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House Republicans to the Twin Cities: It’s not about you

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt speaking at Wednesday's news conference.

Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, one of the leading candidates to be the next Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, wouldn’t say much Wednesday about the new direction of his now 72-member caucus. But he would say this: There will be a separate agriculture committee under Republican control, and it won’t be chaired by someone from Minneapolis.

That was a conspicuous dig at Minneapolis DFL Rep. Jean Wagenius, the outgoing chair of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee in the House. It was also a strong indicator of the new flavor the all-new Republican majority will bring to St. Paul over the next two years. 

That’s because Republicans have Greater Minnesota voters to thank for their newfound majority — they won 11 seats Tuesday night, and only one was from the metro area.

“There were a lot of Democrat freshman incumbents that came to St. Paul and voted with the Minneapolis and St. Paul members and really lost touch with their districts,” Daudt said at a press conference in St. Paul, where he was surrounded by new and old Republican lawmakers. “I think they suffered the consequences of that in the election last night.”

These are seats Daudt thinks they can hold again in two years if they do the right things with their newfound power. That means not overreaching and no wasteful spending — the things he said irked rural Minnesota voters under Democratic power.

The biggest liability for Democrats on the campaign trail was passing a new office-building project for state senators, Daudt said: “It was an example of misplaced priorities.”

But he hesitated to put too much blame on a controversial 2013 vote to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota. The vote put Democratic rural members on the spot whose districts had voted earlier for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In the end, seven DFLers who bucked their voters on gay marriage lost Tuesday night. 

Daudt noted, however, that the two rural Democrats who voted against gay marriage for that reason also lost their seats on Tuesday night. “I don’t think we can make a broad blanket statement that that issue had anything to do with the end results,” he said.

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Dave Baker, who won in Willmar, speaking at Wednesday’s news conference.

One thing Daudt did make clear about his new caucus: It wasn’t going to jump into power looking to “divide and conquer,” since it still has to work with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and a DFL controlled Senate. The last time Minnesota had divided government, the state went into a 21-day government shutdown over a budget solution.

 “I don’t see any reason why we would have a [government shutdown], I really don’t,” Daudt said, repeatedly trying to cast his new caucus in a different light than the Tea Party labels that had been tossed out on the campaign trail. “I hope that the Democrats see it that way as well.” 

And what issues will a Greater-Minnesota-focused Republican House make a priority over the next two years? Daudt is still figuring that out with his members, but he did say this: 

  • Rural Republicans will prioritize road and bridge funding, but that doesn’t necessarily mean passing a gas tax increase, Daudt said. The last poll in the election cycle from KSTP/SurveyUSA showed Minnesotans were 80 percent opposed to raising the gas tax. 
  • In fact, Daudt didn’t say much about taxes at all, either holding the line on tax increases or repealing some increases Democrats passed over the last two years. Daudt said he would wait until they see the budget forecast in December and February before making any budget decisions.
  • They will try to fix MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, but Daudt was hesitant to say he would push for a full-on repeal of the program. He said he wants to make sure the “MNsure board gets more active,” and bonuses seem unlikely for exchange executives. “We will try to fix it, but if repeal becomes the best solution, we will try to do that,” he said. 

Comments (66)

  1. Submitted by Matthew Steele on 11/06/2014 - 10:14 am.

    When it comes to transportation, rurals are the “takers”

    “Rural Republicans will prioritize road and bridge funding.” The last thing we need is more roads and bridges, since we can’t even find the money to maintain what we have.

    We need fewer roads, not more. The reality is that far too many outstate roads are paved, and far too many outstate highways are planned for expansion. According to the conservative Tax Foundation, only 41.9% of Minnesota road cost is covered by gas tax, tolls, user fees. The rest are subsidized by the general fund, by urban dwellers who bike or walk to work, or who consume few lane miles on local streets if they drive to work.

    A market-based reform would raise prices for road users to match the full cost. Whether it’s raising gas taxes, or tolling highways and freeway, you’d think Republicans would welcome user fees that make people bear the full cost of their driving lifestyle. But driving is a sacred cow, so “more roads and bridges” rues the day even if it leads our state towards bankruptcy.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/06/2014 - 11:20 am.

      paved roads/highway expansions

      I think the people who decide which roads to pave or expand would disagree with you and provide many facts and figures that show you are wrong. The ability to provide adequate roads for commerce in greater MN is incredibly important to the whole state not just greater MN. Maybe we should focus a little less on the metro roads and a little more on roads in greater MN for the greater good of MN as a whole.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/06/2014 - 10:13 pm.

