Republican Rep. Steve Smith of Mound has lost a primary contest to Cindy Pugh.
Smith, who is the longest serving Republican member of the House, was elected in 1990. Earlier this year, he lost his party’s endorsement to Pugh, who has the support of House Speaker Kurt Zellers.
This past legislative session, Smith did not follow his leadership on a number of high profile issues. For instance, he voted against the same-sex marriage amendment in 2011, though the Legislature ultimately passed the amendment and put it on the 2012 ballot.
Zellers also removed 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.”
The primary contest between Smith and Pugh has attracted attention from an outside group called the Freedom Club, a conservative political organization that spent money on mailers opposing Smith.
Here’s a statement from Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Pat Shortridge:
“Today, voters in House District 33B affirmed what the Republican caucuses had decided by endorsing Cindy Pugh. Cindy is a very principled, conservative leader who is ready to go to St. Paul and fight on behalf of our values. Cindy can be trusted to rein in state government spending, streamline the way our government works and fight for our freedoms at every turn. This is the type of leadership Minnesotans want, and today they’ve decided to send Cindy to St. Paul.
“The Republican Party of Minnesota is proud of the work Cindy has already accomplished, and we will continue to work on her behalf to get her to St. Paul. Minnesota conservatives are ready to get to work for this last push until Election Day 2012.”