Minnesota Republicans were destroyed last night, a catastrophic election with profound ramifications for the future of the state of Minnesota. What happened cannot be overstated. A wealthy donor friend of mine said that he never thought Florida would be a more appealing option than his home state. I volunteered to be his long-in-the tooth pool boy. Yes, last night was that bad.
That said, what happened, which was the utter destruction of the MNGOP, was not the fault of President Trump. The usual suspects would like you to think so, the better to deflect from their criminal, up against the wall political incompetence. If you didn’t think you lived in the state with the Dumbest Republicans in the Nation,™ last night should have disabused you of that notion for the rest of your natural life.
Across the board, we lost every race. Let me repeat that: every race. The governor is a democrat, the secretary of state, the auditor and most terrifyingly, Keith Ellison will be our Attorney General.
We also lost the Minnesota House: did you see that coming? You can blame Ben Golnik and the Speaker of the House, Kurt Daudt, who as I write is sounding out members about his position as Minority Leader. The two made a fearsome combination of self interest, political competence need not apply. Today minions are touting how House Republicans did better than Jeff Johnson in their races. We’re supposed to be comforted by this. Minnesota Republicans were the only ones in the midwest who failed to keep their legislative majorities.
Jeff Johnson lost badly but once he won the primary in August, this could have been anticipated. Tim Pawlenty did nothing to help and the Republican Governors Association bailed on the race. The swamp on the right not only exists, in some ways it continues to thrive.
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What accounts for this near extinction level event? Republicans don’t have an operational, effective political party. A long time ago I observed that the Republican Party of Minnesota wasn’t a party per se so much as a group of competing interests.
By any metric, the DFL is a machine, a well oiled, lavishly funded political machine with which Republicans cannot compete. In fact we’ve ignored what the DFL has become for twenty years. Their outside allied groups are likewise well run and funded. The right in Minnesota is simply out organized at every level. Coming back from this deficit is a heavy lift and things that take time and real effort repel those who want to be involved in politics on the right here.
Our donors are few in number and timid to the point of paralysis in character. Coupled with self-selected people who, for unfathomable reasons, think their calling is political life, in office or associated with the efforts to attain such, this puts us in a permanent bind.
From when I started paying attention more than a decade ago, I noticed that we don’t nurture and encourage a bench, not just of candidates but of younger people generally with talent, whether they want to run for office or not. They tend to be seen as a threat by the ensconced political class rather than for what they are or could be: the future. When you don’t invest in it, the future never arrives.
Last night, whatever is the opposite of the future arrived and it was brutal.
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There is no silver lining today but perhaps there are better ways of thinking about the disaster that befell Republicans in Minnesota last night than others. The usual blame game is being played and I suppose that’s only to be expected, this being politics.
But something more fundamental is needed: a conscious decision to offer voters a real choice instead of too many DFL-lite candidates. That’s always a losing option, but it proves alluring to people who are in politics with no discernible talent for it. Dislike their policies, and I loathe most of them, but the DFL is made up of people who actually believe in things. Apart from their individual interests, what do Republicans believe in? Not much and last night voters noticed.
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Decades of dry rot in the Republican political ecosphere was purged last night. But the daunting task of overcoming the vote bank of CD 5 remains. It’s an intractable problem in both the short and long term. Meanwhile, Annette Meeks suggests being pro vaccine can win us back the suburbs. Talk about a talent famine.™
Jeff Johnson won more votes than he did last time out. It wasn’t enough. Demographic replacement is real and those metro, DFL vote banks are unlikely to be won over by shrewd policy pitches invented by a stale consultant class. Who do we have on the right who understands that, let alone is enough of a leader to address it?
Democrats ran on “One Minnesota” but they won power with divisive identity politics. As we saw last night, that has real traction, against which Republicans were powerless because they don’t understand the fundamental reality of what is happening the country, let alone Minnesota.
The question I’ve been most asked in the wake of last night’s disaster is whether “it’s over” for Minnesota. It doesn’t have to be, despite the daunting challenges. But in order to fight back, we have to become better and stronger than the way we have been for decades.
Whether the constituent elements necessary for a comeback exist on our side is an open question. My own hunch is that if there do, they will be found in those thirty somethings and younger who don’t want to live their future in a cold California.
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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