As the long recovery from Saturday night's endorsement blowout continues in Southern Minnesota, the press, political science professors and party bosses in St. Paul smell an August primary in the unseasonably early spring air.
The editorial board at the Rochester Post Bulletin is blunt in Put both Parry and Quist on the ballot:
So now the Republican delegates will be asked to gather again at some point in the next few weeks. That's asking a lot, and we'd guess that the turnout for a second go-round won't be particularly good.
Even if that prediction proves inaccurate, however, we now believe that regardless of who ultimately receives the party endorsement, both Parry and Quist should appear on the ballot in the primary on Aug. 14. In a race that's this tight, we see no reason why all Republicans in the First District shouldn't have a opportunity to participate in the winnowing process.
Republican voters would have the entire summer to learn more about each of these men, and that's not a bad thing.
Bluestem will go further than that: it's a virtual blogger's heaven.
Those spoil sport editors at the New Ulm Journal think that a primary is a bad idea, since it will give Congressman Walz an unfair advantage. They opine in Political Battle:
It might seem that the First District delegates, deadlocked as they are, could decide to make no endorsement and let the candidate be selected in the First District primary election. That, however, would mean months of campaigning for Parry and Quist, time and money spent battling each other instead of Walz.
Walz already has a huge advantage in fundraising. Whoever challenges him will be hard pressed to finance a campaign. The challengers can't afford a primary battle.
A reader points out in a comment (see update at the bottom of this post):
Keep in mind that Representative Tim Walz has a huge advantage in fundraising because he has a lot of supporters. Most of his financial support comes $20 or $50 at a time, too.
I realize that many of you here don't like Mr. Walz's politics, but you can't deny that he has a tough grass-roots support that is hard to beat. To disagree with that would be fooling yourself.
Elsewhere in the Journal, cub reporter Josh Moniz, who gained a larger statewide audience during Saturday night's tweetfest, writes in Political activists: long Parry/Quist battle benefits Walz:
A long, drawn-out battle between Republican candidates Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca) and former state legislator Allen Quist would be a windfall for their DFL opponent 1st District incumbent Rep. Tim Walz, according to area Republican and DFL political activists. . . .
What remains to be seen is whether a candidate will be endorsed at the next meeting or whether the parade of gridlock votes will continue. During the convention, many delegates expressed pessimism that enough votes would shift to determine a winner.
Brown County Republicans of Minnesota Chair Jim Hahn said there are equal benefits and risks to an extended endorsement process. However, he said he personally expects the convention to end with a No Endorsement motion because of how entrenched each side's supporters are.
"It would take something really big to change more than 25 delegates' minds," said Hahn, "Both sides seem pretty entrenched. Once they see there isn't much change, I think they'll move on. I don't think we'll go 23 ballots again."
Moniz interviewed Walz campaign manager Sara Severs, who expressed the campaign's essential indifference to the Republican duel:
Severs said she doesn't think Parry and Quist having to campaign into the primary would make messaging against either harder. She said that she believes neither represents a strong opponent for Walz and both would launch very similar campaigns.
There may not be another endorsing convention after all. Over at the Post Bulletin, Heather Carlson reports that GOP officials have mixed views on calling another 1st District convention:
The next battle facing 1st District Republicans isn't with DFL U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, it's whether to call another endorsing convention to pick his challenger, Mike Parry or Allen Quist. . . .
But critics of that idea say calling another convention will be a logistical nightmare and the district convention has no authority to tell the central committee what to do. . . .
Carlson chronicles the Quist/Parry split on reconvening:
Quist accused Parry supporters of being behind efforts to block a second convention.
“The Parry supporters are trying to find excuses rather than recognize that they consistently lost support during the convention. So why don’t they just own up to that fact?” Quist said.
Parry campaign spokesman Ben Golnik rejected Quist’s accusation.
“It is not possible for us to respond to every conspiracy theory and paranoia from the Quist campaign,” he said.
Perhaps some day, Republicans in Minnesota will be able to afford rent and different staff in different congressional races.
Carleton prof Steven Schier has words about the rumpus:
The more the Republicans are divided the better it is for Walz," he said, "and they couldn’t be much more divided than this.”
Read the whole thing at the PB.
Bluestem is investigating rumors that farmers through the district are responding to demands to "get the popcorn" by switching acres from beans and alfalfa to Orville Reddenbackers. We will let you know.
Photo: Pop it!
Update, 11:00 a.m., April 24, 2012:
A reader correctly admonishes BSP's uncritical use of the comment at the NUJ:
Given your praiseworthy tradition of scrupulous attention to the hard numbers contained in FEC reports, I'm surprised you uncritically quoted a Journal reader's comment that "Most of [Walz's] financial support comes $20 or $50 at a time, too."
The FEC report for the election cycle to date (01/01/2011-03/31/3012) shows only $224,736 of Walz's fundraising being from unitemized individuals, i.e., those giving $200 or less. By contrast, he raised $499,356 from itemized individuals (those giving more) and $469,425 from other committees (i.e., PACs).
Admittedly, these financial realities don't undermine the reader's bottom-line conclusion that Walz has "grass-roots support that is hard to beat." Many of the itemized contributors may also be grass-roots supporters; the real question isn't whether they gave more than $200, but whether they live in the district and support Walz with more than just dollars. Also, even just the unitemized donations dwarf Quist and Parry's totals.