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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A different account of the GOP convention

--posted by Tony Garcia on 6/06/2006

I was not there but I have to believe that the GOP convention only had the appearance of unity. I have heard a few private grumbles about the methods used to silence much opposition internally (why?).

Here is another accounting which popped up on my news.google.com page. A grain of salt? Yes, in the commentary aspects of it. But I do not doubt the factual portions of the post and doubt they will be actually refuted directly.
Just two days before the start of the Minnesota Republican State Convention, Party officials had finally relented and scheduled an appointment for Sue Jeffers with the convention’s Nominating Committee. Wasting no time with formalities, the committee’s first question was about ties with the Libertarian Party. Jeffers explained that her first contacts were with the Republican Party and she had continued to be in contact with party officials up until a month ago. The Committee’s questioning of Sue Jeffers also focused on where she had obtained access to the Republican delegates’ list. “You mean the four copies I’ve received?” Jeffers asked the stunned committee. Jeffers refused to name names.

In the end, the committee decided (not unexpectedly) not to find Jeffers, “qualified.” Qualified is a new language twist in the convention endorsement rules this year.
I'm curious what the this was changed FROM and why this actually matters?
Jeffers still maintains she is a qualified candidate, first and foremost by being a citizen of Minnesota. “Our Founding Fathers had a vision of a citizen-legislature - ordinary folks doing our civic duty and then stepping aside. Public service is not something only for the rich, well connected or an incumbent who has strayed from conservative principles,” Jeffers said.
Well, yes, but the party does still have the right/ability to control its internal operations. The issue about the internal machinations is the willingess to silence dissent (which did not start this year, btw) and the party members willingness to sit by and let it happen. Both actions are contrary to some of the principles of this country.

Why is the GOP so afraid of hearing any dissent?
While Jeffers was appearing before the committee, the convention was already getting underway. A motion to seat alternates was made unexpectedly, ahead of the scheduled itinerary. Chaos had ensued, as Party Officials had removed the registration rolls from the Congressional District tables, and alternates were unable to determine if they were seated or not. Senate District Chairs worked feverishly to seat their alternates, while voting of the proposed rules of the convention carried on. Half of the convention’s voting strength was in the hall, unable to vote or offer discussion.

A group of delegates, sympathetic to Jeffers’ right to speak at the convention were determined to strike certain new language from the convention rules, which forbids nominations from the floor. A dozen of them were prepared to make motions and offer discussion on the rules, but never had the opportunity to address the chair on the issue. Procedural tricks were used to prevent the issue being raised.
Again, out of curiosity were these "tricks" following Robert's? If so, sorry, that's how it works. Or were they abusing Robert's? THAT is where I would lay a small wager down and would not be surprised one way or the other.
Many delegates expressed confusion, and then anger at the process. “They really rammed that though,” said Dave Shegstad, a delegate who ran for Minneapolis City Council last year. “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Why are they so afraid to hear another voice?” he mused.

Endorsement proceedings for the gubernatorial candidate were unexpectedly moved from the scheduled time on Saturday to Friday afternoon. This schedule change disrupted plans by a delegate caucus opposed to the new Twins ballpark that had planned to voice their concerns.
Again, trying to avoid sincere discussion on the worthiness of a candidate. Why hide? By hiding these internally it causes dissent. Have the discussion within the tent or they end up on the outside. How important is that concept? When LBJ became President he kept his nemesis RFK as attorney general. People were perplexed by that. Most thought LBJ would take the chance to make RFK unemployed. Instead LBJ said, "I'd rather have him on the inside of the tent pissing out than on the outside pissing in."

The GOP should embrace these discussions. Learn from them. Then people feel they have a say, an outlet. Otherwise the disgruntled members will (1) leave, (2) stay home, (3) fire away from outside the tent...none of which helps the ultimate goal of getting the best conservative candidates in office.
After Pawlenty’s gubernatorial candidate speech, without a motion to endorse for governor being made, seconded, discussed or voted on, a co-chair approached the podium to call for a vote. While Pawlenty’s speech was being applauded, the co-chair said, “Seeing that there is only one candidate, all in favor of endorsing Tim Pawlenty say aye.” Applause continued, but many delegates remained seated and silent. The gavel was banged, and Tim Pawlenty gave an immediate acceptance speech followed by a balloon drop and a music and light show.

Attendance was very low for the convention. Some out-state delegates said the cost was prohibitive. Others cited a lackluster agenda and no competition without Jeffers speaking. At one point it was questioned whether a quorum was present and on Friday, there was doubt enough delegates were present to achieve the 60% threshold required for an endorsement.

“This entire convention was just a show,” said delegate Dave Rasmus, “they work on the platform as a pacifier, so delegates think they have a say, but the candidates the leadership pushes through don’t even follow half of the platform. It’s just a big show.”
We knew it was going to be a show for a long time. Anyone who stepped out of the line of accepting the incumbants regardless of performance has been attacked for quite sometime. People offering challenges are not taken up on their positions but instead are attacked through created personal assessments.

The convention was just a show. We knew beforehand that there was no-way Jeffers was going to see the floor of the convention...the GOP fears her message of fiscal conservativism for some reason. I'm betting if the GOP thought Shudlick would have pulled as much support as he did they would have found some way to keep him off the stage as well.

The internal theme is a facade: Unity. The theme for the year is fear-mongering...something a majority party typically does not do unless they are feeling highly vulnerable.