        Rural Roads

        Now why again do we need bigger rural roads?

        Could it be for all the city folks who go to their cabin often?

        I guess I don’t know too many folks in the country who are lobbying for 4 lane highways.

  2. Submitted by Hillary Drake on 11/06/2014 - 10:57 am.

    Greater Minnesota

    I don’t understand how the Republicans think focusing on Greater Minnesota is a winning strategy politically or for our economy. Half the state’s population lives in the Twin Cities statistical area. Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Washington counties were responsible for 49% of our citizens’ income in 2012. Carver and Dakota add another 10%. Companies come here for the great employees available in the cities.

    We need solutions for the whole state, not part of it.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/06/2014 - 11:25 am.

      Greater good of MN

      Shifting the focus away from the metro and towards greater MN a little would do great things for MN as a whole for our economy. I think you fail to realize how much of the economy is driven by greater MN. When the metro area is responsible for 59% of citizens income and the focus is mainly on the metro (I have no number to quote but I’m sure it is greater than 59%) it may be time to shift the focus to greater MN a little. The solution is for the metro to not be so selfish.

      • Submitted by Hillary Drake on 11/06/2014 - 11:46 am.

        I’m not advocating an exclusive focus on the metro. If a company in the metro isn’t receiving services because the legislature is focused outstate, or if they can’t find skilled employees, that company is going to expand elsewhere. Our state has to balance out conflicting needs, especially as our population is choosing to leave Greater MN (which is continuing a pattern that’s been building since the 40s as agriculture is more mechanized).

        Greater Minnesota’s economy is primarily driven by agriculture, resource extraction and tourism. I don’t have figures to hand, but all three of those are relatively low value add. They create limited well-paying jobs (either few in number or low wage) and their ability to scale up is constrained by physical limitations. You might be interested in the concept of a resource trap. Acemomoglu’s book Why Nations Fail is a good one on the subject.

      • Submitted by Theo Kozel on 11/06/2014 - 12:53 pm.

        Facts, not conjecture

        Real Gross Domestic Product for the state of Minnesota was $289 billion dollars in 2013

        Real Gross Domestic Production for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area was $213.5 billion dollars in 2013

        In 2013, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area contributed 73% of state GDP.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 11/06/2014 - 01:51 pm.

        Actually, not much of the eceonomy is driven outstate

        according to the 2010 census, 1 in 4 people live in outstate Minnesota. The median income is $16,000 dollars less than a metro household. Farming, timber, mining and manufacturing don’t employ the numbers that they used to. Half of rural counties experienced more deaths than births between 2011 and 2012, against just 17% of urban counties. Rural people also draw significantly more benefit payments than urban, $8,232.00 per person to $7,022.00. Money paid out of the state coffers is also higher towards rural than it is to urban ,but tax revenue collected is a $1,000 more per capita from the metro. I won’t even go into farm subsides and other programs that keep some of these rural communities afloat.
        So please enlighten me as to who’s being selfish? FYI, I live in the far northern metro that was once considered rural when I moved out here thirty years ago. My post is not an indictment of rural living, it’s just pointing out the reality of a modern society.

  3. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 11/06/2014 - 11:36 am.

    Traffic jams in rural areas?

    Please show pictures of this so I can relate those to the jams we have in the metro. I would think the GOP should study more carefully what really drove rural voters to turn to the Right. I find it hard to believe it was roads and bridges.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 11/06/2014 - 12:35 pm.

      It wasn’t roads and bridges

      It was a few hundred people in far flung districts that are still pouting about those icky same sex couples that they’re never going to meet being able to marry the ones they love. The two lanes they drive on are just fine.

      • Submitted by Jim Halonen on 11/06/2014 - 01:17 pm.

        And maybe also the Senate office building, the Vikings stadium, light rail, education funding disparities, MNSure, overreaching anti-bully law (had no GOP votes), minimum wage… I just don’t think the voter turnout was driven by roads and bridges in rural areas.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 11/06/2014 - 02:45 pm.

          Well, if that’s the list

          it just illustrates how hopelessly out of touch with contemporary society those “rural folk” are. You might as well have added a white hot hatred for Obama.

        • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 11/06/2014 - 04:28 pm.

          Really Jim?

          Vikings stadium – bet it was more popular in the rural areas. Education funding – the Republican Party borrowed (stole) money from the schools to balance the budget which hurt out state school districts the worst. MNSure – how many people in rural MN had health insurance in rural MN prior to MNSure? How many just walked into ERs and did not pay for their medical care? Medicaid is NOT the answer. Anti-bully law – who wants to support bullies? Light rail – the difference in population between the metro and rural is huge; transportation issues are completely different. Plus we pay more for transport in the metro. Minimum wage increase – what is your solution? Should the metro pay more money to rural areas so that workers there can make a living wage? Have you heard of LGA – local govt aid to cities which keeps most rural cities afloat – paid for by metro suburbs? Oh and the Senate office building – a small issue in contrast to subsidies for ethanol and crop insurance. Think again.

        • Submitted by Dan Bosch on 11/06/2014 - 07:00 pm.

          Vikings Stadium

          Both my Senator, Westrom, and Representative, Paul Anderson, both Republicans, voted for the Vikings stadium which is 2 hours from my door. Just sayin’

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/06/2014 - 01:34 pm.

      traffic jams

      I don’t believe any republican up for election was advocating for more spending on rural roads in their campains. You just want to use that as an excuse for why the DFL lost in so many areas. It has also been shown that same sex marriages was not what drove greater MN voters to vote the GOP in.

  4. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 11/06/2014 - 11:42 am.

    No Divide & Conquer

    And yet Rep, Daudt is already issuing veiled threats against the “metro” area (define that please someone?).

    Roads don’t stop at the lines which separate rural and urban parts of the state. Education does not stop at those same lines. Commerce is not restricted by those same lines either.

    I am a resident of rural Minnesota yet I benefit from both segments of the state, its offerings and amenities. That’s how it should be.

    Divide and conquer does serves no useful purpose other than to try and inflame a certain segment of the electorate.

  5. Submitted by Sharon Fortunak on 11/06/2014 - 11:43 am.

    House terms should be four years instead of two years

    Four year terms would be better for the environment (among other things) than the current two-year terms. There would be a lot less driving and flying to campaign events (saving on fuel consumption and reducing air and noise pollution), and we would not have to listen to so many yucky campaign ads.

    In addition to changing the length of terms, there should also be term limits.

  6. Submitted by E Gamauf on 11/06/2014 - 12:03 pm.

    Large tracts more sparsely populated

    Wondering aloud:
    Another region for redistricting?

  7. Submitted by Joel Fischer on 11/06/2014 - 12:31 pm.

    Very well…

    Then each county shall receive money for roads and bridges proportional to population.

    Kandiyohi County – .782%
    Hennepin County – 22.112%

    That’s fully 28x more for Hennepin than Kandiyohi, or $697MM to $25MM in 2014.

    Any idea if that’s better or worse than what they’re receiving now?

    Perhaps we could find a different metric to base this on…maybe economic output? Number of bicycle commuters?

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/06/2014 - 01:40 pm.

      proportional to population

      I think that’s exactly why greater MN voted more GOP people in. To correct that imbalance because they feel they are not getting a fair share. Roads and bridges are only one minor thing. There are many other areas that need to be balanced out more fairly. I don’t think anyone wants it to be imbalanced the other way either but they need to make it more fair than it currently is.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 11/06/2014 - 02:50 pm.

        Oh please, Joe…

        Daudt is paying lip service with his nonsense.We all know why Elmer and Edna Hotdish voted the way they did, and it sure wasn’t about getting their”fair share”

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/06/2014 - 02:53 pm.

        “I don’t think anyone wants it to be imbalanced the other way”

        You overestimate humanity. “Balance” means “I get what I want, and you can have the leftovers.”

  8. Submitted by John Peschken on 11/06/2014 - 12:40 pm.

    Oh, it’s still partly about us.

    If the legislature forgets that they will pay in 2016.

  9. Submitted by Susan Maricle on 11/06/2014 - 12:55 pm.

    Metrosexuals vs. mouth breathers

    I hope we can get past the idea that Minnesota government serves only one of two stereotyped audiences. Pine County, in east central Minnesota, produced two of the most progressive legislators in recent history, Becky Lourey and Bill Hilty.

