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Rep. FitzSimmons decides to retire, after his gay-marriage vote cost him GOP endorsement

Rep. David Fitzsimmons
State Rep. David FitzSimmons had been expected to lose the GOP endorsement, despite being considered a party leader in Wright County.

State Rep. David FitzSimmons, one of four Republicans to vote in favor of gay marriage last session, has decided not run for re-election, making the announcement over the weekend at his party’s endorsing convention.

(The weekend’s other GOP district conventions also made political news. Pat Garafolo, Republican representative from Farmington who also voted for gay marriage, unanimously won endorsement. Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Mary Liz Holberg of Lakeville announced at her district convention that she will not run for a ninth term.)

Of his situation, FitzSimmons said in an interview:  “It was very evident that the forces that wanted to force me out had solidified people in their opposition to me.”

Instead, House District 30A endorsed Dayton City Council Member Eric Lucero, who made FitzSimmons’ gay marriage vote the linchpin of his campaign. 

FitzSimmons had been expected to lose the GOP endorsement, despite being considered a party leader in Wright County and having the support of such stalwart conservatives as Tom Emmer, a congressional candidate in the 6th District. 

But FitzSimmons’ district, which includes St. Michael and Albertville, is considered one of the most socially conservative areas of the state.

The Minnesota Family Council, a strong opponent of gay marriage, immediately targeted FitzSimmons after his vote last spring.

The Family Council efforts were enhanced by activists who engaged in “some pretty rough campaigning, both political and personal,” according to Amy Koch, a former state senator for the district and a FitzSimmons supporter who attended the Wright County convention Saturday.

FitzSimmons acknowledged he felt bruised by the battle, “after a lot very half-truths and outright lies and fabrication.”

 He said he hoped that by withdrawing from the endorsement contest, delegates would have opted for a third candidate, Senell Jaster, instead of Lucero, whom FitzSimmons describes as “very much out of the mainstream.”

Lucero’s website featured a section on “Strength of Family,” which since has been taken down.

It cited a government “assault against the family unit,” including “gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle” and “blending the gender distinctions such as women in combat and homosexuals openly serving in the military.”

Lucero has not yet responded to an email request for an interview.

“Absolutely not” was FitzSimmons’ response to a question about whether he would have changed his gay marriage vote if he knew it would cost him a legislative seat. 

He said he intends to pursue a full agenda when he returns to the state Capitol this week to complete his term.

“There’s a few things I’m going to continue to work on — education funding, issues with my local district,” he said. “I also have a bill in to allow Sunday liquor sales.  Maybe without reason, I’m optimistic that that is something that could get done.”

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Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/24/2014 - 09:51 am.

    Interesting situation …

    Those of us who were on the Twitter over the weekend observed some very interesting singing and dancing.

    What struck me as telling was that many on the right defended this sad situation by claiming that those on the left only supported Rep Fitzsimmons for political reasons.

    There was wide-spread support for both Rep Fitzsimmons and another voluntarily retiring conservative member of the legislature, Mary Louise Holberg.

    Men and women of principle are admired on both sides of the aisle.

    To demonstrate the kind of things that Rep Fitzsimmons has had to go through, I cite one of the more literate, if not always logical, conservatives, Mr. John Gilmore:

    The Politcal Martyrdom of David Fitzsimmons

    “Before the vote FitzSimmons spoke to the delegates, praising himself and then, crying due to feeling sorry for himself, fled the building after saying he was withdrawing from the race. It’s difficult to respect such conduct.”

    And so it goes, in the outposts of intolerance.

  2. Submitted by Tom Karas on 02/24/2014 - 11:50 am.

    sad to see, but expected nonetheless

    This provides even more evidence of the courage displayed by those R legislators to vote with their heads and their hearts. And I bet they still represented their districts at heart, it is the party bosses who are out of touch with the district.
    But on the positive side, thanks to the local GOP for taking another opportunity to display the true colors of the leadership. We independent voters appreciate the input.

  3. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 02/24/2014 - 12:00 pm.

    Wright County

    Call it like it is. Social conservative is too nice a term. They are racist, discriminatory and Machiavellian. They are only concerned about pushing there outdated and unscientific Christian values on the other 350 recognized religions whether they want it or not. Most of them actually believe that Muslim is a race of people rather than a large group of people from many backgrounds and races that practice the religion of Islam. They are not much different than the small group of Muslims who believe in Jihad.

  4. Submitted by Mike Downing on 02/24/2014 - 12:03 pm.

    Represent your constituents

    Many a politician believe they know best and their constituents will forget their votes. David simply voted against his constituents in his district. His constituents, in turn, spoke loudly that the did not agree with his vote which did not represent his constituents.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 02/24/2014 - 03:08 pm.

      Only a 6.5 percent change in the Wright county vote

      Would have lead to a “no vote” on that amendment (total of about 4450 voters). Opinion – more people than that have moved on as to that issue. Love to see a republican loss now.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 02/25/2014 - 11:28 am.

      You are mistaken Mr. Downing

      I believe his constituents extend to more people than were at the caucus.

      • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/05/2014 - 12:59 pm.

        The Rabid Movement

        That’s what this has become.

        People trying to out-extreme each other
        in order to jockey for position.

        Anytime there is a new movement underfoot, its an opportunity for dilettantes &
        johnny-come-latelys to upset the existing structure & gain stature. A coup or hostile take-over.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/24/2014 - 12:21 pm.

    Clarification is needed

    Is Mr. Lucero promising that he will work to repeal the marriage equity law? Or was the convention interested only in a bit of payback?

