Last week was a big one at the State Capitol for Rep. Sarah Anderson.
As chair of the House State Government Finance Committee, the Republican from Plymouth has staked out turf on issues of government waste and political perks — a GOP sweet spot at the nexus of small government dogma and populist politics.
By the end of the week, both the chair and the executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority were gone. The ruckus began with Star Tribune stories about how family and DFL-connected friends got access to luxury suites at the new Vikings stadium. But Anderson kept the ball rolling with high profile hearings, from which new information arose.
In a separate hearing last week, Anderson grilled DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her budget and the decision to spend $250,000 in taxpayer funds to sue three Minnesota counties over a law that Anderson helped craft. Anderson didn’t break her familiar poker face as she sparred with Otto.
For the hat trick last week, Anderson also dug into severance payments that Dayton granted to a few Cabinet commissioners upon their departures. In 2015, she took on a related issue — Dayton’s pay raises for his commissioners.
Anderson is a suburban mom; her husband is a science teacher. So why aren’t more politicos talking about her as a candidate for governor in 2018?
A GOP operative told me last week that in fact there is Anderson-for-governor chatter around the Capitol. It sets up possible tension in the House Republican Caucus, where House Speaker Kurt Daudt and former Majority Leader Matt Dean also are seen as possible-to-likely candidates.
Here’s the thing: Being famous around the Capitol doesn’t mean you’re famous. It means the government geeks know you. But that’s not a guarantee you’ll be able to raise money, build a coalition or communicate with the less plugged-in public.
Still, you have to start somewhere.
Meanwhile in the DFL gubernatorial stakes, an effort to draft Rep. Rick Nolan to run for governor is showing some legs. The draft Nolan group sent out a letter to more than 1,000 DFL activists, touting his ability to win rural votes, raise money and win close races. Environmentalists groused that the list was larded with lobbyists, and they questioned whether Nolan, 73, really has statewide appeal.
Coming up Monday: Finally! The full House will debate and vote on the bill to legalize retail sale of alcohol on Sundays.