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Succeeding Bachmann: GOP rivals pledge to ignore Saturday’s likely Emmer endorsement

For a candidate with name recognition, who’s raised more than $800,000 for his 2014 campaign, and had a serious 2010 gubernatorial run, Tom Emmer is encountering some unusual intra-party friction in his GOP bid for Congress from the strongly Republican Sixth District.

Phil Krinkie

“Tom Emmer would be a drag on the statewide ticket.  Look at the public record,” said Phil Krinkie, also a Republican candidate for the sixth district congressional seat being vacated by Michele Bachmann.

Krinkie says he is skipping Saturday’s convention in Monticello, where Emmer is the heavy favorite to win endorsement, and will likely go to primary or even challenge Emmer as a third-party candidate. 

While Krinkie admits he’s still weighing his options, a third Republican candidate, Anoka County commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, says she’s definitely heading to the Aug. 12 primary.

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Rhonda Sivarajah

“I think voters deserve a voice,” she said.  “It’s a rare opportunity to decide between two kinds Republicans — one with a record of accomplishment versus someone who talks about things.”

In response, Emmer pointed to some inescapable facts about his campaign. “We’ve raised the money,” he said.  “We identified voters to come out on a cold night in February to caucuses, and we got almost 70 percent in a straw poll.  Plus, we came within 8,300 votes on 2.2 million cast [in the 2010 governor’s race] at the top of the ticket that elected a Republican majority in the [Minnesota] Senate for the first time in decades.”

Sivarajah and Krinkie maintain that Emmer has political liabilities. 

“There’s lots of people that want to throw out the red meat and rile up the base, but that doesn’t get anything accomplished,” Sivarajah said.

“What I believe about Mr. Emmer — the fatal flaw — is that he doesn’t know how to apologize and admit he made a mistake,” Krinkie said, citing Emmer’s DWI conviction that became the subject of DFL attack ads in the governor’s race.

Both have also expressed philosophical reasons for contesting the Sixth District endorsement.

Krinkie says the Republican Party needs to change its “top-down process” in picking a nominee.  “Attendance at Republican caucuses is down almost 30 percent,” he said.  “You’ve seen the numbers nationwide with regard to political identification.  More and more people regard themselves as independent.”

Sivarajah has concerns about the party’s gender gap.  “I’m really running on my record of accomplishment rather than my gender,” she said.  “But at the same, it’s a well-known fact that Republicans need to do more to earn the support of women.”

Emmer had a different take on the effect of a primary contest.  “It’s easy for people to talk other people down,” he said.  “That’s one of things Republicans have got to stop doing.  We’ve got to stop shooting at each other.”

The real target, he suggests, is the DFL candidate that will emerge from that party’s primary contest.  Three DFLers are running for the party’s nomination: Judy Adams of Circle Pines, Jim Read of Avon, and Sartell mayor Joe Perske.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/11/2014 - 08:41 am.

    “We’ve got to stop shooting at each other.”

    Mr. Emmer: this is the usual result from a circular firing squad.

  2. Submitted by William Gleason on 04/11/2014 - 09:14 am.

    “Tom Emmer would be a drag on the statewide ticket.”

    says Phil Krinkie?

    You can’t make this up.

  3. Submitted by David Frenkel on 04/11/2014 - 10:37 am.

    Gender gap

    We need more women in public office, bottom line they seem to be more rational and stay out of trouble. Look at the latest scandal of a male Republican Congressman kissing his top aid that was recorded on video just a few days ago. I also find it sad to see a group of white haired male congressmen signing healthcare bills that primarily effect women.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/11/2014 - 10:45 am.

    Shoe on the other foot

    Usually, it’s the Democrats who form the circular firing squad, so it’s kind of interesting to see this sort of intramural sniping on the right. With any luck, there will be more of this, with voters in the 6th District the primary beneficiaries.

    Caucuses are usually attended by true believers and zealots (often the same people), so showing up big in the caucuses and having a sizable war chest with which to campaign doesn’t necessarily make Mr. Emmer the best candidate.What he demonstrated during the gubernatorial campaign was that he would make a terrible Congressional Representative – maybe worse than the one he hopes to replace.

  5. Submitted by Mike Downing on 04/11/2014 - 12:03 pm.


    Yes Tom Emmer will get the endorsement of the CD6 delegates. Like 2010, he does a good job of getting delegates elected at caucuses.

    However, Tom Emmer is a bully, has a temper, is vindictive, etc. who does not deserve your vote in the primary.

  6. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/11/2014 - 02:06 pm.

    Is there still such a thing

    as a moderate Republican? First one to run for this seat gets my support.

  7. Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/12/2014 - 03:52 pm.

    Oh dear

    Thanks Tester now I have to clean my table. Sivarajah may be bland as milquetoast, but she’s hardly moderate (she’s my commissioner unfortunately) and good ol’ Taxpayer’s League Phil? Thankfully former Rep Gardner sent him packing before I made my way to his district. The man might make Emmer look tame. Too bad they couldn’t get Kiffmeyer to run, it would have made for an entertaining circus of ineptitude.

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