by Susan Van Cleaf
Sun Press Newspapers
“Join us in bringing the spirit of Main Street to Washington,” said Delano attorney and former radio talk show host Tom Emmer, as he announced on Wednesday, June 5, that he is running to represent the 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Emmer, a Republican, chose a location for his announcement that is keeping with this theme — Lions Park on River Street, one of the main streets of Delano.
He said he was surprised by the decision of current Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann to not seek another term.
“Michele has served the citizens of the 6th District well,” Emmer said.
After discussing the possibility of running for Bachmann’s seat with his wife Jackie and his children, he decided to run once again for public office.
His most recent campaign for public office ended with his narrow loss to Mark Dayton in the 2010 race for Minnesota Governor. Although the loss was close enough to trigger a recount, Emmer conceded the election to Dayton.
Prior to 2010, Emmer served on city councils in Independence and Delano and went on to serve for six years as a state representative from Wright County.
“I have to tell you that I have never felt more compelled in my life to serve,” Emmer said about running in the 6th District. “It seems like every day we hear about another out-of-control Washington power grab. The IRS has targeted grassroots groups based upon their political leanings.”
He also mentioned the Justice Department obtaining telephone records of reporters and trying to tell Congress that this was legal. Then he talked about Americans paying for bureaucrats staying at $3,500 per-night hotel rooms and spending thousands for portraits of Michael Jordan and a happiness expert.
Emmer said that, according to recent polls, one in five of Americans “do not trust their government to do what’s right, and a clear majority of Americans believe our country is headed in the wrong direction.”
“I’m running for Congress to change the culture in Washington and restore Americans’ trust in our government,” he said.
During his speech, a crowd cheered many of his comments.
Even before Emmer’s announcement, partisan sparks began to fly. DFL Party Chair Ken Martin released a statement to news media on June 4 and asked them to make the statement public after Emmer’s announcement.
Martin said, “After eight years of a right-wing Congresswoman Michele Bachmann making unfiltered comments off the cuff, who steps forward to run for her seat? Failed businessman, failed gubernatorial candidate and right-wing talker Tom Emmer.
“In Emmer’s unsuccessful 2010 run for governor, he drained Republican Party resources and turned off the Party’s major donor community. Many attribute his Ron Paul and Sarah Palin backed candidacy to sending Republican and Independent votes Tom Horner’s way.
“With Jim Graves’ close loss in 2012, 6th Congressional District voters sent a message – they want a thoughtful member of congress who will work on issues important to their families. District residents want to elect someone who makes headlines for the positive work they do for the 6th District, not the negative things they say,” Martin said, referring to when Bachmann won the 2012 6th District race by claiming 50.5 percent of the vote compared with Graves’ 49.3 percent of the vote — a 1.2 percent margin.
“As a candidate, Tom Emmer just offers more of the same for the 6th Congressional District – a voice for the hard-core right-wing, not hard-working families,” Martin said.
In his announcement, Emmer said, “I will focus this campaign on a positive message” (contrary to the assertion of DFLer Martin). “You’ve got to run for something, not against people. We are going to run on a message of reforming Washington and improving the lives of everyday people. We must be dedicated to keeping the 6th District firmly in Republican hands.”
Emmer was the first person to announce candidacy in the 6th District race since Bachmann decided not to seek re-election in 2014. Shortly after Bachmann’s announcement, DFL candidate Graves also decided not to run.
After Emmer conceded the governor’s election to Mark Dayton in 2010, he headed for careers as a lobbyist and radio talk show host. During the morning drive time on weekdays, he co-hosted the Davis & Emmer talk show on Fox News affiliate KTLK. His last day on the show was Friday, June 7. Emmer had no choice about leaving his talk show; the Federal Election Commission would have required the radio station to grant his opponents equal time.
While co-hosting his talk show, Emmer continued to have political ambitions. He ran for a Minnesota seat on the Republican National Committee and lost to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.
Heading toward 2014, other Republicans are likely to compete with Emmer for Bachmann’s seat. Potential GOP rivals are State Sen. John Pederson of St. Cloud, State Rep. Matt Dean and Phil Krinkie, a former legislator and current president of the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota, according to MinnPost.
Sue Van Cleaf can be reached at [email protected].