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Emmer will run against Siefert for GOP leadership post in House

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.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 11/11/2008 - 12:02 pm.

    Emmer, unlike Pawlenty and Seifert is NOT a signatory to and slavish follower Grover Norquist’s so-called “taxpayer protection” pledge. He would therefore bring a more moderate and pragmatic perspective to the legislature’s work.

  2. Submitted by William Lindeke on 11/11/2008 - 03:14 pm.

    Actually, no, Emmer the farthest thing from “moderate”. Now that Bachmann is gone from the capitol, he may be right up there as one of the most combative, least conciliatory, and farthest right that the state GOP has to offer.

    For example, the CityPages wrote:

    He first took office in 2005. Upon joining the Legislature, he immediately drew headlines by introducing legislation that would allow for chemical castration of sex offenders. He then attempted to strip the Minnesota AIDS Project, the state’s largest AIDS service organization, of all state funding. Among his other ideas: “sexual predator” license plates, the elimination of subsidized care for pregnant illegal immigrants, and a total ban on gambling.

    And he’s been at the head of the right’s effort to pass far more restrictive rules for who should be allowed to vote, requiring IDs, etc., trying to send our high-turnout state back into the poll tax era.

  3. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 11/11/2008 - 04:26 pm.

    My mistake! I didn’t check his record. Thanks.

  4. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 11/12/2008 - 12:59 pm.

    Thanks for the heads up, Fishsticks.

    Any bets on who comes out on top?

  5. Submitted by Dick Novack on 11/12/2008 - 10:03 pm.

    If you have ever seen Emmer on the House floor and in committees you would quickly realize that it is Emmer’s “leadership” as whip, not Siefert’s leadership as minority leader that dug in the GOP caucus heels instead of looking for compromise solutions with the DFL. Listen to the cynical speeches ant treatment of other legislators. I predict that if he is chosen as caucus leader, antagonism and devisivness will only increase. See the house website TV archives.

  6. Submitted by Sue Jeffers on 11/13/2008 - 04:39 pm.

    Tom Emmer would be a wonderful choice. Thanks for your efforts Marty but we now need a new face, a new plan and new leadership. Go Emmer!

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