Zellers backs challenger over House GOP caucus member

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers announced today that he’s backing Cindy Pugh over Rep. Steve Smith, R-Mound, in the August 14 primary. On his Facebook page, Zellers said he was backing Pugh because she “will represent the conservative values of the district.”

“On important issues like education, government reform and protecting child care providers from forced unionization, I know where Cindy stands. She stands with students, with taxpayers and with families. She isn’t someone who is going to let a special interest push her around.”

“Cindy is a true conservative, and she’s proven it through her years working on behalf of conservatives as a party and local volunteer. She is endorsed by the Republican Party, and is going to stand up for what is right – limited government, lower taxes and economic freedom. A vote for Cindy is a vote for the principles that make us conservative.”

Zellers’ announcement is rare example of a leader backing a challenger over a member of his own caucus. Smith is also the longest serving Republican on the House. He was elected in 1990.

Smith has not followed GOP leadership on some issues. He voted against the same-sex marriage amendment in 2011. The Legislature ultimately passed the amendment and put it on the 2012 ballot.

Zellers also ousted Smith as chair of the House Judiciary and Policy Committee in 2011. The speaker said at the time that the move was “due to personal reasons.”

Smith filed to run again on the last day of filings. Despite losing his party’s endorsement to Pugh, Smith said he wanted to “continue to do good work at the Capitol.”

“I think I’ve served well for 22 years, and I want to continue,” Smith told MPR News last month.

Pugh highlighted the endorsement on her Facebook page.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is so refreshing to see that people all over the state recognize that a fresh voice is needed for the good people of 33B.”

The legislative district includes Mound, Excelsior, Deephaven and other communities around Lake Minnetonka.

  • Ralph Crammedin

    Zellers is just reflecting that today’s Republican Party is the Big Tent for Cranks.

    Teabaggers, economic Paulites, birthers, climate change deniers, creationists, Bachmaniacs, etc., all have a home in today’s Republican Party. What they have in common is they all live in a fantasy world where facts, science and logic are treated as just differing opinions. Ignorance is today’s critical Republican value.

    I absolutely blame the media for their growth and power. The media has been completely cowed by the “liberal media” canard, and reports political issues on an almost exclusively ‘he said-she said’ basis.

    Until the MSM starts reporting real facts, treating cranks as cranks and consistently refuting their nonsense, not just tracking the Republican line that they’re people with differing opinions, we’ll have to contend with this sort of nutball equivalence.

  • Pit Boss

    Hey Ralphy boy, if you’re going to wait until the MSM starts reporting real facts, you’re going to be waiting a long time. The MSM has been carrying the water for the liberals for as long as I have been alive and then about 100 years before that and libaerals don’t use facts to back up their arguements, only emotion. Everyone is seeing what a bunch of frauds the liberals are and that is why conservative thinking is taking hold again.

  • Jamie

    Ralph, VERY well said as usual. I completely agree.

    Conservatives started the MYTH of the “liberal media” about 30 years ago as a strategy to make certain segments of the populace reject or doubt the facts they were reading in newspapers and hearing on radio and tv news shows – especially facts about how bad Republican policies were for our country and for the world. They’ve been very successful at promoting their myth, their lie. They’re very good at marketing and public relations (aka, making lies sound like truth). “Pit Boss” is a good example of the results of their work. The mainstream news media mostly lean to the right now, either being afraid to be labeled as part of the mythical “liberal media” or because they’re owned by conservative corporations.

  • John Paul

    Jamie and Ralph: extremely well said and describes in a succinct way what has happened in the media and the Republican Party. Even a slightly moderate politician like Smith isn’t safe. The party has purged moderation, compromise and old style conservatism from their party. Let’s hope it leads to their eventual demise!