If you wish to gain an accurate and timely understanding of the material posted at Bluestem, please follow us on Twitter at @bspinmn .
Note to December 3 Polinaut readers: Thank you for visiting this post from October, but the Daily Digest has simply misinformed you.
Paul Schmelzer at the Minnesota Independent actually broke the story about GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn scrubbing his blog posts at "Mr. Conservative. This post--from October 16--is valuable only for historical reasons, as it is in part an examination of Mr. Hagedorn's old blog posts that were live on October 16.
Indeed, I only learned about the scrubbing when Mr. Schmelzer contacted me about a missing link to the "only good Indian is a dead Indian post at Mr. Conservative."
Go read "Walz challenger scrubs jokes about Wellstone mourners, Grams’ infidelities from site Hagedorn's cuts echo Wikipedia edits by former CD1 Rep. Gutknecht" for the actual scoop.
Bluestem routinely breaks news--stories which you will not find linked in the Daily Digest orMinnpost --but the scrub story isn't one of them.
If you want to learn about stories that Bluestem actually breaks (you could have read about the content on Hagedorn's blog back on October 16, after all, when the links were live) I suggest you follow @bspinmn on Twitter.
Update December 2: Much of the "Mr. Conservative" posts mentioned in this article have been scrubbed or edited. As time permits, I will post screenshots of the original material. Now up: a screen shot of the original text of the Miers-O'Connor "bra" snark.
Update: On Saturday, October 31, Bluestem reported Boo! On Halloween, the Quist for Congress website lives [end update]
The emails from concerned friends started yesterday morning, almost as soon as Rochester Post Bulletin Political Reporter Heather Carlson posted Two GOP candidates with familiar names consider run against Walz (blog post) and Two mull run against Walz (newspaper article).
Carlson followed up on Bluestem's report that former state representative and 1990s-era GOP gubernatorial hopeful Allen Quist was considering a congressional bid, while breaking the news that Jim Hagedorn, son of former Republican congressman Tom Hagedorn, was exploring a move back to Blue Earth for run against incumbent DFLer Tim Walz.
The news comes at a time in the election cycle when the hot race and the not are being defined. For now, the Fighting First is in the not column.
The only openly declared candidate for the GOP nod is M. Frank McKinzie, a retired Army Gunnery Sergeant from Rochester who admits in a letter published in Southern Minnesota newspapers that he has gained scant support from the district's Republican establishment. While there is some buzz surrounding a potential bid by moderate Republican State Senator Julie Rosen, the chatter appears to come more from those who hope she will enter the race than from any moves on her part. For now, she's seeking a third term in the state senate.
After looking more closely at this week's flavors, I can understand why Senator Rosen gets those calls asking her to run. Based on past performance at the polls, the ultra-conservative Quist hasn't drawn the favor of Southern Minnesota's voters. As for Hagedorn, Bluestem concludes that Republican leaders in the Beltway are punking the district.
First, Allen Quist. In her blog post about the developing story, Carlson writes:
There has also been plenty of buzz around former Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen Quist. Bluestem Prairie wrote about the potential Quist bid. He won the Republican endorsement in 1994 but lost by a landslide to Gov. Arne Carlson. In an interview yesterday, Quist declined to comment on whether he was running saying "It's just a little too early."But he then advised me I could send my information to his e-mail at email@example.com. Hmmmm....
Quist, who most recently gained media attention in 2006 for his opposition to the International Baccalaureate diploma,is the spouse of Congresswoman Bachmann's district director, Julie Quist. While she was GOP congressional district chair in the Old Second District (considerably different geography from the current Second created by redistricting in 2002), Quist captured the 1994 GOP gubernatorial bid against sitting GOP governor Arne Carlson.
According to "Onward, Quistian Soldiers; How Candidate Allen Quist Rose From the Political Dead and Seized the Minnesota GOP," a September 1994 Campaigns and Elections article I read via Nexis, the Quists developed a fairly sophisticated strategy that ended up netting 69 percent of the 1994 GOP state convnetion:
Shortly after entering the race in July 1993, the Quists held a blueprint strategy session to plot the drive for the nomination. Well-connected coordinators would be recruited for each CD, who would then serve as point people in the recruitment of coordinators for each BPU (legislative district). An activist roster was built from lists provided by the pro-life movement and other groups opposed to Carlson initiatives. The alumni list of Berhany College -- a conservative Lutheran institute where Quist had taught for 18 years -- also proved helpful. Grunseth veterans provided a huge database of 270,000 names that was judged too unwieldy to use until after the convention.
