Lloyd Cheney is the Chairman of Second Congressional District Republicans of Minnesota (MNGOP CD2). John Gilmore spoke with Cheney by phone recently to discuss the election results and his ideas for going forward. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
JG: What races this last cycle were you involved in and what issues did you try to advance and support?
LC: Congressman Jason Lewis was the focus, as well as Minnesota House districts in CD 2. We bought into the RNC and the state plans and merged ours with those. We fund raised as best we could, as well.
We got hit with a suburban blue bubble. Suburban districts are now voting more like urban areas. The demographics are changing. We’ve been trying to fight that in particular in senate districts 56 & 57 for some time. Much of this has to do with institutional things, like the Met Council, central planning, mass housing units in suburban cores and then mass transits. The demographic change comes with that.
There are forces within the Minnesota Republican party that say “let’s take a more moderate approach.” I’m not sure that’s right.
We got out hustled, we got outspent and we got out played by the Democrats in many of these things districts. To lose a Congressional seat, and these state House seats, was quite a blow to the Second District. It hurt deeply on election night.
A lot of us weren’t prepared for that, I certainly wasn’t. I thought we’d lose a couple of seats but hold the majority and that Jason would win narrowly. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Republicans did turn out. Democrats turned out greater.
JG: On that point, do you agree with some who have concluded that there are now more democrat voting people in Minnesota than republican, ergo we’ve reached and surpassed a tipping point? Or were there Republicans who we should have reached but didn’t?
LC: I think this is a wake up call to Minnesota Republicans. We’re at a point where we are going to become a California, Colorado or Oregon. Can we fight back and push back and do the right thing?
JG: What does doing the right thing look to you going forward? How do we get from here to there? What should readers know and what can they do?
LC: It’s a David and Goliath situation.
JG: How do we come back from that?
LC: There’s a heavy handed argument right now among Minnesota Republicans that we should moderate our message. I think we should not moderate our message and we should not back away from our President.
I didn’t like “Make Minnesota red.” Make America great is a positive, emotional connection. Make Minnesota red? What does red mean? To me, I don’t know. Inside baseball people get it. To others who are out there?
“Overthrow the status quo?” Well that’s a good catch phrase for people in the know but its not sending a positive, emotional connection to the voters. It’s getting people forceful and angry.
Republicans don’t do angry right. We should channel our emotions into positive, emotional messages. We seem not to be able to transfer what’s available out there to our political messaging, into our state or the RNC.
I think we have the answers in front of us. We just don’t do it.
We continue to go the Left. Our Republican Party has been tethered to the DFL, as they move further Left, we will move with them.
We have to figure out a way to have positive messages and become believable again. We have to remake our image, tailor down and simplify our platform and ideology, we have to get rid of the term BPOU, there needs to short term, near term and long term planning.
If we could get donor support to help develop farm teams that would produce future legislators down the road, that’s how we do it. This isn’t going to be overnight. This is something like a plan that says: we hold our own now, we keep the seats we have, we try to fight back and make a beachhead and we look long term, what do we do to take things back?
That’s what I hope to see in the Republican Party.
I don’t think taking a more “moderate” approach gets us there.
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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.