GOP's identity crisis may surface this week

John Sikma
John Sikma stood with those around him to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the Nobles County Republican Caucus on Feb. 7, 2012.
Jackson Forderer for MPR

As Minnesota's political parties gather Tuesday for their precinct caucuses, Republicans may find themselves faced with a difficult choice.

The coming election season is an opportunity to try and regain some of the influence that state Republicans lost in 2012. But they face internal divisions — between traditional pragmatists and hard-core idealists; between tea-party activists and Ron Paul-style libertarians — that could prevent them from fielding a unified front.

"The stakes are huge," wrote political scientist Larry Jacobs in a Star Tribune op-ed. "Will the party's nominees for governor and U.S. Senate in 2014 hold firm to the right's pure principle of severely limited government? Or will the party, as a national GOP fundraiser put it, 'organize beyond the convention process to appeal to a broader scope of people' — voters who want government to shoulder a larger, if still restrained, range of responsibilities? Should the party select candidates who will take office willing to accept compromises that advance conservative policy ideas, or who will stay committed to staunchly defending principle even if it produces government shutdowns?"

Jacobs and a prominent Republican analyst join The Daily Circuit to discuss the issues facing Republican voters Tuesday night.

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