Signing up people for the precinct caucuses would be a retail task; and as the candidate was not well-known, it would be difficult to recruit without his personal presence. He had to hit as many small gatherings as possible, but time was short and resources were thin. At George Cable's suggestion, a 20-minute, issue-oriented video about Quist was produced by the Mahoney Broadcast Group and used as the centerpiece for a continuous series of coffees held in hundreds of neighborhoods around the state (see page 54). Pledge cards from these events were then computerized into a house list of activists, ready to be herded to the caucuses at the proper time.
Training sessions for the coordinators were held in December and January, where they were instructed how to organize their coffees and build and use their lists. About 300 videos made their way to the coordinators in late January; by the time of the precinct caucuses on March 1, the statewide house list contained 25,000 names; total turnout at the caucuses amounted to about 45,000 voters. Inspired by their new leader's taped exhortations, Quistians flooded the meeting halls of Minnesota like prides of lions. There they found they were not alone; the Minnesota Family Council, NRA and Christian Coalition had all mounted efforts to turn out their members.
"In most places, there were about as many people who showed up on their own just to vote against Carlson," declares Quist convention campaign manager Joe Fields. "They knew hardly anything about Allen, but after our people filled them in, they were soon sold on him." It must not have been a tough sell. If anyone wanted to vote against the governor, Quist was the only game in town.
While the strategy worked to secure the endorsement, the primary was an entirely different story. Election results at the Minnesota Secretary of State's web site only go back to 1998; according to county-by-county primary returns on pages 346-347 of the 1995 "Blue Book", Quist only captured the popular vote in 6 of the 22 counties that now comprise Minnesota's First Congressional District.
The counties--Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock--are affectionately known as "The Six Pack," a part of the 1990s iteration of the Second. Relatively small in population, their turnout in 1994's GOP primary is dwarfed by that of Rochester's Olmsted County in the eastern half of the current First. Governor Carlson captured 11,572 of Olmsted's voters, while Quist only received 4747 voters, a wider margin than that in the state as a whole (321-084-161,670).
I take little risk in suggesting that while Quist might readily capture the CD1 base of a GOP activists--just as ultraconservative Brian Davis sailed into a first-ballot triumph against the more moderate Randy Demmer in the GOP's district convention--that facing Congressman Walz in the general election is likely to proved unsuccessful for Mr. Quist. In 2008, Davis only garnered 32.9 percent of the vote district-wide, while Walz won every county with 65 percent of the vote.
Like Minnesota's First Congressional District, Carlson has since moved to the left, endorsing Barack Obama in 2008. The First was in the Obama column on election day as well.
On to Jim "Mr. Conservative" Hagedorn. The Post Bulletin's Carlson writes in the PB's Political Party blog:
Jim Hagedorn, son of former Minnesota Congressman Tom Hagedorn, said he is considering running for the seat.
"I've been meeting with Republican leaders about the 1st District for some time and am trying to determine how best I can utilize my Capitol Hill and legislative experience to help my party take back the seat," he said.
His father served eight years representing what was the 2nd District — which covered the western edge of the current 1st District including Austin and Mankato. Hagedorn has spent 25 years working on Capitol Hill, including seven years as the senior legislative assistant to former Minnesota Republican Rep. Arlan Stangeland.
Following redistricting in 1982 that put the incumbent legislator into the Old, Old First (1980s version), Hagedorn was defeated by an upstart young DFL state senator, moderate Tim Penny. Articles in Nexis indicate that following his defeat, the elder Hagedorn worked in the USDA as a Reagan administration appointee; most recently, his father's 2008 obituary lists Fort Lauderdale, FL, as the defeated congressman's residence. Penny, who retired from Congress in 1994, returned to his home town of Waseca where he has stayed put geographically while migrating politically to the Independence Party (Penny did, however, endorse Walz in 2008).
Carlson also notes the Hagedorn the Younger is also a blogger:
Hagedorn also had his own blog "Mr. Conservative." But he posted that after the 2008 election he was suspending all posts "in order to explore the opportunity to return to his southern Minnesota roots, accept a position in the private sector and run for Congress." Here is a link to his blog.
Hagedorn said he is looking at moving back to the district and was checking out homes in Blue Earth, Minn. yesterday.
After reading the baker's dozen of posts published since Hagedorn reportedly began publishing "Mr Conservative" in 2000, I can only conclude that those "Republican leaders" in Washington that have met with him must have a great taste for Jason Lewis or Sacha Baron Cohen. Like Lewis, Mr. Conservative trashes Republicans he doesn't think are conservative enough; like Cohen, he seems to be putting us on.
Perhaps the congressional bid is a curious hybrid of the two pop culture figures, designed to irritate and provoke through thoroughly tasteless barbs. One can only wonder, though, why the national Republican congressional leadership would engage with this ultimate DC insider after struggling since 2006 to brand Walz as a typical DC politician out of step with the values of his district.
