Daudt and Peppin elected Minnesota House leaders

MN House Speaker Designate Kurt Daudt and Rep. Joyce Peppin speak to the media after being named House Speaker and House Majority Leader. Tom Scheck/MPR News

Republicans have chosen Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, to be the next speaker of the Minnesota House. Current and incoming members of the House Republican caucus elected Daudt, the current minority leader, in a closed meeting at the State Office Building. They also elected Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, to be the next majority leader.

“It is the greatest honor of my life to be elected the next speaker of the House of Representatives,” Daudt said.

Before the vote, State Rep. Matt Dean of Dellwood and State Rep. Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake said they planned to challenge Daudt for speaker.

Daudt’s ascension to speaker happened at a rapid clip. He was first elected to the House in 2010 and was elected minority leader in 2012 after Republicans lost the majority.

Daudt has repeatedly criticized DFL control of state government, portraying their policies as out of line with rural Minnesota. The strategy appears to have worked, with Republicans picking up 10 of 11 seats in rural legislative districts.

Following the caucus vote, Peppin continued on the theme of bringing a sharper focus to rural Minnesota.

“Our goal is to represent all of the people of Minnesota,” Peppin said. “We’re not going to leave Greater Minnesota behind as has been done the last couple of years.”

Peppin has served in the Minnesota House since 2004. She also served as a legislative staffer in the 1990s. Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, had also said she would seek the majority leader position.

Daudt and Peppin will now be tasked with setting the agenda in the Minnesota House. They have yet to offer specifics on their priorities but say jobs and the economy, transportation and loosening state regulations will be among the main issues.

They will also be forced to negotiate a two-year budget with Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, both DFLers.

Current House Speaker Paul Thissen will continue to lead the House DFL caucus in 2015. Democrats voted last night to keep Thissen as minority leader. Thissen said his goal is fight for the policies enacted over the past two years.

“We will work to defend the progress we’ve made to grow the middle class, honestly balance our budget, and invest in our state’s future.” Thissen said in prepared remarks that were released last night. “And we will hold Republicans accountable to the promises they made on the campaign trail to get past government gridlock and deliver results for the betterment of all Minnesotans.”

Daudt says he plans to release the committee structure and name committee chairs by the end of next week.

The next legislative session starts on January 6, 2015.