Amid Tea Party discontent, Emmer stands firm on his early record

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Rep.Tom Emmer, far left, addressing a group at the Edina Country Club. Emmer's father, Tom Sr., and his mother, Patsy, are to his immediate left.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer is facing a discharge of conservative discontent for the votes, alliances and choices he’s made in his first six months in office. But he’s not apologizing.

In fact, at a Republican social event in Edina on Friday, Emmer fed the group policy wonk tidbits, not red meat as he explained his votes for the Trade Promotion Authority and funding for Homeland Security, and offered humorous anecdotes of his friendship with John Boehner, for whom he voted for Speaker of the House.

These are the issues, and more, that drove the leadership of the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance to devote a podcast to a discussion of Emmer’s conservative failings.

“When Tom went there and he cast that vote for Boehner, I felt like I lost somebody that I look up to and trust,” said Jack Rogers, the Tea Party Alliance president said on the July 7 podcast he co-hosts with Tea Party Executive Director Jake Duesenberg. “He’s not doing what we want him to do.” (Neither Rogers nor Duesenberg replied to a request for an interview.)

TPA is high on their list of sins

What Rogers and others in the Tea Party movement want is for Congress to deny President Barack Obama any additional authority or autonomy. The Trade Promotion Authority is high on their lists of sins because it gives the president authority to negotiate international trade agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but not amend or filibuster.

“The TPA is a good thing, based on what we’re doing,” Emmer told his Friday audience, which included his father, Tom Emmer Sr., and mother Patsy, Edina residents. “It’s not fast-tracked. It will slow it down. Now you and I will have the opportunity to study any proposed trade agreement in detail.”

In an interview later, he said, “I think when people look at this they should look at the forest, not just a couple of the trees.”

Emmer struck the same wait-and-see tone about the Iran nuclear arms agreement, even while he made it clear he may well vote against it.

“What the president is doing, if I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, he’s listening to the people, so they’re going to have this vetting of this agreement,” he said. “If I’m suspicious of it, I think the president is looking at this as – ‘You know what, I’m not going to be able to take this directly to the U.N., I’m going to have to follow a process in order to make it legitimate.’ The question is, how is that going to work through in the next couple of months.”

Duesenberg and Rogers and many of their supporters aren’t interested, though, in congressional politics or process.

Talk of an endorsement challenge

“The vast majority of these guys – and Tom Emmer has shown he’s one of them really – don’t care about the average folks,” Duesenberg said in the podcast, adding, “He has to worry about an endorsement challenge.”

“What he has to do is prepare for it,” Rogers replied.

Emmer shrugged when told of the podcast. “Those comments are miniscule compared to what I’m getting in positive feedback,” he said.

And he suggested that Tea Party criticism has an element of self-service. “You can’t get people to listen to radio, they don’t want to watch TV, they don’t want to give money,” he said. “Unless there’s some kind of fight going on somewhere. 

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/20/2015 - 12:45 pm.


    It is intolerable to think that Tom Emmer should focus his attentions on matters of public policy, rather than catering to the whim of a special interest group that just wants him to make noise.

    Rep. Emmer is way too conservative for me, but even I have to appreciate the fact that he’s acting like a member of the U.S. Congress should.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 07/20/2015 - 01:12 pm.

    For as much as I’ve disliked Emmer

    ..the guy has caught on to something. The faster the GOP disses these cranky old coots, the better off the party will be. The GOP still hasn’t figured out that Tea Party candidates can’t win general elections except in isolated little districts. And the cost in pandering to that little group is too high when it comes to national issues and races. Someone needs to shift the tide.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/20/2015 - 02:04 pm.

      I agree.

      I’m rather surprised by Emmer. Considering the rhetoric that he tossed out while on the radio with Bob Davis, so far, he’s been pretty level headed.

      • Submitted by Phil Dech on 07/21/2015 - 10:56 am.

        I’m not

        surprised. He had a role to play on the radio. Similar to the difference in rhetoric between Franken the comedian and Franken the senator.

  3. Submitted by Jeffrey Dunnan on 07/20/2015 - 03:16 pm.

    Why does anyone listen to the MN Tea Party Alliance?

    It’s long been the Jack and Jake show – completely about them, and not at all about politics.

    Look at the facts:
    – Jack and Jake aren’t lobbyists
    – Their PAC raised less than $10,000 and spent none on candidates or electioneering whatsoever
    – They have bashed every single Republican I can think of – and in doing so, have lost all influence (if they ever had any) within the party
    – They have managed to defeat absolutely no one at the polls
    – They have managed to defeat absolutely no one in an endorsement challenge
    – The candidates they have sorta-backed (wink wink) like Sheila Kihne went absolutely nowhere

    What impact have they actually had?


  4. Submitted by Chris Bjorklund on 07/20/2015 - 05:30 pm.

    Hardly A Surprise

    He’s a Made Man now, entitled to use his congressional vote to back corporate interests and their agendas, “retire” after a few election cycles and proceed to sit on just about any board he chooses. Pro Trade Promotion Authority, pro Boehner, I would expect nothing else out of him. The fact that some who once backed him do expect other things is puzzling. I get that there’s always the drive for maximal-ism from the further elements of any political party, but Emmer has never really made any bones about where his loyalty lies. It’s kind of like buying a Rush album and being annoyed that it doesn’t sound like The Ramones.

  5. Submitted by Wes Davey on 07/20/2015 - 05:39 pm.

    Good for Emmer

    “He’s not doing what we want him to do.” So sayeth the Tea Party Alliance leaders Jack Rogers and Jake Duesenberg. Well boo-hoo Tea Party. Heaven forbid that a Republican politician doesn’t do exactly what you want him to do, or jump when you say jump.

    I can’t believe I’m defending Emmer, but maybe he’s just trying to do what he thinks is best for our country, rather than just what’s best for the Tea Party.Good for Emmer.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/20/2015 - 05:49 pm.

    Emmer 2.0

    This version of Emmer would have been elected governor.

  7. Submitted by Michael Hess on 07/20/2015 - 10:49 pm.

    Its obvious

    He’s actually using his brain to govern vs being a slave to ideological extremists. No wonder the Tea party is upset!

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