(Editor's note: Michelle Manke is a Roseville Republican, wno attended this party gathering.)
Nearly 400 Minnesota Republicans gathered at the Blue Fox Bar and Grill in Arden Hills on Wednesday evening to debate the future of the Minnesota Republican Party.
The event, organized by Alexandria-area GOP activist Steve Hensley and sponsored by an assortment of conservative groups, was a sometimes-animated discussion of the Minnesota GOP's shortcomings and possible paths back to the majority.
The panel featured seven activists representing a broad swathe of conservative and Republican opinion. It featured long-time GOP pundit Sarah Janecek, social-conservative strategist Andy Parrish, libertarian campaign strategist Marianne Stebbins, Second District party chair Mark Westphahl, activist and new media maven Erin Haust, Tea Party activist Walter Hudson and former state representative Dan Severson, who is heading party minority outreach efforts.
The forum was co-moderated by former state representative and Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson and talk show host and blogger Mitch Berg, who took written questions from the audience for about two hours.
The discussion was at some points quite animated, with Stebbins and Parrish in particular trading barbs from opposite corners of the big GOP tent, and occasional response from the audience.
While the event settled nothing - it did give the attendees a chance to see what divides the party and, at the end, what unites it.
In the crowd you saw a who’s who in the State party. Some of the attendees in the audience were: Senator Chamberlain and Representative Runbeck who represent a nearby district along with Keith Downey and Bill Paulsen, candidates for the state party chair who were working the room as did Deputy chair candidate Corey Sax and GOP Secretary candidate Ryan Love and Minneapolis mayoral candidate Cam Winton.
There were party activists Joey Gerdin, Chair of the Patriot PAC; Jack Rogers, organizer of the North Metro Tea Party; Kurt Bills, former candidate for the US Senate and various candidates from across the State like Joseph Schultz running for CD2 Deputy Chair.
From our own 4th Congressional District you found candidates James Carson running for Chair of the 4th Congressional District, Roseville’s own Michelle Manke who along with Mitch Berg (co-moderator), are both running for 2 of the 6 Vice Chair positions in the 4th Congressional District along with other CD4 activists Philip Zierman and Craig Westover to name a few.