Last Saturday, during the running of Grandma’s Marathon C&B Publisher Shawn Towle happened upon Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) in Canal Park. The Speaker was alone, without an entourage and, when asked about his presence in the Zenith City said, “I was going to run this year, but with the session, I just didn’t have the time. I am here supporting a few friends.”
Towle engaged the Speaker asking about the feasibility of having a special session and initially, Daudt maintained the “party line.” He said, “The Governor is going to have to give on a few things, and Southwest Corridor is a non-starter, and he knows that.” He continued, “I think we’re close, there’s no way we can make it happen by July 1st, but it would need to happen before Labor Day.”
Towle asked about the size of the Bonding Bill, to which the Speaker answered, “We put forward our bill ($990 million) and he wants a few things and if it’s not too much we should get there.”
Towle then challenged a statement made by the Speaker, in which he said, there were enough votes in the chamber for a $1.4 million Bonding Bill, saying there were enough combined Republican/DFL votes, but not enough Republican votes to make up the majority of the 81. Daudt’s response not in my caucus.
During the bulk of the conversation Daudt referred to the Governor multiple times, but no Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-03, Cook). This raises an issue of whether Daudt sees Bakk as a factor in the negotiation. We understand the two sides are meeting shortly (10:00 AM) and will have an additional report later.
The timing of Daudt’s comments, not before July 1st and before September 5th are quite telling. This means the Primary on August 9th appears to be the defining factor. Daudt is facing a Primary Challenge from Alan Duff, a Tea Party Republican, and Veteran’s advocate. You may remember we pointed out the fact the Tea Party of MN had parked a paneled van outside of Daudt’s district challenging his conservative credentials.
We learned later Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-31B, Cedar) was one who came to Daudt’s defense and tried to have the trailer removed. Hackbarth too is facing a Primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate and his challenger Calvin Bahr defeated him for the GOP endorsement.
Our happenstance meeting of Daudt in Duluth may be a testament to the fact he is not taking Duff too seriously, and portrays a bit of self-confidence, though his critics are hoping it betrays a bit of hubris. Those hoping for Daudt’s failure point to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and his loss to Tea Party candidate David Brat (R).
We agree Daudt may view the political landscape far differently after August 9th.