Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s sometimes testy and raucous town hall meeting with servers ended abruptly Wednesday after someone poured a large bag of pennies on the table in front of the candidate.
“Here’s your tip, Tom Emmer!” said Robert Erickson, saying it was in part for his support of Arizona’s immigration bill.
A stunned Emmer looked flustered as Erickson rushed out of a side entrance.
The microphone went dead, and a short time later the organizers announced the meeting was over, more than 30-minutes before the scheduled ending.
Emmer didn't give his closing statement, instead he headed over to servers who had been the most critical.
A few minutes later, Emmer emerged from the back of the restaurant to talk with reporters.
“You guys aren’t going to throw (stuff) at me, are you?” he said with a laugh.
Emmer had spent the better part of an hour largely blaming the media for more than a week of consternation at him from thousands of servers around the state.
At a campaign event last week, Emmer said he supported a so-called “tip credit,” in which hospitality workers who earn tips are paid below the minimum wage. He also said the owner of the Eagle Street Grille in St. Paul told him they had servers making more than $100,000. The owner later said he never told Emmer that.
When the media reported what he said, Emmer’s campaign said he never suggested lowering the minimum wage for servers. But he also doesn’t support the raising the minimum wage.
So when asked Wednesday to define “tip credit,” Emmer declined to do so.
“I came here to listen,” he said.
Many of the servers, already reeling from the tough economy and fearful of a wage cut, didn’t like Emmer’s refusal to get specific.
“He’s not telling the truth and he’s back-peddling and we don’t buy it,” said Connie Gott-McCoy, a server from Woodbury.
“I didn’t know of him before this,” she said. “I know him now. And I don’t like him.”