In a burst of semi-excitement, Minnesota's political tweeps are discussing the selection of Kurt Daudt (31A) as Minority Leader for the 2013-2014 session. Daudt was first elected in the Republican wave of 2010.
Bluestem wonders if the Republican Party of Minnesota hasn't yet purged itself of the Kurt Bills Syndrome, after the one-term House member's evisceration at the polls in the U.S. Senate race. Among Republicans, inexperience matters, though Daudt isn't a member of the Bills-Paul faction of the party.
The Shadow of a Daudt: Some Background
Kurt L. Daudt (born September 1973) is a Minnesota politician and a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from District 17A, which includes portions of Anoka, Chisago and Isanti counties in the east central part of the state, just north of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. A Republican, he is also a business manager.
Daudt was first elected to the House in 2010. He serves on the Commerce and Regulatory Reform, the Higher Education Policy and Finance, the Redistricting, and the Rules and Legislative Administration Committees, and on the Taxes Subcommittee for the Property and Local Tax Division. He is an assistant majority leader and vice chair of the Rules and Legislative Administration Committee.
Daudt served as an Isanti County Commissioner from 2005 to 2010. Before that, he was a township board supervisor for Stanford Township from 1995 to 2005, and a member of the East Central Regional Library Board. He was also a founding member of Project 24, a nonprofit organization that builds orphanages in Kenya. To date, the project has raised over $500,000 and built six orphanages.
That kindness to Kenyan orphans runs counter to the "welfare reform" measures that fellow Republican Mary Franson praised in her infamous House Caucus constituent Youtube in which she repeated a tasteless inbox "joke" comparing feeding people with food stamps to feeding wild animals in national parks.
Franson then mentioned Daudt's "reform" bill, which would have limited families to receiving public assistance to three years, without providing more job training or education. Federal law sets the limit at five years. Bluestem looked at the bill back in March in What set Franson off? A brief look at Daudt's HF2080 (and an action against hunger).
Just over two years ago, Minnesota Public Radio first talked to Daudt in Newly elected lawmaker shares his experiences:
Daudt describes himself as a fiscal conservative who has fought against property tax increases while he served as a commissioner for Isanti County. He opposes the new federal health care law, which he calls "Obamacare," and has said that he believes the 10th Amendment to the Constitution grants states the right to opt out of the legislation.
Daudt's campaign website outlines other key issues for the freshman lawmaker -- gun rights, "traditional marriage," property rights, and his opposition to legalized abortion.
His website also says, "Daudt will support the end of sanctuary cities in Minnesota, because he understands that illegal immigration problems can spill over into our district as well."
Daudt served as the campaign manager for Republican Marty Seifert, who ran unsuccessfully this year for the party's nomination for governor.
So: a "Tenther" and a guy who will do much to persuade Minnesota's Latino voters that they made the right choices in putting the DFL back in the saddle in the state house and senate.
Past Service to Marty Seifert
And that service to Seifert--who endorsed Daudt for the minority leader position--had its own controversy. The Pioneer Press reported in Republican gubernatorial candidates battle over DWI disclosure:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer said his chief GOP rival, Rep. Marty Seifert, had "sunk to a new low" Wednesday by attacking the Delano legislator for his two convictions for driving while intoxicated 20 and 30 years ago.
Siefert's campaign manager Kurt Daubt [sic] said the campaign was simply distributing a letter from a Republican convention delegate at her request. The mailing went out eight days before the start of the state Republican convention in Minneapolis.
"We're all used to October surprises by the Democrats, but we never thought Marty would sink so low to launch this April surprise against a fellow Republican at the last minute before the convention," Rep. Mark Buesgens, Emmer's campaign chairman, said in a statement. "The fact is that Tom has been upfront with delegates about this issue. They were the subject of a newspaper article last year, and Tom has been very forthcoming about his actions to anyone who asked."
In response, Daubt [sic] issued the following statement:
"Republican activist and state convention delegate Sandra Berg's family was victimized by a drunk driver. As a result, she was moved to share important information with fellow Republican state convention delegates about Tom Emmer's record: two past DWI arrests; his efforts in 2009 as a legislator to weaken the state's DWI laws and cover up the fact he broke them; and not sharing this information when asked about a possible October surprise at a recent candidate forum.
"Sandra's letter provides factual information about a vital issue for the delegates to consider: the electability and credibility of candidates. At her request, the Seifert campaign distributed her letter." (retrieved via Nexis All News, 11/10/2012)
The old driving offense later formed the basis for a brutally effective anti-Emmer television ad produced and funded by the Alliance for a Better Minnesota.
PIM's Briana Bierschbach reported in GOP legislators introduce bills for possible govt shutdown:
Several freshman Republican legislators over the weekend introduced bills that would keep certain services running in the event of a full-fledged government shutdown.
The bills come as GOP leadership and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton are at a stalemate on how to solve a $5 billion budget deficit with less than 48 hours to go before the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn. . . .
- GOP Rep. Kurt Daudt proposed a bill that aims to keep the state courts from intervening in the budget battle to determine essential services.
But GOP leadership says the bills do not reflect their perspective. At a news conference Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said leadership is still committed to finding a solution by midnight on Monday.
Daudt didn't seem interested in resolving the budget stalement. The Associated Press reported in In Minnesota, little urgency to end shutdown:
It appears that a solution this year will require some form of new revenue, just as 2005 did.
