Steele County, as I found out, does things a bit differently than many BPOU's around the state. We have a nominating committee that proposes a slate of delegates for the district and state conventions. This slate is just the suggested list, and the convention is free to nominate others from the floor. The slate that is proposed is made up of people who have demonstrated a commitment to the local party. Not party insiders necessarily, but the folks who showed up to work at the county fair booth, or volunteered their time to work on local election campaigns (especially the SD 26 special election, where door to door was done in -20 temps). Some of the newer delegates challenged this proposed slate, saying that they couldn't vote for a delegate before they knew what candidates they supported.
This is the difference between Steele County and other BPOU's around the state. Our delegates are elected on principle-not because of the candidate they support. This topic was addressed by Yappy at Freedom Dogs, and one of the comments struck me as incredibly important and worth repeating.
Well, we *need* slates because as a Seifert supporter, I don't want to be electing delegates for Emmer to the state convention. That would be self defeating. I'm sure that Emmer supporters probably have similar feelings.With all due respect to the commenter, this philosophy is part of a larger problem that we face in party politics. I left a comment that was more of a rant, and I felt it needed to be fleshed out in a post of its own. A lot of you will disagree with what I have to say, but I think if you evaluate this dispassionatley, you will see that I am right on this.
The problem I speak of is the drive to do everything sooner, earlier, and before the other guy. Minnesota is poised to move the primary elections up a month. Caucuses were moved up earlier to give Minnesota a bigger say in the national elections. Presidential hopefuls are out campaigning 3 years before the election. This is wrong, and we as a party need to stop it. Look at the situation we have now with delegates.
The state GOP convention is May 1st, and that is where we will (among other things) vote to endorse a candidate for governor. But the state convention is no longer when the vote will take place. All around the state, BPOU's over the last few weeks have elected their delegates for the state convention based on who those delegates will vote for. This means that for some counties and BPOU's, the endorsement vote for Governor has already taken place. Conservatives generally oppose early voting in a general election, why do we not only allow it but encourage it inside our own party? I have said before that if this process continues, the campaign season will begin the day after the last election.
While I understand the rationale behind this, I think we need to pull back and look at this process as a whole and where it will lead us. Yes, Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert want to know how many candidates they can count on, how many are undecided, and where they need to concentrate their resources to make sure that they make their case to undecideds. I understand and can sympathize with all of this. But Emmer and Seifert are not the only candidates running for the GOP endorsement. By virtue of their size and financial resources, these two candidates are locking up delegates and pushing other candidates out of the race. This too is wrong.
Take this crazy rush to lock up delegates to its logical conclusion. Think about the next party endorsement race. The candidates and campaign consultants that lose out this year will start the next campaign with one overriding theme-do everything earlier. Announce earlier, start raising money earlier, and start getting delegates to commit earlier. But there is the problem. How do you get delegates to commit when you don't know who the delegates will be? Currently, the campaigns try to influence the BPOU's at their convention to pick delegates that support them. But next time around, they will want to do things earlier. That means you will start to see candidates influencing who becomes a delegate at the BPOU convention. Common sense, right? If you can pack the convention with your supporters, then getting that convention to pick delegates that support you is easy.
So how do you pack the convention? You stack the deck at caucus night. You send your people into their precinct caucus and tell them to help get your supporters elected as delegates. You also tell them to make sure your opponent's supporters don't get elected as delegates. But for Pete's sake, caucus night is nine months before the election, and three months before the state convention where the endorsement will be voted on.
Think about the ramifications of this for a minute. We as a party will have moved the effective date of the endorsement for governor up to caucus night in February. We will have ensured that only candidates with statewide campaigns in place by January will have a chance to be endorsed, all other will have to work from a deficit. But most importantly, we will turn off the very people that we are trying to attract into the party. Many of the people that showed up to my caucus didn't even know who all of the candidates were, let alone know who they would support. But unless we stop this delegate madness, they will have people asking them on caucus night who they support, and risk not being included in the party process if they are in a precinct packed by one candidate's supporters.
Folks who deeply believe in stacking the delegate lists will tell me that I am being naive, and that they only do it because the other candidates do it, and they don't want to be left out. That is a cop out answer, and I refuse to accept it. We are the party, and we must choose to reject a process that will damage the party. There are too many problems in our state and in our country to allow elections to turn into a perpetual campaign process. Unfortuneatley, that is exactly where we are headed.