On April 6, the Minnesota Republican Party’s State Central Committee will meet to elect new leadership for the next two years. One of the positions we will be electing is the Deputy Chair, for which there are two candidates- current Deputy Chair Kelly Fenton, and two-time challenger Corey Sax.
A few days ago Corey asked me to “pen an essay” detailing why I don’t think he is qualified to be Deputy Chair. I plan to take him up on that offer at a later date.
However, I wanted to first explain why I think Kelly should be re-elected.
I don’t have to tell you that the Minnesota Republican Party has seen better days. The issues with the debt, scandals, crushing losses, in-fighting, etc. have been covered in sometimes excruciating detail. What has often been overlooked, however, is the role that Kelly has had in cleaning up a mess that she didn’t help create.
Michael Brodkorb resigned his position as Deputy Chair in October 2011 to work on the Mike Parry for Congress campaign, which created the opening that Kelly ran for. The election was set for early December 2011. At the time, Kelly was running to replace an outgoing Deputy Chair, but the rest of the organization was in place.
The day before the convention to elect a new Deputy Chair, Chairman Tony Sutton resigned. Earlier in the week the Party laid off the Executive Director and a third of the staff. At this point there were rumors of debt, but the details of the true amount was generally unknown.
Kelly was ultimately elected Deputy Chair at that early December meeting, but because of Sutton’s resignation, immediately became acting chair. She inherited a party organization with no Chair or Executive Director.
During Kelly’s second week on the job, news of the Brodkorb/Koch affair broke. Over the next few days, details of the debt began to become clear.
Despite all of that, under Kelly’s leadership the Party raised over $150,000 in December.
Pat Shortridge was elected Chair at the December 31, 2011 State Central meeting.
That brings us to January 1, 2012- 11 months from Election Day, with caucuses in a month, conventions right after that, and then the Primary and General elections.
During 2012 the Party has not added to its debt, and has made some progress in reducing it. Kelly Fenton and Pat Shortridge have kept the lights on and started the process of turning the ship around.
I have, like many of you, been frustrated with the speed of the turnaround. But when facing a large project where there is still much work to be done it is easy to lose perspective of what has been accomplished.
There is plenty more work to be done. We need to stop treading water and move forward. We will elect a new Chair in April, and it is my hope that we retain our Deputy Chair, which will provide some much-needed stability during the transition.
It is my opinion that Kelly Fenton is the best candidate, and she has earned my vote for a full term as Deputy Chair of the Minnesota Republican Party.