    This summer in southeastern Dodge County, which is largely rural, at-risk teens were treated to a daytrip in Minneapolis. Among the high points: riding the train and taking in a ballgame.

    We’re all in this together —

  10. Submitted by Jon Lord on 11/06/2014 - 01:07 pm.

    regardless of

    districting…these are all our senators and representatives correct? We should do away with district voting entirely and go with a state wide popular voting system simply because the outcome affects us all. Keep the districts and those who seek office from those districts but it’s time we both vote and act as one state. Why put the state at risk because of a few districts?

    We’ll never get rid of them but single issue voters are also a bane on a free country (as opposed to a ‘free market’ country). I know more of them than I care to admit but they embarrass me, and frankly scare me, with their lack of concern overall. They have no idea when they vote against their best interests. They’re just another brick in the wall.

  11. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/06/2014 - 01:22 pm.

    Someone at MinnPost

    …has probably done something with demographics that would help readers to understand the validity – or the lack thereof – of the “metrocentric” argument. What portion of the state’s population lives in the 7-county “metro” area? Toss in Duluth and Rochester. What’s the percentage then?

    The “metrocentric” meme is one widely heard all over the country in states that still have sizable areas that are genuinely rural, and not suburban or exurban. It seems a curious complaint to me. I’d like to know the numbers for Minnesota because a frequent theme in my former home of Colorado has been that 80% of the state’s population lives within 25 miles of Interstate 25, which runs north/south between rural New Mexico, near Raton Pass, to the southeastern corner of Wyoming, near Cheyenne. Out there, it’s often referred to as “the urban corridor,” and folks on both the state’s “western slope” (areas west of the continental divide that also runs north/south through roughly the middle of the state) and Colorado’s eastern prairies have frequently expressed a similar frustration – as have, by the way, communities at both the north (Fort Collins) and south (Pueblo) ends of that same “urban corridor.”

    This is interesting to me because, if most of the people in a state live in a particular urban environment, and most of the state’s manufacturing or other industry is similarly located, why would the “metrocentric” NOT dominate policy and discussion? The whole idea of “representative government” is that legislators are supposed to represent the views and needs of their constituents. If most of the state’s population is essentially urban, then urban concerns, frankly, ought to dominate legislative discussion.

    That doesn’t mean the rural should be forgotten. Agriculture is essential to our survival as a society, but agriculture, because it’s a very risky means of earning a living, is already heavily subsidized by people who will never set foot on a farm, both at the state and the federal level. We have price supports, tax deductions, minimal fees for grazing on federal lands, and several other programs to benefit those in rural areas, not least of which is a sizable paving program in Minnesota so that farm-to-market roads are all-weather and high-speed.

    Personally, I’d be very unhappy at the glacial pace with which high-speed internet service is being made available to Minnesota’s rural areas, but, as is often the case, that glacial pace is set by the private sector, not by government, and is due to the fact that rural areas are, at least in relative terms, sparsely populated. Private companies, understandably enough, doesn’t like the idea of providing a money-losing service. That’s why the U.S. Postal Service – much maligned in recent years – that provides free delivery of mail and parcels to areas where “neighbors” are literally miles apart is a huge federal subsidy to rural residents. The cost of what used to be called “Rural Free Delivery” far outweighs the tax revenue generated from those areas being served by it.

    Be that as it may, a “metrocentric” legislative focus makes sense when most of the people of a given state live in a particular urban area. It’s not perfect, of course, but it seems more logical and fair than a rural bias – common in many state legislatures, including Minnesota’s – that disproportionately serves the interests of a minority of the population at the expense of the majority. I’ve lived in both environments, by the way.

  12. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/06/2014 - 02:45 pm.

    rural vs metro population

    A few of these posts seem to give the feeling that since the rural population is declining there should be less focus on it. The population and economy is declining likely as a result of not enough focus on it. Many greater MN communities have been struggling to grow as a result of the imbalance such as Willmar, Marshall, Redwood Falls, etc. By shifting the focus a little more to greater MN we would enable communities like these to grow more and contribute more to the states economy as a whole. The metro area has been allowed to grow much more easily than the rest of MN and we need to allow greater MN some of the same things so that we are not left with nothing in greater MN and nobody willing to live there. There are positive and negative things about living in rural MN and metro MN but if greater MN is allowed to wither and die then many people will feel like there is no choice but to live in the metro while they may feel like greater MN is a better place to live. I would rather try to grow rural MN than let it turn into a backwoods place nobody wants to be.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 11/06/2014 - 03:53 pm.

