Last Thursday evening, Representative Mark Olson was endorsed by the Republican Party to run for the Minnesota Senate in SD 16. The state senator in SD 16, Senator Betsy Wergin, was appointed by Governor Pawlenty to the to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in July. Representative Olson, who currently represents HD 16B in the Minnesota House of Representatives, was not endorsed for re-election because he was convicted of domestic assault in 2007. Former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer was endorsed on the second ballot over Representative Olson.
When I heard that Representative Olson had been endorsed, I was sick to my stomach. I immediately wished that I had published my personal concerns about Representative Olson last week. After he lost the Republican endorsement to Kiffmeyer, I thought Representative Olson would also lose the endorsement contest to his rival, Alison Krueger. After being convicted of domestic assault and admitting in a speech the he brought “dishonor and disrepute” to the Minnesota House of Representatives, I didn’t think Representative Olson would be endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota. I was wrong.
Sadly, Being Convicted of Domestic Abuse May Help Representative Olson’s Political Career
If Representative Olson had not been arrested, charged, tried and convicted of domestic assault, he would have likely been endorsed for re-election to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Due to his legal problems and if he wins in November, Representative Olson will be getting a job promotion. Due to his legal problems, instead of representing just HD 16B, Olson could represent both HD 16A and 16B in the Minnesota Senate. Due to his legal problems, instead of being one of 134 members of the House of Representatives, Olson could become one of 67 members of the Minnesota Senate.
It is a embarrassing and sad fact, but if Representative Olson wins in November, he will become a more influential member of the Minnesota Legislature because he was arrested, charged, tried and convicted of domestic assault.
Drew Emmer attended the convention and reported on the events in the comments:
Drew Emmer Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 8:40 am
I was at the endorsing convention. I had the privilege of nominating Alison. She’s a fine person with everything any conservative could want in a candidate. Her willingness to run on such short notice is typical of her servant attitude. She’s better off for the experience and will certainly stay engaged in the local grassroots political process.
The characterization that the Minnesota GOP endorsed Mark Olson is indeed what the left will gravitate toward. In reality SD16 endorsed Olson. More specifically, the folks in SD16 who bothered to show up for the special endorsing convention. Mark & Heidi deserve credit for winning at the endorsing game. A game they know well and executed deftly last Thursday. They rallied support from within their network of friends in and out of the district and they won.
Alison signed a pledge to not actively campaign against the endorsement. So did Mark. That’s a pretty significant commitment and definitely shows respect for the will of the delegates. I do not expect Alison to waffle on that pledge. Her integrity is far more precious to her than a senate seat. In the unlikely event that she passively wins the primary, since her name is indeed still on the ballot, well, then she has a whole new situation to deal with.
Your concerns about the ammunition provided the left because of this unusual development are credible. No doubt Mark will be attacked. The shrapnel will possibly impact the House candidates. I guess if there’s going to be a food fight there aren’t better equipped candidates than Sondra Erickson and Mary Kiffmeyer to weather the storm.
Mark Olson unfortunately did not qualify for public subsidy. In the rush to assemble delegates for the endorsing convention, he failed to raise the minimum required to activate the share of public money. That’s $15-20K he will not have in his coffers to wage battle against Democrat Lisa Fobbe.
My personal regret about the endorsing convention is not so much the outcome as the way it was conducted. Senator Betsy Wergin served SD16 honorably. She was not allowed to address the convention. She was not even allowed to be seated as a delegate even though she was a delegate! Her family and friends were not allowed to attend as guests. That’s just bush-league. Betsy deserves an apology and local leaders need to raise the bar of behavior in their ranks.
The opportunities we have to engage new people in the political process are easily wasted when well-intentioned people in positions of real or perceived power act like kindergartners fighting over paste. We all deserve better in our quest to elect effective conservatives.
I.R. Informed Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 10:38 am
Thanks for sharing your insights Drew.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could answer some questions for me since I was unable to attend the endorsing convention.
