The Republican Party of Minnesota, which has long felt that state Rep. Steve Smith hasn’t been conservative enough for its taste, takes another shot today at the veteran GOP lawmaker.
In an email, state party Chairman Pat Shortridge attacked Smith for a delay in submitting a finance report.
“There is serious concern about Steve Smith’s priorities and voting record in St. Paul. Instead of fighting for our conservative principles, Smith’s voting record has gained the backing of union bosses. That’s not surprising given that, according to a new non-partisan study, Smith voted in the interest of taxpayers barely half the time,” Shortridge said.
Smith, an 11-term veteran from Mound, is being challenged in Tuesday’s GOP District 33B primary by Cindy Pugh of Chanhassen, who has the party’s endorsement. She’s a founder of the Southwest Metro Tea Party.
Last winter there was speculation that Smith might switch parties, after he said he was forced out of a House committee chairmanship by the party powers.
The Star Tribune’s editorial board urged voters to give Smith the chance to return to St. Paul, calling him a much-needed maverick. But the board also said:
“Had Smith sought our counsel before filing for office, we might have advised him to run as an independent or switch parties. His maverick act has worn thin, not only with Republican activists, but also with his House GOP colleagues.”
Indeed, Shortridge notes that Smith has become comfortable with some unions and other liberal factions:
“He has received $500 from SEIU, $500 from Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota, and $500 from Minneapolis Municipal Retirement Association, a clear sign that union bosses in St. Paul are trying to buy the Republican primary for their handpicked candidate.”