Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 08/14/08 15:24, Edited: 08/14/08 15:39
by Dave Mindeman
Over the course of the last few days, the State GOP has been very busy in establishing a consistent story in regards to Mark Olson. Olson is, at least for the moment, the endorsed GOP candidate for the District 16 Special Election for Senate -- to replace Betsy Wergin.
However, the State Party has decided that Mark Olson needs to be thrown under the bus.
It started when the District 16 Republicans held their endorsing convention and on the second ballot, they decided to back Rep. Olson for the State Senate seat. That was on August 8th. The official line, at least at the time, from the state party was:"We are a party of local control, and the Senate District 16 Republicans have endorsed Mark Olson, and we respect that decision," said Minnesota Republican Party communications director Gina Countryman.
They are a party of local control except when they're not.
Shortly after that endorsement, the state leadership made some interesting decisions. Normally, a senate district endorsing convention is small potatoes, but when the endorsed candidate's past messes up a moralistic message you are trying to perfect...well then its time to get out the bus.
The carefully scripted isolation of Mark Olson has been precise. First, Michael Brodkorb, from MDE posts his "personal" outrage at the endorsement of a candidate with a "record". As MDE put it:I appreciate that the Republican Party of Minnesota is a party of local control, as I am Republican activist in my local area. I respect the endorsement process, but Representative Olson should not have been endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota to run for the Minnesota Senate in SD 16.
He respects the endorsement process except when he doesn't.
It was a long post, not the usual short, choppy, knife-like briefings that his blog is known for. This one actually used paragraphs and quotations and (gasp) proper grammar. It seemed to be a genuine lament on a "wayward" Senate district. It gathered 90 plus comments. The posting date on that was August 13 -- 1:17AM.
It included a plea to the Senate leadership:But friendships aside, the leadership at the Senate Republican Caucus needs to publicly comment on the endorsement of Representative Olson.
And of course, almost exactly 24 hours later, he gets a direct response from the GOP Senate leadership (of course, they read MDE religiously). Here is an excerpt of their statement posted directly to the blog:While we respect our endorsing process in the Republican Party, some things rise far above process and party in terms of importance. The integrity and character of our candidates and elected officials are two of those things.
In Senate District 16, Mark Olson won the endorsement. That said, we are all well aware that Mark Olson?s criminal conviction caused him to be kicked out of the House Republican Caucus as well as cost him the party?s endorsement for his House seat.
It is our intention that Mark Olson, if elected, would not be welcome as a member of our Senate Republican Caucus. This is not a matter of philosophy; it is a matter of personal conduct.
Time: August 14 - 3:24AM
So, the Senate GOP leadership concurs. They also "respect" the endorsing process... except when they don't. Mark Olson will not be welcome...even if elected. Pretty bold statement for a caucus outnumbered about 2 to 1. But, you know, it is that pesky personal conduct. No compromises on that.
But we are not done yet.
Ten and 1/2 hours later, yet another official statement comes to MDE. This one from Senator Norm Coleman. Imagine that. Sen. Coleman feels the need to weigh in on a "local endorsing process".?In the unfortunate event that Mr. Olson succeeds in the September Primary, I would ask that our party refuse to offer any type of assistance to his campaign. While the loss of a State Senate seat is unfortunate, I join Senators Senjem, Fischbach, Gimse, Hann, Koch and Michel in the strong belief that we must maintain and uphold our beliefs that violence of any kind, whether it is in word or in deed, should not be rewarded...
Time: August 14 - 12:58 PM
Senator Coleman must have a strong moral conviction. The "loss of a Senate seat is unfortunate"..... Guess it is a small price to pay for party integrity... or is it?
I find it very hard to believe that in the course of 36 hours, most of the GOP elected leadership all respond in the same manner to the post of a blogger. Heck, most of the time, Coleman's office takes 36 hours to decide what suit he should wear to a press conference.
Since I don't speak for anybody but myself, I will give you my own, cynical, personal opinion about this.
This was a staged event. It was all coordinated using MDE as the focus point.
The reason? Damage control for November. The GOP has been using "moral outrage" at Franken as their only -- and I mean only-- campaign tactic to wage against the DFLer. Thus, Norm Coleman becomes part of the mix to re-enforce his moralistic rhetoric.
(As an aside, it is interesting to note that Coleman has been quick to express his outrage at Larry Craig and Mark Olson, but as near as I can tell (somebody correct me if I am wrong), Coleman has never expressed any such outrage over Sen. David Vitter and the Washington madam scandal)
On a broader party scale, I would guess that the legislative leadership wants to latch on to the same theme. Integrity above party. You can trust us to do the right thing. The slogans are coming.
And in the end what do they really lose? Mark Olson has been essentially a party outcast since his domestic problem went to court. They have Mary Kiffmeyer (a right winger who also benefits from the moral outrage angle) to take over his old House seat and the loss of another Senate seat is of little consequence. The DFL already has a veto proof majority and only a couple of special election seats are up for election in November. There is no opportunity for the GOP to gain traction there anyway.
So, is this moral outrage or a cold political calculation? I guess that is for you to decide.