      We’ll need an analysis of what this ‘imbalance’ is.

      BEFORE we start talking about how to fix it. Don’t you think?

      What is this imbalance of which you speak?

      This all sounds like cover for the social conservatives of rural Minnesota. I don’t give a damn about their antiquated social norms, so they’ll just have to be brought, kicking and screaming, into the modern era.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/06/2014 - 04:20 pm.

      Shifting the focus outstate

      The movement of the population from rural to urban areas nationwide (and worldwide ,come to think of it) has been happening for decades. It is driven by economics: there are more and better opportunities in urban areas.

      Let’s call your idea what it is: social engineering. You want to “shift the focus” to rural Minnesota so it will be a more attractive place to live. Why should we care? People may think that outstate “is a better place to live,” but why should it be a matter of state policy to encourage that? Frankly, I think that if people are moving to urban areas, they are voting with their feet. Tell me why the state should discourage that.

      What does “shift the focus” mean, anyway? Why is population and population density not an efficient way of determining the focus?

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 11/06/2014 - 06:23 pm.

      Focus, Please

      I agree that we do indeed need to focus on issues that are important to all Minnesotans and not just a few people or one subset. But I have to wonder if roads are the way to go to accomplish that goal. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put a bunch of money into rural broadband access? That helps companies grow as they can more easily compete with the big boys in their industry. Better access to customers, new markets, online advertising, design drawings, and so on. These days it’s tough to live or compete in a modern society if you don’t have decent internet access.

      The reason you’re not hearing about that though is running a cable line doesn’t produce the construction jobs that a paved road or a new bridge does. That’s why you see legislatures talking about roads roads roads rather than net neutrality or basic internet access. What’s a new road going to do? I’ll make it so a company can get their product out to I90 seventeen seconds faster.

      If you really want to strengthen rural communities, go for the internet instead. It’s a lot less sexy when you’re talking to your constituents, but in the long run it will have a much more positive impact on the community.

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/07/2014 - 09:01 am.

        At least

        someone gets it. There are other issues than roads. Everyone keeps shouting roads, roads, roads. Yes those are important but so is broadband and several other issues as well. Broadband has been getting pushed the past couple of years but so far hasn’t gotten done. We’ll see if it does now and if not maybe change out a few others the next election and see if they can get done what we want. I recall a few years ago there was talk of hwy 23 getting 4 lane from I90 to I94 to provide better access for good and services to the western side of MN. That is a long way off and may never happen but there is 7 miles between Willmar and 94 that are not 4 lane. 7 miles, that’s it. Not a monumental job but would be a step in the right direction. Broadband access is a more important issue though and should get done first but we’ll see.

      • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 11/07/2014 - 09:34 am.

        Internet access is a harder sell

        To elderly voters who aren’t that familiar with how essential it has become.

        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 11/07/2014 - 12:42 pm.

          The Old Folks

          Sure, there are some elderly people out there who still don’t know what the interwebs is all about. But that demographic is small and getting smaller all the time. Even the old folks want to send and receive pictures of their grandchildren, check out updates on Facebook, line up travel plans, and the like. My elderly mother is on the computer more than I am, even though I’m in the tech business. Heck, she has more desktops, laptops, and tablets than I do, too.

          Seriously, mom! I think I need an iPad for my birthday…

  13. Submitted by Jim Million on 11/06/2014 - 04:56 pm.

    Bierschbach Bait?

    Wow, did you guys take the bait today!! What’s with the over-cooked passion here…post-election decompensating?

    Here’s the buried message most all missed: DfL

    Any takers?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/06/2014 - 09:43 pm.


      Times change, as do allegiances. Your point? Farms were once small time outfits, best served by sticking together with a unified front to protect their interests, hence farmers were more liberal. Farming is now big business, its interests more insular and self serving, hence farmers are more conservative.

  14. Submitted by James Warden on 11/06/2014 - 05:58 pm.

    Do we really want fairness?

    “Fairness” is not a good investment strategy. It spreads resources too thin so that we can neither leverage our strengths into greater success or transform our weaknesses into assets. We need to decide whether we want to reinforce our strengths or shore up our weaknesses and then back that strategy to the hilt.

