Minnesota House Republicans will have more than one choice for minority leader when caucus members meet Saturday to select their leader.
In an email sent to caucus members Sunday, state Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano announced he will seek the House caucus leadership position.
House Minority Leader Marty Siefert also emailed GOP House members Sunday saying he would again seek the post. Siefert has been mentioned as a candidate for governor in 2010 if Gov. Tim Pawlenty decides not to run for a third term.
Emmer served as House deputy minority leader until he quietly resigned the position this summer over differences with Siefert about the policy direction and management of the caucus. In a phone interview Monday, Emmer made it clear that his run for minority leader is not about personalities nor motivated by the loss of two House seats in last week’s election.
“The party needs to focus on real solutions to people’s kitchen table issues, and not just holding the line,” said Emmer. “I’m tired of hearing that Republicans can’t do anything because they are in the minority. I’m tired of ‘playing goalie,’ just stopping the other guy’s ideas. Republicans must start offering solutions to problems in keeping with Republican principles, not just retreating.”
A conservative, Emmer wrote House members: “Now more than ever, we need selfless leadership. We need to rebuild and re-energize our Republican team both within our caucus and within our party in general as we put our caucus and our party back on the path to our place in the majority.”
Accomplishing that goal requires the GOP to change the way it does business, Emmer said. “We need to change the way we manage the party,” he said. “We can’t do it with one person.”
In his email to caucus members, Siefert offered the “self-criticism” that this time around as minority leader he would need to “delegate more, share the talents of our membership and learn that all members have something to contribute.” He struck a more inclusive chord.
“So we’re going to have to do some soul searching with the party – the caucus is obviously different than the party – so we’ve gotta get the act together to make sure that we’re running the most electable people. And that includes reaching out to some new people,” Seifert said.
Whether or not “new people” encompasses the concept of “fresh ideas” or ideas that challenge the status quo of the Republican Party is the fundamental issue at the heart of GOP reform.
The contest for minority leader mirrors growing unrest among some grassroots activists over what they see as centralization of power in state GOP leadership and a pattern of exploiting party volunteers for the grunt work of a political campaign without respecting the views and values that motivated them to get involved with the Republican Party in the first place.