Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers is bragging about his failed leadership in shutting down the state government in a press release:
“Democrats, political pundits, special interest groups, and even many Republicans predicted that we wouldn’t hold to our principles and that the Republican-controlled legislature would cave to the intense political and media pressure during the shutdown,” said Zellers. “But I did not surrender and the GOP legislative majorities did not cave. Instead, it was Governor Dayton who surrendered to us after two weeks.”
In the legislative races in the year after the shutdown, it was clear that Minnesotans thought the shutdown was the worst possible choice, They rightly blamed the Republicans because the Republicans are still bragging about it. I knew in the Jim Carlson race that I had a winning argument with Business Republicans. I would ask Business Republicans: Would they run a business this way? Would they run a negotiation this way? Would they trust a supplying business that ran this way? The answers are resoundingly “no”. As an MBA, I knew this. There is even a class in negotiating in the MBA curriculum, that Minnesota Republicans would have failed. Obviously, the improved winning margins in a non-presidential year meant that many voters saw the shutdown as wrong.
Balancing the budget by borrowing from schools did not impress Business Republicans or anyone else in Eagan. It is like walking out of a store without paying for your goods. The fact that Democrats paid back the schools as they improved the economy and even built a reserve for emergencies impresses people who believe in good financial practices.
Ask Business Republicans if they want a consistent tax bill for roads and services or decreased tax bill for roads and services with a huge surge when a disaster hits like a bridge falling. Any business will opt for consistency, and even pay more for consistency. Minimizing risk and maximizing predictability are the goals of business. The classic case is the 35 bridge falling down.
So the glamor of no taxes or less taxes is being lost in the light of shutdown government, school-borrowing government or disaster government. Yet here is Zellers strutting around like a wrestler that won a big match. It might play well enough in the small number of Republican voters of the primary to win. With early voting already happening, it is certainly too late to take this back. So let’s capture all the video, screenshots and other evidence. If Zellers wins, then we want to remind everyone else what he said.
Ken Martin, chair of the DFL party says it best:
“In the 2012 election, Kurt Zellers and the Republicans were ousted from their majorities in the Legislature by Minnesotans who were fed up with the games they played while in power. The fact that Kurt wants to revisit this sad part of Minnesota history is odd given the heavy-handed role he played in forcing the shutdown. Since when is failing at your job something you wear around like a badge of honor? Instead of governing responsibly, when the Republicans were in power they shut down government, raised property taxes, borrowed billions of dollars from our already cash-strapped school districts, and put two divisive constitutional amendments on the ballot.
“Without Gov. Dayton’s leadership, there would have been catastrophic cuts to seniors, students and veterans in 2011. Gov. Dayton did not surrender what he was elected to do which is govern responsibly in the best interest of all Minnesotans. No amount of revisionist history will change Kurt Zellers’ failed record of leadership when he was Speaker of the House.”
During the time of the shutdown, I was walking around with a yellow slip that said that I had ordered a renewal on my license. I could not always use a check because of not having a current ID. Businesses were waiting on permits and licenses. People lost vacations in their favorite parks. Everyone suffered while Republicans chortled and bragged. Only the courts saved us from the very worst by mandating that some government operate. I hope that Zellers becomes known as “Shutdown Zellers”.