Back home, Rochester Tea Party Patriots not happy with their Sen. Dave Senjem

Sen. Dave Senjem

An organization claiming to represent the Tea Party Patriots of Rochester is taking aim at Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem for not being conservative enough.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin’s Heather Carlson reported Monday that the Tea Party group was irate over Senjem’s support of a “half trillion’’ dollar bonding bill. Carlson pointed out that, in fact, the Tea Party was a bit on the high side on the bonding bill. In fact, the Senate — and Senjem — are supporting a bonding bill that’s shy of a half-billion dollars.

“I don’t think a half-trillion would fly around here, not even with the governor,’’ said Senjem, laughing.

In an email sent to its members, the Rochester Tea Party bunched Senjem with “Etch A Sketch’’ politicians.

This seemed to baffle Senjem.

“I don’t even know what that is,’’ the Rochester senator said.

It was explained that term came out of the Republican Party’s presidential contest. An aide to Mitt Romney had explained that the candidate will be able to move to the middle for the presidential campaign by starting over. All those ultra-conservative pledges Romney has made during the primary season can disappear, with the shaking of a political Etch A Sketch.

“That’s a little too worldly for me,’’ said Senjem after the Senate ended a ho-hum session Monday afternoon.

Is he facing pressure from the right in his home district?  Is he concerned that there will be an effort by party activists to endorse a more conservative candidate?

 “I’ll deal with that when we get back home,’’ said Senjem. “You just try to do the best job you can when you’re here.’’

Although the Tea Party movement was said to be a substantial part of the reason for the Republican takeover of the Minnesota Legislature in the last election, Senjem said there’s always been “an element’’ opposing any sort of bonding bill.

“I’ve seen it before,’’ said the three-term senator. “All you can do is focus on the job we’re doing here.’’

This year’s bonding bill is controversial, even among Republicans. The House has come up with a far smaller bonding proposal from the Senate.

Senjem said at this point there have been no substantive talks about reconciling the two.

The life of a politician always is “a tight rope,’’ Senjem said.

“You can’t please everyone,’’ he said. “When you’re talking about bonding, you try to hit a sweet spot. You’ve got to come up with something that you think has a chance of passing.’’

The Tea Party email also charged that Senjem is doing “a 180 at the last minute’’ on the bonding bill. The Senate version of the bill includes funding for renovation of Rochester’s civic center, which the Rochester Tea Party opposes.

Senjem also has been taking heat from DFLers on the bonding bill, because it includes funds for the Rochester and St. Cloud civic centers. Those communities are represented in the legislature by Republicans.

The bill excludes money for a civic center in Mankato and the baseball park in St. Paul, cities represented by DFLers.

At this point, no Rochester area conservatives have stepped forward to challenge Senjem. The DFL has a strong candidate, Olmsted County Commissioner Judy Ohly, and high hopes of winning in a district that leans Republican.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/03/2012 - 11:23 am.

    Ya play with a bull you get the horns.

    The primary characteristic Tea Partiers is ignorance, in fact in many cases it’s willful ignorance. You grant such people political influence at your peril.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/03/2012 - 11:42 am.

    What’s Wrong with the Legislature?

    Mr. Dornfeld needs to read this article to remind himself of what’s really happened to the Minnesota legislature.

    First, he should dump the false equivalency garbage. Whereas the DFL still fits Will Rogers’s description, the Republicans have purged their party of anyone who was not ideologically pure.

    (If the DFL were inclined to do the same, Colin Peterson would have lost his endorsement a long time ago.)

    This started back in the 80’s when a small group of religious conservative leaders began encouraging those who agreed with their very anti-science, anti-intellectual, “Biblically-based” world view to take over local school boards, city councils, county boards, and the local party apparatus, all the types of offices they could win by getting like-minded folks to turn out in what were generally low turnout elections and poorly attended events.

    What we see in today’s Legislature is the result of the changes in the Republican Party as the result of those efforts. Of course those who used to be moderate Republicans could change it all back if they just bothered to show up and take it all back, but they don’t seem to have the courage to stand up to the bullies they would need to confront in order to do so.

    In the end, the dysfunctional Minnesota Legislature is the result of the dysfunction that runs rampant through the Minnesota Republican party.

  3. Submitted by Mike Downing on 04/03/2012 - 12:32 pm.

    Tea Party

    PAUL UDSTRAND: What is the average IQ of a Tea Party supporter vs a DFLer? What is the educational level of a Tea Party supporter vs a DFLer? You must have facts to base your opinion on. Or do you?

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 04/03/2012 - 03:30 pm.

      He Said Ignorant, Not Unintelligent

      Mr. Udstrand can answer your question directly, however it’s worth observing that ignorance is not the same thing as intelligence. Einstein was brilliant and knew a lot about theoretical physics, but he may have been completely ignorant about how to make fleischkuekle (I am in fact ignorant concerning whether he did or didn’t, it’s just a random example). So let’s keep the terms germane to the discussion.

      Ironically enough, your comment indicates that you are ignorant of the difference between ignorance and intelligence.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/16/2012 - 12:48 pm.

    Thanks Lance

    Speaking if ignorance, IQ is not a measure of ignorance.

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