David Daniels arguably is the oddest duck in the Twin Cities political pond.
You couldn’t imagine a less likely Republican. In 2009, Black, dreadlocked, and a devotee of Rastafarianism, Daniels was elected vice chair of the 4th Congressional District for the GOP in St. Paul.
He didn’t get to serve the full term. Owing to health concerns, he had to move out of state. When he came back last year, it was to Minneapolis, where he since has re-entered politics, still a Republican, and has been elected Ward 9 Precinct 6 delegate to go to the BPOU (Basic Political Organization Unit) Convention, after which comes the Congressional District Convention in Senate District 63.
“I attended my caucus [Feb. 7],” says Daniels. The attendance was much smaller than four years ago in St. Paul. It was a mix of people. A Black man was the convener, a gay man was the secretary. Young people as well.
“Ron Paul won the straw poll handily over Santorum,” he continues. “Romney got zero votes at my caucus. I allowed my name to be placed in nomination for delegate because I wanted to make sure a Ron Paul supporter went on to the next step, and I got the highest vote total of delegate candidates.”
Sure enough, Daniels got the nod. “So, I’ll be going on to the 5th Congressional District Convention and possibly the State Convention as a delegate for Ron Paul.”
Ron Paul, Daniels says, was instrumental to the eyebrow-raising St. Paul victory. At the Congressional District 4 Convention in Vadnais Heights, in suit and tie, locks neatly bound in a ponytail, he addressed an audience of 200 delegates and alternates.
The speech was hugely successful. He cited the Republican Party as that of Frederick Douglass, noting, “The way we’re going, everyone will be slaves.” He spoke five minutes and got two standing ovations.
“I started out at [that] Republican caucus to support the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul… The majority of the folks in my neighborhood caucus at the time supported his candidacy and then voted me to go on to become a delegate. I was asked and said yes, because I support the goals Ron Paul set.
“If this comes out, I’m probably not going to get elected.”
“At the time we needed to get as many Ron Paul supporters as possible in positions of state leadership with the Republican Party. We’re in the same process now.”
Same process, less viable climate. “The Republican leadership is going to be doing and is doing everything they can to screen out Ron Paul supporters.” The next convention is March 25.
“If this comes out,” says Daniels, “I’m probably not going to get elected.” However, as one can count on the head of a pin the number of mainstream Republicans with subscriptions to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, it’s doubtful David Daniels has anything to worry about in terms of someone spotting this article and throwing a monkey wrench in the works.
Daniels is best known as an activist performance artist with two sold-out out-of-print CDs, Talkin’ Roots and 4:20 Report. He has a track record of controversial gigs — The Playwrights’ Center and Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater are two of the venues that have banned him for smoking herb onstage.
Politics, though, is no idle indulgence. Daniels is a veteran of left-wing political campaigns with leftist leanings. He states that long ago he decided he wanted to see American life change. “As a seventh-grader in 1968, I’d spend weekends volunteering for Eugene McCarthy for president.”
In 1987, he lived in Denver and ran for mayor, endorsed by the Libertarian Party. In ’87 and ’88, he was chair of the Colorado Libertarian Party, and Consumer Party candidate Eugene McCarthy tapped Daniels to be his running mate.
In 1988, Daniels moved to Minneapolis. While serving as Libertarian chair, he’d met Republican Congressman Ron Paul when Paul was running as the Libertarian candidate for president. In 2000, Daniels was the Grassroots Party’s candidate for the Minnesota U.S. Senate.
David Daniels does not warm to the idea that he might be an undercover radical infiltrating the GOP ranks. “I don’t see the word ‘infiltrate’ as accurate. Historically, it was the Republican Party that stood for a non-interventionist foreign policy and for individual liberties. It was the Democratic Party that historically got us into wars and was the party of Strom Thurmond and George Wallace.
“While the Republican Party did move away from its roots over the years,” says Daniels, “the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul, which spurred my Republican activism, was more than a mere bid for the presidency. It was more of a movement designed to bring the Republican Party and the country back to its constitutional roots.”
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.