Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

11/19/2004

The Hmong Among Us

The late Senator Wellstone -- much to his credit -- reached out to the burgeoning Hmong community in the Twin Cities. As one Hmong activist said upon Wellstone's death, he was "the first political figure to pay serious attention" to their immigrant community and came to be known simply as "Senator Paul". As a result, the Hmong became one of Senator Wellstone's core constituencies. Shame on the GOP for not taking a more active role in courting a group that could have been a natural fit -- a hard working people fleeing Communist oppression.

Congress today is expected to approve normalizing trade relations with Laos, an issue that divides the Hmong-American community in Minnesota. Senator Dayton is ambivalent. And frankly, there is much to be ambivalent about. Older members of the Hmong community are outraged that their communist country of origin is allowed the same trading status enjoyed by America's best allies. There are significant human rights concerns about the existing regime. The issue has the potential to split a key part of Dayton's political base and as a purely political consideration, the Senator is not in an enviable position.

Would Mark Kennedy have the courage to pursue an ethnic group that should have a natural home in the Republican party? Signs point to yes.


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