Worse for Wear

Did GOP delegates destroy their nominee's chances?

Many of the more Draconian amendments failed to pass. But one potentially troublesome platform addition involved a proposal that would essentially abolish school lunch programs, on the grounds that they promote economic socialism. (The number of subsidized meals provided in a given school helps determine its funding.)

Rep. Bob Ness (R-Dassel), a member of both the Education Policy and K-12 Education Finance committees of the legislature, told delegates that the proposal "would absolutely devastate virtually every district in terms of their cash flow. It is a bad idea." Recently retired Rep. Dave Bishop (R-Rochester), another legislator steeped in education policy, likewise scrambled to the microphone. "This amendment would be a huge embarrassment for the Republican Party," he warned. "It's elitist." No matter. The amendment passed.

Stars and swipes: Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Pawlenty
Courtesy of Minnesota House of Representatives
Stars and swipes: Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Pawlenty

Theoretically, at least, Tim Pawlenty is now in a position of either opposing funding for school lunches or losing his party's support in the election. In addition, to appease the party's right wing, he now has agreed not to raise taxes and has said that his 1993 vote for gay rights was "a mistake." If those don't add up to visible bruises on his chances of capturing the centrist, suburban, independent voters so crucial to victory in November, you can expect that gubernatorial opponents like Roger Moe, the Green Party's Ken Pentel, and perhaps Jesse Ventura, the greatest mud wrestler of them all, will go to work on making them visible in the months ahead.

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