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State GOP warns college Republicans not to hold Bradlee Dean event

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Republicans Updated: April 23, 2012 - 7:44 PM

Top state Republicans sent St. Cloud State College Republicans a message: Allow firebrand preacher Bradlee Dean to speak and you may not get Republican jobs in the future.

"Sometimes young people need to have better judgment in who they invite to things under the Republican banner," said Minnesota Republican Party chair Pat Shortridge. "If you are going to do dumb things, and not take the advice of the state college Republicans and the state chairman of the Republican party, it might have some consequences."

Despite hearing the message from the party's executive director and being told they would no longer be a state chapter if they allowed Dean to speak,  St. Cloud State College Republicans College plan to go ahead with the event. The event , an evening concert and "open-mic", is planned for Tuesday night at a St. Cloud State University auditorium.

Dean is a self-style hard rock pastor who has been ardent in his opposition of homosexuality, saying things that opponents say suggest he approves jailing of gay people. Last year he opened a Minnesota House floor session with a prayer prompting House Speaker Kurt Zellers to step down from his rostrum to denounce him and pledge, "that type of person will never, ever be allowed on the House floor again."

But Abbey Gooch, the chair of the St. Cloud state college Republicans, said Dean's message is one that "needs to be talked about on the St. Cloud campus." She said Dean's "You can run but you can't hide" ministries have been "so nice to us."

Gooch, who has only been chair since last week, said the threats from Republican officials have been scary, made her feel like throwing up and doubt her future plans to stick with politics.

"I have been praying and praying and praying and just saying lord I don’t know what to do any more," she said. But she said they are going to go forward.  "I am sticking with my guns and going through with it."

Gooch said and Shortridge, and materials obtained by the Star Tribune, confirmed that Republican Party executive director Ben Zierke told the leaders of the college group last week that they would have trouble getting Republican Party or Capitol jobs in the future if they did not cancel the event. Shortridge said Zierke, who did not return a call from the Star Tribune, was acting with his direction.

"If people refuse to listen, refuse to follow advice, continue to do things that reflect badly on the party ...we got to take a long hard look at what does this chapter look like and it seems like it is out of control and we have people who clearly should not be acting and speaking in the name of the Republican Party, at any level," Shortridge said.

Gooch also said Chairman of  the Minnesota College Republicans Ryan Lyk told the St. Cloud group that their chapter would no longer be associated with the state's college Republican organization, which is associated with the state party, if they allowed him to speak. Gooch said if that happens they would likely just continue under a different banner.

Lyk refused to comment to the Star Tribune but Shortridge said, "I think that's a good idea."

"When you've been given good advice from the top of the food chain, sometimes, you've just got to listen," Shortridge said.

Asked why the party objected so strongly to Dean's appearance, Shortridge said: "I think that speaks for itself....one word: Google."

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