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Slates Aren\’t The Problem

March 1st, 2010 by Kevin

For those of you not involved in the Minnesota political scene, you probably didn\’t realize this last weekend, was the local equivalent of Super Saturday.  Approximately 128% of the BPOUs across the state had their BPOU Conventions, where state level candidates were endorsed and delegates were selected to represent the BPOU at higher party levels.  Those selected delegates actually have a lot of duties, but several stand out.  They pick the higher level GOP candidates such as for US Congress or  Governor, they also amend the party\’s platform and modify the constitution of those organization and other such duties.

So I naturally expected much analysis and punditry about what happened this last weekend.  What I didn\’t expect is a lot of complaining about slates, especially from people who should be used to it by now.  To put it quite simply a slate is a group of people who are running for delegate positions who share a common goal, in this case it\’s who people favor for the MN Governor slot.  You vote for the others on your slate, and they vote for you.  The idea being that you stack the deck with your own people, and try to prevent others from getting a seat at the table.

Quite honestly it\’s one of the oldest and most simple of political strategies.  Sure it\’s slightly distasteful, because even before you walk into the convention you know who you\’re voting for, and it\’s without regard to any other merit than their position on a single issue.  Is it ideal?  No, but it\’s also been part of the world\’s second oldest profession since it started bearing a resemblance to the world\’s oldest profession.  And quite honestly I\’m surprised people still get upset about it.  Especially when those same people show no problem with Get Out The Vote efforts, which anyone that\’s being honest will admit that you absolutely do NOT want to get THE voters out, you want to get YOUR voters out.  Same concept.

Slates are a political reality, but they also reflect the organizational level of a candidate, and a good organization is absolutely critical for any election year.  As a result, slates make sense for more reasons than just getting \”your people\” to the convention.  It also gives the person with the best organization an advantage for endorsement.  And how does one get the best organization?? Volunteers and money.  And both come from having a platform and a set of principles that resonate within the base.

There is a reason that Herwig and Leslie didn\’t have slates that dominated many of the BPOU Conventions this weekend.  They don\’t have an existing organization willing to commit the time and effort to get the work done needed to generate slates.   If a candidate can\’t get a smooth running campaign going in the endorsement process, who are they going to suffer slings and arrows of an election campaign?  Consider it a trial run, and the slate is a report card of sorts.

As to concerns that delegates have more duties than just selecting a candidate in an election year.  Yeah, that\’s true.  What\’s your point?? Are these delegates any less qualified to do that?  Are you implying that because they had the foresight to organize and the political awareness to gain the advantage, they will suddenly lack those abilities when it comes to fulfilling other duties?  No offense but that\’s silly.

And as to protests that the state convention is still two months away, well that\’s true, but again, what\’s your point?  Nobody on those slates have sworn to anything.  They just stated it\’s their current intention to vote for a particular candidate.  Whose to say that doesn\’t change?  Most of the slates were secret, nobody has anything on the line.  It\’s not like they lose face if they switch candidates.  If my current candidate gets caught sitting on a pile of blow next to a dead hooker, guess what?  I\’m switching candidates…and not just because I didn\’t get invited to that party.

Slates are slightly distasteful but they\’ve been around forever, and politics isn\’t a strawberry festival.  It\’s dirty.  It\’s cheap.  It\’s long and arduous and as such if you don\’t have a top notch organization behind you, you\’re in trouble.  Slates don\’t change that, if nothing else they just prove you can handle the most basic of concepts….organizing your supporters.

[Crossposted at True North]

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Posted in Political Mumbojumbo, SD37, True North | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Ray Molter Says:

    Thanks for this article. On point with everything. Especially that delegates are not mindless drones whether part of a slate or not.

  2. Matt Abe Says:

    Well said! That’s politics!

  3. J. Ewing Says:

    Everything you say is true or a valid opinion, but it’s a matter of degree, isn’t it? I seriously doubt that the campaigns composing these slates asked any question other than which candidate you support. That is the only qualification, which is then turned into a significant advantage at making this person a state delegate. There is nothing that stops this person from having many other qualifications, but the use of slates tends to advantage those without qualifications relative to those who do. The only reason we don’t try to ban the practice, IMHO, is because those who want to go on to the state convention generally DO possess other qualifications. I know I voted for people that I think were on one slate or another (but I don’t know, they’re secret), including at least one person that I’m told was on both slates! I am guessing, from the results, that even the delegates who were on one or the other slate did not vote exclusively their slate-mates, either, but considered the other qualifications of everyone running. That is as it should be, but the outstanding question is: to what degree?

    The most critical qualification for delegate, again in my opinion, is the willingness to work for the Party and its endorsed candidate, regardless of who that is. You say you would change your mind and I expect there are many others just as reasonable (or perhaps more so :-). We count on these people to be the core activists that make the phone calls, knock on the doors, pound the signs and all the other work that needs doing over their TWO-year term. Some of them step up, and others think all duty ends as soon as the 2010 state convention is over. I remind you that we had 1300 people at caucus two years ago, all of them pretty much pushing– as if on a slate– one presidential candidate or another, and this year only 175 of them came to caucus and are at least active to that extent. Being on a slate doesn’t seem to mean much, activist-wise. For those that do follow through, kudos.

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