    Take local government aid. It’s based on a formula that takes into account such factors as tax capacity, tax rate, age of the housing stock, road accident rate and population decline. It’s “fair” in the sense that it’s agnostic to where the cities are located, but it’s not a very good investment tool because it doesn’t consider what that money can accomplish.

    It actually gives more money to cities where populations are declining and houses aren’t being built — in other words, the very cities that the market has decided aren’t good investments. Is the money addressing the issues that make those cities bad investments or is it simply providing a greater level of services and infrastructure than the market (ie. residents) are willing to support? The answer may be the former in one part of the state and the latter in the other, but the formula treats both places the same. In the interest of politics, legislators have opted not to answer the question at all.

    You also see things like state subsidies paying for business expansions in communities that have inadequate numbers of workers or housing. The communities then ask for state help building housing or training workers. If we’re going to subsidize businesses, wouldn’t it be better to subsidize them in areas that are already conducive to their success? A focus on fairness doesn’t do that.

    This isn’t a metro vs. outstate issue. Economists recognize regional economic centers like Duluth, Fargo-Moorhead, Rochester or St. Cloud, along with the Twin Cities.

    That’s why I’d like to see legislators make some hard choices, pick the economic centers with the greatest chances of success and say, “These are dynamic communities that could really go to the next level with our help. We’re going to invest our precious resources here.”

    I’d then like the legislators to draw a line in the sand and say, “The forces facing these other communities simply make it too risky to spend our limited funds there. We understand that some of these communities may disappear without our support, and that is sad. But we are willing to accept that consequence in the interest of making our state the strongest it can be. The residents who value these places are move than welcome to invest their own money — and reap the rewards if they are proven right.”

    Of course, the architecture of democratic government emphasizes fairness, not strategic decision-making. I’m not holding my breath that this will ever happen. But it would be nice to see the debate at least question the value of fairness instead of presume that fairness is a worthwhile goal.

  15. Submitted by Jim Boulay on 11/07/2014 - 05:42 am.

    35W bridge collapse

    The focus on 2nd and 3rd ring suburban development under Pawlenty, including expansion of 312 west to a cornfield in chaska was certainly a factor in the 35w bridge collapse. So when consideration on which bridges and roads to fix I hope legislators will be looking at the number of cars that use this infrastructure daily when they decide what needs to be fixed first. It was this type of anti-metro attitude that built 312 at the same time they allowed the bridge to deteriorate to the point of collapse!

  16. Submitted by Ralf Wyman on 11/07/2014 - 08:05 am.

    if repeal becomes the best solution

    Overall the tone from the GOP seems more moderate than the last time they won the House, so let’s hope they decide to work rather than obstruct.

    I gotta say, though, that repeal of MN Sure is just not on the table. If they think it is, they’re deluded. Minnesota voted for every Democratic statewide office, convincingly returned Al Franken to the Senate, and Stuart Mills, who most certainly would have voted with the US House to repeal “obamacare” well, he was defeated.

    By all means, make improvements to MN Sure. But repeal is not what MN voters were asking for!

  17. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 11/07/2014 - 08:55 am.

    Why people leave

    I grew up in a rural area. I also happen to be gay. The area where I grew up is hostile to gay people, as are most rural areas, frankly. They are not places where someone like me can live a fulfilling life. If people in rural areas continue to be hostile toward people who aren’t just like them, they will continue to lose population. If they want to blame that on people in the metro, they will get what they deserve.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/07/2014 - 11:28 am.

      That was not why republicans won

      That may have been one reason but not the sole reason. If you think that you are just as narrow minded as them. It was proven that 2 DFL people that voted against gay marriage rights lost on election night. The election had very little if anything at all to do with hostility towards homosexuals.

      • Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 11/07/2014 - 12:19 pm.

        I’m not talking about the election per se

        I’m talking about one of the reasons rural areas aren’t booming. They drive away all sorts of creative people who don’t fit the prevailing norms. Then they complain about the places where those people moved.

        I’ve lived in both rural places and in cities. I’m not being narrow. I’m being realistic.

        Maybe if you focused on how you could make rural places thrive instead of taking out your disappointments on urban folks, things would be better.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/07/2014 - 09:20 am.

