When we last left former Republican operative Ben Golnik, his bully in Minnesota's First Congressional District primary dogfight had handed perennial candidate Allen Quist his first electoral victory in years.
With the defeat of Emo Senator Mike Parry in the primary, Golnik departed from the green rolling hills of southern Minnesota for the sylvan forests of Minnesota's Eighth, where he helped freshman Republican congressman Chip Cravaack return the seat to DFL control.
Now it looks as if Ben's facing the biggest life challenge since being tried and convicted in absentia in a Russian court for espionage: electing Allen Quist to the Minnesota Legislature--for any office--for the first time since Don Ostrom booted him in 1988.
Judging from tweets Golnik's new political fund sent from today's DFL House District 19A endorsing convention in North Mankato, the veteran Republican operative is looking to make his new gravy train's bones on this one.
Bluestem can only wish the Minnesota Jobs Coalition good luck on that one, since Golnik was probably most responsible for reviving the historical Quist brand profile in 2012. And while Parry's own nature proved more odious to First District Republican voters than that of Quist, the Norseland farmer fell to happy warrior Tim Walz in November.
Indeed, Golnik's hard work revived memories of Quist's underdevelopment in the minds of House District 19A in particular, where Quist drew only 37.05 percent of the vote in the general election as opposed to 42.33 percent throughout the First as a whole.
And 19A is, obviously, Quist's home house district.
Typical of the coverage? PIM's Briana Bierschbach reported in The storm before the quiet: Parry, Quist trade increasingly bitter blows:
With just weeks before the August primary election that will decide who gets to take on DFL Rep. Tim Walz this fall, Parry, a state senator from Waseca, kicked off a week-long media barrage with an email blast pointing to a few eyebrow-raising remarks made by Quist about two decades ago. In particular, Parry pointed to a 1994 comment from Quist comparing a center for gays to a center for the Ku Klux Klan, a comment about men’s “genetic predisposition” to be the heads of households, and Quist’s comments about visiting adult bookstores (to assess the public health conditions, he said) during his time in the House.
Quist countered that Parry was making it all up and was attacking out of desperation, but before long Twin Cities media reporter David Brauer jumped into the mix, digging up the tape of the interview in which Quist made his remark about men’s leadership DNA. . . .
Team Parry is hitting the anti-Quist message hard, also criticizing his conservative credentials for past legislative votes in favor of a gas tax and light rail projects, Parry spokesman Ben Golnik said.
That’s not going to change in the next few weeks. “Republicans are united around replacing elected officials,” Golnik said. “We don’t want voters to have buyer’s remorse if Allen Quist is a candidate. If Parry is the candidate, this race will be a referendum on Tim Walz.”
Parry says people are asking him about what Quist has said in the past. “People are very concerned that if Allen Quist is the general election candidate, knowing the DFL campaign machine, they will go in for television ads and radio ads showing Allen Quist at a triple-X porn shop, and point out the gas tax,” he said. “It will be all on him, and he will have to respond to that.”
At least Golnik won't have to make pitches to potential fund contributors based on party purity. Bluestem will grant him that.
Will the Alliance for Better Minnesota's Better Legislature campaign pitch in with independent expenditure radio and television ads against Quist? Perhaps they can send Golnik a fruit basket thanking him for doing all that research into the archives of the Mankato Free Press.
With a local television station, a number of local radio outlets, two daily newspapers (Mankato and New Ulm) and a weekly paper with a lively website (St. Peter Herald), there's more media for this market than most Greater Minnesota districts. Both sides' dollars are certainly welcome for rural development.
DFLer Clark Johnson was endorsed today on the fourth ballot, beating nearest rival Karl H. Johnson on a 62--38 percent split.
Unlike the sparsely attended Republican endorsing convention that selected Quist in an empty movie theater, today's DFL endorsing convention packed them in.
KEYC-TV reports in DFL Choose Clark Johnson for 19A Legislative Candidate:
When the local DFL party was preparing for Saturday's nomination convention, they should have selected a bigger room.
One organizer said, "Wow, we thought there was more snow birds in our group than there are"
Special elections don't usually get a lot of attention.
Candidate Karl Johnson said, "I was very concerned we wouldn't have more than 30–40 people here."
But with long–time DFL legislator Terry Morrow leaving, and republican candidate Allen Quist, fresh off his defeat in November's 1st–District congressional race, the DFL needs a solid candidate to keep the seat.
Representative Kathy Brynaert said, "I think you see democracy at work here."
Minnesota state professor Clark Johnson won the popularity contest with signs....and after 3 hours and 4 rounds of voting, he won over the delegates too.
...Clark Johnson received 32 votes for 61 percent.
Johnson defeated North Mankato Farmer Karl Johnson, educator and union activist Robin Courrier, and St. Peter Mayor Tim Strand.
Johnson said, "We're going to make this campaign happen, you saw the energy in this room today, people backing me and we are going to make this happen fast by marshaling the supporters we got."
And fast he will have to be the special election will be held on February 12th, less than a month away. Johnson said he would start fundraising and campaigning immediately.
From the reports Bluestem is getting from the endorsing convention (we kept our sniffles at home), Clark Johnson charging ahead with an on-the-ground campaign and will be on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus on Monday.
GAC College Democrat organizer Megan Nelson posted on Facebook:
I'm excited to start campaigning for the 19A DFL endorsed candidate Clark Johnson! If you're at Gustavus on Monday for the MLK service, stop by the College Dems table outside the caf at 11:30 to meet Clark.
Tim Krohn has more in the Mankato Free Press article, Clark Johnson wins DFL endorsement for House 19A.
The February 12, 2013 special election in Minnesota House District 19A was triggered by the resignation of Representative Terry Morrow to take a job in Chicago. Morrow was unopposed in the November 2012 election. In addition to Allen Quist, endorsed IP candidate Tim Gieseke will appear on the February 12 ballot.
Because party rule cause the DFL endorsing convention to take place after the deadline for candidates to withdraw, all four DFL candidates' names will appear on the ballot in a January 29 primary. All of the other DFL candidates have agreed to suspend their campaigns in favor Clark Johnson, the endorsed candidate.
Here's KEYC-TV's coverage:
Images: Clark Johnson supporters via Facebook; Quist Crazy Quilt, by Ken Avidor; a packed house (twitpic by Eric Nelson)
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