Republican state Sen. David Hann is not going to run for governor, but he wants to lay the groundwork for other Republicans to win in 2014.
“I was elected to lead our caucus,” he said. “It deserves my full attention.”
Hann said that part of that attention will be directed at helping Republican candidates in the House win back the majority. “Every House district is part of a Senate district, and a number of those races are in districts where we will have contests, so helping our friends win will be helpful to us as well,” he said.
Legislative Republicans have been unified in their message that the state budget enacted under DFL leadership has overreached, overtaxed and overspent. Hann said he will encourage GOP candidates to continue to press those themes.
“I don’t believe that that’s what citizens in the state were hoping for,” he said. “ [It’s] excessive spending that, for the most part, is political payback to union allies without real reform. I don’t think that’s the kind of government that people were voting for.”
At one time, Hann, a fourth-term senator from Eden Prairie, had signaled he would be interested in joining the field of candidates seeking to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton. He indicated that family reasons were part of his choice to stay out of the race.
His wife, Anne, has had chemotherapy treatment for a lymphoma. Hann says she is in recovery. “Hopefully it will continue to get better,” he said. But her condition “certainly was a part” of his decision, he said.
Orono businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Rep. Kurt Zellers, and state Sen. Dave Thompson have said they will seek the Republican nomination. “I know three of them of them reasonably well,” Hann said. “I don’t know Scott Honour. I suspect one or two others will become candidates before this is said and done.”
For the present, Hann said he prefers to focus on other challenges, including the day-to-day business of running a legislative caucus, like handling the personnel and training issues that come with any organization.
Hann also hinted at a more aggressive Republican presence for the 2014 legislative session, one emboldened by DFL concerns about the new state tax on warehousing.
“The fact that we’re all ready seeing Democrats echoing the same concerns — that is pretty telling,” he said.