Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline will host a campaign event today with Tea Party activist and former congressman Allen West.
Kline and West will participate in a telephone town hall meeting with residents in Kline’s district, which covers the suburbs and exurbs south of the Twin Cities.
Scheduling the event with West -- a favorite of the GOP’s right wing -- may help boost Kline’s conservative bona fides ahead of his district’s April 5 nominating convention.
For the second consecutive election cycle, Kline faces a challenge from the right from David Gerson of South St. Paul. Kline easily defeated him in the 2012 primary, wining 85 percent of the vote.
This time around, Marianne Stebbins – the Minnesota coordinator of Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign -- is leading Gerson’s political operation. Stebbins helped Paul capture a majority of the state’s delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Because he’s a Republican in a district that President Obama won in 2012, Kline is also facing considerable pressure from the left – and partnering with West will do little to dissuade Democratic efforts to link him with the Tea Party.
Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Change is trying to tie Kline, and other swing-district Republicans, to the conservative movement with “Tea Stained,” a legislative scorecard that ranks lawmakers by votes the group sees as aligned with Tea Party values.
Kline and West have worked together before. In the days leading up to West’s 2010 election, Kline helped host a high-dollar Capitol Hill fundraiser for him, with ticket prices ranging from $500 to $5,000. West served one term in Congress before losing his 2012 re-election bid.