Tag Archives: Amy Koch

Looking for a Republican suburban woman and other thoughts

MinnPost ran a story last week on prospective GOP candidates for Governor.  Of note in that story was a quote from prominent Republican operative Ben Golnik lamenting the fact that “the ideal candidate — a female from the suburbs” wasn’t out there.  As such, I found it interesting that the name of State Senator Julianne Ortman didn’t come up.  Ortman’s resume — in the Senate over a decade, former Deputy Majority Leader, a caucus leader on tax and legal issues — stacks up comparably against many of the other named contenders.  And she’s one of the Senate GOP’s better communicators, as evidenced by her continuing high profile despite not holding a formal leadership position anymore.

I have no idea if Ortman is interested in higher office — perhaps she’s signaled she’s not, which is why she didn’t make this piece.  But it seems that for many, the list of women available for statewide runs in the Minnesota Republican Party ends with Laura Brod now that Amy Koch is out of the Senate.

Given that the current list of prospective candidates all have significant question marks as it relates to their ability to either earn the Republican endorsement or win a general election — Sen. Dave Thompson might be too conservative for a statewide election, Rep. Kurt Zellers was widely criticized for his leadership (or lack thereof) last session as Speaker of the House, Sen. David Hann was an also-ran in the 2010 race for Governor, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has perhaps spent too much time on gun issues for the base’s liking, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has already lost one statewide race (Attorney General in 2006) — it seems maybe the list of usual suspects should be expanded.  But, of course, I doubt the Republicans are looking to me for advice.

Here are some other things happening in the community:

  • In case you haven’t already heard, two new restaurants opened in Chaska in the last week or so:  BullChicks in Chaska Commons, and Egg & Pie Diner in downtown.  I’m hearing positive word-of-mouth on both.
  • The two facility taskforces convened by the Eastern Carver County School District continue to make progress.  The High School taskforce is wrestling with the question of balancing programming and demographics between Chaska and Chanhassen High Schools.  Meanwhile, the Early Childhood through Middle School task force is working on finding the best way to deal with overcrowded schools on the west side of the District as well as finding a permanent home for the La Academia Spanish immersion program.  I am a member of the Early Childhood through Middle School task force  and I can attest to the difficult challenges that lie ahead here.  Over the next few months, there will be opportunities for public input on potential changes — I encourage you to keep your eyes open and attend those sessions when they occur.
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A final look back at the 2011-2012 legislative session for Ortman, Hoppe, and Leidiger

Minnesota’s Legislature gavels back into session tomorrow, with DFL majorities ready to take the reins from the Republicans.  Carver County’s population growth over the last decade will mean additional representation for the County, as northeast Chanhassen will be represented by legislative newcomers State. Sen David Osmek and State Rep. Cindy Pugh, while the rest of the county will return State Sen. Julianne Ortman, State Rep. Joe Hoppe, and State Rep. Ernie Leidiger to their positions.  Before we turn the page on the 2011-2012 session, let’s look back at the highlights and lowlights for Ortman, Hoppe, and Leidiger as well as a look forward to what they might do in this session.

State. Sen Julianne Ortman

34Ortman

State Sen. Julianne Ortman

By the numbers:  Chief authored 61 bills, and 16 were passed by the Legislature (10 were signed into law and 6 vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton).

Highlights:  Ortman was one of the most powerful figures in the Senate last session, chairing the Tax Committee and being elevated to Deputy Majority Leader following the Amy Koch scandal.  Legislatively, Ortman’s role on the Tax Committee gave her leverage in the budget negotiations in 2011.  Ortman also was able to pass some useful judicial reform, raising the dollar limit for cases that can be pursued in conciliation court.

Lowlights:  The rest of Ortman’s judicial reform agenda was ill-considered, and vetoed by Gov. Dayton.  Ortman also regrettably tried to follow along with her Republican colleagues and introduced a constitutional amendment to  fix a legislative problem — by putting limits on state spending in the constitution.  Finally, Ortman rather publicly flip-flopped on tax credits for renters, raising taxes on many.

The Future:  Ortman will be the ranking minority member of the Senate Tax Committee, which will give her a platform to critique and potentially influence the Governor’s expected tax reform package.

