Sunday, April 11, 2010

Playing to win: Why I support Paul Thissen for governor

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 11 days, delegates of Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will begin gathering in Duluth to endorse candidates for statewide office. My schedule and stamina will not permit me to join them on the convention sidelines to help seal the deal that makes Paul Thissen our candidate for governor. Thus, I offer these thoughts to the delegates, particularly to my GLBT friends and colleagues.

I met Paul several years ago through his wife, Karen Wilson Thissen, with whom I served on a nonprofit board of directors. They are good people.

As lifelong Minnesotans, Paul Thissen and I share a deep appreciation and affection for the land, the people, and the traditions that give color and meaning to our lives. Both of us have traveled extensively throughout our state and understand the inherent goodwill, sense of fair play, and yearning for integrity that characterizes our people. Paul embodies these traits with a fresh and enthusiastic optimism matched by a can-do spirit of pragmatism.

As the number of days behind me continues to outpace those ahead, I still want to "win" at life's various adventures and to follow my heart with as little compromise as possible. Paul is a solid candidate on the issues that voters and candidates of all stripes should care about. Nonetheless, our party is given to imposing a 100% purity test on issues and - especially - nuances, and then tries to take the safe route by endorsing the candidates who seem to have the greatest name recognition, money, and insider connections. I am old enough to recall the last time Minnesota elected a DFL governor, and I know how well our past patterns of endorsing behavior have not worked.

Given the temper of our times, the personality and character of the next governor will be prime in determining the outcome of legislation and policy. We need to play this election to win.

As a gay man who never could have imagined the possibility of marrying his high school boy friend, I have experienced personally and vicariously the profound changes of attitude, heart, and behavior within myself and others that have replaced shadows with sunshine, fear with strength, and despair with hope. Like the best of leaders, Paul calls forth the higher angels of our nature. He has done this in speeches to assembled throngs, in one-on-one conversations, and in the introduction and passage of legislation.

As the real deal, he also does it in the raising of his own kids, all of whom accompanied us in last year's Pride Parade through the streets of downtown Minneapolis. Would that our own parents ever would have placed in our hands signs that read "Our friend has two mothers, and we think it's great!"

As a one-time political candidate, I know about the ineffable campaign experience that Paul has undertaken. I am inspired by his work ethic, the competence and confidence of his campaign team, and the equanimity of his person. I will be proud to have him serve as governor of my state, and I ask you to join me and other Minnesotans for Thissen to help make that happen!


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