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Whither The Republican Party? Nearly 400 People Gathered To Discuss That

Michelle Manke, of Roseville, attended the GOP meeting at the Blue Fox Bar and Grill at Arden Hills. "The discussion was at some points quite animated," she reports.

(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. 

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Michelle Manke February 03, 2013 at 06:04 PM
“Wither”, the Roseville Patch’s choice of headline, certainly makes for an interesting visual. “Whither” direction we choose was the question we sought answer to. A direction that as Walter Hudson said should be a "positive, morally good, life affirming philosophy that undergirds our policies". The turn out alone demonstrated the passion of those who attended and their desire to work toward to a better understanding and solutions for the party. The panel covered a broad, diverse, set of opinions. We all know that nothing is ever fixed in just one night. Was the evening a success even without any immediate "fix everything now" answers, I believe it was. The fact and impact of us coming together, to ask the questions, is a major start toward toward realizing our goals.. One had to be there to truly hear the individual points made on conservative fiscal issues verses social issues, family values and moral responsibility and the messaging and focus on listening to what the people are most concerned with. It would be hard not to feel inspired by the passionate and eloquent voice of Walter Hudson, the strength and conviction of Dan “Doc” Severson, the lively and straight up voices of Sara Janecek and Erin Haust to highlight a few. I certainly believe that as a party we need to get out in our communities, listen and work together, something I felt resonated with panelists and attendees. It’s a start. Our diversity of opinion is what makes us stronger.
Scott Carlson February 03, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Wither actually not intentional. My goof. And I've changed the headline to reflect the sentiment of what direction is the party headed.
Dallas Pierson February 03, 2013 at 08:10 PM
I wrote a discussion of some local news coverage and content of the event at http://mncd4conservative.blogspot.com Or on my Oakdale Patch Blog http://oakdale.patch.com/blog_posts/mngop-where-do-we-go-from-here The video of the event is available as a link from either blog.
Scott Carlson February 03, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Dallas, thanks for sharing this with us. So does anyone see new promising Republican candidates on the horizon?
Tony Nickelsen February 05, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Scott, the Republicans keep shooting themselves in the foot every 2-4 years because they are more bent on pushing social issues instead of concentrating on the important issues of the day, like our state budget! They have also been for many years the party of "NO"! No new taxes! No new ideas on how to grow the economy and spur on economic development. Etc......This adds up to: NO NEW GOOD to GREAT POLICIES! Which means no new good candidates to run for office because all they know is the word, NO!!!

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