According to a letter by state GOP Chair Tony Sutton that appeared in the Star Tribune today, he is stepping down as chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, less than seven months after being re-elected. You can view the letter by clicking here.
Several things about this are notable. I will list them here in summary format and expand upon it more within the next couple of days. As those involved in the party already know, the State Central Committee is meeting tomorrow and will hold a special election to fill the position of deputy chairman.
1) It is notable that Tony felt it appropriate to dump heavily on Tom Emmer and his campaign staff. He stated that two of his three regrets focused on Tom Emmer, writing, "Unfortunately [the business community] were not as excited about [Tom Emmer] as we had hoped.... I wish we had not been involved in the recount for Governor.... I was approached... by the campaign manager and campaign chairman for the Emmer campaign and asked... [to] take on the recount because they could not [afford it]. With the advantage of hindsight I should have said no and endured the political heat."
2) As Nancy LaRoche already noted on LookTrueNorth, "I am a State Central delegate and did not receive an email from Sutton with this news - but found out on Twitter." (I am also a State Central delegate.) Alternatively, delegates could find out by reading the Star Tribune. It is unusual that so many methods of communication were employed other than contacting actual members of the party.
3) If you read the story in the Star Tribune (click here), the newspaper's reporters paraphrased former deputy chairman Michael Brodkorb as saying, "Without Sutton in charge... outside groups and the legislative caucuses might have to take on a larger role, if the party cannot." In other words, the party is in such bad financial shape that it cannot be effective.
There is a significant distinction to be made between the apparatus of the Republican Party and the Republican legislative caucuses. (The caucuses consist of the House Republicans and the Senate Republicans, two distinct and separate bodies.) Where the actual Republican Party is run by and for activists and mostly average people, the legislative caucuses are run by special interests and people who have enough money to buy the process. For example, gambling interests around the state contribute enormous sums of money. That's why we see so much in the news about the legislature's involvement in gambling. Legislators are trying to produce what they were paid to produce, even if it goes against the wishes of their constituents.
The legislative caucuses often get involved in legislative races to support given candidates, regardless of whom Republican delegates endorse. They also refrain from getting involved in races where the only option is too much of a party outsider, hoping instead that candidates who would rock the boat simply get defeated. The mentality of those who run the Republican legislative caucuses is that any Democrat willing to engage in pay-for-play politics is better than any Republican who will not.
As an employee of the Senate Republican Caucus, Brodkorb would probably like to see power revert from the Minnesota Republican Party over to the legislative caucuses where no one would need to answer to average citizens. They would only answer to large donors.
Unfortunately, that would be bad for democracy and bad for the Republican Party. We'll see what happens after the State Central Commitee meets tomorrow.