A lot, if this item in The Hill is indicative:
The National Republican Congressional Committee is taking aim at longtime Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) with an ad arguing he has "changed." . . .
Peterson, now in his 11th term, has faced no serious challenges in more than a decade to his hold on a Republican-leaning northwest Minnesota district, although Republicans have periodically tried to target him.
But Republicans feel good about the chances of Minnesota state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R), who announced her campaign in late February. Tea Party-backed Lee Byberg (R), whom Peterson beat by 17 percentage points in the 2010 GOP wave election, is also running.
Framing Norwegian-American anchor-baby Byberg as the "[t]ea party-backed" candidate is one deft stroke on the part of whomever pitched this story to The Hill.
On April 26, 2010, the Women's Media Center reported in The Tea Party Movement - Taking the Pulse:
Some Tea Party Women Who Run
In Minnesota, a GOP candidate for the state legislature with Tea Party support, Gretchen Hoffman, told a St. Paul reporter that she got involved during the U.S. Senate recount last year and “didn’t like the direction things were going in this country…I’d always been informed, but never really involved. And then one day I woke up and I saw my country going away.” She met with others who felt the same way, organized small gatherings and says that while they’re “not affiliated with any larger Tea Party group, there are a bunch of us around…. we have something to say and we’re going to say it.”
Hoffman not only appeared at Tea Party rallies, but organized meetings in her area. It's interesting to see the re-branding, with Byberg being cast as the Tea Party also-ran.
Bonus irony: Dave Thompson, Hoffman's buddy for junior-antics while the Minnesota Senate is in session, served as Byberg's communications director in 2010.
Regardless of which Tea Party candidate the Seventh District Republicans select at their convention tomorrow, the Peterson seat itself was chosen as a target in November 2010 by the NRCC. On November 4, 2010, Politico reported in 2012 targets already in GOP's sights:
But NRCC officials also signaled that even though Republicans took down roughly 50 Democratic incumbents Tuesday, they are already plotting how to pick off the ones who got away. . .
n a conference call with reporters Wednesday, NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison listed 10 moderate Democrats who are in the committee’s sights for 2012: West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson and Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire. All four were held under 60 percent Tuesday and represent districts that voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.
Perhaps the greatest asset Hoffman brings to the Republican race isn't a Tea Party-free status, but her trademark disagreeableness. Yesterday's Morning Take provided a snapshot of her campaign's rips on Byberg:
GOP: Hoffman has been relentless in going after Byberg in the last couple weeks. In addition to rolling out endorsements from her state Senate colleagues, she sent out releases with the headline “HOFFMAN ASKS BYBERG TO STOP LYING TO VOTERS” and a release that asks “...with media outlets reporting Congressional candidate Lee Byberg’s half-hearted apology for fabricating political endorsements he never had and his campaign acknowledging that it incorrectly represented endorsements it never received in both the 2010 and 2012 elections, state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman today called on Byberg to explain why the apology took so long and just what information delivered to Minnesota voters he is responsible for?” MORRIS: Then, an attack on Byberg’s touting of Dick Morris endorsement: VERBATIM: A letter from the Lee Byberg campaign arrived in mailboxes today touting the endorsement of Dick Morris, the architect of democrat Bill Clinton’s re-election strategy. QUOTE: “After failing to earn more than 38% of the vote in 2010, the best year for Republican victories since 1920, I don't see how Lee Byberg will improve upon his disappointing performance by aligning himself with a New York-based former campaign manager to Bill Clinton," said Hoffman.
Charming. Out here on the Bluestem, we anticipate two more years of representation by conservative Blue Dog Peterson, complete with the occasional auditory waterboarding by his country rock band, The Second Amendments. A small price to pay, we guess, for not having to listen to Hoffman or watch her antics on the state senate or U.S. House floor.
Update: Via Minnesota Conservatives, Hoffman's campaign is trashing conservative radio (and now TV) talker Scott Hennen as being bought by Byberg. Hoffman has been a frequent guest on Scott Hennen's shows and Hennen emceed several Tea Party rallies where Hoffman appeared. It's interesting to see her turn so quickly on the former ally.
Turning on him for this endorsement is curious indeed. Bluestem will be taking a look at other Republican advertising buys and will report back. In the meantime, pop some corn.
Photo: Tea Party darling Gretchen Hoffman (R-Hateuall) and Byberg's former communications manager Dave Thompson goof off during a Senate session, while Scott Dibble(foreground) diligently slogs ahead (above); Portrait of Hoffman (below).