Coleman To Face Primary Challenge?

Norm Coleman will face his first re-election campaign to the US Senate next year, and so far, he’s looking like a lock. Polls show him consistently ahead of his presumptive Democratic challengers, Al Franken and Michael Cerisi, by twenty points in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans. He has maintained a remarkable cushion of support by steering a moderate course in Washington, sometimes frustrating his supporters but normally reliable on key issues.
Now, however, that moderate position may inspire a primary challenge, and from a former Coleman supporter and advisor. Colonel Joe Repya, a friend of mine and a formidable force in state GOP circles, told The Hill that he will decide within the next two months whether to launch his bid to unseat Norm Coleman:

An Iraq war veteran and former adviser to Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) yesterday said he is considering a primary challenge against the lawmaker in 2008.
Retired Lt. Col. Joe Repya (R) lost a race for the state Republican Party chairmanship last week, after which speculation began to percolate that he would challenge Coleman.
Yesterday, in a statement, Repya confirmed that he is mulling a run. He said he will travel around the state and talk to people about the viability of a bid during the next two months.
“I’ve received numerous calls and have been approached by a number of people who have asked me to consider running against Norm Coleman for U.S. Senate,” Repya said. “I am making no decisions at this time. I am going take 30 to 60 days to decide what my political future is going to be.”

CQ readers should recall Repya; I’ve featured him a few times on the blog, notably in an interview from the 2004 Republican National Convention. He has a long and distinguished career in the Army, having served in the first Gulf War and volunteering for tours of duty in Iraq at an age when most men have started putting their retirement plans in place. He returned from Iraq last year, and he and I had lunch to chat about his plans and to catch up with each other. I can tell you that there are very few men I admire as much as Joe, and few men I respect as much, either.
I’m a bit conflicted about this development. Joe Repya would make a fine Senator for Minnesota, but I’m not sure that Minnesota would recognize that. We nominated a fine, accomplished conservative in Mark Kennedy last year to run for Mark Dayton’s open seat — and Amy Klobuchar, a district attorney of less accomplishment, creamed him in the race by 20 points. Granted, 2006 was a bad year for Republicans anyway, but it points out a problem in our state, which is that true conservatives do not win statewide office, at least not yet.
Coleman has done a good job in the Senate for Minnesota, but he has provided his share of frustrations. He has dabbled with supporting the comprehensive immigration reform bill, although he voted against cloture and did try to add an amendment to end the sanctuary-city movement (which got defeated). He opposed the surge in Baghdad, although he supports the war effort in Iraq. As he said in his speech at the University of Minnesota last month, he looks for compromises and solutions, but the good of that gets measured not only by what is won but also by what is lost.
Conservatives mistrust him. And the proper place to challenge Coleman is in the primary, where Republicans can debate the issues and determine which candidate best represents the policies of Minnesotans. Repya has the resumé to get serious consideration, and I don’t doubt for a moment that he could present a tough challenge to Coleman. However, I’m not sure that in 2008, the conditions will have improved enough here to see Repya prevail over the Democrats — and I know I don’t want to see Senator Michael Cerisi.
The primary might do the state GOP some good, though. It could allow for a general airing of policy conflicts and help rebuild some enthusiasm that was lost in last year’s elections. Even if I’m conflicted on who to support in this particular instance, I feel good about the fact that we would have two candidates of high caliber, both of whom would have the class to run clean and positive campaigns.

6 thoughts on “Coleman To Face Primary Challenge?”

  1. I love Col. Repya, but he should hold off and gear up to take on Klobuchar. It will give him more time to get his brand out there, build fundraising infrastructure and concentrate his attack on a true foe.
    I understand the frustration with moderate Republicans, but a purification campaign could lead to two DFL seats, while setting sights on the Klobuchar campaign could give the GOP two.

  2. I am a frequent leftie visitor to your page. I am old, and have this to contribute.
    Back in the 70’s, at least, primaries lost their power because they became expensive and (usually) more damaging to the party that holds them for their candidates in the Senate, House, and local office races.
    But both parties suffer when there are no primaries, because as you correctly point out issues & differences get fuzzed up and/or go undebated and unexpressed.
    I actually don’t know how we can solve that problem, because the only people who cheer primary challenges are the OTHER party.

  3. I like Repya too, but I guess that’s why Lieutenant Colonels are just in charge of winning individual battles, and not in charge of overall war strategy. As overall strategy, it’s stupid.

  4. It won’t matter if Coleman gets reelected or if he is replaced by a Democrat. Coleman’s entire history displays a complete disregard for principles or party loyalty — he’ll carry water for whoever will give him the most political power.
    Get Coleman a wig and a pantsuit and he could play Hillary Clinton. He triangulates just like her, and like Edwards, he stands for nothing except grandstanding for political gain.
    So if the Democrats win both houses of Congress in 2008, which appears likely, Norm will cozy up to them just like he cozied up to the GOP in 2000 when they were ascendant.

  5. Re: Charles at June 13, 2007 12:53 PM
    Norm Coleman has a lot more party loyalty than Minnesota’s “moderate” voters. Minnesota’s voters are the ones all over the map. If you recall, Minnesota is the one State in the Union that didn’t think Ronald Reagan deserved a second term. That’s where you start from in this State.

  6. First let me say 1 thing . Im not republican . More a conservative democrat or independent conservative. Im conservative on defense and crime, but a bit more liberal on economic and social issues. I believe gov’t does have a role in helping society and the poor but I don’t belief in tax increases to pay for these massive entitlement programs. If you want help you should wok for it. Capitalism drives this economy not socialism. So having said that. I have a pet beef about Iraq. We won the war . Thats right because we went there to 1. get rid of wmd’s. 2. get rid of Saddam and his cronies,3. destroy the Iraq military so it wasn’t a regional threat. We accomplished all that in 2 weeks. What we are not winning is the reconstruction. Here’s why. The President keeps telling us that we are facing the greatest threat in US history. In WW2 we had a population of 120 million give or take. We had over 7 million in uniform to fight the axis, We had almost 3 million in the army alone. Today we have a population of 300 million give or take. We have just a tad less than 1 million in all the services. If we are in the fight for our life why dont we have at least 15 million in uniform ????? . If we are in the fight for our lives we should have the draft back and we should all be doing our part by rationing and cutting back to the point we aren’t dependent on foreign oil . We should have our borders locked down but we don’t. So don’t tell me this is a fight or our survival because if it was all the above would be implemented. If we did this we would have a million feet on the ground to control Iraq.
    In WW2 the only reason Japan didn’t turn into something like Iraq because we knew we needed an overwhelming number of troops to occupy and control it.
    My second peeve is the Immigration issue. Now the administration is going to claim the bill is needed for national security. Oh really so in the last 6 years why hasn’t President Bush locked it down . All of a sudden it’s a National Security Issue. B.S. It always was.
    My third and last is this . There is absolutely no excuse for Osama Bin Laden to not be in prison in a hole somewhere for life or DEAD. Preferably the latter. Six years and instead of him being dead we are stuck in an occupation that we are loosing because once again All the elected officials primarily the president are afraid to run us up to the military strength we need to occupy Iraq and any part of the middle east we need to and to get Bin Laden . In my opinion if we had a choice based on our small number of combat troops available , we should have gotten Bin Laden and If Afghanistan didn’t like it tough shit. Oh yeah I forgot we didn’t want to build the military up to do it. Everything this President does and says is B.S. We all know what needed to be done but he didn’t have and still doesn’t have the guts to do it. Thanks for letting me give my opinion.

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