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Monday, January 07, 2008

Did Ron Carey Stump for Huckabee in Iowa During the SD 25 Race?

This is a rumor that is going around among some in the Minnesota Republican Party. This post by Tim Pugmire at MPR Polinaut seems to confirm this.

The chairman of the state Republican party announced today that he'll head the Minnesota campaign of GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

Ron Carey says he's been quietly supporting Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign for a year. Four days after Huckabee's convincing win in the Iowa caucuses, Carey went public with his preference.

He also unveiled a list of other prominent Minnesota Republicans who've joined the Huckabee team. Carey said Huckabee is the best of a stellar group of GOP candidates.

Others in the Republican party are criticizing Carey's move to endorsement. From Polinaut:

Carey says he doesn't know if Huckabee will visit Minnesota before the February 5th precinct caucuses.

The move is unusual but Carey says the state party bylaws allow him to give his early support to a presidential candidate.

"I'm going to take some hits for this," Carey said. "But I truly believe in the long haul that this is the best thing for the Republican party to have a viable campaign for Mike Huckabee. And I think he's the candidate that has the best chance to lead up to success in November."

But a co-chair of Mitt Romney's Minnesota campaign criticized the move. Brian Sullivan said Carey would be better served helping all Republicans rather than one particular candidate.

Sullivan was an active supporter of Carey's reelection as party chair. I'm not sure how this action by the Republican party chair will help:

  • Reelect Norm Coleman to the US Senate.
  • Elect more Republicans to the state house.
  • Helping to reelect Kline, Bachmann and to take the open congressional seat in the 3rd district and defeat Tim Walz.

What kind of message does it send nationally, when the state chair of the Republican National Convention hosting state endorses a specific presidential candidate prior to the person being the nominee?

Strib coverage here also quotes Brian Sullivan:

Ruffling a few feathers

Carey acknowledged that his endorsement of a candidate would be controversial among some Minnesota GOP activists who believe he shouldn't take a stand so early in the race.

Quick to fulfill that expectation was Brian Sullivan, a businessman and Republican National Committee member who is supporting Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"Traditionally, the chairman doesn't endorse particular candidates because his job as head of the party is to help all Republicans win and essentially not introduce a bias for one candidate over another," Sullivan said.

"It's hard to disassociate what he wants to do personally from what his official capacity is," Sullivan said. "I don't think that that's possible."

The Strib coverage also points out that Gary Borgendale, who lobbies for the Minnesota Family Council and organized the "Pastor's Network" to push for the Bachmann amendment is working to support Huckabee:

The announcement at the State Capitol also signals that Huckabee will enjoy considerable support in Minnesota from religious conservatives, who were instrumental in his victory in Iowa. Joining Carey for the announcement was Gary Borgendale, a former pastor-network coordinator for Minnesota for Marriage, which pushed unsuccessfully in recent years for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Borgendale said that evangelicals would spread support for Huckabee by e-mail and through websites and that ministers could give personal endorsements outside the pulpit.

Borgendale said he met Huckabee in Des Moines.

"I got very interested in his faith and family values, his strong pro-life position and his strong position on marriage between one man and one woman," Borgendale said. "More and more I began to like what he stood for."

For Gary Borgendale, those seem to be the only issues he is concerned about.

Will Romney's campaign be able to stop Huckabee in Minnesota? I think it will be a challenge. Gary Bauer won a straw poll among Minnesota Republicans the year he ran for President.