Three candidates want to be GOP House Speaker

There are three candidates running to become the next speaker of the Minnesota House.

Republicans will meet privately tomorrow to elect the people they will put up as leaders once the next legislative session starts in January. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, former Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, and Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, all confirm that they want to be the next speaker.

Daudt is the favorite to win the position. He is the current leader of the caucus and worked to help Republicans pick up 11 seats in Tuesday’s election to reclaim the majority from Democrats. Daudt said on the Daily Circuit on MPR News this morning that his work in this year’s election should pay dividends.

“Your main job when you’re minority leader is to get your caucus back in the majority,” Daudt said. “The fact that we achieved that goal and no other Republicans won across the state tells what a good plan we had and how well it was executed.”

Dean also confirmed that he’s running for speaker but declined to say much more about his candidacy further because he said he was too busy.

“We’re kind of in the middle of making calls with members, and that’s what the caucus is about,” Dean said.

Dean wrote an e-mail (full copy below) to colleagues suggesting he was the best candidate “to help our Caucus succeed and go toe-to-toe with Tom Bakk and Mark Dayton.”

Dean was House majority leader in 2011 and 2012. Republicans were locked in a budget stalemate with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011 that resulted in a state government shutdown. Republicans also placed a constitutional amendment on ballot to ban same-sex marriage and an amendment to require people to present a photo ID to vote. Voters rejected both amendments in 2012 and tossed Republicans from the majority.

Hamilton said he’s encouraged by the results from Tuesday night. He said he’s running because he thinks Republicans  need to build a team a platform that will be positive with the state. Hamilton says his candidacy should not take away from Daudt’s abilities.

“I believe competition is good, and if you have competition people bring their A-game.” Hamilton “And in the event you bring your A-game the best person for the job is going to get the job.”

The caucus will also nominate a majority leader, the number two position in leadership.

Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, and Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, both say they’re running for that job.

Democrats are scheduled to meet tonight to decide whether Paul Thissen of Minneapolis should continue leading the caucus in 2015.

Thissen has been House speaker for the past two legislative sessions.

If Democrats choose him he would be minority leader starting next year. Thissen said he’s seeking the position and does not expect a challenge from anyone else in the party.

Here’s Dean’s full e-mail to colleagues (Note: I blacked out his cell phone from the text):

Dear Colleague,

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your well-deserved victory!  Thank you for your hard work, the late nights, the lost sleep, and the family time you’ve given up.  Your campaign rocked!

With all of the House results now in, I’m very encouraged and positive!  We have done something historic in Minnesota – the second forced Democrat turn-over of control in just 4 years!

Our victory has huge significance for Minnesota.   Our House GOP Caucus is the best hope for changing the direction of our state.  Our good fortune places on our shoulders tremendous opportunity and responsibility.

How will we capture this opportunity and make a real difference?

To move in the right direction, we need the right leadership.  The most difficult thing we do is choose among our colleagues, but I know first-hand that much of our success will be determined by the Caucus leader we choose in just a few days.  Therefore, I will be a candidate for Caucus Leader when we meet on Friday and I wanted to tell you why I believe I’m best qualified to lead us in the upcoming session.

I have a vision for our Caucus, our party and our state that’s rooted in optimism, hope and trust.

I have a principled 8-year plan to build the governing majority we need to be successful, including a strategy for developing the Messages, Money and Messengers that will get the job done.  I’ll work with every member of our Caucus to make sure we are a long-term conservative governing majority.

I’m committed to transformational change in how we govern and to an open process that includes all Caucus members.  I’ll make people the focus of our work and our messages – and develop messages of prosperity and freedom for Minnesota families.

I have, possibly most important of all in these next two years, the experience to help our Caucus succeed and go toe-to-toe with Tom Bakk and Mark Dayton.

Over the next few days, I look forward to sharing with you in greater detail my vision for our future together and to listen to your ideas and hopes for our GOP Caucus.  If you prefer, call my cell at XXX-XXX-XXXX


Matt Dean