Archived Story

Editorial: Parry-Quist fight part of GOP divide

Published 9:39am Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For those looking for trends in politics, last week was a teaser pitting state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca against retired professor and former state representative Allen Quist of St. Peter. The 14-hour marathon GOP convention, gathered to select the candidate to challenge DFLer Tim Walz in the 1st Congressional District, ended in a deadlock.

In fact, with 279 delegates appearing after 23 ballots, the delegates ended up pretty much where they started, although Quist is claiming he was rising in the selection. They are now awaiting a decision by the state central committee on when (or if) another convention will be held.

This was a battle between both candidates to prove to delegates who was the more conservative and each’s backers had a death grip on their candidate. There would be no compromise. That’s a phrase we hear a lot lately from state conservatives. There will be no compromise in the quest to curb state spending, get smaller government and reduce taxes.

These are the rallying cries of GOP presidential contender Ron Paul, who walked away with 20 of the 24 national delegates elected at Minnesota’s Republican district conventions. More may show up next month at the state convention where 13 more delegates will be elected. The Paul movement has been gaining strength in Minnesota on the sentiment that the “establishment” GOP party has failed them. Paul’s Minnesota campaign chair Marianne Stebbins told Minnesota Public Radio his supporters want to “shake up the status quo” and will be a loud voice at the national convention.

He will get that chance, especially given Tuesday’s five primaries in which he emerged stronger by racking up more delegates, and his fundraising is rivaling that of his opponent Mitt Romney.

Paul, who backs huge cuts in spending, reducing the power of the federal government and deeply cutting military commitments abroad, has some of the strongest supporters in the race.

Paul’s influence on state politics is hard to quantify but clearly the libertarian/conservative position is resonating with many in the “new” GOP who surprised many with the sweeping ouster of state lawmakers in 2010. And they have the chance again in November when all seats are up in many cases within newly drawn election areas.

Recently Minnesota Republican National Committeewoman Pat Anderson noted that Paul was having an effect on delegate selection. Last week, 5th District GOP candidate Lynne Torgerson lost out to her opponent for the endorsement and blamed it on “Ron Paul Libertarians.” And party activist Katie Nadeau tweeted that “Ron Paul Libertarians took the Republicans out of the Minnesota Republican Party today,” according to an AP report.

Moderate to progressive Republicans governed the state for much of Minnesota’s history. Today, they are struggling for an identity within their own party, which is having internal debates on how conservative — or extreme within that conservatism — to be.

If there can be no compromise within their own party, one could not expect there to be compromises with other legislators once in office, a prerequisite for governance in a democracy. We are far from that time in 1973 when Time Magazine held up Minnesota as an example of “a state that works.”

— Mankato Free Press, April 28