State Rep. Joe Hoppe

Rep. Joe Hoppe

State Rep. Joe Hoppe

By the numbers:  Chief authored 31 bills, and 11 were passed by both houses of the Legislature (9 were signed into law, and 2 were vetoed).

Highlights:  Hoppe chaired the Commerce Committee and he continued his record of working on business regulation reform, passing bills that tweaked rules related to health care premium-setting, licensing in the real estate market and allowing blackjack at Canterbury Park and Running Aces while allowing tribal casinos to do off-track betting on horse racing.  Hoppe was also a key supporter of the Minnesota Vikings stadium effort.

Lowlights:  Hoppe had sought a significant reform to Minnesota’s Public Employee Insurance Program (PEIP), changing the process for education unions to enter PEIP.  Currently, if a majority of eligible union members approve, the union can enter PEIP.  Under the legislation, additional approval by the employer (in this case, the school district) would have been required as well.  This was a serious point of contention between school boards and Education Minnesota.  Gov. Dayton vetoed the measure.  Hoppe also — after repeatedly claiming that he didn’t like legislating by constitutional amendment — carried Ortman’s spending-related amendment in the House and voted for the gay marriage and voter ID amendments.

Looking forward:  Hoppe will be the Republican lead on the Commerce Committee.  Given his good working relationship with DFL Chair Rep. Joe Atkins, we can expect Hoppe to continue to produce similar efforts at regulatory reform.

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger

Rep. Ernie Leidiger

State Rep. Ernie Leidiger

By the numbers:  Chief authored 10 bills, and 2 were passed by both houses of the Legislature (1 signed into law, 1 vetoed).

Highlights:  Leidiger had few legislative accomplishments to note during the session.  The one bill he authored that was signed into law requires law enforcement to fingerprint those arrested for violation of a domestic abuse no contact order.

Lowlights:  Leidiger’s bill to mandate use of the federal E-Verify system for all state employees was vetoed by Gov. Dayton for being duplicative of existing state processes.  Leidiger also, as you may have heard, made some waves for inviting controversial preacher Bradlee Dean to give the invocation in the House in 2011 and for violating two campaign finance laws by paying for a speeding ticket using campaign funds.

Looking Forward:  Leidiger was one of the least productive of the House’s GOP freshmen last session.  Out of 31, he ranked 29th in bills chief authored, tied for 22nd in bills signed into law, and was only asked to participate in one of 92 conference committees to hash out final versions of bills.  As a member of the legislative minority now, Leidiger looks destined for a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing unless he radically changes his approach to the job.

Brodkorb’s blog goes from boring to lazy

Former Minnesota state Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb’s new blog, politics.mn, debuted back in August.  It seemed to be  promising.  After all, Brodkorb was highly influential in the Minnesota Republican Party until his dalliances with Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch got himself fired and ended (for now) her political career.  Before becoming part of the party engine, Brodkorb ran his own influential blog, Minnesota Democrats Exposed.

Since its launch, though, Brodkorb’s new blog has mostly trafficked in regurgitated conventional wisdom (Kurt Bills is running a bad campaign?  Really?) and random fact-checking.  It’s been bland and boring, something that I don’t think anyone really expected.  Brodkorb presumably knows this stuff inside and out, so either he’s not as smart as everyone claims he is or he’s holding the juicy stuff. (Maybe his ongoing lawsuit over l’affaire Koch is tempering things, or perhaps Brodkorb really has turned over a new leaf.)

But the most recent post on the site, an “analysis” of Rick Nolan’s campaign for Congress in the 8th District turns the corner from boring to lazy.  The premise is intriguing:  are there things in Rick Nolan’s previous public service that are hurting his campaign this year?

And it all starts out well enough, with a recounting of Nolan’s history, including his well-documented and very public support of Ted Kennedy’s run against incumbent President Jimmy Cater (and Minnesota’s own Vice President Walter Mondale, who Brodkorb seems to be hinting still may be against Nolan).  Brodkorb also approvingly cites press releases from Nolan’s 2012 opponent, Rep. Chip Cravaack detailing missed votes by Nolan and statements 35 years apart that are in contradiction with one another.  OK, fine.  How is that impacting things today?