    In any event, way to keep that laser-like focus on jobs and the economy going, folks!

  6. Submitted by jody rooney on 02/24/2014 - 12:56 pm.

    A big thank you to Rep. FitzSimmons

    for having the courage to do what is right. Shame on the republicans in has district for lacking compassion and have such a narrow definition of family.

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/24/2014 - 01:00 pm.

    Fitz is a very good guy, but he ran with the promise to oppose same sex unions.

    He obviously miscalculated the importance of that promise to his constituents and has paid the price for it, as will, I expect, the 6 DFL incumbents running for re-election in districts that were similarly blind-sided by the vote.

    That being said, I do believe we have not seen the last of David FitzSimmons.

  8. Submitted by jason myron on 02/24/2014 - 04:07 pm.

    I guess having a 100% rating

    from the Tax Payers League isn’t pure enough for the religious zealots. It’s pretty obvious that all of the bluster from the Tea Party being only interested in smaller government and not in social issues is nothing but BS.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/24/2014 - 04:53 pm.

      Iit’s also about telling the truth

      and keeping promises. Something democrats simply discount as a cost of doing business.

      • Submitted by jody rooney on 02/25/2014 - 11:31 am.

        Like George Bush Senior on no new taxes?

        Politicians who make categorical promises are not to be trust no mater what party. Those are the folks who make governing impossible.

  9. Submitted by David LaPorte on 02/24/2014 - 05:01 pm.

    Activists versus Constituents

    The people who attend the party conventions are the party activists. They’re not representatives of the constituents. And therein lies the problem. Activists tend to be zealots and those are the people who are choosing the candidates.

    It makes little difference whether FitzSimmons’ constituents were happy with him. The activists were not. And that’s why the Republican party continues to move to the extreme right.

    Not that the Democrats don’t drift to the left for the same reason, but IMO there’s more tolerance in the DFL.

  10. Submitted by jason myron on 02/24/2014 - 05:09 pm.

    That’s okay, Dennis

    Keep culling the quislings from the herd. It will be a pleasure to watch the continued struggle for relevance in a modern society by what currently infests the GOP.

  11. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/24/2014 - 08:22 pm.

    Some of several

    My 2¢ is that several comments seem at least partly on-target.

    Mike Downing strikes me as being the first to be at least partly correct. Among the several things that add stress to being a “representative” in a “representative” government is the sometimes-rare, sometimes-frequent clash between one’s personal beliefs and those of one’s constituents. You can’t really be a genuine leader if all you do is follow whatever the crowd tells you to do, yet pushing too hard in a contrary direction often results in… well… Mr. FitzSimmons’ situation. Support disappears and you’re no longer a “representative.”

    Mr. Tester’s usual snark is duly noted.

    Glad to see Mr. Swift back. I’m inclined to think him correct about Mr. FitzSimmons’ future. He obviously has some solid supporters, and leaving the legislature certainly doesn’t preclude another run for a different – or even the same – office at some point down the road. Mr. Swift seems to me also correct in labeling FitzSimmons’ vote a miscalculation on his part.

    Jason Myron and David LaPorte also seem to me to have correctly identified a couple of other issues. Fiscal conservatism appears to no longer be enough for right-wing activists, and it *does* seem that much of the rhetoric from the right about “smaller government” applies only in certain very narrow circumstances. In other areas, lots of people who like to call themselves “conservative” appear to have no qualms about government intrusion. Along those lines, and having been to local caucuses and county and district conventions in the past, my own experience suggests that David LaPorte is close to the mark regarding who shows up for those kinds of gatherings, at least in recent years. Whether left or right, it tends to be the zealots who attend, and they’re the ones choosing the candidates. In this case, they’re also likely the ones most unhappy with FitzSimmons’ vote, so his failure to secure an endorsement could be viewed – I would view it that way – as punishment.

    The American Taliban demand ideological purity, which Mr. FitzSimmons wasn’t able to maintain.

  12. Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/24/2014 - 08:28 pm.

    Well its interesting if nothing else

    To watch the social conservative wing rise up to purge the more libertarian wing. Should portend well for those of us on the left as marriage equality continues its inexorable march across the country. With luck the internecine warfare will weaken the Republican party enough on a national level to bring it back to reality on both social and economic fronts. Then again its shown an abundance of ability with regards to self delusion, so who knows?

  13. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/25/2014 - 09:51 am.


    20 years from now, people will view opposition to gay marriage and gay rights the way opposition to civil rights in the 50s and 60s. At this point, though, people are still coming around and to stand up and do what is right takes real courage, especially for an elected Republican. History is going to look very favorably upon Mr. FitzSimmons.

  14. Submitted by gabe davis on 02/25/2014 - 10:46 am.


    Gee Mr. Lucerno, aren’t you the patriotic one! This was on your web site: It cited a government “assault against the family unit,” including “gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle” and “blending the gender distinctions such as women in combat and homosexuals openly serving in the military.”

    Let me introduce myself. I am one of thousands of gay men who served in the military during the Vietnam Era. I have lots of gay friends that have and are currently serving as well.
    We served so that EVERYONE has the SAME rights.

    What disturbs me the most is that you some how think that you can wrap yourself up in the flag and present yourself as a patriot and then use your religous beliefs to discount gay people and deny them equal rights.

    Could you tell us how you feel justified doing this when you have not spent one minute in the military? You are more than contemptable and have no business representing anyone in this district.

    Take a lesson from David FitzSimmons – at least he has integrity and character, a quality that you apparently are lacking.

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