One thing about the stadium got clearer today: that rejection of the Minneapolis plan in House committee was a surprise.
Even Gov. Mark Dayton said he wasn’t expecting the vote to happen the way it did: a 9-6 bi-partisan rejection.
“I had breakfast yesterday morning with Rep. (Paul) Thissen and Sen. (Tom) Bakk and Sen. (Terri) Bonoff, and I told Rep. Thissen afterword that I would call anybody, I would call everybody. I’d invite them to my office, I’d go to their office. Then I was asked mid morning to call two of them. I called, talked to one of them who said he was going to be helpful and wasn’t. And then I called another one, and didn’t get my call returned. I did and remain willing to do whatever I’m asked to do, but I think my sense was, from what was said, that they thought that was what was needed, and was sufficient, and obviously that was wrong.”
So what happened? Who said he would be “helpful and wasn’t”?
Well, there were four men from the DFL caucus on the Government Operations and Elections committee.
One, Mike Nelson, voted yes.
“The governor never called me,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler, of Golden Valley. “And I have ALWAYS been a no vote on this deal.”
Frank Hornstein also said he wasn’t either one of the lawmakers referred to by Dayton: “Look, I have a long history of opposing not only the Vikings stadium and the Twins stadium. I have many, many concerns about the need to privately finance these stadiums, and I have been very, very consistent all along. My position is well known, and even the issues I raise are well known.”
Which leaves the last male member of the DFL caucus serving on the House Government Operations and Elections committee: Rep. Steve Simon of St. Louis Park.
“Yeah, I’m just going to keep my private deliberations private,” Simon said, when asked if he was the lawmaker Dayton referred to as “going to be helpful, and then wasn’t.”
But interestingly, he said he’s still amenable to a Vikings stadium. “I’m open,” Simon explained. “I’m open to a solution that would work. I voted for the Twins stadium, I voted for the Gophers stadium. I am not a person who is opposed in all cases to state support for cultural assets, whether it’s the Guthrie Theater or the Vikings or the Twins, or whatever. It has to be the right package. So I don’t draw a line like some members do, and say I never vote for government support, because I have. If it’s the right package, I’ll vote for it. If it’s not, I won’t.”
He and Nelson would make the DFL support for a stadium plural, which is what GOP leaders said was a must have to get Republican votes on the committee.