Newly-elected Republican National Committee (RNC) Woman Pat Anderson signed up over the last weekend to lobby for Canterbury Holdings “to promote racino, casino-style slot machines at the [Canterbury] track.” This has caused some controversy as the Republican Party’s base is divided on gambling. Click here for some coverage of the issue without commentary.
Deputy Minnesota GOP Chairman Michael Brodkorb came out immediately with some mudslinging, saying that Pat Anderson should resign her position with the Republican Party. “Ultimately she's going to have to choose,” he told the Star Tribune.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Brodkorb is also employed by the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus. As Pat Anderson noted in a reply to his statement, Republican Senate President Michelle Fischbach -- "Michael's boss” -- is supporting a larger gambling proposal than racino. "Is he planning on kicking both of us out of the party?"
My understanding from talking to others is that state GOP chairman Tony Sutton does not support Brodkorb’s grandstanding on this issue. So it is interesting that he is engaging in this extracurricular activity.
I speak as someone who voted for Brodkorb for re-election at the most recent State Central. I did not vote for him in 2009 because I had impression of him that this incident is causing to become more reminiscent. He came across like a bully who at times acted unethically.
I am not going to comment much on Pat Anderson’s decision. Still, I would agree with the point she makes that it is inappropriate for our state to grant a monopoly to one group on the basis of race.
That said, what is noteworthy by virtue of its eccentricity is Mr. Brodkorb’s behavior. He and the Senate Republican group he represents often argue that it is inappropriate for conservatives to criticize wayward liberal Republicans because, they propose, it harms the party as a whole.
Would be it appropriate, according to Mr. Brodkorb’s view, to criticize the Senate Republicans for increasing state spending this year? Would it be appropriate to criticize Tim Pawlenty’s decision years ago to support a smoking ban in Minnesota bars? Would it be appropriate to criticize past legislation and future proposals by Mr. Brodkorb’s employers to build sports stadiums using other people’s money?
Mr. Brodkorb claims that it is not appropriate; he asserts that Republicans who support big government should be left alone. He made the claim, inappropriately asserting that it was a fact of the Republican Party, on the April 28 episode of Bob Davis’ KTLK program. (Click here to find it online.) He claimed it was the responsibility of Republican delegates to hold elected officials responsible.
Of course, Republican delegates in a legislator’s hometown are often a small group of people who rely heavily on their legislator to tell them what is going on. In many cases, their elected officials are not honest and do not tell their constituents the truth about what is going on.
Mr. Brodkorb mistakenly attempted to say that his employers should be left alone when they make bad decisions that promote the growth of government, and if no one notices, that is simply okay. No, it is not. We have a collective responsibility to make sure our elected officials do what they are supposed to do. If Mr. Brodkorb disagrees, he is in my view failing to perform the obligations of his office as deputy chairman.
That is part of the problem with Mr. Brodkorb’s decision to hold two positions. His role as an employee for the more liberal wing of the Republican Party’s leadership is in conflict with his ideal role as a conservative watchdog as the Minnesota Republican Party’s Deputy Chairman. So in part, I would surmise that Mr. Brodkorb’s actions are a consequence of that conflict of interest.
Yet a second observation that I have, and one which I believe plays a much more fundamental role in understanding Mr. Brodkorb, is that there is no rhyme or reason behind Mr. Brodkorb’s attacks or kvetching. I believe it is simply the manifestation of several personality flaws that I mistakenly, and regrettably, believed Mr. Brodkorb had begun to suppress over the years since he was first elected. Mr. Brodkorb’s actions are strictly a product of his personality, not of conviction or his position as deputy chair. Here’s why.
Number one: Attacking – or what some might even describe as bullying – Pat Anderson is not a requisite of Mr. Brodkorb’s position. If it were a requisite, Tony Sutton would be dutifully supplementing Mr. Brodkorb’s assertions with statements of his own. Additionally, the Republican State Executive Committee would probably censure Pat Anderson. (That will not happen, because a majority of its members support her and, frankly, would support silently if not publicly breaking up the Indian monopoly on gambling.)
Number two: Neither of those two things is happening. Does it benefit Mr. Brodkorb to attack Ms. Anderson? Again, the answer is no. If there were a solid rationale behind his actions, we would probably see other noteworthy Republicans joining in his crusade.
Number three: Not only does Mr. Brodkorb’s boss, Senate President Fischbach, support racino, so does Republican Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers. So do twelve Republican committee chairs in the legislature. Mr. Brodkorb is not attacking them; he has ludicrously and almost bizarrely singled out Pat Anderson.
It seems clear that Mr. Brodkorb is not acting rationally. What is his motive? I would expect that it is simply the product of an inability on his part to work with the more conservative wing of the party. Mr. Brodkorb is quite literally paid by the Senate GOP to defend the liberal, elitist, “establishment” wing of the party. That conflict of interest has become a sideshow to the issues that matter, and it is causing Mr. Brodkorb to act in a manner that damages the Republican Party.
When I voted for Mr. Brodkorb in April, I did not anticipate that he would parade around his employers’ opinions so extravagantly. (This is not to say his employers necessarily dislike Pat Anderson. It is to say that while Ms. Anderson is able to work with Mr. Brodkorb’s employers, Mr. Brodkorb is not as easily able to work with someone with whom he disagrees.)
Secondly, I did not anticipate that Mr. Brodkorb would return to acting with the same crankiness or eccentricity that accompanied his personal style for a predominance of his career.
I believe it is safe to say that not much will come of this difference between Ms. Anderson and Mr. Brodkorb. Ms. Anderson has a supportive and loyal base; Mr. Brodkorb is not noticeable enough to warrant much attention. Yet the incident has been one of the rare illuminations into a usually quieter divide in the Republican Party.
As for Mr. Brodkorb, it should be observed that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. He is a liberal Republican who has been helpful to the party in some respects. Conservatives may tolerate that. Yet if he calls on generally reliable conservatives to resign their positions in the party, he should first reflect on how he might respond to a reciprocal call.