the nation are likely to be found ensconced in the Minnesota House, it’s staffers, captured donors and other assorted quislings. This is why they never deliver for their voters: they hold you in contempt while wanting to hang on to their job because of the perks. Otherwise they’d be middle level managers at Walmart or Target at best. Talent famine.™

By contrast, this ticket of statewide Minnesota Republicans have put you first, first for a change in the Minnesota Republican political environment. Whether they win or lose, reward them.

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In addition to Alpha News, John Gilmore is also a contributor to The Hill. He is the founder and executive director of Minnesota Media Monitor.™ He blogs at MinnesotaConservatives.org and is on Twitter under @Shabbosgoy. He can be reached at John@alphanewsmn.com

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