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Rudy Takala's Columns

Analyzing the Republican Party of Minnesota

After the State Central Committee meeting of the Minnesota Republican Party (RPM) held on December 3, some of the issues that presently define the RPM were made evident. The State Central Committee is a body made up of approximately 350 delegates governing the RPM. Though I am presently in Washington D.C., I am a delegate and have spoken with countless people who did make it to the meeting. To recap:
Kelly Fenton was elected deputy chair of the RPM on the second round of balloting, with 173 votes out of about 350. That equated to 54 percent. That was a predictable outcome; my impression of Fenton is that she is willing to work with people. Many candidates for these positions are not interested in working with people, and so that quality can really cause a person to stand out. “We need to remember that our main targets are the liberals and their failed policies, not one another,” she said upon winning. My outlook on Fenton is optimistic.
Michael Brodkorb,our outgoing deputy chairman,is an example of someone who has never been interested in working with people. His erratic behavior and lack of professionalism over the weekend was honestly shocking. From talking to people, it sounds like his behavior in private has been vindictive, unethical, and utterly destructive to the party. At the meeting this past weekend, he sought 2010 gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer out and actively tried to initiate a confrontation. The Star Tribune reported Brodkorb as telling Emmer the following: “What's occurring today in the party is a cleanup effort from his gubernatorial campaign…. What I told him directly was that he needs to take a lot of responsibility for what's going on here today.” I will include my observations on this later on. My outlook on Brodkorb is goodbye and good riddance.
Tony Sutton and Ryan Griffin are moving along. This is particularly regrettable in Ryan’s case, as he (in his position as executive director) was the best staff member at the RPM. Too many of those left standing are unfortunately too entitled and as a consequence unprofessional; they are too at ease in their positions. It would behoove the organization if Fenton or the next chairman would encourage a complete renewal of the party by bringing in new blood. My opinion here is that Tony and Ryan’s departures are regrettable.
David Fitzsimmons, Joe Repya, Marty Seifert, and Pete Nelson have been mentioned as realistic prospects to run for chairman. A majority of the time, rumors about possible candidates for party positions amount to nothing more than uninformed speculation. Marty has said he will not run, and my opinion is that Joe Repya will not run. Pete may run, but he doesn’t bring a strong coalition to the table. My desire would be to see David Fitzsimmons run; he does have the ability to unify a majority coalition. However, he would need to overcome the challenge of defeating people like Brodkorb, who would have absolutely no ethical constraints in trying to destroy him. (On that note, I invited David to come to Simply Right in Hinckley on December 13. He is tentatively confirmed to attend.)
The crackpots always come out in times of upheaval. An acquaintance forwarded one handout that went around about Pat Anderson, paid for by Ron Niemala and referencing Michael Cummins. I posted an image of the letter on Flickr. As the chairman of the Republican unit covering Cummins’ residence, I would have to describe him as a functional psychotic. He shows up at our annual conventions and does things that are absolutely bizarre. He has literally written his own constitution in two of the last three years, brought it to the convention, and claimed it was the group’s official constitution. He has sought election to positions within the organization on four separate occasions and lost each time. It is, plainly described, simply weird to see his and Niemala’s obsession with Pat Anderson.
My observations in sum focus on the necessity of finding a normal, well-balanced person to serve as the RPM’s state chair. People who are not interested in unifying the party are easy to find. People interested in working with everyone are less common. I found Brodkorb’s criticism of Tom Emmer particularly abhorrent for the reason that Tom never chose himself to be the candidate. The delegates chose him.
For Brodkorb to harass Tom personally is simply disgusting and shocking. In doing so, he is speaking down to the 1,100 Republican delegates who voted to endorse Tom. For Brodkorb to do that as an outgoing officer of the Republican Party is unprofessional and unacceptable.
I appreciated David Fitzsimmons’ response to Brodkorb’s criticism of the Emmer campaign, which Fitzsimmons managed: “I am not going to sit here today and try to decide who is to blame… We can all go around and point fingers and do everything else. I'm part of this convention today to figure out how to move forward from here.”

4 Comments to Analyzing the Republican Party of Minnesota:

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John W. von Lange on Monday, December 05, 2011 11:21 AM
Rudy; Thank you for an excellent analysis and report of the events of the other evening. The only news I received of the event was yesterday morning, when I received a note telling me Pete N. did not get elected. With this change in leadership, I am now looking forward to a stronger, more unified State Party. A group that will move forward with "new blood"; effectively removing much of the old guard which has become stale and far too centrist. Unless another individual can be identified and pulled in to lead, a leader that will bring unity and a forward looking wisdom, dedicated to really seeking the best for Minnesotans and the nation, I strongly suggest all be done to get Tom Emmer to take the helm of the MNGOP! He has consistently demonstrated his unequivocal love and dedication to the State!
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Warren Nelson on Monday, December 05, 2011 12:52 PM
Thank you for your view of what happened. I want to slap your wrist for the "Crackpots" paragraph. I would have used the word backstabbers instead. Some people forget that people running the party need to be able to eat and aren't rich enough to donate all their time and enough money to run the party. I have no doubts as to why Tony resigned after looking at Niemala's letter. But enough of the past, it is time to move forward. In politics, yesterdays opposition can be tomorrows ally. I do hope that David Fitzsimmons is willing to take on the thankless job of party chair.
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Mike on Wednesday, December 07, 2011 7:31 AM
Looking at the letter to Pat Anderson I guess Rudy you feel that it is inappropriate to ask someone who will represent us at the Republican Party if they support the platform. As for all your other accusations, even you know better then what you are saying.
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