Following the disastrous elections in 2012, Minnesota Republicans arrived at an impasse. Continue along the same path, or adapt? We cannot do things the same way we always have and expect different outcomes. That applies at many levels, but a key component of it relates to how the endorsement process in Minnesota has worked for republicans in recent history.
Minnesota Republicans have a strong tradition of encouraging candidates to ‘abide by the endorsement.’ Like it or not, Minnesota, by law is already a primary state. Under Minnesota state law candidates are placed on the general election ballot by winning a primary (currently set in August), the practice of abiding by an endorsement means that often candidates are unchallenged in their primary race after being endorsed by either their local party unit, a congressional district or at a state endorsing convention. Minnesota was once a leader in utilizing a direct primary process; becoming one of the first states to operate in such a manner when in 1901 a law was passed requiring candidates for the legislature and congress be selected to appear on the ballot through a primary and in 1912 when Statewide Candidates were submitted to the same process.
The idea that candidates should do something because; ‘Well, that is how it has always been done, so tradition or something’ is a particularly poor, not to mention flawed argument. Further, under Minnesota law, as pointed out here; “A political party unit may not, through imposition or threatened imposition of any fine, sanction, or other penalty, attempt to coerce an individual who does not have the party unit’s official endorsement as a means to prevent the individual from filing as a candidate for office.” (MN 211B.10)
I will attempt to examine the benefits to each the endorsement and a primary and explain why both should serve an important role in the future of the Republican Party of Minnesota and in winning general elections. I suspect many who believe in the endorsement above all else will find areas to disagree with this piece and those who think Minnesota should become a pure primary state will be disappointed in my analysis. The goal is to take a reasonable look forward and examine why both serve an important role.