While all of twitter watched the Republican National Convention in Tampa in which Minnesotans voted for Paul and strange and awkward optics emerged when a Puerto Rican GOP Delegate Interrupted by Chants of “USA! USA!” on Convention Floor, Mower County Republicans were having a party of their own at the the Veteran’s Pavilion at Community Park in Austin Tuesday night.
People unhappy with Republicans
Judging from Mower’s GOP goes grassroots, coverage in the Austin Herald by staff writer Kevin Coss, the gathering of 60 party faithful, party leaders and local candidates at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Picnic enjoyed awkward moments of their very own. Coss reports:
Senjem called the upcoming election the most important in modern history.
“If you’re a Republican and you can’t get upset about this, you don’t have a pulse,” he said.
It's hard to suss what Senjem was hoping living Republicans were supposed to get upset about. Perhaps he's thinking of how Bills' moribund campaign draws ire of MNGOP.
Coss writes that the Mower County chair has heard that people are unhappy with Republicans and suggested voting for Allen Quist to solve that problem:
Mower GOP Chairman Dennis Schminke said a major obstacle for Minnesota GOP supporters is putting aside discontent.
“One of the things I get from people is how upset they are with the Republican Party,” he said.
The picnic was first held last year to a packed house, with retiring one-term representative John Kriesel as the party unit's special guest. Times seemed rosier for the MNGOP, despite "the elephant in the room" of the state shutdown. That fact didn't stop the July 2011 party for the elephants.
Now the Herald reports:
Schminke added Republicans need to unite, especially behind 1st U.S. Congressional District candidate Allen Quist, who beat Mike Parry in the primary.
“If you want to see President Romney do well in office, you have to get behind Allen Quist,” Schminke said.
Given how few Republicans in the First were motivated to vote in the primary, Schminke may be on to something.
Primary winner Allen Quist was in Tampa, looking for to make contacts at the RNC. Although his wife and campaign manager Julie Quist told Minnpost that his candidacy will be focusing on the national debt, AP reporter Brian Bakst tweeted that the couple were consorting with the social issues wing of the party:
But have no fear! Local legislative candidates blamed spending on poor people for America's problems and suggested that we turn our attention to job creators. And taxes? At the annual Lincoln-Reagan Picnic, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said:
Senjem echoed [senate candidate Linden Anderson's] sentiment, saying high taxes placed on businesses was dissuading companies from setting up in Minnesota. That, he said, results in fewer jobs for Minnesotans.
“We’re not going to tax our way to prosperity,” he said.
The Reagan tax hike legacy of prosperity
Sadly, Senjem doesn't remember the lesson from the era of one of the picnic's namesakes. As Steve Benen wrote back in January's Cantor can’t handle the truth about Reagan in the Washington Monthly:
Unfortunately for Cantor and his press secretary, reality is stubborn. The facts are indisputable: in Ronald Reagan’s first term, he signed off on a series of tax increases — even when unemployment was nearing 11% — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. The truth is, “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan. . .
Why do Cantor, his press secretary, and Republicans everywhere deny what is plainly true? Because reality is terribly inconvenient: the GOP demi-god rejected the right-wing line on always opposing tax increases; he willingly compromised with Democrats on revenue; and the economy soared after Reagan raised taxes, disproving the Republican assumption that tax increases always push the nation towards recessions.
Down the ballot, Mary Reider beat Gil Gutknecht in Mower County in 2000 and Mark Dayton bested Grams; DFLers won the parts of the old pre-2002 SD/HD 27 in Mower County, while losing both in SD 31. In 2004, DFL state senate and house candidates won in Mower, if not their races, and MNCD1 DFL candidate Leigh Pomeroy performed much better than in most of the rest of the district. In 2008, DFL candidates triumphed, from Franken and Walz to Robin Brown and Jeanne Poppe.
In the non-presidential election 2006 Democratic wave, DFL candidates swept the ballot in Mower County.
Mower County isn't elephant territory in the best of times, either. In the GOP-friendly elections of 2002 and 2010, DFLers did well. In tumult following the 2002 Wellstone plane crash, Mower County voted 58.60 percent for Walter Mondale, chose Independence Party standard bearer (and former DFL CD1 Congressman) Tim Penny for Governor, filled in circles for DFLers in the rest of the down-ballot constitutional officers, and picked Gil Gutknecht over an under-funded Steve Andreasen. For the state legislature, voters split the difference in the House reces, but picked Dan Sparks, providing the edge for his seven-voter squeaker of a win.
In 2010 in Mower County, DFLers swept the ballot, though Robin Brown lost the race by 57 votes. Mower County's Rich Murray tried to have the county re-districted out of his turf for 2012, as Bluestem reported in A special man, Grandpa Rich goes to Special Redistricting Panel with family and friends.
A lot of Republicans will have to swallow their discontent and turn out as reliable Republican votes in Mower County--and they'll have to get all of their friends all of their friends to be less upset as well to lose with Mower County with their usual verve.
Photos: Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and Mower GOP Chair Dennis Schminke at the Mower County Lincoln-Reagan Picnic last night. Maybe people would be less upset with the Republican Party if Dave toned down the shirt. Cropped from Austin Daily Herald photo by Kevin Coss.(above); Congressman Walz (below).