There have been some changes in the statuses of various figures mentioned in the first edition of the Field Guide, so I figured it was time for a new edition.
Some may wonder why I see the Brodkorb-Koch imbroglio as just another phase of the Fall of the House of Sutton. The relationships detailed below — relationships that are seldom if ever openly delineated by most local Establishment media journalists ever fearful of losing their precious access to GOP powerbrokers — should make my position clearer. (Remember, also, that Brodkorb’s fall, like Sutton’s, started well before December rolled around; he left his Deputy RPM Chair job in October; though he continued to exert some influence via his Senate position under Amy Koch and his new job with the Mike Parry campaign, the drop in his power may be measured by the fact that instead of openly ordering around elected officials in a way that national Republican party chairs such as Michael Steele and Reince Priebus can only dream about wistfully, Brodkorb, in an effort to become the unelected power behind a congressional throne, hooked up with Mike Parry — and Parry is dueling with Allen Quist in a no-hoper race to see who loses to Tim Walz next year. And now Brodkorb doesn’t even have that gig.)
As I stated in the first edition of the Guide, the two main factions in the Minnesota Republican Party are the Sutton/Brodkorb/Seifert faction and the Emmer/Tea Party/TheoCon faction, with other, smaller groups that make or break alliances as the need arises. One of the smaller factions, the anti-gambling CAGE faction led by Annette and Jack Meeks, has been at times allied with, and fought against, both of the big factions; conversely, the pro-gambling faction also has ties to both sides. There are individuals, such as Michael Wigley, with a foot in both camps; he backed Emmer for governor in 2010, but he’s also been close enough to the Suttons and Coopers to be given a now-defunct Baja Sol franchise as part of the Sutton-Cooper efforts to turn Baja Sol into a moneymaker turkey farm capable of providing income to Republican operatives and fellow travelers. And of course there’s the powerful group of Twin-City-suburban and Rochester-area state Senators, the Gang of Four, but their agenda is usually more about preservation of the party and its legislative caucus than anything else.
The Sutton faction is the one that is representative of the party establishment and which (at least until recently) is generally backed by the Mr. Burns of Minnesota Republican politics, the Cooper family whose billions come from the TCF financial empire; they also (at least until earlier this month) generally have the backing of the top Republican Senators known to Republican detractors like Sue Jeffers as the “Gang of Four”: Dave Senjem, David Hann, (soon-to-be-former-Deputy Majority Leader) Geoff Michel, and Chris Gerlach. (Michel’s ham-handed handling of the Koch-Brodkorb phase of the Fall of the House of Sutton cost him not only his shot at replacing Koch as Senate Majority Leader but also his job as Deputy Majority Leader; meanwhile, the blandly affable Dave Senjem managed to be the last man standing and won his bid for Majority Leader.) The Emmer faction has among it such marginally-electable Bible-banger folks as Minnesota’s own answer to Rick Santorum, Allen Quist.
In my view, the root reason for the downfalls of both the Suttons and their friends like Michael Brodkorb is fairly simple: They can’t get away with the same behavior they once flaunted as a matter of course, because they no longer have the biggest name, both institutionally and financially, in Minnesota Republican affairs to shield them. When the Coopers, the longtime 800-pound gorillas of institutional local GOP politics (providing a state party chair along with gobs of money), cut loose Tony and Bridget late last year and early this year, they signaled (whether intentionally or not) to the rest of the Minnesota GOP that they would not protect the Suttons or their allies from the consequences of their own actions. Unfortunately for the Suttons and Brodkorb, they apparently didn’t figure this out and still continued to run roughshod over people, people who unbeknownst to them suddenly had what seemed to be implied permission to fight back. (And now that we find out that Tony Sutton drove the Republican Party of Minnesota $1.9 million into debt. Ooops.)
Follow me past the jump for a chart, by no means complete, of the players, their factions, their relationships, and their desires. Feel free to tell me about any I missed.
(UPDATE, 12/31/11: David Sturrock, hours after the RPM’s huge $2.1 million debt was announced, resigned his post and lobbed a few blame-bombs at Sutton on the Friday night between two major holidays. His entry has been edited accordingly.)
(UPDATE, 01/02/12: Sally Jo Sorensen, whose one-woman shop manages to do a better job covering Minnesota politics than most of the “access” hungry quasi-groupies posing as journalists in the local establishment media, has unearthed a few items that necessitate another update of the Guide, most notably a new entrant to the Matrix: Jon Richard Schroeder.)
Read the rest of this entry »