The American Action Network, a center-right issue advocacy organization, may expand its influence in the state to voter identification, said the group’s co-founder former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
Coleman, who founded AAN in 2010, also said that AAN is finalizing the details on a Minnesota affiliate that will involve former state Rep. Laura Brod.
“In Minnesota, I would anticipate we would have a state affiliate in addition to the work that the national network is doing,” Coleman said in an interview with MPR News. “Former State Rep. Laura Brod has been involved working with that, and we’re kind of finalizing that effort right now.”
Coleman said that the group will work on a range of issues, including the nation’s debt and deficit, but a constitutional amendment that would require voters show identification at the polls seems like an obvious opportunity to shape public opinion in Minnesota.
“This would be a common sense, easy issue, and simply from an educational perspective not even telling people ‘here’s how to vote, not how to vote,” Coleman said describing a potential outreach effort. Rather, “here’s simply the reality of what voter identification is all about. Here are all the places around the world that it’s in place, here are the people across partisan, bipartisan who support this and then voters can make up their mind.”
“I anticipate that the network would be involved… and Minnesota would be one of the earliest ones,” Coleman added.
Brod did not immediately return calls to detail her involvement, but AAN has already pledged about $10 million to build conservative networks in so-called orphan states – states where local Republican parties don’t have the resources to support conservative candidates adequately.
Earlier this summer, AAN announced that Minnesota would be part of that effort. Already, the group has been busy connecting like-minded groups across the state, including the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and the Duluth-based Northern Liberty Alliance. Earlier this year, the two groups hosted Tax Day events throughout the state.
The American Action Network affiliate should be up and running soon, likely before the election, Brod said.
The working name? Minnesota Action Network.
The group’s goal will be to advocate for issues important in Minnesota, including budget reforms, state deficits, and regulation, Brod explained.
“We are in the process of looking at bringing an organization into Minnesota to do grassroots and issue advocacy in a similar way to what the American Action Network does on the federal level,” Brod said. “It would be specific to Minnesota, focused on Minnesota issues and what is important in moving our state forward.”
Voter ID fits with the group’s broader goal to address election issues, though Brod emphasized that the group won’t advocate on the ballot initiative specifically. The group will not be campaigning for specific candidates either, Brod said.
Brod said she will lead the group and have a staff. She added that the group is actively fundraising, but would not say if it will be getting financial support directly from AAN.
Brett Neely in Washington contributed to this report.