NEW ULM - Changing the message of Republicans in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District to be competitive in the 2014 elections will be the focus of Brown County Republican Chair Jim Hahn, who was recently elected deputy chair for the district.
Hahn sought the job because a significant number of 1st District Republicans encouraged him to do so. He chose the deputy chair position over the chair position because he wanted to stay active with Brown County Republicans. He was elected during the Republican 1st District convention on March 23.
Carol Stevenson, who has served as chair for the Nicollet County Republicans, was elected chair. She has worked with Hahn and shares his political alignment of being a Republican who supports limited government organizations like the Tea Party.
Hahn said the key to engineering success for Republicans in 2014 is emphasizing data, delivery and dollars.
Hahn said seriously reworking the Republicans' voter identification databases must be done. The DFL party has developed much better databases for years with the assistance of organizations like unions. Identifying specific independent voters and Reagan Democrats who could be convinced to vote Republican with targeted messaging is essential for Republicans, Hahn said.
The topic of voter identification databases got national attention during the 2012 election as one of the keys to President Barack Obama's re-election.
Hahn said an important part of getting Republicans back on their feet is rethinking how they message their positions.
He said that despite the 2012 election loss in Minnesota that put the DFL in control of the Legislature and the governor's office, people were not rejecting the Republican arguments for smaller government and no new taxes. Republicans failed to talk about their positions in a way that voters identified with, Hahn said.
"The vast majority of people in Minnesota agree with our positions. The problem is Republicans can get a little too wonkish and too esoteric in messaging," said Hahn, "We need to emphasize asking Gov. [Mark] Dayton why he insists on policies that make sure our jobs get exported to [other states]. We need to emphasize the very negative impact the DFL's plans will have on the state."
Hahn said the Republicans lack the big donor sources of the DFL, so they need to work on maximizing their approach with small and individual donors to make up the difference.
Hahn said a key aspect of his leadership with the Brown County Republicans that he wants to bring to the new position is emphasizing openness and respect for all Republican candidates. He said these factors have been key elements in allowing Brown County to grow into one of the stronger Republican organizations in the state.
For a particular example, he plans to be very open with Ron Paul-type Republicans, who created a stir in Minnesota politics last year by successfully working the ground-level party conventions until they were able to dominate the state convention. Hahn said he does not agree with people that resented Paul supporters' insurgency in the party. He said party members need to recognize that all factions are ultimately the same in the end with their support of basic Republican ideals.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)