Monday, April 28, 2014

The Triumph of Representative Mary Franson

"Go fuck yourself."

I still have that charming Twitter direct message to me from the then Minnesota Republican House Director of Media Services sent that Friday night years ago when freshman Representative Mary Franson (HD 8B) released a poorly scripted video to her constituents. I saw the Left immediately swing into action online, vicious as always, claiming Franson actually believed poor people were animals. The point of departure for such a preposterous claim was her video in which she analogized from national park warnings not to feed the animals because it creates dependency in them. The rest of the faux outrage was as we have come to expect.

Only our side wasn't coming to Mary Franson's defense. I'd never heard of, let alone met, the woman. But it was clear this was the first time at this particular rodeo for her and I wondered why republicans wouldn't push back against such a preposterous narrative. No, the initial response was panic and spinelessness, something of a norm for Minnesota republican staffer types and their equally gutless bosses. When I argued privately on Twitter that removing Franson's video would only make matters worse, implicitly agreeing with far left wackos that she called poor people animals, I received the direct message which leads off this post.


Not only did we not have the instincts to fight for one of our own, we were ready to throw her overboard in the hopes that other members of the House republican caucus would not be damaged by this one silly video. This response only leads to the other side continuing with outrageous and silly claims, claims we legitimate by our cowardly reactions. Enough.

In the days that followed I learned the details of Franson's life and career: here was a single mother of three who overcame repeated adversity to advance in life and now was a member of the Minnesota legislature. As I've said before, if this were the story of a DFL woman, Minnesota media would have made her a household name, showering her with praise.

During the week that followed the rent a mob from the unionized Left demonstrated at committee hearings that Franson needed to resign. She endured this thuggery--shall we call it bullying?--with quiet grace. By the end of the week she agreed to go on Sue Jeffer's widely listened to Saturday radio show.

The day before that, however, the head of a so called "women's group" contacted Jeffers and demanded that she not have Franson on her show. Republican women, ladies and gentlemen, and this example from four years ago. It's only gotten worse since.

Jeffers was having none of it and Franson had already rebuffed pressure not to appear from this same woman and the show duly aired. I was appalled that any such thing had been contemplated or attempted, especially by a woman's group doing the bidding of male party leadership. "Kapos in the republican sexism camps" as I called them earlier this year.

Franson's first term was rocky by her own admission, not that the party came to her aid in helping her navigate the pitfalls of being a public official. In fact, House leadership pressured her not to run again, push-polling in her district and her district only, pointedly suggesting that if she didn't run again a full time job could be found for her. Somehow I think the replacement for her wasn't going to be another woman, though I have no proof of that.

Franson won reelection by one vote; then by 12 after a recount. Lesson learned.

Franson's second term was demonstrably improved. She rose to the challenge of being a strong advocate on those issues of importance to her but without the missteps that could give her enemies, inside and outside the party, ammunition. She dressed, spoke and acted the part of a state legislator.

Yet this year she was challenged by a disgruntled far right activist in her own district for the endorsement. Saturday, after many ballots and a disturbing smear campaign (by Christians, naturally!), Mary Franson won the endorsement. Virtually everything that's wrong with the republican party of Minnesota can be found in that endorsement battle. For a change, the good guy won and the relief on Twitter was palpable. Franson's challenger hasn't said whether she'd abide by the endorsement. What schizophrenia?

Mary Franson embodies everything that the rest of us merely talk about: a citizen legislator. Before holding office, Mary was a daycare provider. Does it get any more authentic than that? Can we check our impulse to knife her in the back long enough to appreciate the personal virtues and integrity she demonstrates by overcoming adversity in life and succeeding? If she doesn't embody what we think we are all about, I submit no one does.

But she does. I'm proud to call Mary Franson my friend but even prouder to call her a republican member of the Minnesota legislature. Whether her horrid opponent challenges her in a primary or not, Mary could use every single dollar you can send her way. Please click here to do so.

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