If delegates to the state GOP convention have any question about who to support for delegates and alternates to the national convention in the Twin Cities, all they have to do is look at the huge red banners flanking the convention stage here in Rochester.
The banners proclaim the â€œConservative Team,â€ which includes the likes of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Norm Coleman, a handful of legislators and uber blogger Michael Brodkorb.
But the team is being challenged by an alternative slate called the â€œConservative Conscience Coalition,â€ which, according to delegate Tom Conlon represents party members who want the GOP to return to its core principles of liberty, economic freedom and prosperity.
â€œNew people is a healthy thing, and weâ€™re a big-tent party,â€ said Conlon, a St. Paul school board member who has long flown the Republican banner in the DFL-dominated city.
The coalition slate, Conlon said, is a grassroots effort directed at those who want to â€œkeep conservative valuesâ€ in the party.
Brodkorb suggested the slate was a front office for Ron Paul supporters, although Conlon said that heâ€™s a McCain supporter (by way of Mike Huckabee).
â€œI would challenge greatly whether [the Conservative Conscience] slate is more conservative than ours,â€ said Brodkorb, who was recently profiled in the New York Times for unearthing Al Frankenâ€™s workers compensation and tax problems.
And then thereâ€™s former Eagan mayor and state auditor Pat Anderson, who is on both slates of delegates. She said her inclusion on the Conservative Conscience slate came after she recently received a mailing at home from the other slate, accusing Paul supporters of dividing the party with their candidates.
â€œA fragmented vote opens the door for the organized minority to have much more voice and control than their numbers justify,â€ the letter warns.
That incensed Anderson, who called the chairwoman of Paulâ€™s Minnesota campaign to apologize.
â€œThis is not what our party is about. This should be an open process,â€ Anderson said. â€œWe need to rebuild our party. We lost the â€™06 elections for a reason.â€
– Mark Brunswick co-reported this dispatch