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The Capitol Note: FitzSimmons, Holberg won’t seek re-election; Daudt survives GOP challenge

Mike Mullen//February 24, 2014

The Capitol Note: FitzSimmons, Holberg won’t seek re-election; Daudt survives GOP challenge

Mike Mullen//February 24, 2014

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt  survived an endorsement challenge. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt survived an endorsement challenge. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

1.) If there was a theme in the two much-watched GOP races at this weekend’s endorsing conventions, you might call it Single Ballot Theory:

Rep. Dave FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, who drew down the wrath of activists back home for sponsoring a ‘civil marriage’ amendment to the gay marriage bill and then voting for the bill in 2013, withdrew his reelection bid just prior to balloting at the District 30B convention on Saturday. Activist Eric Lucero, who was first into the ring of three FitzSimmons challengers, took the endorsement with 74 percent of the vote on the first ballot.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, quickly put down an endorsement challenge from Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin at the District 31A convention, surpassing the 60 percent threshold on the first ballot – though just barely (61 percent). Korin had criticized Daudt for somehow failing to stand up to DFLers during the 2013 legislative session, but the abiding sense among Republican activists is that the challenge was tied up with questions and suspicions arising from an episode in Montana last fall that saw a friend of Daudt’s pull a gun on someone in Daudt’s presence.

In other campaign-season news, nine-term Republican Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville (58A), announced that she won’t seek another term. Holberg, who chaired the House Ways and Means Committee during the Republican majority of 2011-12, has been best known around the Capitol for her detailed mastery of the state budget and her consistently outspoken advocacy for data privacy interests.

2.) According to the Star Tribune’s session-eve Minnesota Poll release, six of every 10 Minnesotans want to see the state’s expected budget surplus returned to taxpayers in the form of rebate checks. The demand is highest in outstate Minnesota, where the figure is 73 percent, and in the suburbs (61 percent). Some 32 percent wanted to see any surplus devoted to new state spending. Respondents also said they approved of Gov. Mark Dayton’s upper-bracket income tax hike by a 65-24 percent spread.

3.) Representatives of Target Corp. will be called in to testify before the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee this Thursday, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Legislators, including chair Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, are expected to question Target officials about the massive data breach which saw millions of Americans’ credit card records hacked following purchases at Target stores. While federal government figures have also begun to investigate the data privacy failure, Atkins said much of the activity around that issue is taking place at the state level, adding, “It’s hard to get things done in Washington, D.C., right now.”


  • Gov. Mark Dayton will meet with House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk today, and has staff meetings throughout the rest of the day.
  • The Minnesota Business Partnership is hiring for a position that would handle both healthcare policy and grassroots advocacy for that organization. Qualified applicants should have a good understanding of state and federal laws and practices and 3-5 years of public policy experience. More information here.
  • The five House Democrats taking the “minimum wage challenge” will hold a press conference in the State Office Building at 11:00 a.m. to discuss their experience living on limited funds during the previous week. The press conference is in room 300N.
  • Faegre Baker Daniels lobbyist Tom Freeman added a pair of major corporate clients to his stable last week, registering ArcelorMittal USA and Mayo Clinic with the state; he becomes the hospital system’s eighth lobbyist currently on retainer.
  • This Thursday marks the deadline to apply for an opening with the House Republican caucus communications team. The job is full-time, and comes with a salary of $1,665 semi-monthly, depending on experience. More information here.
  • Lobbyist Jill Sletten signed-on to work on behalf of the Womens Foundation of Minnesota, as well as WomenVenture, and is presently the only advocate registered to represent either organization.

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