Thursday, December 15, 2005

Now back to St. Cloud politics 

Sorry to have posted on other things first, but I had a backlog of stuff in the queue that would have gone to waste that was on-point to this blog. I am not a politics blog by design, but being a right-libertarian on a college campus gets you involved in politics sometimes whether you like it or not. So over time I've been interested in the local political scene, and the stuff happening here with the special elections, residency requirements, etc., has piqued my curiosity. Given the number of hits on the blog this week, I must have many local readers, perhaps thanks to the Times.

I'm also not an active Republican in the sense of running literature drops, door knocking or phone banking. I did that stuff in college, but when I got to grad school time available to that went to zero (I wanted to continue doing radio instead.) I tried the caucuses up here for awhile, but felt alienated when my number one concern, the economy, was given back-seat status in platform committees and my picks for president -- I'm a Forbes and Kemp guy -- were scoffed at because they didn't have positions on the issue.

So when the latest attack on a Republican broke out -- the badly Photoshopped picture in senate candidate Dan Ochsner's brochure -- I was certainly wondering what was going on here locally. Thankfully, so was Andy Aplikowski, who first posted questions that matched several of my own, then got answers. Psycmeistr, who gave us the blow-by-blow of the Ochsner endorsement last month, comments that Andy's too hard on Ox and not to write him off. I wouldn't write Ox off either, but that doesn't deny the fact that this was a mistake, and a pretty bad one.

Andy goes on to say this, which I think is correct:
Having 3 or 4 major elections in less than 3 months has got to be nearly impossible to deal with. In St. Cloud, they just had a Mayor�s race and now a State House special election as well as a State Senate special election. The later come with only about a month from start to election day. No small feat for even the best BPOUs. But that is no excuse for poor endorsing and vetting. (If the worst scenarios do play out from this.)

Ignorant me, I didn't even know what BPOU stood for a year ago. And to find out that there are three loci of power in a state party organization -- the House and Senate caucuses appear to operate independent of the party organization, and the former is said to have brought Sue Ek forward -- means a real lack of coherence. I did ask Andy how we train people to not make mistakes like Ox has made; the two caucuses run workshops, but not very often and in this case there was no "rapid response workshop" to bring these people up to speed. Fair enough.

What is really needed is "advanced vetting" -- the presence of a bench from which you can draw candidates. In rural districts this would be very hard, but St. Cloud is larger and has more people with time and resources enough to consider a political side to their lives. I would argue that even if there was only a month to go, somebody had to consider the possibility that Dave Kleis would win, and that the seat would be vacant, and that someone with state party and lobbying experience as well as two previous attempts at the seat would seize the opportunity. A rookie against a seasoned veteran is always a tough matchup, but you need to go to the plate with a plan, lest you strike out looking.

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