I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this column but events have conspired to leave me no choice. All during the Minnesota Republican primary we were told by the Pawlenty campaign that the former governor didn’t want to engage with, let alone launch attacks upon, endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson because it would be damaging to the unity necessary to win in November. The arrogance of this approach was obvious on its face: Pawlenty was going to win the primary walking away.
Now it appears that it is Pawlenty and his inner circle that has walked away from supporting Johnson. The signs of bitterness were apparent early: Chas Anderson, purportedly his campaign manager, retweeted the very night of the primary MNGOPe swamp accounts who said that Johnson’s victory meant Governor Walz. I saw other “activists” tweet and retweet similarly. Oddly, I saw no such denigration of their party’s nominee from the campaign managers of DFL candidates who had lost to Walz. Yet on the very night of what should have been unity, the defeated establishment of the Republican Party was graceless and classless.
In the time since their stinging rebuke of politics as usual, I’ve seen no tweet from Brian McClung, Kurt Zellers or other lobbyists who constituted what passed for a Pawlenty brain trust congratulating Johnson and his supporters and pledging to get behind the campaign. If only time didn’t exist and everything stayed 2006, they’d have reason to celebrate.
McClung and those of like mind still resent being shown for what they are: not particularly talented individuals who make a living off of the political status quo. Insisting that they somehow constituted “the A Team,” they are now pouting because the voters they pretended to know had finally seen through their charade.
They continue to thrive, of course, in our local swamp. Kurt Zellers and Sarah Walker appear today on the unwatchable, bordering on parody “At Issue.” Imagine thinking you’re politically informed by viewing this Potemkin program. Both are part of MZA, a lobbying grifter outfit started by acolytes of the Vision Caster. McClung, Zellers, Anderson, Mata Hari, and others make a good, albeit parasitical, living. That’s fine but they’re the sort of “conservatives” who admire themselves for letting progressivism go the speed limit. It’s beyond their abilities, or desires frankly, to stand in opposition to it. They want to be liked. When it comes to Minnesota Republican politics, the comparison to high school will never fail. Think Amy Koch.
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And where’s Tim Pawlenty? Nowhere, that’s where. He’s gone to ground, the biggest of the pouters. I predicted this of course, which is another way of saying I told you so. I wish Minnesota politics would surprise me someday. And I would be happy to be wrong on occasion; we all are from time to time and I don’t write because I think I have “the” answer. I write because it’s a form of thinking out loud and, frequently, I can take risks or broach subjects that others, for whatever reasons, feel they cannot.
In his primary victory speech Johnson said of his phone call from Pawlenty “we will be on the same page starting tomorrow morning. He’s told me that and I believe him.” I wrote at the time “For the sake of Minnesota, I hope that is true. We’ll know soon enough.”
And now we do. Pawlenty apparently won’t give any of his swamp money to the Johnson campaign. Does it get any poutier or classless than that? Instead, he’s going to give what he can to the House Republican leadership which seeks to stay in power for the perks, not any principles. This is the group of mediocrities who think increasing state spending by ten percent represents a victory of leadership and talent. It’s anything but. The embarrassing communications department churns out messaging on cue that would get them banned from working in politics in a competent party.
Chas Anderson is now working for House caucus, neatly encapsulating the problem.
Speaker Daudt is said not to be particularly interested in an increased majority in the House for fear that it would add to the growing number of members who would like him replaced. No matter how small you can think, Daudt & hangers-on can think even smaller. Reading the zeitgeist has never been Ben Golnik’s strong suit.
Our Republican establishment, instead of representing and acting upon the wishes of voters, resembles nothing so much as a petty mafia, shaking down voters every so often in order to maintain their perks. They’re mad at you rubes for defeating Pawlenty. They themselves, in due course, need to be defeated as well.
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Rep. Erik Paulsen has already lost to Dean Phillips, even though the election is fifty-two days out, if the prepositioning of state representative Jenifer Loon is any indication. She’s getting ready to run in 2020 not because she believes in anything, especially, but because she sees an opportunity for self-promotion. She’s married to Chamber of Commerce automaton Doug Loon. It’s an open question whether they share but a single personality. I’m inclined toward yes. AI is real and it’s here.
The House swamp is said to be solidly behind this impatient, unaccomplished woman. She’d lose, because if Paulsen loses, which I hope he doesn’t, that Congressional seat is lost to us for some time. Then again, for the MNGOPe, it’s all about who makes money on any given campaign, win or lose. Think Darlene Miller (who?) whose campaign manager now works for, you guessed it, the House caucus. Can’t say they don’t take care of their own. The water of mediocrity finds its own level.
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Pete Hegseth asked me about the gubernatorial primary when we met at a fundraiser for Rep. Mary Franson on August 9 in Alexandria. Sharing only my side of the conversation, I said it was likely that Johnson would win the primary. In that case, I elaborated, the Pawlenty swamp would do its best to sabotage his chances of winning, especially by withholding financial support, the only kind of power they know. In the event of a defeat, it would then turn to the stupid base and castigate them for the result they helped bring about. This is who our swamp is. It takes no special powers of observation to say this. And it has indeed come to pass.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) ostentatiously reserved 1.3 million dollars in advertising, scheduled for October, shortly after Pawlenty entered the race in April. I said at the time, and said to Pete Hegseth last month, that if he lost the primary they’d back out of the ad buy and this week we got our first confirmation of that. The RGA canceled it’s first block of time just this week, before any penalties would be incurred for the cancellation.
Polling by Survey USA, commissioned by KSTP television, shows the race between Johnson and Walz to be close, with Walz in the lead by 7, and a sizable block of voters undecided. Polls should be given scant credence this cycle as pollsters, and consumers of them, have learned precious little from 2016. This one has a margin of error of 5%, making it by definition one to which no attention should be paid. I’d feel the same if it showed Johnson in the lead.
The reality is that Johnson has a pronounced edge in public support on the issues that will define the race. Minnesotans don’t want to become a sanctuary state, give licenses to people who have broken into our country, nor do they want higher prices because of increased taxes on anything that does or doesn’t move. Johnson’s skill in campaigning has continued from the primary to the general.
In response to the RGA ad buy cancellation, Johnson masterfully, accurately said that these were the same people who had him losing the primary by twenty points and that he wasn’t worried about their ad buys given his connection to Minnesota voters. Honesty like this is heresy to these types.
In many ways, Johnson had to defeat the Minnesota Republican establishment in order to take the fight to Tim Walz and the Regressive Left. The failure of petulant Planet Pawlenty to support him is evidence of this. His supporters will need to continue their steadfast efforts to make sure of a win in a few weeks.
And keep in mind that, once it’s Governor Johnson, the real fight against the swamp will have only just begun.
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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