Shop Talk: Troubled Minnesota GOP Names New Chairman

Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:54pm

Minnesota Republicans “overwhelmingly” elected former state Rep. Keith Downey, a strategy and technology consultant, to lead one of the most troubled state parties in the country, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The GOP has a number of state parties on the skids, but few have had as rough of a few years as the Minnesota GOP. A year ago, the party faced eviction over unpaid rent (an agreement was later reached with the building’s landlord). In the 2012 elections, party infighting dominated the grass-roots ranks.

“I hear a lot about factions in the party. I’m pretty done with the word ‘factions,’” Downey said, per The Associated Press.

The party’s troubles come at a pivotal time for the GOP, which will attempt to oust two statewide Democrats, Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken, in 2014. The party has yet to field any top-tier challenger for Franken, who won by only a couple hundred votes in 2008.

On the House side, Downey is tasked with readying his state for several contested races. National parties indicated they could compete in up to five of the state’s seven House seats.

In 2012, Democrats picked up the 8th District, which remains competitive. This cycle, Democrats will target GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, as well as perhaps fellow Republican Reps. Erik Paulsen and John Kline.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee recently made a small media buy against Democratic Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., who represents the state’s northern farmland.

Hall of Famers

The American Association of Political Consultants inducted four consultants into their Hall of Fame during their Washington, D.C. conference last week.

The honorees included two architects of President Barack Obama’s political rise, David Axelrod and David Plouffe. The GOP inductees were Arthur Finkelstein and V. Lance Tarrance Jr.

Rough Draft

Hours after Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced his retirement, a draft group started to encouraged his son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, to run for Senate. Ever since, “Draft Brendan Johnson for U.S. Senate” has flooded reporter inboxes.

The campaign is spearheaded by Lincoln County Democratic Chairman Ryan Casey. He’s a naval reservist who served as deputy campaign manager for Democrat Scott Heidepriem’s unsuccessful gubernatorial race in 2010.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Casey chalked up junior Johnson’s appeal to ideology.

“We really wanted a progressive candidate who wasn’t afraid to stand up for core Democratic values and we see Brendan as that candidate,” Casey said.

He also noted the other possible Democratic contender, former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, did not support the president’s health care overhaul in 2010.

Sena Joins Greenberg Quinlan Rosner

Elizabeth Sena joined Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic polling firm, last week as a vice president.

Sena was previously a senior analyst with The Feldman Group. She has performed research for many Democratic campaigns and independent expenditures, including work for Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

Reid-ing Is Fundamental

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently hired party fundraiser David Reid as its fundraising director for the mid-Atlantic region.

Reid comes to the DSCC from UnitedHealth Group’s PAC. He was previously deputy finance director at the Democratic Governors Association and is a former House page.

Democrats Hire Melander Schulte

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently hired Lindsey Melander Schulte as executive director of her “Democrats Win Seats” leadership PAC. Melander Schulte is a veteran of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

SKDKnickerbocker Makes New Hire

Political consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker announced last week the hire of Kelley McCormick as managing director. McCormick is a former vice president at McBee|Gibraltar.

Meet Me at Mary’s New Place

Mary Vought, the former spokeswoman to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has started a communications consulting firm, Vought Strategies.

In addition to working for Johnson, she also served in a similar role for former Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., when he was in House leadership.

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