Ali Jimenez-Hopper majored in marketing when she attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. That education would've taught Jimenez-Hopper about the importance of branding, and establishing a good reputation with consumers from the start.
For example, say there's a young candidate for political office, with limited background and very little name recognition. It would probably be bad if most people's first exposure to this person's brand suggested she's maybe a little racist and definitely a lot bigoted toward gay people.
On Wednesday, local news site The Column effectively "outed" Jimenez-Hopper as such, publishing the audio of the rookie legislative candidate's speech at the Republican endorsing convention in May. Jimenez-Hopper is running to replace Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, who's leaving office after four terms (and one alleged make-out with another legislator), and needed to sell suburban GOP delegates on her strengths as a candidate.
She did so, in this speech, by focusing on her opponent, Erin Maye Quade. For a young woman — Maye Quade graduated from the Unviersity of St. Thomas in 2008 — the Democrat's political credentials are extensive, having worked for Gov. Mark Dayton, DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Rep. Keith Ellison.
Jimenez-Hopper hinted at Maye Quade's being a formidable opponent, but didn't mention anything about her experience. At one point in her address to delegates, Jimenez-Hopper acknowledged she did not "have a speech formally prepared."
Instead, she spoke from her heart. Here is what her heart said:
[Maye Quade] brings up that she is half black and she uses that as a strength. She brings up that she is in support of LGBT and that lifestyle and puts out pictures on twitter of her and her wife. She is for more socialist programs which is against what our party believes in.Jimenez-Hopper went on to say she "believe[s] in traditional marriage in the sense that it's between a man and a woman," called Maye Quade a "collectivist," and said the Apple Valley district needs a "leader who holds true to our values as a Christian and as a mother."
Here's the moment where we note that the Republican delegates' reaction to this speech was they endorsed her. But this awkward discussion of race and sexual orientation probably won't play as well with Apple Valley's general electorate as it did with its politically active conservatives.
Barack Obama won that district in 2012, and only 44 percent of its voters backed a constitutional ban of gay marriage that year. Since then, Minnesota legalized gay marriage, and then the U.S. Supreme Court did the same throughout the land. Most Republicans, especially young ones, have since avoided the issue as a dead one, a potential anchor for a party trying to appeal to a younger, more diverse pool of potential voters.
Not Ali Jimenez-Hopper, though. She's not afraid to wade into the tricky topics of sex and race... at least not when she thinks she's only talking to a group of very conservative people.
Maye Quade, politically versed as she is, deftly seized the chance to paint her opponent as someone hung up on all the wrong things.
"While [Jimenez-Hopper] is busy focusing on my blackness," Maye Quade wrote on Facebook, "I’ll be working to ensure all students have access to affordable and equitable education. While she's busy worrying about my marriage, I’ll be working to ensure Minnesotans have increased access to mental health services, support to care for aging family members, eliminate racial disparities, support to maintain independence and an economy that works for us all."
Unsolicited advice to Ali Jimenez-Hopper: Next time, have a speech formally prepared.<!—————EndFragment—————>