Trump In Duluth & The Future Of Minnesota Republicans

As I walked the half mile from my parked car, in a Duluth full to the bursting point, to the Amsoil Center to attend President Trump’s rally I was sweating like the proverbial pig. “What’s this?” I cursed, “hot weather in Duluth in June?” As I crossed the elevated sidewalk over Interstate 35, the security cordon sanitaire was descending upon the immediate area: the massive dump trucks filled with sand blocking exits from the highway, the empty, post-apocalyptic Interstate 35 itself, the various vehicles of bristling intimidation, the deadly serious, yet somehow friendly, security personnel everywhere. I was impressed and pleased, given that any number of far left crazies would gladly sacrifice their wretched life to take out 45.

I had a VIP ticket because not everyone, yet, in the MNGOP establishment has disowned me. Getting processed I ran into a number of Pawlenty staffers, donors and glad handers. They seem surprised I’d managed a VIP ticket without them. These things are the coin of their small realm. So it goes. I gave them credit for the sheer chutzpah of showing up, uncertain how they squared the circle of supporting Trump at the same time as their candidate was too calculated, too afraid really, to show up in person himself. Cognitive dissonance: what is it?

“Macho Man” by Village People blared as I reached the arena floor. Was this real life? Can you imagine another Republican President having that music? Small things, surely, but in small things lie the tell.

I eventually made my way to the VIP section, off the main floor and behind where the President would speak. The view of the walkway he would trod was the point of the ticket, I realized. I’m slow but eventually I catch up. I last saw Donald Trump in person, as a candidate, the Sunday two days before his historic election in the Sun Country hanger at MSP, after a friend had called me the Friday evening before, asking if I knew anyone who, by chance, might have a spare airport hanger. Some may think I seek trouble but I assure you, it finds me.

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The President’s remarks were widely, deservedly covered and there’s no reason for me to recapitulate them here. YouTube exists for a reason if you haven’t seen the rally.

I watched President Trump by watching the crowd. In doing so, I experienced something unlike anything else in my increasingly long life. The aura of authenticity permeated the air. It was the opposite of the Hitler-like adoration we’re told by the fascist Regressive Left that we engage in. No, this was what decades of phony politicians have said they were doing but didn’t: giving it to us straight, keeping campaign promises, treating us as the very thing that we are: the ones who put the man in office. From this, conventional politics thankfully can never recover. No wonder, in both parties, they fear and hate him. They’re the frauds, he isn’t.

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Thinking of frauds, I naturally turned to what a friend had texted me on the way up to Duluth. Had I seen Tim Pawlenty’s new cap? Indeed I had not. I managed both not to throw up on myself or crash when he replied: “Make Mining Great Again.”

And scene! 

Brian McClung, Chas Anderson, others, in a conference room at MZA strategizing, could go the whole day, food will be ordered in! Is this not New York itself? After numerous white boards are filled with third rate ideas, another third rate one catches their fancy, thereby becoming golden: those mining caps. High fives all around.

It only got worse for me in Duluth when I saw one, with the Pawlenty website stitched at the back. It was The Onion come to life.

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Self-described “vision caster” Tim Pawlenty isn’t good at retail politics and it shows. Voters? Real live people and not carefully controlled small groups? Eww, no thanks. Pawlenty makes Erik Paulsen look like a populist, no small feat. 

Jeff Johnson was at the rally, however, soaking wet in sweat from greeting hundreds of the several thousands who could not get in when I met him. The completely innocent Woody Allen (I’m quite serious) famously said that most of life was showing up. Johnson did.

Therein lies the difference for Minnesota Republicans: between those who want a restoration of the old order that conserved nothing but profited them and those who realize that Trump has ushered in a new age. Johnson isn’t a mindless supporter of Trump and neither am I. No one should be. But understanding the failures of both parties is essential to understanding why Trump won. Johnson gets it, Pawlenty wants to mouth Trumpian platitudes–here, have a mining cap rube–without believing any of it. Somehow, in this age of authenticity, I think Minnesota Republican primary voters will understand the difference.

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Like Minnesota itself at times, our donors suck. Skill at making money doesn’t translate into political savvy. Vin Weber (has he been indicted yet?) and Norm Coleman (can he advocate for Israel’s immigration policies for America?) largely control the funds, apart from the rapacious Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership. Do those people and groups seem like they’re looking out for you?

Duluth laid bare what many of us have known for a long time: the system in Minnesota is rigged to benefit the same class of untalented folks who prosper every election cycle no matter which party wins. Think of it as political insider trading.

At some point there will be a reckoning, even in this state that warehouses the dumbest Republicans in the nation. There doesn’t need to arise a third party, which always fail despite a brief moment of publicity. No, something more must be had in order to be enduring.

Jeff Johnson winning the primary would be the necessary but not sufficient condition for this to happen. He’d still have to follow through. Losing, Pawlenty would flee the state, again, doing nothing to help our statewide candidates. No serious person disputes this. Our pathetic donor class would retract like testicles in cold weather.

At some point Minnesota Republicans have to stop lying to themselves, stop making excuses for why every state that borders us is red but not us. With a Republican legislature this cycle, state spending increased by ten percent. There is no opposition party in Minnesota.

President Trump’s rally in Duluth says it doesn’t have to be this way.

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In addition to Alpha News, John Gilmore is also a contributor to The Hill. He is the founder and executive director of Minnesota Media Monitor.™ He blogs at and is on Twitter under @Shabbosgoy. He can be reached at Wbua@nycunarjfza.pbz

Photo credit: Howard Root, Twitter

John Gilmore

John Gilmore is an author, freelance writer & former opinion columnist for Alpha News. He blogs at & is @Shabbosgoy on Twitter