Well, the only evidence of Nolan having trouble today is the defection of two officials who supported one of Nolan’s opponents in the 2012 primary to Cravaack.  Why did these two officials choose to endorse Cravaack?  Must be the Kennedy issue or the other issues cited above, right?  Maybe Walter Mondale told them to switch sides?

Nope.  In fact, the two officials switched their support to Cravaack because of a specific current issue — mining.  Not a mention of Nolan’s past history at all.  Is there a lot of evidence that 8th District DFLers are hopelessly divided over Nolan?  There doesn’t seem to be.  Nolan easily won the DFL endorsement battle, which meant he was victorious among the very activists you would expect to have long memories about such things.

This post wasn’t “analysis” at all.  Rather, it was a chance to toss up some Chip Cravaack talking points about things in Nolan’s past, point out something unrelated and shout “Dems in disarray”.  That play was worn out years ago.  Sorry, Mike, we hoped for better.

Strib: Koch meeting took place in Chanhassen

The Star Tribune provides the timeline surrounding the departures of Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Senate Communications Director Michael Brodkorb last week.  Here’s an interesting piece of the story with a Carver County twist (emphasis added):

Two sources with direct knowledge of the incident who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the senators held a grinding, emotional, three-hour meeting with Koch at the Minneapolis Club about options. Exhausted, they broke for the night and met again Thursday at a location in Chanhassen.

Sources said on Thursday the senators gave Koch three choices: Deny the allegations, resign as majority leader or face the fact that they would share the allegations with other Senate leaders.

Koch has kept silent since these revelations came out on Friday. Brodkorb, however, has been actively tweeting, and doing so strangely given the sort of allegations swirling.  Here’s an example:

City Pages also uncovered a domestic dispute police call to the Brodkorb residence this summer.  Details here.

Let’s hope these families can find some healing.

WCCO: Koch Allegedly Had Inappropriate Relationship With Staffer, Plus Other GOP Bad News [UPDATED]

WCCO’s Pat Kessler is reporting that Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch resigned her post Thursday after she was confronted by GOP Senate leaders about allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a Senate staffer, according to high level State Capitol sources.

This would be a sad ending to the story, if true.  Although I can’t say I agreed with Senator Koch on many issues, she was a capable leader of the Senate Caucus and seemingly had built a strong relationship with Governor Mark Dayton.

[UPDATE, 2:55 Friday]:  Headline updated to reflect the fact that the relationship is alleged at this point.

An interesting note from the WCCO story is that four Senators apparently confronted Koch on Wednesday.  One has to wonder if Chanhassen’s Julianne Ortman was one of them.  Ortman, as chair of the Tax Committee was an important leader in the caucus.

[UPDATE #2, 3:10 p.m.]:  At a Capitol press conference, it is reported that the four Senators in the meeting with Koch were Sen. Geoff Michel, Sen. David Hann, Sen. David Senjem, and Sen. Chris Gerlach.  Gerlach says Koch did not admit or deny the relationship.

[UPDATE #3, 3:30 p.m.]:  Michel reports that the staffer allegedly involved is a direct report.

Also, it’s interesting to note the very real divergence between what was said yesterday and what was being said today.  Even though Sen. Hann was in the meeting with Koch on Wednesday, he said yesterday that the resignation was a “total surprise”, even though the four Senators in the meeting all reported today that Koch brought the topic up.

Koch, as well, chose to provide a spinned account of events as well, saying that there was no hidden agenda behind her decision.  But, I guess that’s not really a surprise — that’s the pattern for politicians of all stripes who get caught in this sort of thing.

[UPDATE #4, 4:00 p.m.]:  The rough day for the GOP gets rougher.  Party Chair candidate Brandon Sawalich was arrested yesterday for having a vehicle with expired tabs.  Today, he withdrew from the race after it was revealed the AP was pursuing allegations of a sexual harrassment claim that Sawalich settled in 2003.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arwood revealed he was convicted in 2005 of attempting to go through airport security with a loaded handgun.

And, State Senator Mike Parry is planning a press conference later this hour.  Parry is running for the U.S House in District 1 and his campaign manager is Michael Brodkorb, who also works as the Executive Assistant to the Senate GOP Majority Caucus.

[UPDATE #5, 6:20 p.m.]:  Sen. Parry canceled his press conference.

[UPDATE #6, 9:15 p.m.]:  MPR is reporting that Michael Brodkorb is no longer employed by the GOP Senate Caucus.

