New GOP leaders focus on nonmetro Minnesota
ST. PAUL -- The state House's two leaders promise to give greater Minnesota a greater say in state government once a new Legislature is seated on Jan. 6.
ST. PAUL - The state House’s two leaders promise to give greater Minnesota a greater say in state government once a new Legislature is seated on Jan. 6.
“Our goal is to represent all of the people of Minnesota,” state Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said Friday shortly after being elected House majority leader. “We’re not going to leave greater Minnesota behind as has been done the last couple of years.”
House Republicans elected her and picked Kurt Daudt of Crown as House speaker. Daudt must face a formal vote on Jan. 6, but since Republicans backed him on Friday and they will have a majority in the House there is little doubt he will be speaker.
Republicans have complained that Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov.-elect Tina Smith are Twin Cities residents and the Dayton administration has not done right by nonmetro Minnesota.
Daudt, 41, lives on the farm his grandparents homesteaded in east-central Minnesota. He called it a hobby farm and said cropland is rented out.
Peppin, 44, is a native of Randall, in central Minnesota.
Their selections come two years after Democrats took over the House and picked Paul Thissen of Minneapolis as speaker and Erin Murphy of St. Paul as majority leader. That broke from a tradition of splitting the top two spots between urban and nonmetro Minnesota and enraged rural Republicans.
Rural lawmakers were even more upset when Thissen named environmentalist Rep. Jean Wagenius of Minneapolis to lead a joint agriculture and environment committee. Daudt and Peppin promised that agriculture will have its own committee the next two years when they are in control.
Daudt beat Reps. Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake and Matt Dean of Dellwood for the speaker’s spot. Republicans would not say how many ballots it took to elect him.
Republicans said they are united behind Daudt.
Daudt will become one of the youngest speakers in Minnesota history and one of the least experienced lawmakers in the post. He served two years before being elected House minority leader two years ago.
“It is the greatest honor of my life to be elected by my caucus to serve as speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives,” Daudt said in announcing his victory.
Peppin said that Republicans will focus “on bread and butter issues.” She and Daudt mentioned items such as transportation, gaining jobs and reducing state regulations.
Daudt said that the GOP caucus will meet on Dec. 2 to begin looking at more specific issues.
The speaker-designate said that people around the Capitol know him as someone who can get along with others, but “I’m going to stand up for my core principles.”
“They know they can trust me,” he added about people such as Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook.
On Thursday night, House Democrats elected Thissen to be their leader. He has been speaker the last two years when his party controlled the House.
Earlier this week, Thissen was asked if he got along with Daudt. He replied: “Well enough.”