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Saturday, April 30, 2005

6th District Convention

--posted by Tony Garcia on 4/30/2005

Today was the MN 6th Congressional District Convention. There was a lot going on for an off-year. All 5 of the candidates for the GOP nomination for 6th CD Congressman gave speeches; candidates for MN GOP Chair and Deputy Chair gave speeches and the officers for the GOP 6th were also elected. Rep. Mark Kennedy gave a rousing speech as his march towards a US Senate seat continues.

So where do I begin? How about at the moment I walked into the door? No, even a little before that. As I approached the doors to the Stillwater Area High School Auditorium there were a handful of kids handing out the requisite campaign stickers for all of the campaigns...Kennedy, Bachman, Krinkie, Knoblach, Yecke...you get the idea. At the moment I was the only one approaching. When I was about 15 feet from the door one of the kids, later identified as Emily Regan, muttered, "What are you doing here?" I thought it was rude and odd. I did not reply and instead started to accept the stickers from the other kids. Then, with a dose of "I need your patronage so I'll be nice", Emily smiled and offered a sticker from the roll she was holding. I almost took it but looked down and read it: "Eibensteiner/Hoplin". "Hoplin? Certainly not, thanks" and continued taking the stickers from everyone else. Not a warm and welcoming start from the CR, huh?

I signed in and paid my registration, read the agenda and convention rules and then entered the auditorium. Now this convention was a little less focused on convention business for me (as there was little in the way of 'doing' and more in the way of 'listening and cheering'). I split my time as delegate with networking for the radio show so I can not give a full report. What I can do is summarize 4 of the 5 candidates speeches...in the order that they spoke. I will give to you only the themes of the speeches as they came across to me, so don't look for a lot of objective recap.

Jay Esmay: Something that I noticed in most of these speeches over the years is the terrible amount of name dropping. It works on the convention crowds, unfortunately. Jay did a lot. Reagan, Kennedy and Kline were the frequent taps. Jay has given me a bit of unease since his speech at the BPOU convention. His theme then was, "I'm military, the others are not. I'm an outsider, the others are not. Politics needs new faces because politicians are corrupt." Otherwise Jay seems like a great candidate, a bit on the unknown side, but conservative and solid. The BPOU speech gave me unease because this is going to be a hard battle between 5 candidates that the GOP can feel good about, and we do not want this race to turn ugly...there is no need in this race. Jay fixed that theme for today. He focused on his record and his qualifications. Jay is the darkhorse, but still a good candidate. His focus is on his successful military and successful business (private sector) career. There was no negative vibes this time.

Phil Krinkie: The lights dimmed and a larged screen lowered over the front of the stage. Phil's "speech" was a great video presentation using mostly two things: clips from "House Coverage on KTCI" and interviews from supportive members of the House. These members included my former representative (and a great lady) Rep. Sondra Erickson. The video was well done and funny. There were some great quotes that came from Phil while on the floor battling Democrats. The best line was about Phil's motto: "I don't bring pork home...I leave it in the pig." The film was well received and I was reminded why Phil was one of my favorite legislators...you will missed in the House. If I have to handicap the race I would say that Phil is the frontrunner to the delegates...though keep in mind that it will be a new batch of delegates that do the nominating. The Rice "Krinkie" Bars was a good touch.

Michele Bachmann: Another early favorite is Michele. She has the positions that the religious part of the party love. She has the feistiness that the hard right part of the party have longed for in a candidate. She has the iritated the dander of the partisan hacks of the left, which the partisan hacks of the party love. She has won in the part of the 6th CD that will be hard for all 5 candidates which the strategists of the party love. Have you noticed that I'm not commenting on the speech? I missed her speech taking care of radio business...but there was a good response coming out of the auditorium. I did hear her make the comment that she understood the unjust heat that Tom DeLay was being subject to because also has a target on her by the liberals. This got a good response (and is true). Marty & I interviewed Michele on our show during our stint on KSTP (for the Next Big Thing). I have a good indication of what she is running on. If I had to rank the "favorites of the race" I would say that handicapping between Michele and Jim Knoblach is a tossup. They are a close 2nd/3rd behind Krinkie.

