By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Former Chairman, Republican Party of Minnesota
It all happened in Norm Coleman's living room. The press was there. Jack Kemp—remember him?—was there, too. The St. Paul mayor had converted, and he wanted to talk about it. Specifically, he had decided to shed his Democratic Party membership and step into the warm embrace of his new political community, the Republicans.
Chris Georgacas was chair of the state Republican Party then, and he had no small role in Coleman's conversion. He would later run Coleman's bid for governor.
Tony Sutton calls Georgacas a savvy strategist who is "one of the smartest people I've ever met."
Today he serves on the board of directors for the conservative think tank Freedom Foundation of Minnesota; he's a Pawlenty appointee to the Metropolitan Council; and he's a key player at Goff and Howard, a St. Paul-based public relations firm that boasts a client list of giants like Clear Channel, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart, plus local enterprises like Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota, Grand Casino, and the University of St. Thomas.
When Georgacas was elected to head the state Republican Party in 1993, he was just 29—the youngest such leader in either party nationwide. Recognizable for a time by his black cowboy boots and pinstripe suits, the kid quickly made a name for himself as the quintessential party goad. He was a blast-fax man, and there was hardly a Democratic indiscretion that Georgacas didn't fax on. He was a master at identifying those indiscretions. His brand of opposition research merged paper trail with campaign trail—poring through documents one day and dogging politicians with a video camera the next. He was fixated on Paul Wellstone. He called the man "Senator Welfare" and worked obsessively—if unsuccessfully—to unseat him.
He left his party post in 1997 and moved to the Center of the American Experiment, where he began work on something initially called just the "Georgacas Project." The idea was to create Minnesota's equivalent to the Contract for America. Georgacas had a budget of roughly $400,000 to begin the project, which was to be a comprehensive "prescriptive evaluation" of Minnesota's state and local governments. The result was the 400-page "Minnesota Policy Blueprint," which was in Pawlenty's hands the day he took office. A decade later, the "Blueprint" still pulses in state Republican politics.