Dayton has more room to operate than Koch and Zellers, who have to line up votes from a caucus that includes a new, powerful faction of lawmakers dead-set against spending increases and others who hope for a quick way out of the shutdown.
"If they make a deal and they don't have the votes to pass it, that's a difficult position to be in, obviously," said Rep. Kurt Daudt, a first-term Republican from Crown who opposes tax increases and gambling.
In Another swing and a miss for public unions, Star Tribune commentator Katherine Kersten noted:
In some districts, canvassers went door to door with cell phones, urging residents to call their legislators to demand higher taxes. Calls were often routed to legislators' home phones, where a spouse or child might answer.
Funny thing, though. Many GOP legislators say they were surprised at the number of callers who encouraged them to stand firm and to reject new taxes. Rep. Kurt Daudt of Isanti County posted one such call on his Facebook page, in which the speaker essentially said, "The union told me to call, but keep doing what you're doing."
Dayton may have gotten the same message on his last-minute cross-state tour last week -- intended to drum up support for his budget position. That seems likely, because by Thursday he caved, and agreed to accept Republican leaders' pre-shutdown offer of June 30, which decisively rejected new taxes.
Daudt was one of 16 Republican who voted against the bonding bill in the compromise that ended the shutdown, PIM reported in Tuesday special session: Minnesota legislators debate budget bills late into the night.
One to Watch
Daudt began to attract favorable reviews from sources such as Politics in Minnesota. In August 1st's LIPP: One to Watch, the PIM Staff wrote:
. . .behind the scenes, Daudt, 38, has asserted himself as one of the caucus’s influential members and a respected opinion leader — one reason he was selected by his fellow freshmen for the post of House assistant majority leader.
Daudt, who lives on a family farm in Isanti County, received his education at the University of North Dakota, where he studied aviation management. Politically, he got his start on the Stanford Township Board before moving on to the Isanti County Commission. He also became involved in state GOP, where he is now vice chair of the executive committee. After Tim Pawlenty decided not to run for a third term as governor, Daudt signed on to manage the 2010 gubernatorial endorsement campaign of former state Rep. Marty Seifert. . . .
Daudt was one of a number of Republicans endorsed by the "49ers," the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49. The move was seen by many observers as a reward for those legislators whose behind the scenes maneuvering kept the anti-union "Right to Work for Less" amendment from coming to the floor of both chambers for a vote.
While the footwork earned the support of some unions, the Star Tribune reported in Top donor to Minnesota GOP calling a timeout:
Bob Cummins, who has donated more than $3.5 million to Minnesota Republican causes, is telling allies he has had it with Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature and will not give their campaigns any cash this year, according to multiple sources.
Cummins, CEO of Plymouth-based Primera Technology, is reportedly frustrated over legislators' failure to approve a "right-to-work" constitutional amendment that would limit union power. At least 21 states have such restrictions.
A pillar of GOP financing in years past, Cummins' support could be especially critical for Republicans, who have seen contributions drop off as their money troubles mount.
Cummins' cash did come into play late in the game, when his wife became the biggest contributor for the campaign to past the voter restriction amendment. Her donation of $1.3 million constituted 87 percent of the unsuccessful Protect My Voter committee, MPR reported.
The Man from Crown voted against the bonding bill, PIM's Charley Shaw reported in House passes bonding bill with unanimous DFL support:
To conservative Republicans, the bill didn’t appear so modest. The 32 Republicans casting no votes is a list of the chamber’s right wing on fiscal matters. They are: Reps. Bruce Anderson of Buffalo Township, Diane Anderson of Eagan, Sarah Anderson of Plymouth, Mike Benson of Rochester, Kurt Bills of Rosemount, Mark Buesgens of Jordan, Kurt Daudt of Crown, Connie Doepke of Orono, Keith Downey of Edina, Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, Sondra Erickson of Princeton, Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe, Tom Hackbarth of Cedar, David Hancock of Bemidji, Mary Liz Holberg of Lakeville, Joe Hoppe of Chaska, Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury, Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, Ernie Leidiger of Mayer, Jenifer Loon of Eden Prairie, Tara Mack of Apple Valley, Joe McDonald of Delano, Pam Myhra of Burnsville, Joyce Peppin of Rogers, Branden Petersen of Andover, Duane Quam of Byron, Linda Runbeck of Circle Pines, Tim Sanders of Blaine, Peggy Scott of Andover, Kirk Stensrud of Eden Prairie, Doug Wardlow of Eagan and Kelby Woodard of Belle Plaine.
On the other hand, Daudt wasn't among the backers of Kurt Bills, PIM reported in Rick Perry, GOP lawmakers Daudt and Brown back Pete Hegseth in Senate bid:
Later Monday morning, the Hegseth campaign also announced the support state lawmakers Rep. Kurt Daudt and Sen. Dave Brown. Those two endorsements are notable given that Hegseth’s main opponent for the GOP nomination, state Rep. Kurt Bills, made a strong showing of his support support at the Capitol when he rolled out 34 endorsees, a total to which he’s added since then.
Daudt also co-chaired the state convention where his chosen US Senate candidate came in third.
PIM awarded Daudt its "One To Watch" Leaders in Public Policy awards this past spring.
Photo: Kurt Daudt clawed his way to an early leadership post, PIM's Briana Bierschbach reported in Daudt will cast long shadow, an interview given in January 2011, when Daudt became the House GOP’s lone rookie assistant majority leader.