Back in 2008, Minnesota Republicans were pulling out all the stops in two key races: The one to defend Norm Coleman’s seat, and the one to retake Minnesota’s First Congressional District, a historically Republican one, from the clutches of that Democratic interloper Tim Walz. They failed at both, but MN-01 was by far the most resounding of their failures: Their eventual choice for the general, Brian Davis, got stomped into the dirt by Walz, losing by nearly two-to-one in a district that only went for Obama by four percentage points. The handwriting was on the wall way back in June, a good five months beforehand, when I described the set of Republicans competing for the right to get spanked by Walz as “the Clown Car“.
Well, the Republicans are gearing up to try again, and while their vehicle may have a fresh set of occupants, it’s still the Clown Car. To wit:
Allen Quist. First of the Republicans to officially declare, assuming you don’t count Frank McKinzie as a serious candidate (which you shouldn’t — and will somebody please tell Charlie Cook to check his MN-01 candidate list? Only two of the people on it are actual candidates). Antigay, antifeminist conservative Lutheran and failed candidate for governor, this guy is a longtime favorite of the Republican Party of Minnesota’s hard-right wing, which has come to have more power in the party as saner Republicans like former governor Arne Carlson (who Quist unsuccessfully challenged in the 1994 gubernatorial primary) have run away screaming from it.
Despite his checkered election history, Quist, along with his second wife Julie — who just happens to be Michele Bachmann’s district manager — are among the most powerful persons in the RPM, people who can make or break candidates by using their access to the Christian Right’s hearts, minds and wallets. As part of his candidacy for governor in 1998, Norm Coleman had to grovel on bended knee for their approval, and ditch his moderate-Republican persona in the process.
The staunchly anti-choice Quist is famous locally for being the man whose first wife Diane was killed while pregnant with their tenth child in a car accident in December 1986; he showed his undying love for her by a) pulling the six-and-a-half-month-old fetus’ body out of her womb and putting it in her arms so they could be displayed that way in the casket, and b) marrying his second wife Julie about six months later.
All of this, combined with his tendency to lose elections, apparently makes some local Republicans quite nervous, as Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen discusses here and here. That nervousness leaves a big fat opening for other would-be Walz-defeaters to jump into the Clown Car — persons such as:
Randy Demmer. Mr. Demmer, who we last encountered back in 2007 when he was considering jumping into the 2008 race for Tim Walz’ seat, is a rather well-groomed fellow who comes off as the world’s biggest ditz. However, that is not a bug but a feature in Republican circles (see also: Bush, George W.), so he’s considered a viable candidate despite flip-flopping on taxes.
The aforementioned nervousness over Quist may also well be why Jim Hagedorn, the son of former Minnesota congressman Tom Hagedorn and a Washington, DC resident and insider for 25-odd years, has now decided to move back to Minnesota and compete with Quist for the right to challenge Tim Walz.
But if anyone thinks that Hagedorn is an improvement over Quist in terms of Clown Car Syndrome, they might want to think again. As Paul Schmelzer reports for the Minnesota Independent:
As mentioned earlier, GOP candidate Jim Hagedorn removed posts from his “Mr. Conservative” blog prior to announcing his bid this morning for U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s seat, but a review of scrubbed posts reveals a brand of humor that might not sell well in southern Minnesota, including jokes about the death of Northfield-professor-turned-U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone just 11 days earlier.
He concluded the section with a prediction — a Walter Mondale win in the Senate race that Norm Coleman eventually won: “Goofdale will win, something like 50 – 46 with the independent parties taking the remainder.”
As mentioned earlier, the post also includes an analysis of the 2002 race in South Dakota, in which Hagedorn wrote of voter registration irregularities on Native American reservations:
Voter backlash against the Democrat’s (typical) election-stealing maneuvers will be the margin of victory for Thune. Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.
BSP’s Sorensen also notes a few more of the now-scrubbed bons mots by Mr. Conservative, such as this musing on the failed nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court:
The nomination of White House legal hack Harriet Miers to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor simply enhances the bush-league legacy of a family that time and again proves the Peter Principle applies to elective politics.
Yes, kids: Hagedorn is one of those conservatives who thinks the Bushes are too liberal. Plus, he’s prone to bouts of racist, sexist tastelessness that aren’t even close to being funny. No wonder he — or whoever is advising him — had his site scrubbed.
As Schmelzer mentions, this is all reminiscent of similar efforts by Gil Gutknecht to scrub away the inconvenient history of his term-limits pledge from online repositories. By the way, Gutknecht just happens to be the the gent that Tim Walz defeated back in 2006.
It’s Clown Car Syndrome, people.