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Not your grandfather's GOP

Minnesota Republicans on Tuesday showed they weren’t ready to hand the nomination over to the former Massachusetts governor.

The Crow Wing County tally at Tuesday’s caucus was:

Rick Santorum-310.

Ron Paul-137.

Mitt Romney-104.

Newt Gingrich-88.

Statwide results showed that the Crow Wing Republicans weren’t the only ones who liked Santorum.

Romney looks like the sort of fellow central casting would send over if you were looking for someone to play the president. But it’s not just his broad shoulders and forceful presence that have made him the front-runner. He has executive experience, a nice family, a scandal-free past and a bank roll that would be the envy of any aspiring candidate.

In the earlier model of the Republican he would be “the next man up.” Like earlier Republican nominees, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Robert Dole, Romney has paid his dues on the chicken dinner circuit. It’s his turn, one could argue.

Today’s Minnesota Republicans aren’t buying that argument, at least not yet. A number of those attending the GOP caucuses in Baxter said this was their first time at such an event. They’re not beholden to the traditions and mores of the Republican past. Their allegiance appears to be to strong conservative principles and not to the way party business has always been conducted. Remember the famed Republican 11th Commandment about not criticizing other Republicans? That’s been thrown out the window.

Rod Thoe of Fort Ripley warned the party establishment of a possible fracture in party unity if the Ron Paul libertarian, constitutional faction of the party is disrespected. A Crow Wing Township resident wasn’t shy about expressing his contention that there was “so much wrong with the Republican Party.

Romney may still prevail in his bid for the nomination, but he’ll face a big job convincing the influx of new conservatives that his campaign deserves their full support.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860