It is a shame that Senator Wergin was unable to address the convention. What was the rationale for that?
Other than Mark’s wife, who also nominated him before he gave his speech?
What was the final vote count and how many ballots did it take for Olson to get the 60% needed?
Why was Krueger unable to gain any footing or momentum during the convetion?
Thanks in advance for helping me answer these questions!
August 13th, 2008 at 10:50 am
Drew is a thoughtful commentator on this site and others. Let me start with that.
The endorsement pledge is significant and important, no question about that.
This is an extreme and unique circumstance, and I hope Krueger runs with the full support of Senate Republicans and others.
Many of the comments on this site ring true with a theme we cannot turn a blind eye towards. The GOP has been the party of values (Foley was thrown out, Republicans have roundly criticized others who have abused power consistently).
We cannot back Olson in this race.
Many believe we’ve lost our brand on spending. We cannot lose our brand on values. Not when the left is giving us Jeremiah Wright and Al Franken.
Capitol Insider Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 10:56 am
Drew, could you elaborate on the issue of the BPOU not allowing the outgoing Senator to speak?
I’ve heard rumblings about that around here, but nothing definitive.
If Olson supporters simply didn’t allow legitimate delegates to vote, that is very problematic (still not as problematic as the domestic assault).
Drew Emmer Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 11:37 am
Senator Wergin was not seated as a delegate. It is my understanding that she was elected a delegate at her precinct caucus. And she has been seated as a delegate at all other conventions. I’ve never heard of a delegate showing up and not being seated. I do not know why she was not seated. Perhaps someone running the show will clarify that.
There was a motion to change the rules to preclude anyone not a delegate/alternate or resident of the district or candidate family member from delivering an endorsement speech. The gal that read the motion said they wanted to “prevent party elites and politicians from unduly influencing the outcome”. It was so cool to almost be banned from this convention as I am none of the above. Unfortunately the motion failed after Mark Swanson spoke up and straightened the joint out. Would have been an honor to be banned but it just wasn’t my day I guess.
The rationale behind barring Betsy Wergin’s family and friends from attending as guests so as to see/hear her farewell address is a mystery to me. They were turned away at the door. Every “VIP” in the room was allowed to speak except Betsy.
The first ballot took about 1/2 hour to count. The second ballot was counted within 10 minutes as we were up against a mandatory 9:30pm adjournment. In fact, there was a motion to adjourn before the vote tally was rushed to the podium. But the chair decided not to recognize the motion to adjourn even though he reiterated it over the sound system. And the vote totals weren’t close to the total from the first ballot. I guess there may have been folks who left. But it didn’t look like anyone left.
Rep. Tom Hackbarth nominated Mark Olson his friend and colleague of many years. It was seconded by another guy (bearded)I couldn’t hear at all. Heidi concluded the nomination speeches by exhorting everyone to vote for Mark because he is cute. It was really charming. It’s all on tape somewhere. There were 2-3 cameras rolling. Phil Krinkie was also on stage in support. You have to give Mark credit. He rallied his people and they showed up.
But the way they treated Betsy was awful.
August 13th, 2008 at 11:45 am
I agree, if the comments published here are as claimed (I wasn’t there so I’m only going by heresay on this blog), the way they treated Betsy was awful.
I had the great opportunity to help her get reelected to the Senate in 2006. She is a great person and hard worker, someone who should have had the respect of all present.
On the other hand, I’m happy that Olson got the endorsement.
Leroy Jenkins Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 12:02 pm
So I assume if you believe in redemption, you also believe Al Franken’s jokes and business issues are now also off limits, since the issues are in the past, and he has apologized?
Drew Emmer Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 12:07 pm
If a person has a right to stand against someone’s endorsement for voting to override the Governor’s veto, don’t they have a right to oppose an endorsement for whatever reason they want?
SD16 chose Mark Olson without regard for his recent legal history. That was their choice.
