Star Tribune: New GOP group aims to counter Democratic effort

Rachel Stassen-Berger
Jan. 10, 2013

Two Minnesota Republican operatives have started up the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, which aims to be a year-round independent group designed to promote a conservative vision on jobs and the economy.

The group registered with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board on Thursday.

Ben Golnik, the group’s chair, said the group will fill a vacuum in Minnesota Republican politics. The current Republican-supporting groups are seasonal, his would operate throughout the year focusing not just on elections but politics generally.

Golnik has long been active in GOP politics, including a stint as the state party’s executive director and oversight of 2010 Republicans’ successful campaign to take over the Senate. He was recently a consultant to Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack’s failed reelection effort.

Tom Erickson, who has worked for former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and the National Republican Congressional committee and recently ran South Dakota Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem’s successful campaign, will be the group’s executive director.

While they have long resumes, it was not clear how much might the new group will have. Golnik and Erickson would not say how much money they had raised or had been promised for the effort, nor would they name any of their national or local donors.

Their power may soon be more visible. Golnik said there was a “good chance” they would try to play a role in the two legislative elections called for February to fill vacant Minnesota House seats.