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Rudy Takala's Columns

Rep. Daudt Elected MN House Minority Leader

Kurt Daudt was elected minority leader of the Minnesota House Republicans on November 10th. I have known Kurt for six years. Pictured at left are the two of us at the Republican National Convention this past August.
 
Daudt is an interesting choice. He is a member of the establishment, of course, having served as Marty Seifert's campaign manager in 2010, and having supported Pete Hegseth for Senate in 2012. Both campaigns attacked non-establishment folks pretty aggressively, so unsurprisingly, both fell short in their efforts. Daudt's track record shows that he either overestimates the power of "clique politics," or that he would rather lose than reach outside of his clique.
 
He has been groomed by folks in the Republican establishment for awhile. When I met him in 2006, he was an "appointee" of the chairman on the Republican board of the 8th congressional district. (It was a contrived position meant to solidify power for the chairman of the board by giving him additional support on the board.) In 2007, Daudt was elected to the state Republican executive committee. Today, he is its longest serving member.
 
I've interacted with him frequently in the years to pass. The congressional district board of which he is a part has frequently worked to prevent legislative endorsements in my House district, because they know they will not like the outcome. In 2010 and 2012, we went without endorsements for our House candidates. When my county set up its own process of endorsing a candidate, Daudt called to say that we could all go to jail. (We never went to jail.) Click here to see that story, published in Politics in Minnesota's newsletter.
 
However, though he has been groomed for some time, it seems as though this year's circumstances have made his present rise more precipitous than judicious. It is ironic that Daudt was selected for the minority leader position in a season directly following one in which Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and RPM Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb were forced to leave for their extramarital affair. Daudt, 39, has never been married. That is not in itself a bad thing, but it does make one wonder whether he was the safest choice at this time.
 
Additionally, Daudt was just elected to the House in 2010. He hardly has the record that is traditional for legislative leaders. Before him, Kurt Zellers served in the House for six years before coming minority leader. Marty Seifert first served in the House for ten years, and Steve Sviggum for fourteen years. Daudt's short time in the legislature makes him unpredictable.
 
We can see his reflexes within the Republican Party. He doesn't like help from people who are not a part of the clique, who don't have something to gain. "The  clique," the establishment, never does; they don't know how to deal with people who don't want anything. They don't know how to deal with ideologues. They aren't comfortable around them, because they don't understand them and think of them as too naive and old-fashioned to be useful.
 
How will that translate into legislative leadership? Well, we could expect it to mean increased Republican support for big spending bills, but the Democratic majority won't need Republican help for that this year anyway. More troubling may be the implications for next year's legislative candidates; Daudt and his friends have aggressively tried to pick and choose those candidates in their own district. Trying to stop endorsing conventions is one method they have used.
 
The dynamics of the state, though, will not allow Daudt to use those tactics everywhere without consequence. Daudt has done a good job of adapting to his circumstances in the past; he will need to do so again to survive politically. If his old methods are too ingrained in him to change, he isn't going to make it very long. Time will tell what path he takes.

5 Comments to Rep. Daudt Elected MN House Minority Leader:

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Bill Jungbauer on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 5:29 PM
Marty Seifert was a damn good house minority leader. He could always be counted on to return a call to any BPOU chair within 24 hours. While he served in that position there was a Republican candidate in every district. He would travel the state and speak at any BPOU that asked. While I was chair of the old 39A, I had never received a return call from Kurt Zellers. I have heard this complaint from other BPOU chairs as well. As for Kurt Daudt, he's proven to be divisive. IMHO, he's not up to the task. That is, unless he's willing to work with ALL Republican party offices. Especially those he disagrees with, the majority of which are located in the 4th and 5th congressional districts. Those darn Ron Paul'ers and Libertarians in general will be a big challenge to him. Time will tell if he can stand up to the democrat majority without compromising conservative values, returning ALL phone calls even from the lowliest of BPOU's mired in the most liberal of districts, and see that every district has a candidate in 2014.
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Bill Jungbauer on Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:34 PM
I'm not confused Kyle. Marty went above and beyond. He was a leader. Kurt Zellers was a disappointment compared to Marty to those of us in the trenches. I know Rudy. He's chaired a BPOU and put his name on a ballot. I have to ask, Who is Kyle Rhodes?


Kyle Rhodes on Thursday, November 15, 2012 12:13 PM
Bill, you seem to be confused. It is not Kurt's job to take the phone calls of BPOU chairs. It is not his job to make sure every district has a candidate. His job is to lead the Republican House Caucus. What he does beyond that is up to him and is purely voluntary. Rudy, can you point to one thing that you have accomplished politically?
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Bill Jungbauer on Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:35 PM
I'm not confused Kyle. Marty went above and beyond. He was a leader. Kurt Zellers was a disappointment compared to Marty to those of us in the trenches. I know Rudy. He's chaired a BPOU and put his name on a ballot. I have to ask, Who is Kyle Rhodes?


Rudy Takala on Monday, November 19, 2012 6:15 PM
I agree with you, Bill. Marty always returned my calls. His campaign staff tried to subvert my group because it was too conservative for them, but Marty was willing to take my calls and explain that he was going to let his staff do what they felt was necessary for him to win. Kurt Zellers, on the other hand, gave me his cell number in 2010 but never returned or acknowledged one of my calls. He would smile to your face but knife you in the back. Both were establishment Republicans, but Marty had better character. (For the record, it is their responsibility to promote their party. If you ignore phone calls from the leaders of your party, you're not fit to be a leader yourself. You're just lazy.)
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