[UPDATE #7, Saturday 3:40 p.m.]:  Brodkorb has left the Parry campaign, per the Pioneer Press.

Republicans wanted complete capitulation on divisive social agenda to balance budget

In the last post, we talked about the debt-laden revenue offers from Republican leaders.  Now, we find out what Republicans wanted in return for those revenues — the entire laundry list of Republican social policy.  You can read the entire list at the link, but here’s a few of the more notable provisions:

  • Collective bargaining “reform” in public schools
  • Stem cell research restrictions
  • Ban of abortions after 20 weeks
  • No state funding of abortion
  • Voter ID
  • “15 by 15” bill
  • Prevailing wage reform
  • Tort reform
  • Acceptance of the Republican redistricting plan

Republicans just can’t help themselves, it seems.  They talk about being concerned about the budget and spending, but when push comes to shove, it’s always about their divisive social agenda.  When faced with the prospect of a potential government shutdown, Republicans put these issues ahead of the serious financial issues we face as a state.

Disappointing

Barring something unforseen at this point, Minnesota’s state government is heading for a shutdown tomorrow.  While politicians in St. Paul point fingers, Minnesotans are going to pay the price.  Let’s talk about three reasons we are in this position.

1.  Politics ain’t beanbag.  But it shouldn’t be a game of chicken, either.  Let’s fact it:  both Governor Dayton and the Republican legislative majorities started with budget proposals that they knew were completely unacceptable to the other side.  There’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.  That’s all part of the political dance that is ultimately required to get to a conclusion here.  The problem has been the lack of movement (more so on one side than the other) since then. 

The Republican legislative majorities — despite their claims of compromise — haven’t moved their spending targets in total since their first budget proposal in March.  Yes, they’ve shuffled dollars from one department to another, but haven’t offered any sort of compromise on the revenue issue. After passing their first round of budget bills in April, they dithered for over a month reconciling minor differences in conference committee before passing their final budget in the last week of the session.  What did they use that month for?  Distractions like voter ID and the gay marriage amendment.

Gov. Dayton has substantially altered his plan — tilting his fix from two-thirds tax increases to two-thirds spending cuts — but did not detail the spending side of his most recent $35.8 billion proposal.  Additionally, although he has signalled openness to other revenue options other than his income tax increase on the top 2% of earners, he has not publically specified the sorts of proposals he would be willing to entertain as alternatives.

Collectively, we’ve seen the positions of the two sides publicly harden the closer we’ve gotten to the shutdown when it should be moving the other way (although, privately, there are some signs of progress). 

2.  Newbie alert.  Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders Sen. Amy Koch and Rep. Kurt Zellers are all new in their positions.  The Republican legislative majorities are filled with freshmen who ran on their version of “fiscal responsibility”.  All want to put a “win” on the board early in their terms, and that limits their willingness to come to a reasonable compromise.

3.  Somebody doesn’t know how to count.  Compounding the problems the two sides have had from a purely ideological basis has been the inability of the two sides to agree on the base numbers.  From the Republican insistence early on to use their own numbers instead of the usual fiscal notes to the continual usage of incorrect base spending numbers for the 2010-11 biennium, it’s been a remarkable display of trying to force facts to fit into a political box.  If you can’t agree on basic underlying data, it’s going to be hard to agree on the decisions you make based on that data.

Let’s hope that both sides can finally begin to work together and give Minnesota the moderate compromise that voters demand and deserve.  GOP leaders need to accept some forms of new revenue, and Gov. Dayton will likely have to take on some additional budget cuts.  A budget in the $35 billion range is achieveable and would represent a good-faith compromise.

The collateral damage of a shutdown — from laid-off employees to closed state parks — shouldn’t be inflicted on the people because the political class has failed us.

MN Progressive Project: It’s as if Amy Koch is refusing to understand taxes

It seems intuitive that if business owners pay more taxes, they’ll hire fewer people, so Republicans play on that, and don’t tell people that businesses actually avoid taxes if they invest. Legislators, however, are supposed to understand this stuff, and even if they don’t to begin with, it has been explained over and over again to them during the debate.

Read more at:  MN Progressive Project:: It’s as if Amy Koch is refusing to understand taxes.


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