Two of the former Republican state legislators who are backing Independence Party candidate Tom Horner in the race for governor say they’re offended by a comment made by a state GOP leader.
George Pillsbury and Bill Belanger detailed their concerned today in a letter today to Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Tony Sutton. Yesterday, Sutton described Pillsbury, Belanger and the other former GOP legislators supporting Horner as “quislings.” He also said there was a “special place in hell” for them. Quisling is a term for traitor and comes from the name of a Norwegian politician who collaborated with the Nazis.
“Those of us who support Horner and his centrist view of governance have nothing in common with Norwegian politician Vidkun Quisling,” Pillsbury and Belanger wrote. “We proudly wore the uniforms of our nation, one of us as a Marine Lieutenant in the Philippines during World War II, one of us a few years later in Korea as an Army Corporal. For you to besmirch that service is demeaning.”
Here’s the complete letter:
As veterans of the United States military and former state legislators, we were highly offended to pick up our morning Star Tribune newspaper and read that you were accusing us of being traitors to our country for supporting Tom Horner for governor. (“There’s a special place in hell for these quislings.”)
Those of us who support Horner and his centrist view of governance have nothing in common with Norwegian politician Vidkun Quisling, a Nazi sympathizer who collaborated with the Germans to enslave millions of his countrymen during the Second World War. We proudly wore the uniforms of our nation, one of us as a Marine Lieutenant in the Philippines during World War II, one of us a few years later in Korea as an Army Corporal. For you to besmirch that service is demeaning.
We support Tom Horner for governor precisely because we care so much about our state and our nation. We sought elective office after our years of military service because we care about our country and its future. We did not believe our service ended when we were discharged. For decades, we have continued to volunteer in our communities to make our society stronger.
We are supporting Tom Horner for governor because we believe his moderate, centrist view of government is precisely what Minnesota needs right now. We are concerned that Sutton’s candidate, Tom Emmer, is too far to the right, and that Mark Dayton, the Democrat, is too far to the left. We believe it is best for all concerned to have a governor who can work with both political parties, to do what’s right and not worry about who gets the credit.
We went to war to defend the Constitution, which included fighting for your right of free speech, so you are free to say whatever you want. We would appreciate it if, in the future, you were more careful not to criticize American veterans just because you disagree with our choice of candidates.
First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corp (ret)
Veteran of World War II
Former State Senator, Wayzata
Corporal, United States Army (ret)
Veteran of the Korean War
Former State Senator, Bloomington
Sutton told the Associated Press that he did not intend a Nazi comparison. He said he used the word as a common term for traitor. A day earlier, Sutton was asking DFL candidate Mark Dayton to denounce Vice President Joe Biden for suggesting he wanted to strangle Republicans. The remark came at a Dayton fundraiser in St. Paul.
“If I hear one more Republican tell me about balancing the budget, I am going to strangle them,” Biden said. “To the press, that’s a figure of speech.”