Bluestem Prairie posted about the objection that the editor of Glencoe paper had to the McLeod County Republican Party's plan to screen local candidates for local office in McLeod Co. Chronicle: BPOU Republican executive board crosses line with last minute partisan demands on local candidates.
McLeod County Chronicle editor Rich Glennie wrote in County GOPers are way out of bounds:
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial ruling on unfettered campaign contributions, there seems to be no boundaries in the world of politics any more. Americans seem to have lost their collective political common sense and morals.
That also applies to the local level where the McLeod County Republican party hierarchy has now crossed the line and entered into the nonpartisan arena of city, county and school board elections.
Eric Harpel, GOP county chairman, sent letters to city council, county board and school board candidates asking them to fill out questionnaires and then attend an Oct. 4 GOP board meeting to explain their answers.
The candidates the GOP board likes will “gain access to our voter identifying tool that can assist you in marketing to potential constituents in your district,” Harpel wrote.
When did this elite group of conservatives think they could hijack the local elections?
Who gave them the right to demand anything? Who gave them the right to inject their harsh conservative litmus test into the race for mayor or school board or the county board for that matter!. . .
Local candidates, send those questionnaires right back to the county GOP leadership — blank.
If they want to know how you feel on the issues, they can attend the upcoming candidate forums like the rest of us.
The column is now behind a subscription firewall. While city and county races in the Twin Cities are partisan affairs--with city and county party conventions conventions endorsing candidates who are then given access to party recources such a voter files and volunteer lists--this is not the custom in Greater Minnesota.
In today's paper, McLeod County Republican Chair Eric Harpel writes in GOP chairman responds to Glennie’s column that if a newspaper can "recommend" candidates, so can the local Republican party, but this recommendation should not be thought of as an endorsement.
Moreover, Harpel states that local screenings "started at the state level to assist local candidates in getting elected by providing them with voter-identification information." Presumably, this means that the Republican Party of Minnesota has decided to inject partisan politics--and party resources such as its voter file database--in all non-partisan races across the state, with local BPOU boards "recommending" candidates for county, city and school board.
He has not provided a copy of the "call" and a set of questions that the candidates were asked.
Here's Harpel's letter, GOP chairman responds to Glennie’s column:
To the Editor:
In response to Rich Glennie’s editorial (column) last week regarding the candidate recommendation program (“County GOPers are way out of bounds”): First, it would have been considerate to be contacted regarding the program to get the facts straight before printing a story full of half-truths.
This new program, started at the state level to assist local candidates in getting elected by providing them with voter-identification information. Any local candidate wishing to seek a recommendation can do so. Several have done so already.
Other local candidates running for county commissioner, mayor and school board were contacted by phone to be made aware of the program. Those that expressed interest were sent out questionnaires and an invitation to apply at their request! Voters have a right to be informed about candidates and where local candidates stand on fiscal issues in involving the office that they seek.
The GOP, as a political party, is a source of that information on a candidate; therefore, if a candidate requests it, our recommendation is relevant as a tool for both voter and candidate.
We are not providing an endorsement, but rather, a recommendation. In fact, we can recommend more than one candidate for the same office.
In closing, the recommendation the local party makes is no different than the endorsement (recommendation) all of our local editors make at election time, including yours, Rich Glennie. You can't have it both ways! If you can recommend a candidate, so can we.
Chairman McLeod GOP
Perhaps newspapers should create committees, fundraise, create voter file databases, and rally volunteers to doorknock and phonebank to the candidates they "recommend."
Should that happen, Mr. Harpel's insistence that the distinction between "recommend" and "endorse"--and the business of political parties versus that of newspapers--is without difference will indeed have merit.
Photo: McLeod County Republican Chair Eric HarpelMcLeod Co. Chronicle: BPOU Republican executive board crosses line with last minute partisan demands on local candidates