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House leaders lower the curtain on ‘Draz plan’ — and kibosh colorful political theater

GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski was all set to put the governor’s tax plan to a vote today, but legislative leaders urged him to back off from a guaranteed political fight to avoid wrecking negotiations with Gov.

Steve Drazkowski
Steve Drazkowski

The House Republican leadership this morning blocked what could have been some of the finest theater of the legislative session.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, who represents the right end of the Republican majority, was all set to play Gov. Mark Dayton today. The Mazeppa pol known as Draz was going to present the Dayton tax plan and then call for a vote on it.

“I wasn’t going to try to sell his plan,” Drazkowski said, “but I was going to present it and find out if anyone likes it?”

Had Drazkowski gone ahead with his plan, it surely would have set off a feisty floor fight.

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DFLers might not have supported the Dayton plan, which calls for that fourth tax tier on the top wage earners in the state, but they would have been very upset with Draz and demanded that Republicans get their own budget house in order before attacking Dayton.

But cooler heads, atop the Republican caucus, pulled the curtain on what would have been a colorful show before it even opened.

“They asked me not to,” said Drazkowski, nodding toward the chair where House Speaker Kurt Zellers sits.

Drazkowski said that he was told by “leaders” that there have been negotiations going on with the governor’s office and that Drazkowski’s desire to call for a vote on the Dayton plan might blow up the negotiations.

The idea of introducing the Dayton plan came to Drazkowski after he was invited to a meeting of Republican leaders and the governor earlier this week.

Typically, Draz is not invited to these leadership meetings. It’s a good bet he was invited to this week’s session so that the Republican leaders could show the governor what they’re dealing with in their own caucus. Drazkowski’s very conservative views are shared by a substantial number of Republican legislators.

Anyhow, Drazkowski sat right across from the governor at the breakfast meeting. He was surprised by what he heard.

“You know,” Drazkowski said, “I really believe that he really believes that taxes need to be raised.”

It was suggested to Drazkowski that the governor probably believes taxes need to be raised nearly as much as Draz thinks they’re too high.

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“Really?” Drazkowski said, clearly amazed.

But just before the session — and after conversation with his leaders — Drazkowski decided to pull back and see what happens in the next few days.

“But I’m not apologizing for what I am,” said Drazkowski, “and I’m not going to stop being me.”

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.