I'll spare readers the snark aimed at DFLers, as that is to be expected. But in looking at the jabs to his fellow Republicans, I am left wondering if Cantor, Boehner and their caucus have a clue about Southern Minnesota values.
Or do they just love South-Park style performance art?
Take a repeated passage on former Senator Rod Grams: the Rod Award. The first iteration in 2000 [Note December 2: "Mr Conservative seems to a have scrubbed his site of all post prior to 2004]
Now, you arrive for work at the Senate and in the first days you do which of the following to solidify your long-term political viability (please choose one):
1. Divorce your wife of 25 years
2. Make a public statement that you are banging your chief-of-staff
3. Remind the Republican establishment and the voters that you are really an arrogant SOB
4. Clean up your act.
If you chose D you are definitely not Republican Senator Rod Grams and could have maybe figured out a way to win reelection. Senator Grams, on the other hand, tried his best to achieve A, B, and C before casting his first vote.
Mighty classy stuff coming from a guy who worked for Arlen Stangeland (see third paragraph here).
In a 2002 post,[another scrubbed link]Hagedorn wrote this bit of political "humor" about Mitt Romney under prediction for an election in Massachusetts:
Once in a lifetime a state churns out a candidate so polished, smart and attractive that he cannot lose. Unfortunately for Republican Gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney, John Kennedy was from Massachusetts. That having been said, Romney, the transplanted Mormon, projects well in debates and on the campaign trail and should overcome any bias based on his non-Catholic status and image as Utah carpetbagger. Perhaps Romney’s only campaign error was the failure to move all of his wives and children to Massachusetts, an oversight that will cost him a multitude of votes.
Leaving aside the factual inaccuracies about Romney being from Utah (Romney was born and raised in Michigan), one wonders whether Southern Minnesotans would share the levity about religion, much less desire it in their U.S. Representative.
Similarly, one wonders if jokes about American Indians in South Dakota in the same post would be appreciated:
The race has been highlighted by a Democrat drive to register voters in several of South Dakota’s expansive redistribution of wealth centers…err…casino parlors…err…Indian Reservations. Remarkably, many of the voters registered for absentee ballots were found to be chiefs and squaws who had returned to the spirit world many moons ago. What is truly astonishing is not that the Democrats would cheat, but that the FBI and other law enforcement types actually took the initiative to catch them.
Voter backlash against the Democrat’s (typical) election-stealing maneuvers will be the margin of victory for Thune. Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s* wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.
How appealing. Religion and race aren't the only areas where Hagedorn exercises his self described
"unique style of commentary mixes cutting humor, reflective analysis and hard charging commonsense to promote the brand of conservatism established by America’s Founding Fathers, reintroduced by Senator Barry Goldwater and perfected in modern times by President Ronald Reagan, the author’s hero."
New: screen shot at right of original text quoted below. Gender, too, is a fertile ground for that "cutting humor." A post from October 2005 begins [edited as of December 2 to read as "high heels"]:
The nomination of White House legal hack Harriet Miers to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor simply enhances the bush-league legacy of a family that time and again proves the Peter Principle applies to elective politics.
Lovely. Surely this will appeal to all three women voters in Southern Minnesota who measure the performance of female SCOTUS justices by their bras. I suspect more women and men, however, will simply wonder WTF?, given the pink ribbons that have graced the last 25 Octobers, and Justice O'Connor's own high-profile story in that fight.
There's more, including some homophobia that out-Quists Quist , but readers should get the drift. It's hard to imagine that this bid is anything other than a spoof on the part of Republican leadership while searching for a more serious candidate--such as Quist--prepares to enter the race.
Indeed, while "Mr. Conservative" is no "Mr. Sensitivity," I'm old enough to remember that maybe Hagedorn doesn't deserve to swipe the honorific for his blog. When i was a wee child, my parents were ardent supporters of the original "Mr. Conservative," Senator Barry Goldwater. As he aged, Goldwater (who suggested O'Connor's SCOTUS nomination to President Reagan) to railed against the direction the Republican Party headed, and would probably not laugh much at the blogger who now bears his nickname.
In fact, the Wikipedia entry for Goldwater notes:
A few years before his death he went so far as to address the right wing, "Do not associate my name with anything you do. You are extremists, and you've hurt the Republican party much more than the Democrats have."
Were Goldwater to rise like the ghost of elections past, he might share those words with this joker who would campaign on the legacy of a father's barely-remembered name--and with those "leaders" who encourage the longtime DC resident.
Photo: Is Jim Hagedorn a performance artist in the mold of Cohen? And "Mr. Conservative" his Borat?
*Actually, the saying is attributed to General Philip Sheridan, though Representative James M.Cavanuagh (D-MT) is more accurately the source of the saying. Apparently such sentiments were acceptable in the U.S. House in 1868.