Frankly, I’m surprised at the number of people calling for an outright mutiny over this issue. What’s the big difference between 20 or 21 republican senators? Is this really a hill to die on? As a micro-minority the senate republican ability to get anything done is largely contingent on the House’s ability to enforce the Governor’s veto.
As Wheelock Whitney said years ago “Victory Goes To Thise Who Show Up”
August 13th, 2008 at 12:31 pm
Excellent post Michael-
Drew- I was just about to say the same thing- The party belongs to those who show up.
If you don’t like your local leadership- it’s not all that difficult to organize and oust them. I’m curious- how much notice was provided to delegates regarding the endorsing convention?
I don’t know Allison- but she should definitely run.
Where is the shame Mr. Olson? Same question to all those who stood next to him to support him- where is your shame? Let me guess- he’s asked for God’s forgiveness so now everything is OK– whatever John Edwards.
August 13th, 2008 at 12:38 pm
I think a conversation should be had about why the heck the Governor appointed Betsy Wergin to the PUC.(I truely don’t believe her brother knew nothing about it like she stated in the paper) She has no qualifications for the job, Senator Murphy’s LTE around the state shows that confirmation from the DFL may be difficult. Then what do we have - we lose a good senator for what?Everyone knows the problems in SD16 so know one should be surprised about the Olson endorsement. Chalk up another senate seat loss on the Governor’s cronyism.
August 13th, 2008 at 12:45 pm
Skydancer, its not about if his people support him. He seemed to be pretty popular. This issue is, has he gotten the help he’s needed to maintain his temper without lashing out. It wasn’t just him wife, which would label him a domestic abuser but his staff as well. He’s just an abuser and at only 5′9″ and 180lbs, he’s heading for a serious awakening when he pulls that on someone with a shorter fuse than his.
You seem right in line with the win at all cost and any Republican is better than any Democrat mindset. You are willing to look at wife-beaters, wife-cheaters, child molesters, racists, sexists, and xenophobes if they are Republicans. Not only that, but you’re willing to justify their misdeeds with the ever-so tired “Democrats…”
Do you have any decency? No- of course not. You do know that this is a country of taxation. You want services, you pay taxes. So no one steals from anyone, unless you count 66% of American Corporations that pay 0 in taxes or 68% of Foreign Corporations that operate here that pay 0 in federal taxes. Naw, you’re OK with that. Its those damn poor Americans with help from the Democrats that’s stealing from us.
Girl, you are an idiot.
Republicans run on family values (while electing cheaters and abusers), Christian faith (while acting in the most unchristian ways), fiscal responsibility (while running up the biggest debt in history, and deficit known to man) and Americana (while showing great disdain toward fellow Americans).
So you and Drew can hold your heads up. Guys like you, have produced and presented guys Like Mark Olson to us, over and over again.
August 13th, 2008 at 2:51 pm
Good work Michael. Word is that a group of Republican legislators will be holding a press conference to announce they will endorse the Democrat candidate if Olson wins the primary.
I.R. Informed Says:
August 13th, 2008 at 4:47 pm
A source told me that Olson won quite convincingly at the endorsing convention (something like 97-40 on the second ballot). It perplexes me how he can get trounced when he ran for the endorsement of his old seat and then turn around a couple of months later and decisively beat Krueger (hand selected by Senator Wergin)for the Senate District Endorsement.
Not only did Olson convince 97 people to vote for him, he also has the backing of a few Minnesota House Reps (at least Hackbarth and Drazkowski).
So Swiftee, are all these people scumbags as well?
-Sidepoint- although I agree with Swiftee and Chestnut on an overwhelming amount of issues, I think they would be much better served if they did not use gutter language and call people disgusting names.
August 13th, 2008 at 5:24 pm
Oh, Drazkowski supports the wife-beating Olson. Now there’s an endorsement with credibility on the issue.
You make this too easy. Olson will drag at least one more seat down with his. It won’t matter in the Senate but, in the House, that’s one of five to the super majority needed to really put things back in order.