Jim Knoblach: Jim is a decent fiscal conservative. He is a good Republican. On his own or against any other candidate one on one I think Jim would be the winner. All of Jim's strengths are outflanked by the other candidates right now. Jim's positions are like my pokers hands: welcome to the 2nd best hand of the night. His themes were budget control (he gets lots of credit since he was/is Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee and thus he authored the budgets for the House), his dedication to family & church (it seems every GOP candidate is dedicated to family & church, but hey, the GOP is the party of values), and he invoked the war on terror. Did he mention that he was able to balance the budget without raising taxes as Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee? Oh, did he also mention that he was able to balance the budget without raising taxes as Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee? Jim and I had a great conversation after his speech and later another friend of mine (Dan Nygard) got to chat for a while with Jim's wife. Win or lose, Jim is a great guy. My early handicapping puts Jim & Michele running neck & neck for 2nd place, just slightly behind Phil.

Cheri Yecke: Cheri is a nice woman. She and I have had a few good long conversations about this race. She also was there to step up for Marty & me for our shot on KSTP if we needed help "filling time". (In fact her words were along the lines of 'if you need to kill time just call on this personal phone number and you can interview me'...and I'm not doing it justice here. It was a help-us-out offer, not a I-should-be-interviewed offer.) I have to say that because I want it clear that this will be an instance of not being able to help those you want to help. Cheri's speech starting out by offering an anecdote about some liberals who voted for Bush because of how mean Sen. Steve Kelley (DFL-Hopkins) was to her in the confirmations. Humor comes in truth: Kelley treated Yecke badly, I have never had a good meeting with Kelley and when I was a consituent he gave me shitty treatment (which I heard from many others in the district who had the same experience from Steve). Cheri then started out by quoting Dickens "best of times, worst of times". When Cheri was done I was afraid to leave the auditorium to get another cup of coffee. Every aspect of life is a war. War on Terror, War on Culture, War on the Borders, money going to Al-Qaeda. My handicap at this point is that Cheri is 4th...though not far out of the race. Good money could still be on Cheri.

6th CD GOP Race Thoughts
This is a tight race with 5 very good candidates. The decision ultimately will rest on intangibles and little things. Considering that in order to win the nomination a candidate will have to win 60% of the vote I expect a long convention next year and a race where the little things will be huge deciding factors. Small things that normally don't matter will matter this time: who has what endorsements, who is supporting whom, how many times did the candidate call, the food at the tables, those things will be the difference. That said, walking into the convention I was 100% undecided. I had not elimated anyone from my list of who I will support, I had not put anyone on my list of who I will not support, and I was willing to work for all 5 candidates after the nomination. Sadly, Cheri's campaign was moved off of my "will work for campaign" list and off of my "will support before or after nomination" lists. Because of the support that she had from the CRs (including Jake Grassel and Emily "What are you doing here" Regan) that shows to me an unholy union between a bad organization and a good candidate.

Cheri, dump the CR support and I will remove you from the "will not support" list. The link between crookedness is not something that you need in this race.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

She waid "what are you doing here" because she thought that the shirt that you wore was a Kerry-Edwards shirt. She couldn't see that it was actually a parody. Just a point of information.

May 01, 2005  
Blogger Tony Garcia said...

If that were true that is still not the warmth that a guest should be treated with. In fact, that would be the exact opposite of how a guest should be treated by a Republican.

I would like to add two other observations. There was no sneer or snide comment from any of the other people at the door...they all smiled, greeted and asked about the shirt. There was no acknowledgement of her being in the wrong, of her error, "I'm sorry for treating you improperly"...nothing, which I am finding is very common amongst CRs and their defenders. They are, it seems, never wrong.

Regarding the shirt...no one else in the convention did anything similar. Everyone else assumed there was a catch or a story behind it and asked. Perhaps that is even more telling: her willingness to jump to a negative conclusion without asking...and then nobody calling her to task for it...quite fascinating.

Just a point of information as well.

May 01, 2005  

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