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Sen. Branden Petersen not running for re-election to MN Senate

This post has been updated with comments from Petersen. 

Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, announced on Twitter today that he is not running for re-election. 

"After a year of thought, I'm announcing that I will not be seeking re-election to the Senate. Time for family and making a living," he wrote. 

Petersen has three young children, ages 4, 3 and 11 months. 

Petersen joins Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, and Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, in not seeking re-election, which could complicate efforts by Republicans to take the Senate in 2016. 

Republicans have high hopes to take the upper chamber, given a number of DFL districts that lean Repubican, as well as chaos in the DFL caucus, with a bloc of mostly metro-area Senators questioning the leadership of Majority Leader Tom Bakk.

Petersen, who was elected when he was 24, said in an interview that the the all-consuming demands of the Legislature were causing him to miss important events in his family life and the lives of his young children. 

He also said his professional life was constrained by the Legislature. He currently sells cars at an Elk River dealership but had previously been in retail management.

Petersen, who voted in favor of gay marriage, said he expected a Republican primary challenge, but he said he would have prevailed had he decided to run again.

Petersen said his biggest disappointment in the Legislature was an unwillingness on the part of colleagues to act independently. 

"When the rubber meets the road, group psychology is pretty powerful and plays itself out in ways that I think don't always serve the interests of the constituents," he said.  


Morning Newsletter

Daudt's candid comments on politics behind Dayton pay raise kerfuffle

Good morning. Congrats to the U.S. women’s soccer team, winning the World Cup on a hat trick from Carli Lloyd. Watch the U.S. score four goals in 16 minutes.

Great music yesterday from Cuban choral group Coro Entrevoces and the Minnesota Orchestra. Amazing moment when both national anthems were played back-to-back to start the performance. Saturday I got to see the MPR crowd sing the national anthem (as well as “My Country Tis of Thee” and “God Bless America”) with Garrison Keillor. And no July 4 would be complete without watching Deadheads wave the flag as the Dead (sans Jerry, with Trey) played “U.S. Blues” at Soldier Field in Chicago. What a country.

Gov. Mark Dayton is on vacation visiting family this week. [Wandered into Dayton sons’ Askov Finlayson for the first time Sunday. A little outta my price range (hey we can’t all be Dayton cabinet members) but the Sunday Supper deal at Bachelor Farmer was reasonable and the sauerkraut the best ever.]

Speaking of the pay raises, Strib blogger Michael Brodkorb with a great find, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who is very engaging talking to a high school class in May about the raise situation, but he is also candid about his tactics. Here he is talking about the compromise he fashioned on the commissioner pay raises: “(Dayton) has one day to increase the pay if he wants to on July 1….I think he’ll increase the pay, and then we’ll have another two weeks of stories about how horrible that is, and it will be really good for me politically. Which is why I did it.” Then Daudt laughs, and says, “No I did it because it was the right thing to do.”

His larger point was that he could have really stuck to it Dayton (and House DFL) for maximum effect with a Bakk amendment/override scenario, but decided to be the “bigger person,” as he put it, and cut a deal that everyone could live with. But that slip when he jokes about how politically beneficial the whole thing was sort gives up the game: If you’re going to express outrage about the pay raises, you can’t be saying on camera how great it worked out for you politically. Your opponents (and supporters) might start to think you’re just some cynical operator, and of course Speaker Daudt isn’t that, is he?

Also notable from the video, candid remarks about Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, who apparently don’t like each other. No shocker there.

Great piece from D.C. correspondent Allison Sherry on how dysfunction in Washington affects local people, who have trouble planning around the constant crises and last minute high wire legislating, like on extending business tax credits, for instance. The latest crisis is the highway fund. Related: Politico on possibility of new debt ceiling showdown, coming right smack in the middle of the GOP primary season. 

Bill Salisbury on perpetual end-of-session legislative chaos and what can be done about it.

Rick Nolan will run again, Courtney Kueppers reports.

Wisconsin decided they want to have an open records law, after all.

Photo gallery on complexity of issues surrounding tainted water in farm communities.

Hartland Fire Department volunteer flew a Confederate flag in a parade in Albert Lea. Because heritage, right? He’s been suspended.

Greek voters overwhelmingly defeated a referendum on another austerity bailout deal. The Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, profiled here, resigned. Now what? 

Have a good week everyone.

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