State Sen. John Pederson says last Tuesday’s thumping of GOP legislative candidates was a “one-off” event that needn’t trigger broader changes to how Republicans pick candidates or communicate with voters.
Pederson, R-St. Cloud, earned his second term in the Senate by defeating DFLer Jerry McCarter, 52 percent to 47 percent. But many of Pederson’s GOP colleagues didn’t fare as well, as DFLers regained control of the Senate and House.
Pederson says it appears DFLers succeeded with a campaign strategy of criticizing GOP lawmakers for delaying state payments to schools and portraying them as intransigent.
Since the election, some leading Minnesota Republicans, including former House Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert, have said it’s time for Republicans to reconsider how they pick candidates.
But Pederson says he doesn’t see anything in last Tuesday’s results that requires Minnesota Republicans to make big changes.
In fact, Pederson suggested the problem simply may be that Republicans didn’t hew closely enough to their principles. He said Republican lawmakers’ willingness to limit the growth of state spending in the last state budget instead of pushing harder to cut spending outright may have sapped conservative enthusiasm.
“Maybe that’s why people stayed home,” Pederson said.
Despite the power shift at the Capitol, Pederson says he’s optimistic about the designation of Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, as the next Senate Majority Leader.
The designation of Bakk and of Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearwater, as Senate Tax Committee chair means two top Senate posts will be held by outstate members, Pederson said.
Pederson says that augurs well for legislative issues that split along rural-urban – rather than Republican-Democrat – lines, such as funding for transportation or parks.
“I’m optimistic that greater Minnesota is going to be treated fairly, and I’ll be there to help make those arguments,” Pederson said.