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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sue Jeffers Now Going for Republican Endorsement

Andy from Residual Forces points out an article in the strib about the Sue Jeffers candidacy for governor.

I met Sue Jeffers when she dropped by the Drinking Liberally blogger gathering. Jeffers plans with her governor candidacy were unclear. From talking to hear staff, it sounded like she was planning on going for Republican endorsement, but then if she failed to get GOP endorsement, she was running in the general election, rather than in the primary.

A feisty bar owner named Sue Jeffers has suddenly emerged as a challenger to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for Republican Party endorsement.

She faces just one big obstacle: Top party officials say Jeffers is not a real Republican and are blocking her attempts to participate in the process.

"We cannot give [Pawlenty] a free ride," said Jeffers, a 49-year-old activist who has been in the news recently leading opposition to bar-and-restaurant smoking bans and to taxpayer subsidies for pro sports stadiums.

"I am the only fiscal conservative running in this race," Jeffers said.

"It's clear Tim Pawlenty does not know how to close the checkbook," she added.

Jeffers acknowledges that few people think she has even a remote chance of knocking off an incumbent governor at his own party's convention in June. But she says she speaks for many fiscal conservatives who are unhappy with Pawlenty's compromises and reversals on a host of issues.

"Let's slap him up a bit, at the very least," Jeffers said.

But Republican Party chairman Ron Carey noted that until recently Jeffers was running as a Libertarian Party candidate and has its endorsement. The state convention "is reserved for Republicans and Republican candidates," Carey said. "We can monitor who we want there."

Carey said the party's executive committee will not provide Jeffers with the lists of some 1,500 recently elected state convention delegates, an essential tool for organizing an endorsement campaign.

Further, although convention rules are not yet written, Carey said those rules might include a minimum number of signatures from delegates for a candidate to be allowed to compete.

Jeffers has owned and operated Stub & Herb's bar and restaurant near the University of Minnesota campus for more than 25 years. She describes herself as both a libertarian and a "lifelong Republican," who has always voted for the GOP, volunteered for the Pawlenty campaign in 2002 and has served as a Republican election judge. She said she began talking to delegates and other activists a few weeks ago about switching course and plans to make an announcement of her candidacy next week.

Despite the official obstacles erected by party leaders, Jeffers said she will press on with a message that takes Pawlenty to task for what she says are numerous violations of conservative principles, especially on spending and taxes, in his first term.

'No friend of small business'

"Stadiums, health-impact fees, gambling expansion, 8 percent budget increase, $559 million in other fees, huge bonding bills, the JOBZ subsidies ... and he's been no friend of small business," she said.

David Strom from the Taxpayer League is quoted:

Many of these criticisms also have been expressed over the last three years by the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, a powerful interest group that got Pawlenty to sign a no-state-tax-increase pledge in 2002.

League President David Strom said Jeffers has "fought the good fight on a lot of things. ... She is very bright, she is not a crank by any stretch. ... But let's be honest; I don't think anyone can imagine a scenario in which she wins."

Still, Jeffers might send a signal if she's allowed to compete, Strom said. "It wouldn't be too surprising if 20 percent voted to let the governor know they don't like what he's done," he said.

Andy Lindberg - who is a Republican Party Activist in South Minneapolis is also quoted.

Jeffers said she has been underestimated all her life and is gathering a lot more support than party leaders expect. She produced the names and numbers of several convention delegates who confirmed that they were sympathetic to her cause.

One of them, Andy Lindberg, of south Minneapolis, said Jeffers' affiliation with Libertarians, who are in tune with Republicans on fiscal issues, shouldn't be held against her. Lindberg is chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, which he describes as "a bunch of Libertarian-minded Republicans."

"The party apparatchiks don't want to hear any dissent from the peons and the masses, and they do this at their own peril," said Lindberg. "They are in danger of having a lot of [activists] sit on their hands this fall."

The Republican party has clearly decided to stick it to the fiscal conservatives and cosy up to the Leviticus crowd. David Strom from the Taxpayer League isn't happy, but he's also not out there making it difficult for Republicans to dis fiscal conservatives.