Last Friday, Dec. 2, the leader of the Minnesota Republican Party, Tony Sutton, unexpectedly resigned. Many state Republicans have said that they never saw this coming, as Sutton kept his announcement to himself until Friday. The deputy chair of the state GOP was also empty and has been since Michael Brodkorb’s resignation in October. There is a complete upheaval in the Republican Party leadership.
Following Friday’s episode of turbulence, the Republican leadership met to reflect, reconcile and elect a new deputy. With the control of Republican political party up in the air, the divide seems only to be growing. With the backlash of the 2010 gubernatorial election still quite evident in the peripherals, perhaps this upheaval will finally resolve the differences within the party.
The 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial primary featured two prominent Republicans, Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer, the eventual nominee. And it seems as though this race still lingers in the minds of other party leaders, with accusations over the current predicament being fired off on all cylinders.
This current predicament that the Republicans find themselves in is both their lack of direction and leadership, as well as the mounds of debt they hold, totaling $581,000 in addition to the $500,000 for Emmer’s failed recount.
Many lay blame on Emmer for more than just the recount money, though. Brodkorb, who is now without his leadership position and can afford to point fingers, directs his anger at Emmer and Emmer’s former campaign manager David Fitzsimmons. He calls his general election strategy toxic and blames them for not readjusting their strategy after the primary victory. He went on to say that Emmer must take responsibility for the current state of the party.
David Fitzsimmons fired back, criticizing his exit from party leadership while saying that he is “a person who is not really looking at building any unity in a long-term commitment to this party. It’s someone that’s looking to take their shots and leave. All I can say is that I’m still standing here.”
And while the resignation of Sutton is very bad, officials are saying they are even more worried about the present state of the Minnesota Republican Party. They have negative cash on hand, mounting debt and have had to fire over one-third of their staff, including their executive director.
Despite repeated exclamations of “there’s no panic here,” from U.S. Congressman John Kline and others, it seems like an unhealthy dose of panic is spreading around as activists see these budget issues, along with the lack of a clear leader, to be unsettling.
Speculation is surrounding every prominent Republican, over seeking the Republican Chair, but the only answer seems to be a resounding no. Everybody’s favorite businessman Mike Vekich a short time ago reportedly turned down his potential candidacy.
For the Republicans to even think about conveying a coherent message and making a positive influence in the state, they must forge stable bonds within their own party and find an unquestioned leader. The continuation of their in-house bickering should only bolster the Democrats come voting day in 2012, yet when it comes to benefitting the state, a much more inclusive and amendable Republican Party is better for all.
When some activists were handing out 2010 gubernatorial primary loser Marty Seifert buttons with “Miss me yet?” written on them, perhaps people realized they made a mistake, costing them much needed unity still evident over a year later.
David Steinberg welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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