Minnesota politics is always interesting and the last 24 hours was no exception. Yesterday, the Republican Party of Minnesota announced the dates and location for their convention – May 30 to 31 at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. The Minnesota DFL announced the dates for their convention – May 30 to June 1 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center – last summer. So, to be clear: the Minnesota DFL and the Republican Party of Minnesota will be holding their state conventions in 2014 on the same weekend.
There was a flurry of activity by reporters and others to find an example of the Republicans and Democrats holding their conventions on the same weekend, but none has been found. The leadership of the Republican Party of Minnesota made the specific decision to hold their convention during the same weekend as the Minnesota DFL. The concerns raised by Republicans I have spoken with about this issue has been focused on the timing of the convention and not with the selection of Rochester as the location.
But even the announcement of where the Republican Party of Minnesota was holding their convention took reporters and activists by surprise.
Just called Olmsted GOP Chairman Bruce Kaskubar to ask about GOP convention being in #rochmn. His response? “That’s news to me!”
— Heather J. Carlson (@PBhcarlson) January 7, 2014
According to sources, a recent vote by the executive committee of the Republican Party of Minnesota was unanimous to schedule the convention during the DFL state convention. Traditionally, the state conventions for the Minnesota DFL and Republican Party of Minnesota are held on separate weekends.
Bucking tradition isn’t always bad, if the logic behind the decision is sound. But, this isn’t one of those decisions that was thought out and based on sound logic.
The state convention is an opportunity for political parties to showcase their candidates to voters across Minnesota. Media outlets attend the convention and report on the speeches and presentations by candidates and party officials. Instead of the Republican Party of Minnesota providing their candidates with a clear stage to showcase their platforms, Republican candidates will have to battle for media coverage with DFL candidates at their convention 230 miles away in Rochester.
Tom Hauser from KSTP sent out this tweet to express his opinion on the distance and timing of the conventions:
MN GOP and DFL parties to hold state conventions May 30-31. GOP in Rochester. DFL in Duluth. For media…one hell of a commute.
— Tom Hauser (@5hauser) January 8, 2014
Republicans I spoke to were hoping this was a schedule error, rather than a faulty plan, designed to hoodwink the media into taking away coverage from the DFL state convention. They’ll be disappointed to learn this was the plan all along.
Balls and Strikes is a feature on politics.mn focused on examining the tactics and strategies of Minnesota politics, politicians and candidates.