Family farmers and unions are likely to lose voices on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents today when the legislature votes to approve nominations.
Former Minnesota House speaker Steve Sviggum is nominated to replace Helena Township farmer Dallas Bohnsack for the CD2 slot, while former state representative Laura Brod will slide into the at-large seat now held by AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Steve Hunter.
Because Brod was originally competing with Sviggum for the CD2 slot, but then picked for the at-large seat over Hunter when she lost to party elder Sviggum, the move was perceived as anti-union and partisan.
Hunter said he "suspected" that the Republican-controlled committees wouldn't pick him because of his job.
The Forum chain's Don Davis reports in U of M regent vote could be rough:
Monday night’s selection of new University of Minnesota regents could be contentious.
Democrats accuse Republicans of playing politics in picking former House Speaker Steve Sviggum of Kenyon and ex-Rep. Laura Brod, who represented the New Prague area.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said folks on his side are looking into what they can do to fix what they see as a political action.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said the nominations went through a joint legislative committee as rules require.
Not so fast. The Session Weekly (via the TC Daily Planet) has more about the politics of this particular (and peculiar) round of nominations:
. . . Brod defeated current regent Steven Hunter for the at-large recommendation.
Brod, who did not seek re-election to the House after serving the past eight years, was one of three people recommended for the second congressional district slot. Rules state that any person "recommended by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council is eligible to be interviewed by the joint committee and considered nominated for any position for which they are eligible."
The choice left Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) saying the vote was about politics. He said a DFL-controlled Legislature elected two "known Republicans" to the Board of Regents two years ago.
"I told you two years ago what would happen if we were ever in the minority, and it did, so bipartisanship at the Board of Regents has ended," he said.
Politics in Minnesota noted:
On the House floor Thursday, Rep. Joe Atkins said the rules do not allow appointing regents to any position other than the one for which they applied. Atkins called the maneuver “the most overtly political vote we have seen in 150 years of the University of Minnesota.”
Support for Brod and Sviggum was party line in committee.
Republicans had another explanation: selecting both Sviggum and Brod is just this thing of ours. State Representative Bud Nornes told the Star Tribune:
Some candidates "you know better than others," he said, noting Sviggum's past as speaker of the Minnesota House. "It's pretty hard to expect your friends not to vote for you."
Photos: Laura Brod stickered and buttoned with her at-large interests for the State of Minnesota. Glenn Gruenhagen replaced her in the state legislature following her retirement (via Politics in Minnesota).