Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan named Matthew Pagano the new executive director of the party last week. Pagano has worked for U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, state parties in Virginia and Kentucky, and previously for the Minnesota GOP as political director.
Although Pagano comes with solid experience and will take some of the burden off Carnahan — who was essentially acting as her own executive director — the party’s financial troubles are unrelenting.
Party debts go all the way back to the aftermath of the 2010 election. Most challenging: The debt is covered by federal campaign finance rules, which cap contributions at $10,000. In other words, Carnahan can’t just go to the usual suspects and have them pony up a six-figure check.
To the rescue: Outside groups, which can raise and spend big sums to support Republicans.
MN Action Network, chaired by former Sen. Norm Coleman, helped Republicans take the state Senate last year in perhaps the most surprising result of the election cycle. The group is now gearing up to help Republicans in statewide races, and specifically what is expected to be an all-out war in the governor’s race upon the retirement of Gov. Mark Dayton.
Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound, got into the race last week promising to bring his bruising style to a field of relatively mild-mannered candidates. But Osmek also framed his candidacy shrewdly: Make Minnesota affordable.
A DFLer agreed that this is the issue with real salience for voters, noting the obsessive money chase that characterizes American life. This, in turn, produces hair-pulling anxiety, which is followed by deep resentments about whether other people are getting something unfairly.
What exactly are we talking about when we say things are no longer affordable? Not food, gas or clothing. These items are actually cheaper than they used to be. Seems like child care, college, health care and housing are the big-ticket items that make it so hard to get ahead.
This was the elegance of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, even if it was economically dubious: “Free” college. “Free” health care. Osmek thinks we should cut taxes and regulations to make things more affordable. It’s an old prescription, but one Osmek hopes Republican voters still believe in.