Just some thought for food.


Blogger bobby_b said...

Of course the convention was just a show. When it's a lock, it gives you a great chance to help your party effort with a big show.

When you reach this stage of the campaign, when it's all but a done deal, why on earth would you waste what should be a grand show put on to boost the GOP vote for purposes of "allowing dissent"? What's the point, beyond whining? Do you think that there were lots of people at the convention who didn't know about Jeffers, who would be astounded and amazed and renewed by hearing her anti-Pawlenty discussion, and who would then vote for her?

You had months to make your pitches. If you disagree with what Pawlenty's done, (and we know that many do so disagree, because they've told us, over and over and over), well, not only have you had ample opportunity to spread your word, you've used that opportunity. And, guess what? He's still a landslide. Your views, even widely disseminated, failed to win support.

To let Jeffers in to make her pointless point during an event that could otherwise be a showboard for unity - not unity of belief on all issues, but unity of philosophy, at least - would be counterproductive. To not let her in causes no harm - she's made her point, and she - and you - have no entitlement to mess with campaign tools just to stomp your foot and insist that "my minority views are important, too!"

June 06, 2006  
Blogger Tony Garcia said...

Two points:
1) The issue is not Jeffers specifically but the move to prevent delegates from having THEIR dissent heard at the ONE public opportunity typically available to them. I find it interesting (and telling) that you are justifying keeping THEM silent.

2) Again, silencing the minority is acceptable...from what you seem to be saying by the rationalization of doing so at the convention. And through it AGAIN there is not a direct refutation of the issues or a factual defense of Pawlenty's record provided. The dissent in this case being Pawlenty's recent fiscal issues.

Bobby, so you find silencing the delegates acceptable? Not surprising.

June 06, 2006  
Blogger R-Five said...

It is true that by gagging your opponents, you concede they are right. But my sympathies are with the GOP, despite their methods.

Sue Jeffers strayed from her reservation by allying with a competing party, then criticizes Pawlenty for wandering away from his. It just doesn't work.

I'm sure Sue will be welcomed back to GOP political life next year or so as the Prodigal Daughter. But she has some dues to pay first.

June 06, 2006  
Blogger Tony Garcia said...

First, let's understand the timeline. She went to the GOP first and inquired about challenging Pawlenty. She was told not to do so. So she left. The GOP was shutting down dissent BEFORE she left.

Second, I disagree...the GOP will not welcome her back if she follows through with her run for Governor. And look at how people like Andy treat her...you really think they would welcome her back unless she followed their strict marching orders (run in such-such race). I don't...these people cannot see beyond their partisan protection of incumbents with an "R" after the names. Any challenges will be met with personal attacks and 'don't let the door hit you on the way out.'

June 06, 2006  
Blogger Dan said...

Great discussion going on here. Very informative. I had to chime in. Firstly, I do think that Jeffers will be welcomed by the party when all is said and done. If she wins this race, she'll be governor. Believe me, if that happens, the party higher-ups will suddenly love her. If she doesn't make it to the top of the heap, the party will still embrace her. She's gained a ton of experience, campainging for state-wide office. Her views in are in line with the party platform. She's got energy, enthusiasm, determination, and she's tough. The GOP would be insane not to want her on the team. I've heard "penalty box" and "cooling off period" from some delegates. I Don't even think that's needed. I think she charges ahead full steam, advancing conservative ideals.

June 07, 2006  
Blogger bobby_b said...


You speak of the convention as the "one public opportunity" for the delegates to voice their dissent. I think that's the central point on where we disagree. That discussion has been ongoing, publicly and hotly, for months. No one has been denied a chance to educate and convince and persuade. It's not as if, as you imply, anyone has been denied their ONE CHANCE they have to make a difference. You know better than most that there have been a solid two years of such chances.

But the party convention . . . man, it's not just a discussion group gathering to secretly float friendly trial balloons to fellow travelers and allies. When you have a sitting guv with tremendous approval ratings, who, while he's made some moves that we might not have suggested, has kept the mansion from the marauding hordes and promises to do so again, you don't use the convention as an opportunity to bash him. You use it as a campaign tool to keep The Party in that slot. And then, and only then, do you go about working to get things onto the track that you deem more desirable.

You're like Bart in Blazing Saddles - you want to accomplish a change in our party by holding the gun up to our own heads. Maybe the changes you want need to be discussed - we're not in THAT debate right now - but put your gun down, let's use the convention to further our philosophical and political interests - yeah, as a campaign tool - and let's not sink the public perception of the party just because you disagree with some of Pawlenty's decisions.

June 07, 2006  
Blogger bobby_b said...

Sorry, missed this:

"Bobby, so you find silencing the delegates acceptable? Not surprising."

So, the delegates never got a chance to push for other political choices? No one has been talking about problems with Pawlenty, and alternatives to Pawlenty, these past months (or years)? The convention was the first chance that anyone had to begin a discourse about these issues?

Disagree. This sounds like the people who make a big thing that Bush keeps D protestors out of his appearances. "We don't have free speech!", they cry, but, in reality, they can go anywhere else in the country, anytime, and say (and shout) what they want, but they have no entitlement to go to that one spot on that one day and engage in their usual shouting-down of the speaker at the event. And it strikes me that that is closer to a true characterization of what you want for Jeffers than this silly "silencing the delegates" meme.

June 07, 2006  

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