Update: Nixonian Tactics Used By Supporters of Judicial Endorsements

To endorse or not endorse: that is the question.  Activists in the Republican Party of Minnesota have been struggling with this issue for years and last week, someone attempted to take matters into to their own hands and decide.  Late Thursday evening, Bonn Clayton “convener” of the “Judicial District Republican Chairs” sent out the following e-mail to Republican activists:
Dear Judicial District Delegates and Alternates,
Just before every election, Party leaders begin to get many calls from voters wondering who they should vote for in the Minnesota Judicial races.
So, we have put together a Voters’ Guide, which we hope will be helpful.
Just go to our website www.judgeourjudgesmn.com. (Website has since been taken down)
It’s just a new website, so it’s still very simple. We currently have the names of our three recommended candidates for Supreme Court and we will be adding several District Court candidates very soon. Please visit it often.
Please also send this link to all of your BPOU’s precinct delegates and alternates and Caucus Attendees, so that Republican voters will be able to vote for the right candidates. And send the link to anybody else you can think of! 
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Bonn Clayton, Convener
Judicial District Republican Chairs
Republican Party of Minnesota
In response to Bonn Clayton’s e-mail, Pat Shortridge, Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota sent out the following e-mail Friday evening. 
To: Interested Friends
Fr: Pat Shortridge, State Party Chairman
David Asp, Judicial Committee Chairman
RE: Recent Misleading Email on Judicial Races

Recently, you may have received an e-mail that implied an official Republican Party of Minnesota seal of approval for three judicial candidates. This is most definitely not the case, and we wanted to clear up any confusion.

In May, our state GOP convention expressly decided not to endorse any statewide judicial candidate in 2012. Some in our party continue to refuse to accept this fact, a source of growing frustration for us and the members of the State Executive Committee.

It is important that voters educate themselves about the judicial candidates and make informed decisions on Election Day. To that end, the Republican Party of Minnesota has created an official judicial election guide for statewide judicial races in 2012. View the official voter guide here:http://mngop.com/pdfs/JudicialVoterGuide2012.pdf.

In addition to this official voter guide, some of you may have received an e-mail late last night linking to another “voter guide,” which was not authorized by the Republican Party of Minnesota. The person who sent the e-mail can certainly advocate for his point of view on judicial races. However, he cannot go beyond the scope of our party Constitution and party rules. He misused his access to party e-mail lists and invented a fictitious party title and organization under which he linked to a guide that unlike the state party’s guide advocates for particular judicial candidates. (Emphasis added)

This unauthorized “voter guide” contains a number of misleading statements, and you should be wary of any information contained in it. The unauthorized distribution of a guide that advocates for particular candidates (including one candidate with a long history of activism as a member of a different political party and quite liberal viewpoints) and implies that they are endorsed or “recommended” by the Republican Party of Minnesota is improper. It disrespects the decision of Republican delegates at our state convention and improperly uses the party’s brand and resources to promote candidates that have not been endorsed through our grassroots convention process. We expect people to follow the rules. Our party has learned the hard way what happens when we don’t. (Emphasis added)

All Minnesota voters have the responsibility to educate themselves about judicial candidates on the ballot this year, and we can help by sending out this guide.  Please forward the official Republican judicial election voter guide to all interested Minnesotans.


I want to make two point immediately: First, my compliments to Chairman Shortridge for a strong and rapid response.  It’s tough to play cop in an inter-party squabble, but Chairman Shortridge’s e-mail was the perfect response. Secondly, there is no evidence that any of the candidates which benefited from Bonn’s “voter guide” were complicit in his activities. The decision to endorse judicial candidates will continue to be a battle inside the Republican Party of Minnesota, but I think both sides can agree that fictitious voter guides is not the way to build confidence in the electoral process. 

Update on October 30, 2012: Bonn Clayton’s website is back up and running with a disclaimer from a new organization.  I can’t find a committee registration with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. 



  1. I’m pretty sure Bonn Clayton still thinks Nixon is President, so Nixonian tactics are to be expected.

    Does this comment mean I will be on the enemies list now?

  2. It might not be- but the GOP party unit in SD42 sent out a sample ballot indicating that two supreme court judges were endorsed candidates.

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