The Skinny Cats of Minnesota Politics


It’s an election year, and the collective eye has once again turned to politics. Hennepin History Museum’s collection is filled with campaign materials, including this pin once belonging to a Rudy Boschwitz supporter.

Rudy Boschwitz was born in Germany, moving as a young child to New Rochelle, New York, after Hitler’s rise to power. After law school, a stint in the Army, and six years working in Wisconsin, Boschwitz moved to Minnesota with his wife, Ellen, in 1963. He founded Plywood Minnesota, a home improvement company based in Fridley, and soon had 70 stores located across the Upper Midwest. As his business grew, so, too, did his activity in the Minnesota Republican party. In 1978, he successfully mounted a Senate campaign against Wendell Anderson. He served two terms in the United States Senate, losing his seat to Paul Wellstone in the 1990 election.

What was the “Skinny Cat” referenced on this pin? The DFL argued that Boschwitz’s supporters were wealthy “fat cats;” in response, the Boschwitz campaign created the “Skinny Cat Club,” consisting of individual donors who contributed less than $100. Members of the club received individually numbered pins along with invitations to special events.

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