Tevlin: Responsibility: Bill comes due for state GOP

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2012 - 11:02 PM
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Tony Sutton, shown in 2010, served as Minnesota Republican Party chairman from June 2009 until his resignation in December 2011.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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A short history of the current Minnesota GOP, in their own words:

June 2009: Members of the GOP's Central Committee elect Tony Sutton as chairman.

"Yeah, we're in soul-searching phase, but I think we're coming to the end of that," Sutton said. "I think we're starting to get our sea legs back. We have to get back to our philosophical roots, so when we talk about fiscal responsibility, we mean it. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. "

June 2009: "We went way off track in the last eight years," said Sutton. "The party of fiscal responsibility was spending money like crazy in Washington."

Former GOP chairman Ron Carey declares Sutton will inherit a party with a solid foundation and "one of the largest active-donor files of any state party organization, Republican or Democrat."

June 2009: Rep. Steve Drazkowski runs for office, emphasizes his "rural values," which included tax cuts, fiscal responsibility and gun rights.

March 2010: Sutton tells Minnesota Public Radio the GOP is trying to convince Tea Party members it's returning to core values: "We're going to have to do it through our actions, not just words. We had spent eight years of being the party of so-called fiscal responsibility, but were spending money like drunken sailors."

October 2010: Sutton calls rich Republican benefactors such as George Pillsbury, one person who could pay the GOP debt himself, "quislings" because they support Tom Horner of the Independence Party for governor.

November 2010: Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, defeats Sen. John Doll by two percentage points and declares: "Stop the taxing and stop the spending. We're just excited to see fiscal responsibility."

March 2011: Alex Conant, a spokesman for Gov. Tim Pawlenty, assesses the legacy: "Hopefully, Gov. Pawlenty's record of fiscal responsibility and government reform will be a model for the future."

March 2011: "I believe so much in that personal responsibility concept and that city officials must be masters of their own fate, as pleasant or unpleasant as it is," said Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake.

February 2011: All 37 Senate Republicans send a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton that restated their complete opposition to his plan to raise $3.3 billion in taxes, mostly on the wealthy. "We do not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem."

April 2011: "If you look across the nation, you see a similar message," said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville. "Fiscal responsibility."

April 2011: Tom Emmer writes in the Star Tribune: "Fiscal discipline should not be a partisan issue."

May 2011: The GOP misses the first of many rent payments on their headquarters.

June 2011: Tom Emmer writes: "How can we forget the Republican theme -- that government must learn to live within its means?"

July 2011: "Republicans are determined to avoid insolvency -- the point at which we can no longer pay all our bills. The only way to do that in the long run is to scale down spending. And the only way to scale down spending is to start insisting that our political establishment give up the illusion that we can continue business as usual," writes David Strom, Free Market Institute.

October 2011: Hennepin County Commissioner, national committeeman and fiscal "watchdog" Jeff Johnson writes in a blog about Occupy Wall Street: "I frankly get very annoyed at the propensity of some to blame our greatest problems on the free market or successful businessmen and women rather than on government policies and the politicians who have gotten us into this massive mess. I try to teach my two boys not to live their lives in different 'boxes' where they act one way in one setting and completely differently in another."

January 2012: Pat Shortridge takes over as GOP chairman. The party is $2 million in debt.

April 2012: The GOP's landlord files eviction papers against the GOP, saying it owes $111,000 in rent, which it hasn't paid in a year.

Johnson, speaking from one box about another, expresses concern: "There's been no serious talk of bankruptcy," he said.

jtevlin@startribune.com • 612-673-1702

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