As reported in the media, Pat Shortridge is the new chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM). He was elected with 224 votes, or 66% of the total delegation. Terry McCall received 103 votes. Todd McIntyre received just nine votes.
What I found interesting is that, while legislative leaders and party operatives (paid officials or people who are seeking to become paid officials) supported Shortridge, members of the Republican Party’s State Executive Committee and leaders within the party supported McCall by a slight edge. For example, McCall himself is the chairman of Congressional District 2. Rick Weible and Margaret Cavanagh are the co-chairs of Congressional District 3, while Adam Weigold is the chairman of Congressional District 5. All four sit on the executive committee and all supported McCall.
Bill Jungbauer also endorsed Terry McCall. Jungbauer is not the chairman of Congressional District 4, but he does sit on the State Executive Committee on behalf of that district. The district’s chairman was neutral.
Three congressional chairs supported Pat Shortridge. They were Steve Perkins of Congressional District 1, David Fitzsimmons of Congressional District 6, and Ted Lovdahl of Congressional District 8.
When you added them together, the seated delegates in districts where leaders supported McCall numbered 147. Delegates in districts where leaders supported Shortridge numbered 130.
With Congressional District 7 counted as neutral, in addition to 18 at-large delegates representing affiliate organizations, you could say that 93 delegates came from largely neutral regions.
So who elected Shortridge? Well, the general body of delegates elected him, and most of us expected that to happen. Why? They are less connected to the inner workings of what goes on within the Republican Party. The information they have consists predominantly of what is given to them by the candidates and their supporters in the weeks preceding the meeting. Without anything else off which to go, who wouldn’t trust Shortridge’s endorsements from Sen. Marco Rubio,Speaker Kurt Zellers and House Majority Leader Matt Dean?
(Speaking of which, I wonder what newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem thinks.He was present but strangely silent. The only senator I recall participating in the event was Sen. Dan Hall in his endorsement of Terry McCall.)
What does this mean?
Shortridge has support from the State Central delegation for now. It will erode more quickly if he performs poorly than if party leaders were not already skeptical of his conservative credentials. Those leaders talk to their district delegates more frequently than anyone else, and those delegates trust them more than they trust anyone else – including their legislators. Information may flow slowly, but it surely flows.
If Shortridge becomes lazy and unresponsive, which often happens when people get elected, he will not last long. If he does a great job, he’ll last longer.
Recorded in my notes and also reported by Politics in Minnesota, Jim Taylor, a delegate from the Third Congressional District, asked to see the party’s books. “Where’s the receipts? Where are the vouchers?” he asked. “I want to examine it now. I want to see it all.”
Politics in Minnesota didn’t describe the situation with as much detail as it warranted. Steve Perkins, the gentleman running the Rules Committee and moderating a discussion of the finances, nearly shouted down a couple of delegates who asked some questions about the finances.
It would be fair to say that some of the questions were long-winded. People who ask long-winded questions usually are not viewed favorably by their fellow delegates; the only person delegates will turn on faster is a moderator who tries to shut anyone down in a manner that doesn’t conform to Minnesota-nice.
After Jim Taylor asked his question, Bill Jungbauer asked where receipts, bank statements, vouchers, and other financial documents were being stored. (Again, Bill is a member of the RPM’s Executive Committee.) He said delegates were entitled to look at them according to the party’s constitution.
Steve Perkins responded by asking if there were any other questions and said an answer was not required by Robert’s Rules.
I am not passing judgment on Perkins, because I don’t know him. However, it will not be possible to deal with the party’s financial problems in this manner on a permanent basis. The new chairman has his work cut out for him. The level of transparency expected from him is unprecedented, but it is called for by the times.
The following are the notes I scratched out during the meeting.
8:50: I am told that members of the State Exec are being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. Some are being excluded from meetings.
10:14: Kelly Fenton says we do not owe money to Tony Sutton’s LLC.
10:15: Jim Taylor says we should not try to leave as soon as we can.
10:18: Bill Jungbauer asks where the finance documentation is being kept and why it is not available pursuant to what he says are the requirements of the constitution. Convention chair Steve Perkins asks if there are any other questions.
10:36: Where is David Sturrock? [Sturrock did show up.] Has any illegal activity on the part of past party officers or staff been discovered? Jeff Johnson responds in the negative.
(Written by a bored delegate sitting next to me):
10:37: Is Taco Bell a RPM vendor?
10:38: Why is there $15,776 on the credit card marked “staff lunch”?
(Resume my notes):
10:45: Are there any unknown unknowns?