Former Republican Gov. Al Quie, in a very Al Quie move, has now thrown his weight between two candidates running primary elections against the GOP’s endorsed candidates in statewide races.
Retiring Rep. Jim Abeler, who is running for US Senate against GOP endorsee Mike McFadden, on Monday announced that Quie would support his candidacy. Quie’s support for Abeler followed an announcement on June 25 that he was backing former Rep. Marty Seifert’s primary bid against endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson to take on Gov. Mark Dayton in November. It also follows a career of bucking prevailing party trends — and an attempt at forced hiatus from the the state organization — that have helped define Quie’s political life.
“I never worry about endorsement,” Quie told PIM in a Monday interview. “I believe in the primaries.”
So far, it appears Quie is the first former Republican governor to weigh in on the races. His decision to support Abeler was based on Abeler’s health care experience in the state Legislature. Quie said he’s backing Seifert, who the former governor said he has liked for some time, at least in part because of Seifert’s stance on judicial issues.
“It’s just a reminder to people that I’m still here, I’m credible and we’re still working,” Abeler said of the endorsement.
Abeler also noted Quie’s ouster from the party as part of a glowing evaluation of his political ally as “highly ethical.” Abeler used that characterization to say that his aim is to bring Minnesotans together. “There’s too much squabbling between the parties — and within the party,” he added.
Likewise, in a release announcing Quie’s endorsement, Seifert praised Quie for taking risks and offering nontraditional ideas. When reminded on Monday of his removal from the party in December 2010, Quie let out a loud laugh.”You can’t kick a person out of a political party,” he said. “The reason I laughed is that it so plain stupid.”
Quie said he has since participated in precinct caucuses and been a party delegate, despite the ouster. In addition to serving as the governor of Minnesota from 1978 to 1982, Quie also spent time in the state Senate and the US House of Representatives.