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Rudy Takala's Columns

Politics in Minnesota Article: "Republican infighting rises as state party looks to fill leadership void"

(Click here if you have a subscription to PIM and would like to read it there. Otherwise read it here): The short knives are out in the Republican Party. Former GOP deputy chair Michael Brodkorb harshly criticized 2010 gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer at Saturday’s State Central Committee gathering. “I think Republicans nominated the one candidate who couldn’t possibly win in 2010,” Brodkorb told Minnesota Public Radio.
 
The comments indicate ongoing tensions over the conduct of the 2010 campaign. Despite historic wins by Republicans — taking over both the House and the Senate for the first time in the modern era — Emmer fell roughly 9,000 votes short of knocking off DFL nominee Mark Dayton. Emmer’s campaign was dogged by poor fundraising and missteps early in the campaign that many political observers believe he never recovered from.
 
Some activists denounced Brodkorb for sowing discord at a time when the party is in disarray. GOP activist Rudy Takala called his actions “disgusting and shocking.” With the sudden resignation of chair Tony Sutton on Friday afternoon, the party is effectively leaderless. Kelly Fenton was elected to the deputy chair post on Saturday and will temporarily serve as the party’s top official. An election will be held within 30 days to select a new GOP chair.
 
The state party is mired in debt. Its most recent federal campaign finance filing shows more than $500,000 in unpaid bills and cash on hand that’s listed as negative $122,000.
 
Brodkorb was unapologetic about his criticisms of Emmer. He elaborated on those comments in an interview with conservative blogger John Gilmore:
 
As a former party officer who was actively involved in the 2010 elections, I believed a story needed to be told about how Tom Emmer’s campaign was run in the 60-90 days after the convention. It drained the party’s resources, terrified the major donor community from giving to both the party and the Emmer campaign and allowed an opportunity for Republicans & independents to move to Tom Horner’s campaign.
 
I don’t believe most party activists realized how dire the situation was for the party. We couldn’t mention Emmer’s name in generic fundraising scripts for the call center. After the tip-credit debacle, candidates for statewide and legislative office didn’t want to campaign with Emmer. We also had a problem getting surrogates to defend Emmer, so it fell to then-Chairman Sutton and myself.
 
Just look at the polls: Survey USA released a poll immediately following the MN GOP State Convention and Emmer had an 8-point lead over Dayton. Survey USA released a poll in early August and Emmer was down to Dayton by 14 points – a 22-point swing. The messaging mistakes made by Tom Emmer in the months following the convention cost him the election.

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