Now we’ve really lost Tom Emmer

Mike KnaakColumn, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

We’ve lost Rep. Tom Emmer. We’ve never really had him you say, and there could be an argument for that position. Emmer rarely visits central Minnesota and much of his financial support comes from outside our area and outside the district.

But now we’ve really lost him.

Emmer’s GOP colleagues recently appointed him to lead the National Republican Campaign Committee. The NRCC is the campaign arm of the House GOP. It raises money for incumbents and challengers and develops campaign strategy.

Emmer has said his task for the next two years is to win back Republican control of the House of Representatives. He’ll do this by traveling around the country, recruiting candidates and helping them raise money. His weekend trips away from Washington, D.C., won’t be to central Minnesota but to congressional districts where Republicans hope to post a win.

A former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and failed candidate for governor, Emmer was re-elected to his third term in 2018. He was an early Donald Trump supporter and continues to stand by Trump’s side at political rallies and with his votes, including voting in December for $5.7 billion for Trump’s wall…a vote that touched off the government shutdown.

Emmer was elected in 2014 to replace Michele Bachmann in the 6th District, a district Trump carried by 26 points. Emmer probably figures his position in a deep-red House seat will allow him to focus on running the NRCC rather than having to worry about winning re-election.

Democrats should start now looking for a strong candidate to challenge him in 2020 and give him something to think about as he flies around the country trying to reclaim the House.

With Emmer joined at the hip to Trump, Democrats need to find a strong candidate to challenge him on his past positions.

On the environment, Emmer supports mineral exploration in the Superior National Forest.

On finances Emmer sponsored the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act. The law eased disclosure and compliance requirements for mortgages and benefited smaller lenders instead of borrowers.

On gun safety, Emmer supported making it easy for people with mental illness to buy guns. That measure was the first law the Republicans sent for Trump’s signature two years ago.

We’ve also lost whatever legislative clout Emmer had as part of the House majority. Emmer and his Trump team buddies won’t be able to act so fast this time. Republicans are in the minority now, so don’t look for Emmer to get any of his conservative ideas passed into law. Since his election, Emmer has never been part of the minority. A Dec. 29 New York Times story described what it’s like in the minority this way:

“Unlike the Senate, where individual members can exert some influence whether they are in the majority or not, those on the sidelines in the House have few options. After years of being in the know about the House agenda and majority strategy, Republican lawmakers will now struggle to even ascertain what the schedule is.

“’You control nothing,’ said Rep. Peter T. King, the New York Republican who will be experiencing his fourth transition in House power. ‘As far as calling the shots, we have nothing like the Senate where one guy can filibuster. You have no recourse.’”

When we look at financial contributions to Emmer’s campaigns, it’s easy to see why we lost him and why he focused on a narrow set of issues.

In the last election cycle, Emmer raised more than $2.4 million. Individuals and PACs associated with the insurance, securities, banking and real estate industries accounted for more than $580,000 of that total.

And where did the money come from? The top two contributors were associated with Davisco Foods, a cheese and food ingredient company headquartered in St. Peter, and Hubbard Broadcasting, owners of the KSTP empire based in St. Paul. A total of 12 individuals in Sartell and St. Joseph contributed to Emmer’s last campaign out of 648 individual contributors.

While we’ve lost Emmer for a number of reasons, Democrats may have found a chance to win the 6th District if they can find a strong candidate who challenges Emmer’s record.

Author: Mike Knaak

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