Conservatives were never going win the White House in 2016 with the same ol’ Republican mold: your Mitt Romney or John McCain or another typical manufactured, script-speaking politician. Republicans needed a complete outsider, a wild card to go up against the DNC machine and Clinton Powerhouse.
That’s why from the beginning I supported Donald J. Trump, and if you weren’t on the Trump Train from day one, that’s okay with me – honestly! However, I expected, somewhat naively, the same sentiment from other Minnesota conservatives who supported alternate GOP candidates when I jumped into local politics for the first time in 2016. Whoever ended up becoming our nominee would ultimately be the individual we’d all have to get behind to defeat Crooked Hillary – we’re all on the same team, right?
As Trump would bluntly exclaim: “Wrong!”
After the extraordinary election of Donald J. Trump and having my first taste of Minnesota politics, the dawn of realization set before me and made one thing very clear in my experience: No wonder conservatives often lose in this state when it shouldn’t be so difficult.
Minnesota was nearly won by Trump in 2016, roughly only 50,000 votes away, just 1.5% away from winning. The momentum of Trump could have turned Minnesota red, but the fractured nature of Minnesota conservative activists and elected leaders choked that effort.
Speaker Kurt Daudt stated that Trump should have withdrawn, “I strongly urge his campaign to consider what’s best for the future of our country and our party, and step aside.” I don’t think these words urged Republicans to the polls…
Then there was former Governor Tim Pawlenty, mostly absent from Minnesota for several years working for Wall Street in DC with one of the nation’s leading financial lobbying groups – he said Trump was “Unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit to be President” and withdrew his support one month before the election. Why say anything at all if you can’t unify voters to defeat Hillary Clinton?
And several days after the Trump win, former and now again candidate for Governor Jeff Johnson emailed out to insider activists calling for unity, yet he still couldn’t hold back some unresolved bitterness and stated, “I still doubt that Trump is truly a conservative at heart” and condescendingly quipped that Trump supporters were ‘disciples’. I assure you, I worship no one but God
I also had learned that navigating the icy tundra of Minnesota politics isn’t as warm and welcoming as one would expect; it is an anomaly to many, even to those perhaps most ingrained into the arena of local party activism.
And unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much you call yourself a conservative or group yourself with Republicans, because if you aren’t a part of the local establishment, a regular party loyalist and supporting the Swamp’s candidate, you betcha’ that any attempted involvement will be impeded, stalled, and choked until you finally disappear.
During the primary and after caucus, other Trump supporters called me and left voicemails of frustration and outrage when their efforts were squashed in running for delegate at their local BPOU (Basic Political Operating Unit) or Congressional District Convention. Patriots, ordinary-everyday Americans foreign to the process felt betrayed and angered.
I, however, fared better in my attempts to penetrate the MNGOP swamp. As a Trump supporter, my journey was murky at best after all the mudslinging games, but by the end of the election, the entire experience left me inclined never to return to politics again.
The most profound moment occurred when I ran for national delegate at the 3rd Congressional District Convention. A motion was made by Jeff Johnson (and it was passed sloppily without the proper vote and consensus of the remaining body) requiring the delegates to declare who they supported for President in order to ace out Trump supporters. I could have lied, but I couldn’t bring myself to go against everything it seemed Trump and The Movement were up against: fighting not only the Democrats but the pushback of the swamp within the GOP. I was ousted once my identity was revealed as a “Trumper.”
More determined to fight back, I ran again at the state convention and only won because I upped my game of ‘incognito’ and complete silence in my support for Trump. I was elated, but deep inside the profound meaning of ‘the silent majority’ rang truer yet more doleful than ever at that moment; I felt shunned and silenced by my own party. Sad!
During the election, with little resources and support, we were a small grassroots effort organizing phone banks, door knocking and literature drops, delivering over 50,000 Trump signs. I also held 11 high-profile bridge rallies in the cities – hoping other silent supporters would not stay home on election day, to realize their vote mattered and that they were not alone, just as I felt on stage at the state convention.
