Friday, July 9, 2010

On Saving The Emmer Campaign From Itself

MC believes it is vital that Tom Emmer be the next governor of Minnesota. While we supported Marty Seifert (but did not endorse) during the endorsement battle, MC promptly closed ranks behind Emmer, attending the Unity Breakfast, welcoming home the plane that took the statewide ticket around the state and in numerous other ways since Emmer/Meeks became our ticket. Unfortunately, we have become concerned, as have legions of other activists and Republicans across the state, about the campaign and its ability to formulate and stay on a winning message. In short, to run a campaign that will win in November.

Initially the campaign message was something about taking back Minnesota. Given that we have a Republican governor currently in the office Emmer seeks, we were unsure what this meant. This message was followed by a lengthy period of radio silence. Apparently the thinking was better no message than one that made no sense. The absence of any message, however, and for a relatively lengthy time, had many asking MC if the campaign was still functioning. We assured them it was. Not that all was well: Emmer opined recklessly that the Arizona immigration law might be worthy of replication in Minnesota. We grimaced and soldiered on. Next came the Freedom & Prosperity theme. Here, we thought, were things only Democrats could oppose. We tease our Democrat friends. But it was a theme, we thought, that could have some traction.

Then came the Eagle Grille and the self-inflicted statement about servers making $100,000 a year. Why a relatively obscure tax issue like the tip-credit came to the fore is beyond us. Why the campaign staff did not realize it had a calamity on its hands baffled us. Why it still believes it does not despite the evidence makes us want to waterboard them.

The DFL immediately seized upon the matter and painted Emmer into a mean Republican corner, one who will slash away at workers who earn minimum wage, one who wants to coddle business per se, one who wants "gut" state government and who has no plan of particulars but who speaks in bromides and platitudes. Great.

Showing the salience of the blunder, there is now a website devoted to servers who don't support Emmer. More, one can print out flyers that excoriate Emmer on this issue (yes, yes, we KNOW it is unfair, fair isn't the point; welcome to politics) and can be left with your tip when you dine out or have a drink at a bar. Well played squishes!

When your opponents seize on an issue to this degree, ought not the campaign pause and think: "Perhaps we have dug ourselves a hole and should stop digging?"

But no.

Compounding the disaster by orders of magnitude, the campaign decided to announce it will hold a town hall forum next Wednesday at a Mexican restaurant in Roseville to address the very issue that has proven toxic to it: tip-credit and servers. MC has it on good authority that any number of politically experienced and savvy people urged the campaign not to do this. We are witnessing a perfect storm of political tone-deafness. One wag left a comment on a local newspaper website wondering if at the town hall Emmer would ask his server for their papers. Ouch.

When you are explaining in politics, you are losing. MC didn't come up with that; doesn't everyone in politics know it? One Emmer staffer told MC that they thought the issue would be a "net win" for the campaign by the end of next week. When told of this, an accomplished political operative told MC "Riiight." One friend of MC suggested out loud that there was a DFL plant in the operation; nothing else could explain the missteps. We dismissed that out of hand and he's prone to black helicopters anyway. Another activist thought the "truth" of the tip-credit could be explained away on Twitter. Reader, we despaired.

Nor will taking to local conservative talk radio repair the damage. Self-selected conservative audiences are neither the problem nor the solution. The damage lies in those to whom the DFL is adroitly getting out their spin on the subject. It does not matter if Emmer is right on the substance; as a political issue it is causing him to lose support among Independent and moderate Democratic voters. And we don't buy the idea that the entire hospitality industry is happy with the way this issue has been presented. We know for a fact of much unhappiness within that group. Net win?

Not being glass-half-empty liberals, however, MC believes the campaign can right itself and move forward to victory in November. But the change has to be immediate, if not sooner. And the person who came up with the town hall seppuku should be tasered. We suggest the following, by no means complete, list of ideas:

1. Cancel the seppuku. Sure Emmer will be mocked but such pales in comparison to being tagged as the guy who wants servers to make $2.13 an hour. Such tagging has been ongoing all this week.

2. If the death wish can't be scrubbed, then Emmer should come out for making tips and gratuities tax-free. Who cares what it does to revenue? Just get on the right side of this issue politically.

3. Stop running for the endorsement. Emmer won. He can't win with the narrow base that propelled him to victory. He's in a general election race now and any campaign staff that can't grasp the obvious ought to be waiting tables. We jest! Don't shoot!

4. Run on winning themes and speak of nothing else: lower taxes for all, less nanny-state interference in our lives, reduced state spending and the legitimate fear of the intellectually lazy DFL in control of the executive and legislative branches.

5. Don't take the post August 10th bait from Mark "Renoir-Toulouse Lautrec" Dayton. He'll run a class warfare campaign and the tip-credit snafu only plays directly into that. Like most Democrats, he hasn't had a new idea in decades. Point out he's to the left of our wholly incompetent affirmative action President.

