State Rep. Kurt Daudt will continue to lead Minnesota House Republicans following Election Day losses that knocked them into the minority.
“While we are disappointed at the results of Tuesday’s election, we know that Democrats will have a difficult time explaining to Minnesotans two years from now why they broke so many of the promises they made on the campaign trail,” Daudt, of Crown, said in a statement after he was elected minority leader Friday morning.
Daudt has spent the past four years as House speaker, after he was credited with leading Republicans to take over the House in 2014 and keeping them in the majority in 2016. As speaker, he advocated for tax cuts and more funding for roads and bridges, and went toe-to-toe with Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton in spending battles over education and health and human services programs.
He took a combative tone in his statement Friday, saying Democrats will increase health care taxes by more than a billion dollars and push for a gas tax increase that would hurt middle and low-income residents.
On Thursday night the newly victorious House Democrats picked Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, to make the transition from minority leader to House speaker, and selected Ryan Winkler as their majority leader. Winkler, of Golden Valley, regained his old seat Tuesday; he previously served in the Legislature for nearly a decade but resigned in 2015 when his family moved.
Daudt is a former car salesman and Isanti County commissioner who joined the Legislature in 2011. He is familiar with the role of minority leader, having held that position for two years before becoming speaker. As minority leader, he developed a reputation for building relationships and working across the aisle to cut deals with Democrats, who at the time controlled both branches of the Legislature and the governor’s office.
With Democrat Tim Walz in the governor’s office and Republicans in control of the Senate, the dynamics could be different this session.
The Republican House caucus plans to meet later this month to choose its other leaders.