Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sheila Kihne & Republican Incumbent Entitlement

One of the most interesting political developments this election cycle involves Sheila Kihne, a well known conservative activist in House District 48B, and friend, who single-handedly denied the republican endorsement to incumbent Jenifer Loon, Republican Deputy House Minority Leader. Kihne's challenge came late and without much warning. Loon apparently expected an easy time of it but at the end of the day was left with a divided convention voting no endorsement. So much for grass roots support.

To the dismay of entitled Minnesota republican incumbents everywhere, Kihne followed through with her effort by registering to run in the primary (photo above). This was thought of by many as very bad form indeed. People are entitled to their views but I see it as rather the opposite: keeping us true to ourselves by reminding us, unpleasantly, of how easy it is become DFL-lite in this state. If you like Arne Carlson, you'll love Jenifer Loon.

The conventional take on this race, and Kihne's candidacy, is that it all comes down to her disagreement on Loon's vote for same sex marriage. Spare me the martyrology of politicians who preen that they must vote their conscience because they're brave things and then whine like spoiled children when they suffer adverse consequences. The brave don't whine and if you do, we're entitled to conclude you were never brave to begin with. What do the phony do for an encore?

I've written about this at length concerning former Rep. David FitzSimmons and that piece can be read by clicking here. Eric Lucero won the endorsement over FitzSimmons and a great hue and cry was heard about the land. In fact, the hash tag #IStandWithFitz was popular for a time among the, how to say it?, Twitter tough guys.  ™Andy Parrish.

By the way, has endorsed 6th Congressional District republican Tom Emmer endorsed Lucero? Lucero has a primary challenger; a weak version of the empire strikes back.

Or will Emmer pull a Bachmann and encourage a vote for the person who is bucking the endorsement process? Bachmann endorsed McFadden for US Senate at Rochester's endorsing convention at the end of May. The DFL has already run ads denoting him as her favorite republican. That's rich, given how much Norm Coleman can't stand her. "Bachmannistan," anyone?

Remember, we're a high minded and principled party. Until we aren't.

The gloss that this race is same sex marriage redux is understandable but ultimately false. Even Sally Jo Sorensen, who blogs at Bluestem Prairie (Minnesota's best blog in my envious opinion) pretty much treated it as such when she wrote about Lucero encouraging his supporters to donate to Kihne. The idea, however, that this has very much to do with a women's front group funded by Bob Cummins "scorning" Kihne is simply wide of the mark. (When the group's leader doesn't know to from too, scorn runs in the opposite direction). Given that Bluestem is on the outside looking in, I understand the analysis. Sorensen's post can be read by clicking here.

There's much more involved here, however, and that more consists of the voting record of Rep. Loon. If a politician's voting record is not something from which we may object once they are in office, then republicans in Minnesota may as well join the Phyllis Kahn Legislator For Life Caucus. And this is what has bothered me about republicans in the House and Senate: they believe people like Sheila Kihne shouldn't do what she is doing. They won, once, and should be reelected again and again by the same voters, only to be taken out by a democrat should the tide change. Breathtakingly, they act as if how they vote is really no concern of republicans.

No thank you. Winning once doesn't give you carte blanche to stray so far (and I'm giving wide berth here, as anyone who knows me would agree) from conservative, republican principles. And yes, we are north of the Mason-Dixon line so a lot of far right agendas won't and shouldn't play here. But that isn't what Sheila Kihne is about in this race, despite what her detractors say. She's running against a specific candidate with a specific record.

Loon's record is not that widely known: it's appalling.

Loon introduced legislation that would reduce property taxes for businesses owned by women. At a time when we, as republicans and a nation, are trying to move further and further away from identity politics, here comes a left-wing democrat idea. Who was it that said to me on Twitter last week we don't promote women simply because they are women? Perhaps that woman can talk to Jenifer and set her straight (or is that word hetero-normative?) about republicans not being a party that gives financial breaks for some taxpayers simply because of their gender.

She voted against legalizing Wisconsin-type fireworks, which legislation eventually passed but was vetoed by Governor Dayton. She knows better, you see. This is how a liberal democrat thinks, acts and votes. She appears comfortable with her arrogance; at once of a piece with her membership in the deeply mediocre House leadership. They keep hiring their friends instead of real talent; that's worked out so well recently why change?

Loon voted for making failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense, meaning police could pull you over for such a failure alone, including the failure of your backseat passengers to use them. She's from the government and she's here to help.

She was an author of two separate bills to grant HOV lane privileges to hybrid or electric cars. Loon should move to California, where she'd fit in with the brain dead liberals who run that state.

She co-authored, with uber liberal Rep. Ryan Winkler, a HEAD Start bill that would have allocated $150 million to low-income pre-schoolers despite abundant evidence such programs do no good. As John Derbyshire recently noted, its "been failing for 50 years but the elites still believe in it."

Spare me "feel good republicans." They are worse than democrats, who at least believe their tripe. Loon thinks women in her district are stupid and will buy such nonsense. They aren't and they don't.

She voted for the misnomer anti-bullying bill, in a previous incarnation, not the one signed into law, which does nothing but create legal and bureaucratic nightmares for our school districts. Of course, it makes people who vote for it feel good about themselves and doubtless Jenifer invites you to feel good about her.

There are a multitude of other issues and votes with which any sane conservative in HD 48B could take issue in Rep. Loon's career. The high school sensibility (and concomitant sophistication) of both senate and house caucuses regarding Loon being challenged tells any reasonable observer what dire circumstances the Minnesota republican party is in.

Here's the question then: why should republicans continue to vote for state officials despite--instead of because of--their record? Why should a challenge to an incumbent, who may technically be a republican but surely no conservative, get the backing, reflexively, of the entire party apparatus? And if you don't think the stale establishment was behind Loon (for fear they were next, mostly,) then you should click here to see their fund raiser invitation for her. The invite claims she's a champion of "less intrusive government" and has many legislative accomplishments. I'm not sure it's possible to articulate how dumb they think you are.

Minnesota republican incumbents would do well to remind themselves that they serve at the pleasure of their base, initially, and then the general electorate. No, not every challenge to an incumbent will be sound or warranted so I decline to fight that straw man.

But some are and Sheila Kihne's race against Jenifer Loon is one of them. Loon is accountable but resents it. In this she mirrors her peers. But to say such is only to mark how far afield those in office have come from those they pretend to represent.

Please make a donation of whatever amount you can to Sheila Kihne by clicking here. 

Correction: The original post has been changed to make clear that Loon voted for a previous version, not the enacted version, of what would ultimately become law and known as the anti-bullying bill.