StarTribune reporter Richard Meryhew paid a visit to Northfield and a few other towns in District 25B last week, asking citizens their reaction to the state budget battle at the Capitol. His story appeared in yesterday’s paper: Voters say: Enough Already. In politically diverse House District 25B, folks wonder how compromise became a four-letter word at the Capitol.
Among the Northfielders he interviewed: Chuck DeMann, Peggy Prowe, Sue Lloyd, Al Linder, Jim Johnson, and me.
Sue Lloyd was quoted: "How we’ve come to such extremes I don’t know… Are there middle [ground] people? I don’t know anymore."
Sue, we had a "middle ground" legislator not too long ago: Ray Cox, a moderate Republican by most measures. Back in 2007, Ray got a measly 26% score from the Taxpayers League, was at times branded at RINO by some in the GOP, and received the endorsement from the Star Tribune. Ray wrote in a Jan. 2008 blog post after he lost the special Senate election to Kevin Dahle:
In the recent Senate Special election I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. That meant a lot to me. The editors and writers there conducted a thorough review of my voting record. They conducted a comprehensive interview about current issues. While they were careful to keep partisan politics out of their discussion, the editors are well aware of the environment that the legislature must conduct its work. They noted my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on state issues in an attempt to resolve some of the more pressing concerns.
Northfield’s liberal voters rejected this moderate Republican and instead voted for Dahle in large numbers. Likewise, Cox was not enough of a social conservative for a large number of voters in the western part of the district and so they didn’t vote in large enough numbers to offset the liberal vote in Northfield.
Northfield’s liberals won the battle of 2008 but they lost the war in 2010 when the Republicans fielded much more conservative candidates in Al DeKruif and Kelby Woodard who were able to get out the D-25 conservative vote in big numbers.
So for 25B voters to now complain about extremes, partisanship, and gridlock seems a little disingenuous. Al and Kelby and the rest of the freshman Republicans know who and what got them there. Why compromise with Gov. Dayton until you have to?
Wayne Cox, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice, had a commentary in last week’s Strib titled The state’s GOP has lost its way – and many party veterans know it. He criticized the GOP for being "Not Your Mother’s Republican Party" because the voices of moderate Republicans like Arne Carlson, Duane Benson, Dave Jennings, Al Quie, and Dave Durenberger were no longer being heard by the GOP.
Were he writing about Rice County, he’d likely name Ray Cox and Tom Neuville.