Minnesota Republicans selected Rep. Kurt Daudt on Saturday to lead them in the House as the new minority leader, rounding out the leadership picks for top state Republicans and DFLers before a new legislative session begins.
Daudt, 39, a second-term representative, may not be as well known to the public as other Republican leaders, but the selection of someone so little-known may have been intentional, "turning over a new leaf" in his party, he said.
"People wanted a fresh face and a new face," he said Saturday after new House Majority Leader Erin Murphy called to congratulate him. Being in his second term, he said, "also can be a benefit. In the Legislature, sometimes there can be some baggage" for long-serving legislators.
The leadership announcements follow a disappointing election last week for Republicans, who lost their majorities in both the Senate and House. Now, both sides are calling for bipartisanship -- something Daudt said he's proven in his two years.
"I'm a people person, and I have the ability to get along with just about everybody, even on the other side of the aisle," he said. "The people of Minnesota want us to work together."
Daudt, who lives in rural Isanti County, served for 14 years on a township board and as a county commissioner. He served as campaign manager for Rep. Marty Seifert during his run for governor in 2010 and later successfully ran for a spot in the state House that year, where he served as assistant majority leader. He was re-elected last week.
Saturday's more-than-five-hour caucus meeting came after Friday's naming of Senate minority leader, Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie.
The DFL also made their top picks, selecting Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook as majority leader of the Senate and Murphy of St. Paul as majority leader of the House. Rep. Paul Thissen, selected as speaker of the House, congratulated Daudt on Saturday.
"I look forward to working with him to help meet the challenges facing our state," Thissen said in a statement. "From balancing the budget to growing our economy, we will have greater success if we work together, and I look forward to that opportunity in the coming weeks and months."
Daudt said he too will strive for collaboration with DFLers, especially focusing on taxes and the state's budget.
But with DFL majorities in the House and Senate and a DFL governor, he added, "they're going to be able to advance their agenda."
Saturday's caucus meeting "was a bit down; we had hoped that would be a big victory celebration," Daudt said. However, with 15 freshmen legislators, "we have a really good up-and-coming leadership."
Kelly Smith 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib