Zellers tosses in the towel [UPDATED]

Well, that was faster than expected.  Today, legislative Republicans gave up on their last-minute, no-chance plan to fund a portion of a new Minnesota Vikings stadium and scheduled a vote on the existing stadium proposal in the Minnesota House on Monday.

But even more than the horribly flawed new GOP plan died today.  The curtain was pulled back all the way — finally — on the failed leadership of House Speaker Kurt Zellers.  Zellers revealed — finally — that he was opposed to the Vikings stadium and wouldn’t lift a finger to support the package.  After months of bland platitudes and evasion, Zellers finally has revealed his true intentions.   More than that, though, Zellers revealed his complete unwillingess to work within the parameters of his own job as the leader of the House majority.

“We have difference of opinions & priorities. Voters picked a DFL Governor and a GOP legislature. Voters got what they asked for.”  — Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers

Minnesota has had divided government since 1990.  No one party has controlled the governor’s mansion and both houses of the Legislature since Rudy Perpich was Governor.  Never has the level of dysfunction in St. Paul been so high.  Yes, both parties share blame for this situation, it is incumbent on the key leaders — Zellers, Republican Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, and Governor Mark Dayton to do what it takes to make the state government function on behalf of its citizens (and all of them at times have failed in that role).  By obfuscating, playing political games, and then tossing in the towel when the situation got too hot to handle, Zellers has proven himself to be uniquely overmatched for his job as Speaker.

If the stadium vote fails Monday, Zellers will have rightfully earned his place as the primary goat in this fiasco.  More than that, he will have provided Exhibit A in the DFL case to retake the Legislature.

[UPDATE]:  Give Zellers credit for having the guts to go on KFAN with Dan Barreiro this afternoon.  Don’t give him credit for what he’s saying, though.  What a mess, including this gem:  “I want to see it pass. I won’t vote for it, but I want it to pass.”  More to come later.

[UPDATE #2]:  You can listen to the Barreiro-Zellers interview here.

The big takeaway, other than often frequent incoherence of what Zellers was saying as best demonstrated by the quote above, was the reality that the next phase of “kill the bill without looking like we’re killing it” strategy is to demand that Gov. Dayton sign the legislative tax bill in order garner the necessary Republican votes for the stadium.  Zellers did his best to hide this element of the strategy, but the gig was up at the end of the interview when Barreiro finally got him to admit that the one thing Dayton could do to earn GOP votes would be to sign the tax bill.  That’s why the vote on the stadium isn’t until Monday — to allow more time for negotiating and application of political pressure.

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7 Responses to “Zellers tosses in the towel [UPDATED]”

  1. Nice try. Cave in on the bill or get a DFL house? There are certainly better options then that before us.

    • I didn’t suggest those were the two options, John. You should read more carefully. Zellers should have been very clear from the beginning what was/wasn’t acceptable to him and what he would do/not do. Instead, he was coy and evasive. That’s not leadership.

      • If the stadium vote fails Monday, … he will have provided Exhibit A in the DFL case to retake the Legislature. What am I missing?

        • If the stadium vote fails, people are going rightly point to the Speaker’s record of dissembling on this issue and conclude that he was working to undermine the deal from the beginning.

          If you’re against the stadium, then be against the stadium so that people know where you stand. That’s what leadership is about.

          And then, when people call you on your lack of leadership and failure to work with the Governor to get things accomplished, you can’t just throw up your hands and blame the people for electing a divided government. Well, if divided government is the problem, then the people can fix it in 2012 by kicking out the Republican legislature.

  2. He said “voters got what they asked for”. No, I think the voters would like to see legislators compromise and get somethng done at the capitol.

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