On Monday, DFL Sen. Tarryl Clark was the final vote on a budget balancing bill that would have cut government spending and raised income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners. It usually doesn’t matter when a person votes unless the vote is tied 33-33. For roughly twenty minutes the board was held open as the Senate waited for Clark to vote. Clark was out of the Senate chambers attending to what she said was a medical emergency for her child.
The vote could be considered a political liability for Clark, the DFL endorsed candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District. On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign manager, Gina Countryman, worked to display the difference in an e-mail to supporters:
At a time when the people of Minnesota and the 6th Congressional District are looking for solutions to the economic crisis, a clear distinction has been made between Michele Bachmann and her opponent.
While Michele was touring the 6th Congressional District talking about job creation and other ways of improving the economic conditions around the district, her Democrat opponent cast the final and deciding vote in the State Senate to put $435 million in new taxes on the backs of the hard-working Minnesotans. Not only would this vote give Minnesota the distinction of the 5th highest tax bracket in the nation, but it would affect more than 40,000 small businesses across the state. At a time when the economy is already suffering, the last thing we should be doing is placing burdens on the job creators of our state.
The difference between Michele and her opponent could not be clearer. While Michele has a record of fighting for lower taxes, reducing government spending and ensuring that Minnesotans have the tools they need to succeed, “Taxin'” Tarryl Clark has had a career of voting for tax increases that would hit families and small businesses the hardest.
It isn’t clear whether this particular vote will be a deciding factor in the race for Congress especially since Clark, the Assistant Majority Leader in the Minnesota Senate, has voted for other tax hikes during her time in the Senate. On Monday, she did release a statement defending her vote:
I believe in fiscal responsibility. Just like every family has to balance their checkbook, we have to balance our state’s budget. Last year, we passed a balanced budget but the Governor rejected our approach. A year later, we find ourselves in an even deeper hole that must be addressed – and unfortunately, the easy answers are long gone. The budget we passed today is largely comprised of deep cuts. But it doesn’t do what the Governor’s unilateral actions did: leave countless Minnesotans out in the cold, bankrupt our schools, and pass the buck onto local property taxpayers.
I’ve always tried to do what was right, rather than what was safe, and fought tirelessly for the people I represent. It may be easier to just say no, but I’ve spent my career being a part of the solution – and that means making tough decisions. Among the tough choices we made are deep cuts to our state’s budget – cuts that go all the way to the bone, to the tune of $737 million with this bill. Today’s cuts are in addition to the billions in cuts over the last few years. These are real cuts that affect real people.
No doubt there will be overheated partisan attacks by those who have offered no solutions of their own. But I’m not here to advance my own personal agenda. I was elected to get the job done, to put Minnesota’s fiscal house back in order – and that’s what we did today.
Going forward, I will continue to seek common ground with the Governor and my colleagues from the other side of the aisle so that we can get the job done for the people who sent us here, and I will continue to work to ensure Minnesota’s budget is balanced – and not on the backs of those middle class families who are already stretched thin in these tough economic times.
UPDATE: Clark’s DFL opponent in the primary, Maureen Reed, sent this note to supporters touting her electability:
In a conservative leaning district, we cannot beat Michele Bachmann with another partisan politician. Unfortunately, Tarryl Clark’s work as a state senate Assistant Majority Leader has given Michele Bachmann and the Minnesota Republican Party fuel to fire their partisan rhetoric and name calling.
In fact, months before the election, Bachmann has already attacked Senator Clark as a “tax and spend liberal.” Today, the Star Tribune reported that Republicans have dubbed Senator Clark, “Taxin’ Tarryl.” On the other extreme, Tarryl Clark once referred to Michele Bachmann as a “devil in a blue dress.” The name calling is just more politics as usual. This needs to change.
This race needs to focus on who is the best candidate for the residents of the sixth district – who is the best candidate to solve the problems of unemployment, home foreclosure and health care reform – Who is the democratic candidate that Michele Bachmann and the Republicans can’t dismiss with their toxic partisan rhetoric
We cannot beat Michele Bachmann with a traditional candidate. We can win with Maureen Reed.