Finally, one friend of MC suggested something brilliant: bring in New Jersery Governor Chris Christie and campaign for real reform and not just tinkering around the edges. New ideas scare Democrats; so scare them! Voters will reward you. Look at what he's doing in his state and think about what could be applied here to good effect. If Christie can have such success in New Jersey, MC holds out hope for this state of government workers.

We hope the Emmer campaign takes our suggestions in the good faith with which they are offered. MC could no longer pretend that things were going well. We are not purists who don't mind losing. We are Republicans who want to win.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paint me the eternal optimist. I, too, was a Seifert supporter, because I liked the detail. Now that Democrats are clamoring for detail from Emmer, I consider him wise in not providing it. Plenty of time for that, and no use in handing them ammunition when they're perfectly capable of just making stuff up anyway.

I'm even convinced that there are better ways to get ahead of this tip credit thing. Emmer has a debate scheduled with Kelliher next week, I believe, and this will surely come up. She says she wants to raise the minimum wage for everybody by another $1.50. Emmer can grab the issue by just asking the standard [very sarcastic] conservative response, which is, why not make it $40/hour? We could eliminate poverty! Then, while she's floundering around for an answer, suggest that people should work for as much as they can get, including tips, but not so much that they lose the job altogether. You don't make jobs by increasing the cost of employing someone. And I believe Mr. Emmer capable of pulling off this verbal hat trick.

J. Ewing

Anonymous said...

Also, I notice liberals at MNPAct.org have picked up on your post as a sign of hope. They love dissension in the GOP ranks.

J. Ewing

Malzacher/Gilmore said...

We thank, as always, Mr. Ewing for his comments. While we're all for verbal hat tricks, we're also pretty sure they alone don't win elections. And we want Emmer to win.

Malzacher/Gilmore said...

We don't think our lonely post (a friend assured us that the House Republican Caucus does not read our blog!) is the first time that liberals and the DFL figured out the Emmer campaign was not a finely oiled machine. Please. And we confess to not knowing what passes for hope for those moonbats, especially after that fraud Obama.

We do know wanting Tom Emmer to win is hardly a sign of dissension within the ranks. Isn't it, in fact, a sign of solidarity and unity?

We think so. We know so.

Jamie J. Delton said...

I am a former Seifert man but with Emmer it is the sensibility, candor and fresh approach to government that won me over. The entire family forms the brand and it is a strong brand - it may be only a few are aware of incredible insights of Tom's uncle Drew who ran the wright county republican blog.
I am not worried for the campaign. I do like the idea of applying Chris Christie's tactics to Minnesota. Christie's ideas are 100% Republican - it's the tactics - a head on fearless approach - that are unique and successful.
I hope Emmer strongly opposes the internet tax.
I hope Pawlenty opposes Central Corridor and does not agree to further needless Met Council/CTIB bonding on the 5-county residents' taxes.
I was at Eagle Street Grille. Mr. Salisbury in particular seemed married to the issue and the request for a budget. The media played a big role.

Jake Barnett said...

I think this is a situation of the Emmer campaign swinging at a pitch outside their wheelhouse. Emmer speaks well when he's talking about reducing the size of government. This seemed like a half hearted attempt at the political fiction known as "pragmatic tax policy", and ending up with a foot in mouth comment and appearing to be straddling the fence on his tax cutting principles. I agree with the assertion that he needs to abandon the tax credit idea and start talking about ending the tax on tips and gratuity altogether. Hold on to your tax cutting principles, and once you win you can hammer out whatever political sausage comes from this in the legislative session

Jamie J. Delton said...

I am a former Seifert man but with Emmer it is the sensibility, candor and fresh approach to government that won me over. The entire family
forms the brand and it is a strong brand - it may be only a few are aware of incredible insights of Tom's uncle Drew who ran the Wright
County Republican blog.
I am not worried for the campaign. I do like the idea of applying Chris Christie's tactics to Minnesota. Christie's ideas are 100%
Republican - it's the tactics - a head on fearless approach - that are unique and successful.
I hope Emmer strongly opposes the internet tax.
I hope Pawlenty opposes Central Corridor and does not agree to further needless Met Council/CTIB bonding on the 5-county residents' taxes.
I was at Eagle Street Grille. Mr. Salisbury in particular seemed married to the issue and the request for a budget. The media played a
big role.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, please, for ignoring your several fine suggestions for the Emmer campaign and concentrating on the main bone of contention of the tip credit. I think the verbal hat trick is all that is necessary for this tiny issue in the scheme of things. Let the DFLers bash it for all it is worth, because it isn't worth that much, and hey, what else have they got? I want Emmer to win, too, and I don't see this issue derailing that essential victory, unless the Emmer team gets hung up defending themselves. Have one big public showdown on the deal, put it in perspective, and then refuse to discuss it after that.

