Tuesday, Feb 5, 2002

   Party Loyalty

Dear Political Diary,

I woke up early and teased my nephew Harry mercilessly while he ate his chocolate frosted sugar bombs. A tuft of his hair was poking skyward. I tugged at it and pretended to speak for it. Apparently it was stretching to reach the moon. The talking hair made him and his brother George giggle. And speaking of moons, the only thing funnier than my nephew's talking hair is seeing our former State Republican Chairman pull his pants down. More on that later...

Julio saw me looking for an open table to join at the Duluth Days breakfast. People were really packed in. Its good that Superintendent's watch out for their Board members. More of us ought to reciprocate. Bob Mars and several UMD administrators made room for me. My tablemate was in the communications department and told me she had studied the speeches of Ronald Reagan. I mentioned to her how surprised I was to discover that Reagan wrote many of his own speeches. She confirmed it. He must have been the first since Wilson to do the job himself.

The only Republican legislator to show up and speak to us was Steve Sviggum. I was surprised how positive he was about the Duluth legislative agenda all things considered. He made a comment not unlike the one he'd made the year before about consulting his northeastern Republicans legislators first. Of course, there are no such creatures at the moment.

Julio was keeping his eye out for Pati Rolf who had planned to show up but she was a no show. After the breakfast Julio had some time to kill so we talked. He thanked me for suggesting that I not join him when he met  with Senator Doug Johnson. Although Doug and I had shared friendly words that morning when we had come into the Radisson Doug is well known for holding grudges. I doubt if he's forgiven me for poking fun at him when I ran against him.

Julio told me that he was going to get Mary Cameron some tamales. She had asked him where he could get good ones in Duluth but he was unwilling to share his only reliable northern source of them. He was like a fisherman protecting his prize fishin hole. He was willing to share his Twin Cities source however. I told him I wanted some to and that I'd deliver them to Mary when I got back. He took me to a Mexican neighborhood in St. Paul and gave me to a food tour capped off by a couple of tamales. He warned me to remove the corn husks otherwise I would have eaten them. Afterwards I purchased a dozen.

I headed back to the Capital to look for Greg Peppin again. He was and he showed me large wall maps of the various redistricting plans. 

I poured over them for half an hour when Joanne Fay showed up. She was listed as one of the speakers for tonight's redistricting hearing in Duluth. She had tried to talk me into signing up to be a speaker but since I couldn't think of anything compelling to tell them I hadn't bothered to. Greg encouraged me to speak and told me he was sure the panel would let me speak if there was enough time. 

I cruised home in time to order a leg of lamb for Claudia's birthday meal. When I sorted through the day's mail I found a letter laid out on my computer's keyboard. It was from the former Chair of the State GOP Bill Cooper and it was addressed to both of us. Bill's a rich man and exudes the arrogance you find in some self made millionaires. He wrote that he was going to expose Republican moderates for their unfaithfulness to the high ideals of the Republican Taliban.  Guys like Bill don't even rate four letters. I'd just give him three, a couple of s's preceded by the first letter of the alphabet. 

I ordered a dozen roses then delivered half my tamales to Mary Cameron. She handed over one last contribution for her campaign so that I could close out her campaign account. Now, if I can just update the Welty Volunteer Committee Finance Report before the state duns me for a hundred dollars.

I returned calls to some elementary schools and agreed to read at them for "I love to read" month. I've got six schools scheduled.

When Claudia returned home she quickly pointed out the Cooper letter. She was so disgusted by it that she had wanted to throw it away but instead left it for me to read. She wanted to write back and complain.

There were about ten speakers at the Duluth City Hall waiting to testify before the Redistricting panel. Most of them were DFLers. Joanne was there and Michael Brodcorb a former UMD College Republican who works with the State Senate.

My disaffected former champion Roger Fischer was there too. He told me he was going to run against me because I had dared suggest closing his dear old East High School. His son's had been honor students at the school as well as hockey players.  I had always known that Roger was a political turncoat but I was surprised to discover that he was also an elitist.

I patiently listened to some very self serving testimony for an hour and a half then raised my hand when the hearing was opened up to other speakers. I did a pretty good job and afterwards one of the DFLers came up and agreed with some of the things I'd said. Brodcorb and two other Republican introduced themselves. Mike told me that I had done a great job of summing up redistricting arguments for the entire state. The Deputy Chair of the state party agreed and told me he wanted to use one of my self deprecating lines at a future hearing.

The Republicans asked me what I thought of Bill Cooper's letter perhaps because I'd begun my speech by telling the hearing examiners that not all Republicans wanted to claim me. 

When I got home I put an the episode of Malcolm in the Middle in the VCR. It was a marvelous purgative.

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