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September 28, 2006
Twin Cities Nod A Bipartisan Win

How did the Twin Cities land the Republican National Convention for 2008? It took a bipartisan effort that predicated itself on a gentleman's agreement: all Minnesota politicians would support bids for both conventions, and whichever party chose first would get unanimous support. The combination worked better than anyone could have hoped, as the Twin Cities made both short lists. However, in the end, Howard Dean's inability to make a decision cost the Democrats the spot:

On an October day last year, Tom Mason, who served as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's chief of staff, finished breakfast at St. Paul's Downtowner with Pawlenty and visiting Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman and offered Mehlman a lift.

While he drove, Mason listened as Mehlman raved about Minnesota's beauty, its fall weather and its political value as a swing state and thought "Gee, we might have a shot at long last."

Mason's next call was to Jeff Larson, a low-profile but highly connected political operative with ties to the White House and the RNC. ...

But with St. Paul and Minneapolis both led by Democratic mayors, Mason and Larson knew they'd never pull it off without help from the other side. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak had reached the same conclusion after a breakfast meeting with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean in January.

This is a story that reflects well on everyone in Minnesota. Old rivals put aside differences and allied together for both efforts, and in the end, the result means that everyone won. Some officials put the economic benefit for a national convention as high as $150 million, with thousands of people flying in and out of the Twin Cities, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, not to mention the use of the Xcel Center and such.

At the end, though, Rybak tried his best to get the Democrats to pull the trigger first. After hearing that the GOP had decided to go with the Twin Cities, Rybak called his party chair and warned him that the Democrats had to act fast if they wanted to get the nod. Dean couldn't get the DNC to make the decision, and the Republicans held the field. This doesn't necessarily mean that the Democrats couldn't also meet here, but it's unlikely, and that means they have given the GOP a golden opportunity to sweep the Upper Midwest in 2008.

Of course, we're looking forward to seeing everyone here in 2008. You'll love the Xcel Center and Minnesota hospitality. Even our Democrats look forward to seeing you!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 28, 2006 7:01 AM

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