    I don’t mind…

    Hey, this is democracy and rural voters deserve to represented, and if they’ve got the votes to put republicans in charge of the house so be it. Let’s just hope this isn’t another republican bait and switch, like their laser focus on creating jobs. My concern as a rural voter would be that I’d vote for a republican promising to represent rural MN, and end up with a guy who simply refuses to raise any taxes and want’s to put voter ID back on the front burner while repealing MNsure.

    I would worried about republican sincerity because the fact is that the majority of transportation money is already being spent in greater MN, and the democrats actually increased that spending. Furthermore, while republican candidates promise to increase spending on roads and bridges, they have yet to explain how they will pay for it, other than magical thinking i.e. small government and tax cuts.

    Let’s hope the new republicans are sincere about representing their rural constituents, and grounded in reality rather than ideology and magical thinking.

    One also has to comment on the irony of rural- i.e. “small government” republicans, promising and demanding more government services? Do you really expect to get more government from people who believe in less government? We’ll see.

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 11/07/2014 - 11:51 am.


      to raise taxes? Just how much do you think is enough taxation. Should we look like a Scandinavian country where people are taxed into oblivion or should we be allowed to keep more of our hard earned income and use it as we please?

      • Submitted by jason myron on 11/07/2014 - 01:41 pm.

        Oh give it a rest…

        I’m beyond tired of hearing you whine about being “taxed into oblivion” when tax rates have never been lower in this country and Minnesota is 18th overall.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2014 - 09:51 am.


        Universal affordable health care, world class educational systems, state of the art transportation and energy infrastructure, low poverty, low unemployment, low wealth disparity, and lower murder and violent crime rates… Oblivion indeed.

  19. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 11/07/2014 - 09:32 am.

    We have this divide…

    We have this repeated blaming of the metro because it’s a useful strategy for Republicans. They make sure rural voters maintain a chip on their shoulders against the metro so those voters will vote their emotions instead of the facts. The facts are that urban residents subsidize state spending in rural areas. Rural areas already get proportionally more state spending than their population and tax base support. By stoking feelings that metro people look down on outstate voters, Republicans win elections out there. If outstate voters looked at the reality instead, they would more likely be team players looking to promote the good of the state as a whole.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/07/2014 - 11:24 am.


      We also have the tired strategy of the DFL to look down on everyone telling them what they think is best for them. The DFL makes sure to tell citizens what is good for them and if they disagree they just get louder. I think you are just afraid of the reality that maybe some of the DFL candidates were not the best and lost and that the good of the state might involve a little more greater MN than you like. If you are going to state the facts then post your source.

  20. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 11/07/2014 - 11:25 am.

    First, dispense with myths

    I don’t object to outstate development. I object to the myth that there is some sort of imbalance that favors the metro area. I object to this myth because there is no empirical data that supports it, and indeed the empirical data directly contradicts it.

    I have a post above that shows the metro area to generate 73% of state GDP. Let’s contrast this against spending, using this excellent PDF from the House of Representatives Research Department-

    In nearly every form of aid, outstate communities benefit considerably more per capita than the metro area.

    It is an unarguable fact that the outstate is subsidized by the metro area, shown in part by the pdf I linked above but also by agricultural subsidies and the various forms of aid provided in general to communities where the median age is higher.

    Again, I don’t object to this: I believe that government should serve as a counterweight to the dictates of the free market. If our state government did not do so, outstate Minnesota would be a great deal more depopulated than it is now.

    What I do object to is the patent falsehood that an imbalance in spending is given to the metro area, or that the GOP can grouse about welfare while cultivating the votes of people who are pretty much net takers of government largesse. There is no solid data to suggest otherwise: it is a political myth, pure and simple, used by politicians to lead voters by the nose by telling them what they want to hear regardless of the truth.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/07/2014 - 01:27 pm.

      Myth and magic

      Pretty much all some people have… now and then it’s enough to win an election.

      Frankly, I blame the democrats on the state level. They failed to develop a clear and coherent message despite their success and popular achievements. Dayton kind of lucked out, had republicans come up with a convincing moderate instead of a Tea Party favorite he might well have lost.

