A Republican legislative leader who supports same-sex marriage said she will run in a primary after failing to win her party’s endorsement over the weekend.
“This is a democracy and people are able to throw their hat in the ring,” said state Rep. Jenifer Loon, of Eden Prairie. “I don’t see this as a huge issue, honestly.”
Local GOP activist Sheila Kihne emerged to challenge Loon at their local convention, with neither candidate able to get enough votes to win the endorsement.
Kihne said she is weighing a primary run after her strong showing at the convention. Loon was one of four GOP House members who voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year.
“Here locally, it was an issue of trust or integrity,” Kihne said Monday. “We do not feel like we have good leadership.”
Activists who oppose same-sex marriage had worked behind-the-scenes to defeat Loon, a deputy minority leader.
“Life, marriage, and religious freedom are values for which there is no compromise,” said John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council. “Jenifer Loon tried to compromise these values-hurting the families in her district who trusted her to uphold them. And her constituents have spoken.”
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said he expects Loon will prevail and win a fourth term.
“Jenifer Loon—and I don’t know anybody who would dispute this—is very well-liked by the constituents in her district,” said Daudt, R-Crown. “I’m very confident that she will make it through a primary and easily win a general election again. She does a great job representing her community and I think that support will definitely be there for her.”
Just over 40 percent of voters in Loon’s district supported a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2012, a factor that Loon said she considered when she voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year.
Kihne said she is not a single-issue Republican, and noted that Loon is among several GOP leaders who have faced a challenge from within the party, including Daudt.
“It speaks to the fact that we are looking for more principled leadership and representatives who do what they are say they are going to do,” she said.
Of the four GOP House members who supported same-sex marriage, Loon is not the only one facing challengers.
First-term Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, lost the endorsement at his convention and is considering a primary run.
Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, is not seeking re-election.
Only Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington breezed through his convention without trouble.
Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this story.
With just 140 characters at their disposal on Twitter, Minnesota lawmaker and their staff have found plenty of ways to get in trouble.
On Sunday night, Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo sent out a tweet linking NBA players to street crime. The tweet produced a firestorm of criticism and was called racist nationwide. On Monday morning, Garofalo said he sincerely apologized for the message.
The five-term state lawmaker had bipartisan company in his Twitter turmoil.
Last year, Democratic Rep. Ryan Winkler tweeted of U.S. Supreme Court's voting rights act decision, that the “VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas.” The reference to Clarence Thomas, the only African American member of the Supreme Court, with the racial epithet was shared around the country. Winkler, who had been contemplating a run for Secretary of State at the time, deleted the tweet and said he didn't understand the reference would be offensive.
The year before, then-Republican Senate staffer Bob Koss tangled with then-Republican state Rep. John Kriesel over same-sex marriage, shortly before a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was on the ballot. Koss lost his Senate job in the wake of the late night tweeting.
In 2011, then-state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, tweeted that Democratic Sen. Barb Goodwin called people with mental illness "idiots and imbeciles" during a Senate floor debate. Goodwin was, in fact, disparaging the historic terms used for people with mental illness. That incident resulted in an ethics complaint. The ethics panel met for five hours and decided the complaint would be dropped if Hoffman apologized, which she did.
And in 2009, as Twitter was dawning as a way for lawmakers to share their thoughts, Democratic Rep. Paul Gardner used the messaging service during a floor session to suggest that Republican Rep. Tom Emmer was nastier to women during debate than he was to men and that Republican Rep. Mark Buesgens had a black eye. Gardner, too, was brought up on ethics charges and issued a public apology.
A conservative advocacy group led by former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman will spend $50,000 on television ads targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.
The American Action Network ad highlights proposed Obama administration cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that could lead to higher health care costs and reduced services for seniors.
The ads are a part of a $1 million campaign targeting vulnerable Democrats around the country. The anti-Nolan commercials begin airing this weekend in northern Minnesota.
In the 30-second spot, three people sit in the waiting room of a doctor’s office as President Obama appears on a television saying, “Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits.”
As an image of Nolan appears, a female narrator cuts in to say: “We know that’s not true because, for the second year in a row, the Obama administration has proposed deep rate cuts to the Medicare Advantage seniors rely on. So call Representative Nolan and tell him to fight the president’s April 7 Medicare Advantage cuts.”
Noting that Nolan has co-sponsored several bills in the past year designed to improve Medicare, spokesman Steve Johnson dismissed the ad as misleading.
“Please know that I will oppose any plan or budget deal that privatizes, reduces, or in any way compromises this successful and necessary program or the benefits it provides,” Nolan said in a statement.
Efforts to raise Minnesota's minimum wage have generated a lot of heat at the Capitol but who earns the minimum?
Here's a chart of who earns minimum wage or less in Minnesota, by industry:
Here's a chart of who earns minimum wage or less in Minnesota, by age:
Note: The Minnesota minimum wage is $6.15 an hour for large businesses. Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 an hour. That means that most Minnesota employers have to pay the federal minimum to their workers.
Over the weekend, local Minneapolis Republicans endorsed Abdimalik Mohamed Askar in his run for state House in Minneapolis.
His name might be familiar: he ran for president of Somalia a few years ago. Republican Party chair Keith Downey said he is the first Somali-American the party has backed.
"We are so pleased that Abdimalik Askar has stepped forward to run. It breaks new ground for Republicans to have endorsed someone from the Somali community, but more importantly he would represent his district so well," Downey said.
Askar is running in a heavily Democratic district. In 2012, longtime DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn won re-election with 77 percent of the vote and Democratic President Obama won 75 percent of district's votes. This year, Kahn faces an endorsement challenge from Minneapolis School Board member Mahamud Noor.
"The reason why I'm running is very simple: I would like to improve...our district," Askar said in a video on his campaign web site. He said he would focus on education, including charter schools and school choice, crime reduction, creating opportunity for young people and advocating for small businesses.
He also said he shares anti-abortion values with Republicans and that he believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman. In 2012, a vast majority of the district rejected a ban on same-sex marriage. Last year, Minnesota legalized same sex marriage.
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