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GOP legislator: Marriage vote had nothing to do with retirement decision

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature, Democrats, Republicans Updated: November 8, 2013 - 12:17 PM

Republican Rep. Andrea Kieffer decided not to run for re-election for many reasons, she said Friday.

Her vote to legalize same-sex marriage was not among them.

"I would say that would have been the most compelling reason for me to run again," said Kieffer, a two-term representative from Woodbury. She was one of five legislative Republicans to support legalization earlier this year.

Kieffer said that no Republican had filed against her because of the vote and the reaction to her vote in May has been positive. Last year, her suburban district voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, making her one of 33 Republicans who won last year in a district that rejected the amendment.

Instead, Kieffer said her decision not to run again was driven by personal reasons and her frustration with partisanship at the Capitol.

"I think everyone should strive to challenge and improve themselves and the world around them. But also remember to take a step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself: Am I spending my time and resources wisely? Am I being effective?" Kieffer said. "At the end, I hope to have no regrets."

The personal: Keiffer's 23-year-old daughter has mitochondrial disease.

"My family needs me right now," she said.

Melissa had her first episode, a stroke-like event, when she was 20 and was diagnosed when she was 21 with the disease that can affect a wide array of systems in the body.

"She is good. She's happy and comfortable and not in pain and she is able to take care of herself. I think those are wonderful blessings," Kieffer said.

Rep. Andrea Kieffer//source: Minnesota House of Representatives

Rep. Andrea Kieffer//source: Minnesota House of Representatives

Kieffer has already worked to raise awareness about the disease and raise money for research for it. She also said that, although she was for cell research before she learned of her daughter illness, it is a fortuitous position given that such research could help with the disease that befell her daughter.

"This is exactly the kind of stuff that our legislators are blocking that could potentially open up all these cures," she said. Kieffer said she will stay active in the mitochondrial disease foundation.

Compounding that reason not to run: the tone of politics these days.

"I am frustrated down at the Capitol. I feel like it's just banging your head at against a brick wall sometimes. The party politics gets in the way of good public policy so many times," she said. "It gets very frustrating."

Although she won her district by 10 percentage points last year and six percentage points the year before, the Woodbury area is considered a swing district. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 52 percent of its votes last year; Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar won 62 percent and Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum won 48 percent, narrowly besting the Republican candidate.

"I think that this district looks at the candidate more than the party," she said. She said if voters get to know a candidate, "I think that goes way farther than political party."

Before Kieffer announced she would not vie for re-election, Democratic planning commission member Kay Hendrickson said she would run. Since the announcement, Minnesota Republican Party Deputy Chair Kelly Fenton said she was seriously considering a bid.

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