MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By saying, “There is a special place in hell for those quislings,” did GOP Chair Tony Sutton damage GOP candidate Tom Emmer’s chances to win the governor’s seat? I think he may have.

The remark was aimed at Republicans who are deserting Emmer to support Independence Party candidate Tom Horner.

The word “quislings” comes from the name of a Norwegian Nazi collaborator. In a state filled with Scandinavians, the name likely resonates even more.

The suggestion that someone may land in hell for supporting a candidate may give some people pause, too. But the real damage is that the remark and the criticism that followed are calling attention to the fact that there are an awful lot of “quislings,” as Mr. Sutton puts it, who are jumping ship.

The latest MPR poll found that 22 percent of Republicans plan to vote for Horner, compared with 10 percent of DFLers. The remark has particularly outraged Horner supporters like former state Senator George Pillsbury, a World War Two veteran and a prominent Republican party fundraiser.

The remark came in response to a news conference where 11 former Republican legislators announced they were supporting Horner.

Endorsement of an Independent by individuals like these legislators, who have served their country and the Republican party for so many years, is an attention grabber. Most state Republican parties are just feeling pressure from the right from Tea Party activists.

Tony Sutton has a double whammy, the Tea Party to the right of him, and Horner supporters to the left. Hell hath no fury like a party scorned.

By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV


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