On Thursday, September 24th, the Independence Party held a special meeting in the 4th Congressional District to fill a couple vacant leadership positions. We had an impressive turnout with about a dozen delegates and several guests in attendance. State party Director Kari Johnson-Robinson, who rose to her state position through her involvement in the 4th CD, ran a very smooth meeting, even with the political theater near the end of the meeting.
Several former delegates were in attendance. As the party is always happy to welcome back old friends, a motion was passed to seat the former delegates as current delegates so they could have a say in the meeting. The delegate's first order of business (after the requisite procedural stuff) was to elect individuals for the vacant Chair and Vice Chair positions.
The new Chair of the Independence Party's 4th CD is Earl Johnson. Earl has been one of those party members who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes without ever seeking recognition for his efforts. I am excited to see him get some well deserved recognition for his work, and the opportunity to take on greater responsibility within the party. Earl seems genuinely excited about the opportunity before him.
Tom Klas, a longtime leader in the 4th CD, was elected as Vice Chair. I had the honor to serve as Tom's Vice Chair when he was Chair a couple years ago. Earl's fresh perspectives and enthusiasm in concert with Tom's years of experience will serve the district and the party well.
The Secretary position was vacated when Tom Klas, the sitting Secretary was elected Vice Chair. (I'm wondering if there is a CD 4 position that Tom hasn't served the party in.) That position is still open if there are any readers who want to have a voice in the leadership of the Independence Party's 4th CD.
I was honored to address the meeting for a few minutes to share my enthusiasm for the future of the 4th CD and my campaign. I really do believe that the district, the party and our campaign are poised for growth and success in 2010.
The meeting ended after a savvy show of political gamesmanship and a bit of political theater. Maplewood Mayor Diana Longrie and a number of her supporters attended our meeting. Several of her supporters were former IP delegates and had been seated today as current delegates. Under New Business, delegate Margaret Behrens introduced her friend, Mayor Longrie, to those in attendance and asked the Mayor to say a few words. After the Mayor's campaign speech, Margaret asked for a resolution of support for the Mayor. After some discussion to clarify that we could not "endorse" her, it was agreed that we could pass a resolution of support if a motion was made and passed by the delegates present. A motion was made and seconded. I saw this as a politically gutsy move. The political theater began when the floor was opened to questions for the Mayor. One by one, her supporters tossed out softball questions to the Mayor as if it wasn't obvious to the rest of us what was taking place. I did take the opportunity to ask her how she planned to end the acrimony between members of the Maplewood City Council. She answered by saying that she thought it was more important to identify the cause. While she made a case for what (or who) she thought was the cause, in my eyes, she did not give any plan on how to solve the problem. After one more question, the resolution of support was put to a vote. The Mayor's supporters all voted in favor of the resolution as did 2 or 3 other delegates. That brought the number of delegates in favor of the resolution to 7 out of 12 votes, and the resolution passed. I did not support the resolution for several reasons. The first reason, and the one I explained to the Mayor, was that I have not made up my mind on who I will support in the Mayor's race. Another reason is that I have very strict criteria for cross endorsing (or supporting) any candidate who is not a member of the Independence Party. She had not been vetted as to her standing on the party's platform, and I could not support the resolution for that reason.
Before this meeting, I had already seen the footage of Mayor Longrie seeking a resolution of support and then an endorsement from the DFL. She did not get either. Friends of mine in the Republican Party say that she used to be active in the party up until 2008 when she ran for the Minnesota House as a Democrat. To the best of their knowledge, she has not sought the support of the Republican Party in the current election.
I am very interested in how the Mayor will use the IP's resolution of support in her campaign. While I feel that the party was taken advantage of, I respect the fact that she pulled this off completely within the rules of the party and the meeting. The Mayor's move does show me that the Independence Party carries enough influence that a candidate from another party (whichever one that may be) would seek our support for their campaign.
Before I wrap this up, I want to send special thanks to Sally Paulson and Brian Faas from the state party Executive Committee for all of their work to make the evening a success. You two are true leaders in the party, not just by your titles, but by the example you set for others in the party. Thank you, and thanks to all of the people who attended the meeting.