      I think two issues really hurt democrats. 1) The disastrous roll out of MNsure. 2) The Vikings stadium. Although republicans voted for the stadium was well, the whole thing has been one fiasco after another and the blame has largely fallen on Dayton (as well is should frankly) and the democrats. I’m not saying it was inherently a killer issue, but it’s been a well publicized ongoing parade of fiasco’s that democrats can’t distance themselves from. Combine that with MNsure roll out debacle which KSTP keeps on the front burner one way or another every week, and for out-state residents it’s hard to see the upside of democrats. For right-leaning voters this all reinforced the notion that government can’t work.

  21. Submitted by Bjorn Awel on 11/07/2014 - 12:48 pm.

    I don’t think its unreasonable to say that the Dems have neglected some rural needs, especially in the area of transportation and ag. There should be a rural legislator in charge of the Ag finance committee. And you can’t just talk about metro needs in transportation, there are serious safety and repair/conditions that need to be addressed on rural roads, not even considering new roads. There are also economic issues of moving goods to market (to the city whose economy is partly due to the great agricultural and mining wealth of rural areas). That said, Repubs should be careful not to overpromise — they don’t want to raise new revenue for roads and they probably will propose borrowing the money for it (not necessarily a great idea and not a long term fix). And there are serious needs for transit in the metro that they cannot simply ignore, as this is increasingly popular with the suburban voters wanting more options.

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2014 - 10:19 am.

    Actually, let’s step back a minute

    We know that rural votes went for republicans, but we can’t trust republican explanations for that. Republicans ran on the new office building etc. but it’s unlikely that voters in far flung regions were really that worried about it. Republicans have a history of making things up.

    Let’s see if anyone actually goes out and collects any data, actually asks rural voters why they voted the way they did.

    Here’s my guess: It had little to with office buildings or marriage votes, roads and bridges etc. The biggest problem democrats had was the economy. Yes, a lot of numbers were up, but the one number that needed to be up and wasn’t is median household income, which is flat if not declining in rural areas. Even if people have found work in this recovery, the wages typically don’t match pre-recession levels, and job security remains elusive. Democrats failed to produce any clear message or plan to address those legitimate concerns and anxieties, and in fact, I don’t think democrats actually have a plan to expand the recovery to the remaining 90%. Raising the minimum wage was a start, but they didn’t run on it, and they need some follow up.

    Now it’s true that anyone who thinks republican’s will do better than democrats is clueless. Where the democrats may not have a follow plan, the republicans don’t even recognize the problem. If you think your going to get better or more government services or government stimulated job creation from republicans; I have a nice little spot waiting for you where you watch for flying pigs.

    I think what we’ve seen here is simply economic desperation. Regardless of rural services etc. out-state residents aren’t see any economic recovery and they’re just voting for some kind of new direction. It’s kind of like a horse that runs back into a burning building.

    If is the case that rural republicans are complaining about a lack of government services and attention, after voting for tax cuts and small government for 30 years… well, that’s just ironic. Republicans brought us budget deficits, cuts in ALG, shut down small town police departments, cut out-state education, and cut transportation spending and bonding. These are the guys that shut the government down and claimed no one noticed. Providing better government services of any kind to anyone just isn’t in the republican DNA. Most likely they’ll just shut the government down again trying to repeal MNsure.

  23. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/10/2014 - 05:09 pm.

    The office building

    My modest proposal is that the Republicans should donate the building to the University of Minnesota.

  24. Submitted by E Gamauf on 11/11/2014 - 08:25 am.

    Investing Outstate is a ONE TIME con job?

    Lets get real about this: it was a good election strategy to go outstate in the off-year election, because there are fewer people to coerce in order to gain a seat. Well played.

    And even in Minnesota – people will blow off an election.

    But this is probably not going to be the prevailing strategy in 2016 for the Republican Party & probably not the Democrats.

    Outstate investing is a good idea, but reality dictates that ultimately, the larger population centers have the most bang for the buck. You can build freeways in the Boundary Waters, but the largest economic impact would be a decade down the road.

    I would offer that EVERYBODY might have more to worry about in Washington than in Minnesota this time around:

    Inhofe in charge of the EPA & Alexander in charge of education & biomed?
    Science deniers with the purse strings – up next: go looking for signs of Noah’s Ark in Oklahoma.

  25. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 11/13/2014 - 02:16 pm.

    most bang for the buck

    I don’t disagree with anyone that the metro is the largest population center in mn and may be responsible for the majority of the bill when it comes to services, roads, etc. in outstate MN but that is part of the metro’s responsibility unless people in the metro want to stay in the metro.

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