Balls & Strikes: Phil Krinkie Should Attend Debates

BallsnStrikesPhil Krinkie, who is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District, won’t be participating in a candidate forum tonight or one next month. The St. Cloud Times first reported on Krinkie’s decision to not participate in two upcoming debates.

One of the Republicans vying to succeed Rep. Michele Bachmann says he won’t participate in a pair of upcoming candidate forums because they’re not free and open to the public.

Former state Rep. Phil Krinkie said Monday he won’t take part in forums sponsored by Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District Republicans and by Freedom Club, a conservative advocacy group. The 6th District Republicans event is Dec. 14 and the Freedom Club debate is Jan. 13.

KrinkieHeadshotKrinkie originally agreed to attend tonight’s forum hosted by the 6th Congressional District Republicans. While Krinkie lives in the 4th Congressional District, tonight’s forum is being organized by the Republicans that will be voting at the endorsing convention and in the primary next year. This isn’t some rogue group or splinter faction – this is Krinkie’s target audience.

The 6th Congressional District Republicans released a statement when Krinkie announced he would not participate in the debate:

I wanted to clarify some items related to the upcoming CD6 Victory Dinner & Candidate Forum.  Prior to moving forward with adding the forum to our fundraising dinner, we obtained commitments to participate from all four of the declared CD6 GOP candidates.  Like many of you, we were surprised to learn today that one of the candidates will no longer be attending the Dinner or participate in the forum.  While we are disappointed in Mr. Krinkie’s decision not to participate, the Victory Dinner and CD6 Candidate Forum will go on as planned.

By not attending, Krinkie is thumbing his nose at the voters he needs to win over if he wants to get elected to Congress.

Krinkie is also raising concerns because the forum tonight is part of larger fundraising event for the 6th Congressional District Republicans. After agreeing to participate in the forum, Krinkie is backing out because a fee will be charged to attend the forum.

Krinkie’s announcement marks a reversal for his campaign on the Dec. 14 forum, in which his campaign originally indicated it would participate. But Krinkie says the forum, which is a fundraiser for the 6th District Republicans, is the first instance he can recall of a GOP party unit charging for attendance to a candidate forum to raise money. The event requires a $50 entry fee.

The candidates were told in advance about the details for tonight’s forum. This is also an opportunity for the political organization that will be supporting a Republican candidate in the 6th Congressional District with financial and organization resources to raise money.

Contrary to the statements made by Krinkie, Republican organizations frequently use candidates forums as an opportunity to showcase their candidates and also raise money. Like a professional soccer player, Krinkie is either feigning outrage and injury, or has he developed an acute case of political amnesia.

The strongest play for Krinkie would have been for him to attend tonight’s debate and attempt to remedy the faults he sees in how this debate was organized. But rather than attending tonight, Krinkie may be at his home in the 4th Congressional District, reading Twitter for updates.

Krinkie isn’t a first time candidate, he’s a very seasoned politician, but his decision looks like a silly rookie mistake. You can’t secretly run for office. The debates and forums over the next few weeks are an important part of the political process. Krinkie should be willing to discuss his policy positions in any forum, with any audience. Krinkie should attend the debates and forums.

Balls and Strikes is a feature on focused on examining the tactics and strategies of Minnesota politics, politicians and candidates. 


  1. If I were a campaign strategist, I would surmise that Mr. Krinkie is doing some calculating here, or at least I would anticipate the possibility and prepare for it.

    I think he calculates that the general public outside the wonks and party insiders are not aware that functions like this serve as fundraisers.

    I think he calculates that by separating himself from the attendees and feigning outrage, he can engender some populist support from low-information primary voters by attacking the attendees and suggesting class warfare and elitism.

    I think he calculates that he will receive help from local media in demonizing the fundraising event.

    It’s clearly an effort to separate himself from the pack. Next steps should be anticipated.

  2. Pingback: Krinkie Reverses Course, Will Participate in Debate at Upcoming Fundraiser |

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