Dario Anselmo is a first term Republican who represents House District 49A. He beat incumbent Democrat Ron Erhardt by 2.26% in 2016. Two years earlier, he lost to Erhardt by 2.8%. The district is the definition of a swing district and any Republican necessarily has to run, and vote, somewhat differently than one in a safe district. This is not in dispute, anymore than is the realization that Rep. Erik Paulsen has a particular needle to thread in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District.
What interests me is how Republicans, running as something less than that but not fully as a Democrat, are faring. For Anselmo, a bitter lesson was learned this week when, after months of supporting limits to Second Amendment rights in order to curry favor with far left gun control advocates “Moms Demand Action,” his opponent, Heather Edelson, was effectively endorsed. Heather wears pearls; you can’t say she doesn’t know Edina. But this endorsement puts paid to the idea that if Republicans only find the illusory “common ground” with the other side, they will be rewarded for their efforts.
Moms Demand Action is part of “Everytown for Gun Safety,” a radical gun control group largely financed by Michael Bloomberg.
Anselmo was frequently the lone Republican at Moms’ rallies at the State Capitol. This garnered him the approval of Democrats in the media like Lori Sturdevant but at the cost of discouraging his base, for which one could be forgiven in thinking Anselmo believes he doesn’t need. When one pro-Second Amendment group held a rally, Anselmo tweeted on his way out of the Capitol that he saw a “small group.” Bad form Dario, but maybe contempt for his own base got the better of him.
He has supported universal background checks as well as Keith Franke’s bill that forces lawful gun owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police or become criminals themselves. Not content to be Democrat-lite on the Second Amendment, Anselmo has made himself a cheerleader of climate change, just yesterday praising on Twitter a “Youth Climate Summit,” whatever that is, besides politically correct. He champions changing state law for buying cigarettes to 21 because, well, I’m not sure really.
Actually, the goal in signing up to such useless, feelgood measures is to endear him to an electorate that he must believe rewards such posturing. It can, but only when Democrats do it. Republican virtue signalers never fail to realize that it is only when the Left engages in it, is there any political benefit. Even then, I’d argue, there isn’t much serious gain to be had.
The cold truth is no matter how much Anselmo tries to posture as that mythical “reasonable” Republican, the groups that control the narratives to which they seek to attach themselves will without fail endorse or otherwise support the Democrat, regardless of who that Democrat may be.
I’ve met Anselmo only a couple of times and have found him smart, engaging, warm and personable. The last thing my comments are is personal. A mutual friend never fails to remind me of the difficulties of his district, how a different approach is necessary and that some slack must be allowed. I agree completely.
What I’m noting is that this approach avails Anselmo little, possibly nothing. I understand the calculation, the positioning and the ersatz “outreach.” I don’t mean to suggest he is insincere in any of his positions by that. The end goal, of course, is and has to be reelection.
Anselmo recently provided an update about his legislative priorities. I can’t find a distinctly conservative or Republican (the two are not synonymous) item in it but maybe you can.
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In Minnesota we’re all too often treated to people who have made their careers in politics without much concern for issues that affect real people. As Joseph Sobran said about the Conservative Movement: “It was all a game, or a way of making a living.” Brian McClung, Annette Meeks, Brian McDaniels and Andy Brehm come to mind. Most of them, when appearing on “Almanac” or “At Issue,” appear positively embarrassed about being Republicans, let alone conservatives. Meeks is a partial exception to this but I mean that as faint praise.
Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote “Do Minnesota Republicans Believe In Anything?” Staying in whatever office they occupy currently, surely. But beyond that?
The election of Trump, like it or not, has laid bare the stakes: America as founded or some agglomeration of a dystopian, faux multicultural nation that resembles the Third more than the First World. These choices obtain even in Minnesota, despite the fool’s errand of many who wish to be liked by those who actually hate them.
I interviewed Bill Whittle last week and for Republicans like Anselmo I can’t do any better than his concluding sentences: “Civil discourse is not going to happen. Anything you do to show goodwill toward these people is simply another weapon that they’ll use against you. Not descending to their level sounds great as an operational theory. While it would be nice to fight honorable people honorably, they’re not. You have a choice now of either fighting them on their level or losing.”
The only question remaining is how long it will take for Minnesota Republicans to wake up to this truth.
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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
Photo credit: Facebook page of Rep. Dario Anselmo