With less funding and name recognition than most of his fellow Republican opponents, David Gerson is continuing to rack up support among delegates and insiders in his drive to capture the party’s second congressional district endorsement.
Gerson reports that after this past weekend’s local conventions he still has the lead in delegates and is on his way to getting the 60% of the delegates needed to win the endorsement at the May 7 CD2 GOP convention.
There is no way to independently verify that claim since many delegates don’t openly declare who they are supporting. Gerson says his campaign has identified people who support him and “they have made it through” the delegate selection process. However Gerson supporters have been out in force at the GOP CD2 debates. Gerson has won both straw polls conducted after the debates — the last one by one vote over better known opponent Jason Lewis.
One of Gerson’s supporters is former CD2 Republican Chair Bill Jungbauer who as chair watched Gerson run his two prior campaigns against retiring incumbent Rep. John Kline.
“David Gerson all the way,” Jungbauer said after watching Gerson in a recent debate. ” I believe in David. As a former CD2 chair I have seen him do the ‘good fight’ for the last several years. OK? He’s challenged Congressman Kline’s voting record. He’s studied. He’s worked hard all this time.
“I believe that some of the other candidates who step in when it’s easy… you know the phrase ‘summertime patriot,’” said Jungbauer in apparent reference to the Republican candidates who have decided to run for the open congressional seat, but did not run in the previous two elections as Gerson has.
Jungbauer is not happy with the candidate that Kline is backing, business owner Darlene Miller. “She’s getting Kline’s support. I believe she is just another establishment tool. I don’t even really know if she knows what she’s getting herself into.”
Miller’s party support appears weak
Kline endorsed Miller last month saying she had the ability to raise the money needed to run in the race. Miller hasn’t yet filed a financial report for the first quarter, so it’s unknown if she is living up to Kline’s expectations. However she is doing poorly among Republicans who have watched her debate. Only two out of 155 people voted for her in the straw poll after the March 31 debate in Hastings. She finished last behind relative unknown candidate Gene Rechtzigel who got four votes. Part of the reason may be that Miller is the only candidate who has declared she will run in the primary if she does not win the endorsement. But there are other reasons.
“Anyone but Darlene Miller and I’ll tell you why,” said a man who identified himself as loyal Kline campaign volunteer. “I feel so betrayed by John Kline endorsing her.” Miller is not pro-life enough for him. “When we’re talking about pro-life she said ‘I’m pro-life from birth to death’. That leaves out nine months”
During the March 31 debate Miller said “I am prolife, from birth to death, and the federal government, or any government should never pay for any abortions.”
Lewis’ comments on women loses him a vote
During the debate Lewis defended comments he had made as a political talk show host. In 2012 he said young women were “ignorant of the important issues in life” and “non-thinking.”
“I was undecided coming into tonight but based on Mr. Lewis’ comments about women that he’s made on his political radio show before and his response tonight, my vote is now for David Gerson,” said a woman exiting the debate.
Another woman apparently had no issue with Lewis’ comments. ““I think Jason Lewis, he’s the most electable. Particularly with the name recognition. Pretty strong conservative credentials.”
“I’m a Jason Lewis supporter although I do have to say I do like John Howe very much too,” said an older woman. “But I’m a Jason Lewis supporter.”
“I think CD2 has some good candidates and it should be interesting at the conventions,” said an older man who had watched the debate.
Just two local Republican delegate picking conventions remain before the endorsing convention in May. They are both this Saturday in Scott County (Jordan) and Senate District 51 (Eagan/Burnsvile).