And perhaps most comforting in all this, is that, while people at MNPact and the liberal bloggers /are/, the Emmer campaign probably isn't listening to either of us! :-)

J. Ewing

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to argue with you about whether the town hall is good idea or not, although your admission that as prognosticators you are not exactly batting 1000 so far this cycle is refreshingly honest. I do think your call for him to drop it now is a really bad idea. You don't do this and then back away, no matter what the consequences or people will be getting out the forks to stick in you.

I will throw a few things out here for you to consider though.

You rip Emmer up and down for picking this fight. Then you go on to praise Chris Christie who has done nothing to get into fights. You can either bring the fight to them, or they will bring it to you. Maybe this wasn't the fight to pick, maybe the timing was wrong, but sooner or later this fight was going to happen. And it will happen over and over again, if we want to take some lessons from the New Jersey situation.

Chris Christie, if you haven't noticed, hasn't actually solved any of Jersey's problems yet. What he has done is spoken unpopular truths bravely and effectively and charted a course for solving them. Fortunately, MN is not in as bad a shape as NJ, but we will still need to confront all kinds of groups over all kinds of things to turn this state around. Is Tom Emmer a blowhard jerk or a balsy guy who's not afraid to lay it out there and let people make up their own minds? We'll see. We do know one thing about him, he's not afraid to take risks and spend political capital when he thinks he's doing the right thing. That puts him ahead of play it safe pawlenty in my book.

MikeWBL said...

Thanks for stating the obvious John & Barbara! Emmer obviously needs to stick to his key messages and Wait Staff tips is certainly NOT a key message!

Anonymous said...

If conservatives are not will to run on and support conservative principles then what is the point of being conservative.

We are had a vote on if we wanted a candidate who wanted to appeal to the Star Tribune all the time and your candidate lost.

Either support conservative values or change the name of this blog to -Conservative Minnesotans* "*as long as it is popular with the Media"

Malzacher/Gilmore said...

We are amused that because we want Emmer to run a better campaign this commentator accuses us of wanting the affection of the media. Let's get serious people.

MBerg said...

Chris Christie, if you haven't noticed, hasn't actually solved any of Jersey's problems yet. What he has done is spoken unpopular truths bravely and effectively and charted a course for solving them.

And as Christie is the governor, as oppposed to the Capo Di Tutti Capi, that's where it all starts.

Fortunately, MN is not in as bad a shape as NJ, but we will still need to confront all kinds of groups over all kinds of things to turn this state around.

Absolutely.

And for that, once we get past the media sideshows like this absurd red herring over tips while the four DFLers plan on gutting the economy, I trust Emmer completely.

Anonymous said...

SG/JG Were you the guy at the town hall meeting who yelled out at that waitress that said she was supporting 6 kids, "how many fathers?" It sure looked like you. If it wasn't, I'm glad. If it was, man, not cool at all. I don't want you on my side. No need to stoop to their level.

Anonymous said...

Gilmore is absolutely correct. As Republicans we want Emmer to win, but the only way he can do that is if he dumps this amateur hour. He is in the big league now whether he realizes it or not and it is about time he acts like it. He can't continue to scrub his youtube account and try to make the play on words like he is in a court room. This tip credit should have been a one day deal and he turned it into a week long fiasco. Stick to the message. Be more disciplined as a candidate so you can actually win. He can open his trap after he gets elected.

Malzacher/Gilmore said...

I did ask the waitress about how many fathers. She yelled out her procreation quota as though that had the rest of us on the hook to support them. Is that true? She later tracked me down at the event and we had a good conversation. I'm pro-father. Can any of us say the lack of Dad is a good thing? It might have appeared to you as harsh but this mother and I ended up agreeing. We need to support Moms and Dads, for the sake of their dear children, regardless of whether the marriage (or non) works. Thank you for you comment.

Anonymous said...

not ready for prime time "player" New it from the beginning and it's playing out before all our eyes

Anonymous said...

Face it. The DFL and their propaganda organ-- the major media in this state-- are openly hostile to any and all things conservative or Republican, unless that Republican is way left of his or her Party. If they cannot report something bad about our candidates, they will twist the facts around so they can "report" something bad about our candidates. If they can't find something to twist or a molehill of which to make a mountain, they will simply make something up and trumpet THAT as if it were totally disqualifying.

The trick, IMHO, is to simply let no truth go unspoken and let no lie go unchallenged. There IS a right way and a wrong way to say things, but the truth is consistently the truth, or should be.

J. Ewing

Anonymous said...

The DFL learned something from Napoleon:

"Ne jamais interrompre votre ennemi quand il fait une erreur."

The Emmer Campaign made many