Tony Sutton, the GOP Chairman, fan of minimalist interior decor and Minnesota political history buff, once again had the press at his feet. Today, the Pioneer Press ran a story documenting his rise from a modest upbringing in Hibbing, all the way to the helm of the state GOP. We can't blame them. He's the interesting political character we profiled last month.
For our readers, the Pi-press story traced similar steps, as profiles normally do, but brought to the table some bits of new insight into the man who must return the GOP to dominance, or get ran back to the Iron Range. No easy task considering the last year's beat-down.
Anyhow, the best part of the Pio story included his first big gig with the GOP:
He got his first paid job in 1988 as the party's 8th Congressional District field director. The party was broke, Sutton recalled, "So I offered to work full time at half pay... I just wanted to get my foot in the door -- desperately."With his meager salary, he bought a new car and put 60,000 miles on it that summer and fall."Since he was a fiscal conservative and the party didn't have a lot of money, he spent several nights at rest stops catching a few winks of sleep in his car," said former state Republican Chairman Ron Carey. "He'd try to cram as much into his day as possible. Stopping for a full night's sleep, in his mind, cost too much money and took too much time. He wanted to go, go, go."
This is the nut people need to take away about Sutton. He's not in the game for personal glorification. He really, really wants to elect Republicans. And the guy has the work ethic to do just that. This weekend will see his party assemble at the RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul to conduct a straw poll for the gubernatorial election. They'll pick the top two candidates. The goal of the poll is to attract media and get his candidates organized and energized, early in the game. (Personal prediction: Marty Seifert gets the win. Laura Brod a close second).
And for those who still pick-up the paper, there's an amazing shot of Sutton at work in his office after the front page jump. Two cans of Diet Coke (which we can only assume are empty) sit atop his desk.