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The Senator, The Soldier, And The Media

untitled-1.jpgFunny doings here in Minnesota lately. Our Republican governor, Smilin’ Tim Pawlenty, responded to narrowly winning re-election by being an arrogant prick. He’s been copiously using his veto knowing that he has just enough Republicans to blindly back him up and overcome the will, not just of the newly-elected Democratic majority in the state legislature but of the majority of Minnesotans.

Because of his refusal to undo the Reverse Robin Hood he pulled as a state legislator with the infamous 2003 Rich Man’s Tax Cut (which caused a $4.2 billion deficit that he “fixed” by cutting back on those state services that didn’t benefit the wealthy), the once-excellent quality of life in the state has been on a steady decline, to the point where Minnesota — which under Democratic governors and legislatures had what were among the lowest unemployment figures in the nation — has now for the first time a higher jobless rate than does the nation as a whole. And thanks to his veto, the residents of Saint Paul are now stuck with the $450-per-household bill for the Republican National Convention next year. But he protected his tax breaks for the rich, and that’s what matters to him.

But it’s difficult for Pawlenty and the other Republicans to savor their “victory” at the expense of the rest of us, because there’s been a bit of turmoil in the Minnesota GOP recently.

The first problem stems from some internal fistfighting touched off when some people in the GOP complained about Ron Carey’s creative funds management. Carey, who just squeaked out reelection as state chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, complained in turn that the charges were being made by his rivals for the chair position. But his reelection hasn’t made the charges go away.

As bad as that is, the second problem looks to be worse. The reason: It endangers the career trajectory of Norm Coleman.

You see, Norm “Pay No Attention To The Blonde Behind The Curtain” Coleman, the man who owes his Senate seat to a plane crash, the guy who is being groomed to be a take-orders-from-operatives president in the mold of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the guy whose unconventional marriage is seldom discussed openly but is the talk of pols statewide, has run into a bit of a snag. His best buddy and most useful campaign asset, Joe Repya, has turned on him:

An Iraq war veteran and former adviser to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) yesterday said he is considering a primary challenge against the lawmaker in 2008.

Retired Lt. Col. Joe Repya (R) lost a race for the state Republican Party chairmanship last week, after which speculation began to percolate that he would challenge Coleman.

Yesterday, in a statement, Repya confirmed that he is mulling a run. He said he will travel around the state and talk to people about the viability of a bid during the next two months.

“I’ve received numerous calls and have been approached by a number of people who have asked me to consider running against Norm Coleman for U.S. Senate,” Repya said. “I am making no decisions at this time. I am going take 30 to 60 days to decide what my political future is going to be.”

In a brief phone interview with The Hill, Repya declined to comment further or offer his motivation for the potential challenge. Observers say he would likely challenge Coleman from the right.

Joe Repya is one of the biggest heroes of Minnesota’s Republican primary voters. He’s also got lots of friends in the local right-wing’s media apparatus and (as this shows) among the conservative schlock jocks (such as Rush Limbaugh weigh-alike and act-alike Tom Barnard) that make up the morning show staff on local radio powerhouse KQRS-FM. The first entry that pops up when Googling his surname is a PowerLine puff piece on him (other PL pieces on him can be found here and here), and he’s a hero to Captain Ed over at the Captain’s Quarters blog, too.

He’s the guy behind the “Liberate Iraq” signs and still backs Bush to this day on invading and occupying Iraq. To give him credit, he’s one of the few right-wingers to actually walk his jingoistic talk: He served in Vietnam, then in Iraq during Desert Storm and in 2005 signed up to go back to Iraq.

Privately, many in the state Republican leadership see Repya as a flake, perhaps because he does indeed walk the misguided talk. But he’s a force to be reckoned with: In the recent GOP state party chair election, Repya was Ron Carey’s challenger, and he came closer to beating him than Carey would have liked.

Now, the big question is this:

Given the choice between Coleman and Repya, where will GOP Joe’s media buddies line up? Will they stick with him? Or will fawning tributes by PowerLine, Captain Ed, and the KQ Morning Crew suddenly be things of the past?

Joe Repya’s going to be awfully surprised at how fast his longtime buddies will turn their backs on him. Awfully, awfully surprised.

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