House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt unexpectedly appeared at a meeting of local GOP activists Tuesday night and derailed a planned “no confidence” vote.
Daudt, R-Crown, raised the ire of District 31 Republicans by not talking to them about his recent brief arrest in Montana and falling short of their expectations he would lead the party on a path of fiscal conservatism, local leaders had said before the planned vote.
“We feel that he does not have our best interest in mind,” Dan Denno, chairman of the District 31 Republicans, said Tuesday afternoon.
By late Tuesday night, however, the local GOP was singing a different tune.
“We wanted to get his side and we got it and we are happy with his explanation,” said Tony Crego, one of the leaders at the meeting where Daudt discussed the Montana incident. “After we talked with him … we felt there no reason to hold any kind of vote.”
Daudt did not return repeated calls and messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Two weeks ago, Daudt publicly acknowledged that he had been involved in a gun-related dispute during a road trip to Montana in September. Before KSTP-TV reported on the incident, Daudt had said nothing about it.
According to Daudt and public records, he and a 24-year-old friend drove to Montana on Sept. 7 to buy a vintage Ford Bronco. After picking up the vehicle, Daudt and the seller got into an argument about the Bronco’s condition.
As the argument grew heated, Daudt’s friend, Daniel Benjamin Weinzetl, allegedly picked up Daudt’s loaded handgun and pointed it at the seller and his family, according to court records. Montana police later handcuffed Daudt and his friend. Daudt was not charged with a crime, but Weinzetl was charged with three felonies.
“Wrapping the whole thing up seems to be very poor judgment,” Denno said before the forestalled vote.
Daudt did speak to some Republican House members about the incident after the first television report aired but has refused repeated interview requests to discuss the incident.
Denno and Jack Rogers, a Minnesota Tea Party leader and office holder with Daudt’s local Republican group, said Daudt also never reached out to any of the GOP district leaders about it.
Before the planned vote, Rogers and Denno said that they had not reached out to Daudt either with their questions about the Montana dispute or the potential no confidence motion.
“We should not chase him down and say: ‘What’s going on?’ ” Rogers said. Daudt, he said, should have contacted them to explain what happened. “We know mistakes are going to happen … but it’s how you deal with it” that matters.
Denno said that the local Republicans had also been concerned about Daudt’s 2013 support for a capital investment bill; a measure the group opposed.
The vote would not have resulted in any specific consequences. Instead, it would have reflected local party leaders’ lack of faith in Daudt, who was elected to the House in 2010.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB