Word has gotten around with Minnesota Republican activists these past few day of State Chair, Ron Carey's public personal endorsement of Mike Huckabee for president. Not surprisingly, Republican activists are, many of them, reacting strongly to the fact that our state chair, who supposedly represents all Republicans in the state, has endorsed a candidate:
It's unusual for a state party leader to endorse a candidate so early in a presidential race, especially when other party activists are backing other candidates. While Carey emphasized that his support is personal, others expressed doubts that he could separate his support for Huckabee from his role as state chairman.
But would they have this strong reaction if Mr. Carey had endorsed their own choice for presidential candidate? I'm inclined to think not.
Twin Cities Republicans at least, if not all Republicans throughout the state of Minnesota, are woefully reluctant to choose any candidate. I ask Republicans all the time who they want to be nominated by our party and all too often they haven't made a choice at all. They're waiting for one or two candidates to emerge as the likely nominees. In other words, many Republicans are just fine with letting other people make their decisions for them.
While I do not support Mike Huckabee for president, I support Ron Carey's right to personally endorse whoever he wants to. But it's pretty obvious by now that he stepped into trouble when he chose to make such a big public statement about it to the press. Still, what good is an endorsement if you don't tell people about it? Isn't that what endorsements are? Aren't endorsements public pronouncements of support for a given candidate? Yes they are. But I am sure Mr. Carey knew his endorsement would raise the ire of his constituents, despite his care to make that endorsement a "personal" one, rather than an official one.
I support Ron Carey's right to make this endorsement because this is America and he is involved in politics and that's what American politics is all about. If we have to get all sensitive and bent out of shape just because our state chair has the nads to make a choice, then we're a pretty thin-skinned lot. Politics is all about talking to people and making decisions of leadership and policy and that's what Ron Carey is doing.
Months ago, I personally endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. There is no conflict between my endorsement and my chairmanship of SD60 because I leave my endorsement at the door whenever I do an SD60 event. As an American, I have the freedom to endorse whomever I please. Fortunately, my constituents seem to respect this, as I've not heard a single person complain to me that I'm abusing my office. But I also have not gone onto television to tell all of Minnesota that I'm personally endorsing Rudy.
I don't think that Ron Carey has overstepped his authority or proper role, but he has to have realized that he was going to be upsetting the hornet's nest when he made that television spot. I have to hand it to the Chairman for having the guts to walk into that fight. And I challenge my fellow metro Republicans to grow a pair and try being positive advocates for whoever their candidate is, rather than trying to tear down someone who has the guts to be a leader.
Cross-posted at Freedom Dogs.