So, the outspoken and willing, got underneath the skin of the establishment, campaigned proudly for Trump, and not for his name or because we worshipped him, but for the conservative cause, the desire to simply want to Make America Great Again. We weren’t disciples – we were the forgotten men and women, the silent majority no longer silent, fed up with a broken two-party system.
Is it any wonder why Republicans are often painted with such disdain and disgust so rather successfully by liberals? Where was this Establishment when we needed them to fight Obama’s slow socialistic takeover of our country or progressives’ takeover here at home? It perplexed me and baffled me to my core; had Cruz or Rubio won the nomination, I could have never imagined being so bitter. In some ways, they reacted worse than the liberal snowflakes.
In the end, and nearly one year into Trump’s Presidency, he has turned out to be perhaps one of the most conservative President’s we could have ever hoped for as conservatives.
So, what does this all mean for 2018?
Expect the divisions I witnessed in 2016 to translate over into the Gubernatorial race. The old guard within the MNGOP will not be inclusive, and the establishment, staffers and legislators could prevail, many of whom primarily make up the roughly 2,000 delegate body. Count on them blocking out any outsiders – especially Trump supporters.
Should the small few, the insiders, have such a big say in who we nominate instead of newcomers that nearly won Minnesota in 2016 for Trump and who overwhelmingly reject the establishment and their views?
A process currently only known to ‘insiders’ and local activists, leaves many to wonder where outsiders are left to stand. But Trump supporters can truly keep The Movement alive by getting involved early and not letting the establishment run caucuses. To Make Minnesota Red and to reflect the Trump momentum that nearly turned this state in 2016, don’t stay home caucus night on February 6theven if you haven’t caucused before; if every person that voted for Trump caucuses and brings five people, the Swamp will take a huge blow.
Many of the previous delegate base will organize merely to support the gubernatorial candidate that aligns with their 2016 primary candidate on caucus night – namely Rubio, and Cruz. If they succeed they will nominate another ineffective, spineless, boring Republican of the same losing mold.
Anti-Trump sentiment is still alive and well – I know firsthand, and it’s quite comical at this point. Some Republicans still can’t seem to get it through their thick skull that we’re in a time of the people, of every man and woman forgotten by the political elite on both sides of the political spectrum.
In 2018 Minnesotans need the governor candidate that has navigated the complicated frontier of Minnesota politics; someone who understands the divisions within but has never taken sides which, quite effectively, makes him the outcast, the outsider to the MNGOP swamp; he’s not a party loyalist; he’s someone with a proven albeit short-term experience in Minnesota politics with an extensive business background and has actually cut budgets and debt unlike any of the other Gubernatorial candidates. He also understands the importance of reaching out to Greater Minnesota where the bulk of energy propelled Trump into office despite what every other politician wanted them to believe…
That someone hasn’t been afraid to extend his hand to outsiders. At the 2016 State Convention, Keith Downey proclaimed, “We will lead, and we will Make America Great Again.” Keith emcee’d at the Trump airplane hangar rally before the election and spoke at the March 4th Trump rally 2017 when conservative leaders were invited to speak at the State Capital. Keith stood with the forgotten man and woman on a bridge overpass in 2016 waving Trump signs and American Flags – he didn’t shun Trump supporters like me and wasn’t afraid of having ‘Trump association’. He was criticized for proposing greater scrutiny with refugee intake after the Paris Nightclub shooting in 2015 and again touched on the issue last November in an op-ed. Keith Downey is someone who has thrown a few jabs at opponents, unafraid to shake up the establishment and call out the incompetency where he sees it. Sounds like the leader and future Governor the people of Minnesota need.
The presidential election and all that transpired in 2016 has everything to do with Minnesota elections in 2018 in the way local activism is organized and evolves. So, if you’re tired of the what you see and hear, caucusing and becoming a delegate is one of the most profound ways you can impact the party and foster needed change to represent the true will of the people. It’s the start of everything necessary for the vital groundwork that leads us to 2020 with Trump’s re-election, and it gets Minnesota the Governor we need in 2018!
This is a submitted editorial by Rebecca Brannon. She can be reached at
Submitted editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of Alpha News or any other contributors. The editorials are intended to start conversations.