Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This evening I attended the GOP Minnesota house district 42B endorsing convention. Erik Paulsen, who has long held the seat, is now running for US Congress in CD3. So 42B is an open seat. The event featured a contested endorsement battle between Kathy Veurink and Jenifer Loon. Veurink had better sign coverage and many non-delegate volunteers who were milling about near me, off the convention floor. Veurink's base was clearly Grace Church, the reactionary megachurch just west of Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. Loon had the preponderant support on the convention floor.
Both candidates excoriated the transportation bill, gay marriage and abortion, though Veurink came across as the more impassioned social conservative. Loon appeared more the insider, mentioning she favored allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest. Erik Paulsen gave his standard uncharismatic, nasal speech; it is stunning to me that Paulsen can not ignite even minimal thunder among his very own base. Indeed, he appears unwilling even to attempt charisma.
Passions on the floor were not heated and the 42B GOP nod went to the more establishment candidate--Jenifer Loon--on the first ballot.
My primary focus for some months has been the race for US Congress in CD3; I attended this evening's convention primarily because I wanted to talk with Erik Paulsen. I closely followed the only contested endorsement contest in CD3 this cycle--Madia-Bonoff-Hovland. During that contest, I attended numerous public and private candidate events. (I'm an active DFLer but I've voted for candidates of various parties.) So I want to learn about Erik Paulsen's views on what's best for the district and the country.
Erik Paulsen will not respond to any of my inquiries. Initially, I emailed him a few policy-based inquiries, but Paulsen stonewalled. So I tried to think up the most innocuous conceivable question, with the intent to simply establish a line of communication with Team Paulsen. So I started emailing Paulsen and staff daily, asking who my state representative is.
In addition to being an innocuous question, to me, the question triggers an ethical requirement. Were I a state representative and a constituent wrote me providing her address and asking 'Who is my state representative?' it is my view that I would be ethically required to provide her with a reply. When I confronted Paulsen on the convention floor, he told me he wouldn't answer my inquiries because they are insincere.
But remember, when I started emailing Paulsen, I began by asking him indisputably substantive questions. It was only later that I decided to take it down to the simplest conceivable level--asking him a question he'd be ethically required to answer. So if he finds my question about who my state rep is insincere, he ought to recall that a) My current daily email to him puts several questions to him--not simply Who is my state rep?; and b) If he will only respond to substantive inquiries, he already has several in his in-box from me.
So as 42B's self-appointed God-of-Sincerity, Paulsen himself is behaving in a transparently insincere manner. And I can't even find a Republican who agrees with Paulsen on this point. This evening I asked several Republicans if in their view a state representative ought to reply, when asked by a constituent 'Who is my state rep?' Universally, they said yes--including a prominent Paulsen for Congress volunteer.
So even in person, man-to-man, Paulsen refused to answer my question. I was and remain flabbergasted. I was standing in an authorized spot off the convention floor when I recorded the following clip:
Posted by Gavin Sullivan at 7:58 PM