Whatever happened to the “good old” Republicans?


About a week ago, the Litchfield Independent published Whatever happened to ‘good old’ Republicans?, a letter by Roger Flatten:

As an 83-year-old Democrat, I long for some of the past. I was active when the Republicans were conservative, but with a “social conscience.”

Those who fit this description included Luther Youngdahl, Al Quie, Arne Carlson, Stanley Holmquist, David Durenberger, and also the late Jim Ramstad, and Steve Dille.

These were “pre-Pawlenty” times when Minnesotans were proud to pay taxes to keep us at the top nationally in areas of health, education, “lifestyle” and a university and state colleges of stature.

I recall our roads and bridges being better than our neighboring states.

I suppose somewhere there is a plus for corporate wealth. Show me.

While Jim Ramstad will be surprised to learn of his demise, it’s a serious question.

Flatten, a retired plumber  recalled in longer version of the LTE posted by the Hutchinson Leader:

I was a “union” plumber making good wages with benefits, my boss was a “plumbing shop owner” making a good living.

Somewhere “no taxes,” wealth and greed comes in as a plus. Is that right?

Today, there’s an answer for Flatten: some of those “men of great stature” are teaming up with Walter Mondale to help resolve the budget impasse. While Stanley Holmquist has passed, my former state senator, Steve Dille, will be on a commission now forming.
Forum Communications capitol reporter Don Davis reports in Government shutdown Day 5: talk of talks:
This morning, former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Gov. Arne Carlson proposed forming a committee that could produce a budget solution. They suggested former Sen. Steve Dille, a moderate Republican from Dassel, as co-chairman.

An all-star group of Minnesota politicians has put together a bipartisan committee that has been charged with rapidly coming up with “a third way” to solve the state’s budget crisis and end the government shutdown.

Former Gov. Arne Carlson, former Vice President Walter Mondale and former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger are the movers and shakers behind the committee, which clearly is being formed with the blessing of Gov. Mark Dayton. . . .

Members of the committee include a combination of business leaders, former legislators, former government finance officials, as well as current Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, who was an assistant commissioner under Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Co-chairs of the committee will be former DFL state legislator Wayne Simoneau, who served as commissioner of Employee Relations and later Finance under Gov. Arne Carlson, and former state Sen. Steve Dille of Dassel, a Republican who retired after the 2010 session.

Other committee members include:

• John Gunyou, city manager of Minnetonka, former Finance commissioner under Carlson and the running mate of Margaret Anderson Kelliher in her unsuccessful bid to be the DFL’s gubernatorial candidate last November;

• Jay Kiedrowski, former Finance commissioner under Gov. Rudy Perpich;

• Former Wells Fargo CEO Jim Campbell; and

• Former Medtronic Vice President Kris Johnson. 

Committee told to move fast
The committee has two distinct charges: Move rapidly and don’t be tied to any of the parameters — such as no new taxes and a fourth income-tax tier — that bogged down negotiations and led to the current shutdown. …

While this development may answer Flatten’s question, the Republicans involved are a far cry from the current face of the MNGOP. Davis’s report notes how difficult ending the shutdown will be, given the current cast of characters in the Sutton and Brodkorb show:

Restarting the talks may not be easy. Some Republicans are furious at Dayton.

Take, for instance, Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, a key panel when it comes to funding state government.

“The guy should resign,” Parry told the Mankato Free Press about Dayton. “He should resign as governor and let (Lt. Gov.) Yvonne Prettner Solon finish out his term because he’s shown to me that he doesn’t care about the state of Minnesota.”

Parry continued: “Let me tell you, the governor has no feelings. If he did, he would not put 22,000 people out of work on July 1. He has no feelings. … The shutdown doesn’t bother him at all. He gets his trust fund.”

The southern Minnesota senator’s comments show that last week’s breakdown of budget talks still hurts. While Dayton spoke Thursday night, several Republicans heckled him.

The Washington Post has more in Walter Mondale to help end Minnesota shutdown:

Despite the group’s bipartisan nature, some Republicans were skeptical.

“This looks to be a group that was put together by the governor, so I expect it’s going to have that kind of flavor when it comes to balancing the budget,” said state Sen. Geoff Michel (R), the state Senate deputy majority leader. “We’ve got a job to do and I don’t believe we’ll be able to outsource it.”

Funny words from a caucus that didn’t hesitate to borrow its own private budget numbers from private firms that were jockeying to help the Republican senate majority “re-invent” government. In the end, Brodkorb’s caucus relented and accepted the customory budget notes.

Perhaps some common sense will set in here as well. Or maybe not. But Dille was a terrific and popular state senator for this district, who st a very different tone than Scott Newman, the man who replaced him. It’s good to see that old civil example set by the genial veterinarian and farmer returning to the fray.

Update: Doug Grow has more in Skepticism, lack of enthusiasm greet ‘third way’ budget solution plan. Current Republican leadership is not down with the idea. Given Brodkorb’s pre-announcement tweets last night, no surprise.