ST. PAUL - Rural Republican Minnesota House members wanted to make the point that Democrats often ignore farmers.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party certainly did not ignore the group that is little more than a week old. A DFL lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to the Republican Farmer Labor Caucus, telling the RFL to change its name and logo.
"This logo is confusingly similar to the longstanding logo of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party," attorney Charles Nauen wrote to the group.
Nauen said the name also is too similar to DFL.
The attorney said the party "will consider all available legal means to protect the marks and goodwill of the Minnesota DFL Party."
Members of the RFL slightly altered the logo, but said they do not plan any more changes.
Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, said Democrats don't own farmers and laborers. "I don't intend to back down in defending them simply because another organization has those words in their name."
Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, said the caucus was formed because "the war on ag kept coming up." Rural Republicans say the Dayton administration, headed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, has made a lot of decisions that hurt farmers.
Miller said that while rural Republican lawmakers already have a group to discuss rural issues, the RFL was formed to communicate with the public. It already has a Facebook page.
Early in its existence, "we seem to be touching a nerve," Miller said Tuesday, April 24, after references to the group arose on the House floor and in the House Taxes Committee.
"Were we trying to poke the bear a little bit and have some fun with it?" Miller asked. "Absolutely."
But the group is serious about bringing attention to rural issues.
"We want everyone to know Republicans understand the interests of the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota and we will defend them from radical progressive policies of the urban Democrats," Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, said.
Republicans won control of the Legislature largely by winning Democratic seats in rural Minnesota.