Editorial: Minnesota GOP has work to doTo hear the party faithful tell it, everything is just peachy-keen with Minnesota Republicans: a little leadership blip; a little fiscal mismanagement; a personal peccadillo or two.
To hear the party faithful tell it, everything is just peachy-keen with Minnesota Republicans: a little leadership blip; a little fiscal mismanagement; a personal peccadillo or two.
Nothing serious. Nothing fatal.
Taken one at a time, reasonable people could conclude the Minnesota Republican Party is as strong and popular as ever. But when the missteps comprise what those same reasonable people can conclude is a pattern, the party has some housecleaning to do. The broom already has been sweeping.
Consider the party’s record in 2011:
First, the giddiness with winning control of both houses of the Legislature seemed to blind Republican leadership to the necessity of compromise with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. The result of party intransigence was a government shutdown that most Minnesotans laid at the feet of majority Republicans. House Speaker Kurt Zellers, the North Dakota boy (Devils Lake) who’s made it big in Minnesota, said, “There was this expectation we have taken over the world, now let’s take on the universe.” And in a master of understatement, he said Republicans began to “manage those expectations down.”
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, probably said it best: “People are getting the government they voted for.” There are some indications buyer’s remorse is setting in.
Second, GOP Chairman Tony Sutton resigned abruptly in early December, not long after the party’s deputy chairman jumped ship. When the dust settled, the party began adding up debt that could total $1 million. This, from the party of fiscal conservatism – the self-righteous folks who insist government should not spend what it does not have.
The latest mini-scandal for the party of family values came in mid-December when Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, resigned her leadership job and admitted she’d had an improper relationship with an employee. Koch’s departure set off a scramble for her job that drew lines between moderates and conservatives.
Many of the newly minted Republican lawmakers have tea party support or proudly proclaim themselves as tea partiers. They are learning, however, that adherence to nebulous and malleable tea party “principles” does not necessarily translate into legislative skill. Moreover, the conduct of the majority and the behavior of its leadership seem to confirm the old saw that power can be corrupting.
They have some work to do – both on image and substance – before the 2012 elections.
— Forum Communications Co. editorial