Stealth Republicans

In August, Rep. Mark Kennedy's campaign manager blogged, "Why has Amy Klobuchar mentioned only once, in the most cursory fashion, that she is a Democrat? Why is she running from her party?" Kennedy's own home page offers no mention of his party affiliation, and of the three times the word "Republican" appears, one is in his "Fact Check" column and two are in August blog posts. A quick look at Minnesota's major GOP candidates shows a similar trend--Republicans are still keeping the party of Bush at arm's length, at least publicly.

But first, those who do tout their party affiliation do it unabashedly. You could hardly miss CD5 candidate Alan Fine's allegiances: the first image on his site is him pressing the flesh with Rudy Giuliani; below it are quotes by Minnesota GOP chair Ron Carey and Republican analyst Brian Sullivan. Further down the page is a photo of Fine doing pullups in front of a "CORN DOGS" sign at the Fair; it's captioned: "At the Minnesota State Fair, Republican endorsed 5th district congressional candidate Alan Fine (44) beats Marine doing 16 pull ups, wins marine hat and 'raises the bar' for the 5th district race."

Even the site Democrats for Fine (two such Democrats are listed), which is registered to Fine Enterprises, mentions his party three times.

You've got to search hard to find that Tim Pawlenty is a Republican, but you can: in his campaign "blog," where a news story mentions he won the party's primary. Similarly, it's easier to find Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer's recipes for honey butter and raspberry jam than it is to find a GOP mention (there are some; in the photo gallery, she's shown holding a gun after target practice at a Young Republicans event).

Then there's Michele Bachmann, whose effusive support for George W. Bush has made clear her affiliation: her site leads with a photo of her with the president, and her home page prominently features this vivid mention of a hurtling, parading booster: “Hoekstra is the latest high profile political leader in a parade of prominent Republicans who are throwing their support behind the Minnesota State Senator.”

Others, like Gil Gutknecht and Obi Sium, feature links that are heavy on the Republican, while one, CD7 candidate Michael Barrett makes it overt: in a side-by-side comparison of issues with Colin Peterson, he affixed a red "R" by his name to indicate party. (The overarching slogan for his campaign is “Mike Barrett. Secure the border. No Amnesty.”).

But the majority of Republicans--and many key ones--fail to mention their membership in the party that controls Congress, the Senate, the House, and the judiciary--while some simply bury it within their sites.

Those who don't mention it at all:

• Congressional incumbent John Kline
• Auditor Pat Anderson
• Congressman Jim Ramstad
• Rep. Rod Grams (Grams' clunkily constructed site has the distinction of being designed by a consultant whose resume, printed on his home page, includes work as a Boy Scout counselor for merit badges including auto mechanics and cinematography.)
• State Sen. Dick Day
• State Senate candidate George Marin (whose GOP connections rank lower than a Napolean Dynamite impersonator and Rusty, the family dog.)

Conventional wisdom knows why this is: the Iraq war remains unpopular, and Bush, while seeing a recent bump in approval, still hovers around 40% approval. Is it mere political pragmatism that dictates muffling party allegiances? Are there similarities--geographically, ideologically, otherwise--between those who trumpt their Republicanism and those who keep it hidden? And, how does this compare to past years?

More to come...

[Cross-posted at Minnesota Monitor. ]

No comments: