Seifert hits Emmer on his DWIs.

The race for the GOP endorsement for governor just got a whole lot more interesting. Republican Marty Seifert’s campaign sent a letter to GOP delegates today criticizing Emmer’s two DWIs. The 4 page letter was authored by Sandra Berg, whose husband and son were injured by a drunk driver.

“Our choice for the next Republican endorsse for governor is an extremely serious matter.

It is important that we delegates are aware of important, relevant facts before the Republican state convention. To hold these facts back and instead allow the Democrats, the Star Tribune or other news media to air out the racts in a general election campaign would be a supreme disservice to our party.

The fact is one of the major candidates asking for our endorsement for governor has been arrested for drunk driving. Twice.”

Berg continued to write that she was disappointed that Emmer wasn’t entirely forthcoming about the incidents when asked at a recent event if the candidates had “any skeletons in their closets.” She also wrote Emmer tried to lighten drunk driving laws during his time in the Legislature.

Emmer’s DWIs aren’t new. They have been reported by a DFL leaning blogger and by the Star Tribune. Emmer’s campaign was quick to note that and characterize the letter as a “Desperate April Surprise”:

“We’re all used to October surprises by the Democrats, but we never thought Marty would sink so low to launch this April surprise against a fellow Republican at the last minute before the convention,” said Rep. Mark Buesgens, Chairman of the Emmer for Governor Campaign. “The fact is that Tom has been upfront with delegates about this issue. They were the subject of a newspaper article last year and Tom has been very forthcoming about his actions to anyone who asked.”

Question of the day: What do you think? Should this be an issue in the campaign?

Update: Here’s a statement from Seifert’s campaign manager, Kurt Daudt:

“Republican activist and state convention delegate Sandra Bergs family was victimized by a drunk driver. As a result, she was moved to share important information with fellow Republican state convention delegates about Tom Emmers record: two past DWI arrests; his efforts in 2009 as a legislator to weaken the states DWI laws and cover up the fact he broke them; and not sharing this information when asked about a possible October surprise at a recent candidate forum.

Sandras letter provides factual information about a vital issue for the delegates to consider: the electability and credibility of candidates. At her request, the Seifert campaign distributed her letter.

While there is much in common between Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer on the issues, there are differences too. Marty will continue to run an issues-based, substantive campaign to lead Minnesota forward.”

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Update to the Update:

Emmer just released this statement:

Drinking and driving is unacceptable.

Like many, when I was young and stupid, I did young and stupid things. I have taken, and always will take responsibility for my mistakes. I was fortunate that I did not cause physical harm to my family or, God forbid, to another and their family. I have used my life experience to be not only an example but a teacher to my own children and anyone I come in contact with to learn from my experience.

I understand my colleague Marty Seifert and his desire to win at any cost, and I know that politics can be a contact sport for many. But even I have to say this attempt to smear my good name (in light of the fact that I have long been public with my past) reaches a new low and ignores the understanding and compassion for others in Minnesota who, after making the same mistake, have gone on to be some of the best leaders and teachers in this state.

I hope everyone, including Rep. Seifert and his political professionals, will keep in mind that it is not only what we have done in our life that matters – it’s what we’ve learned from it. In fact, I not only take full responsibility for my past, I believe it is all of my life experience that has prepared me to lead.

Tom