As I was perusing Twitter Saturday, I was surprised to learn of the developments at the convention for MN State House District 48B, located in Eden Prairie.
Representative Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), who serves as the Deputy Minority Leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives, was denied the endorsement of the Republican Party of Minnesota in House District 48B.
In 2013, Loon was one of four Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives who voted for legislation which legalized same-sex marriage. Sheila Kihne, a Republican activist & author from Eden Prairie challenged Loon for the endorsement. Kihne has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
After numerous ballots, the convention decided not to endorse a candidate. Neither Loon, nor Kihne have announced if the plan on running in the Republican primary election in HD 48B. Three of the four Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives that voted for same-sex marriage in ’13 decided to run for re-election in 2014. Representative Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) was the only incumbent endorsed for re-election by the Republican Party of Minnesota.
Three weeks ago Representative David FitzSimmons, who also voted with Loon for same-sex-marriage, was challenged by three candidates for endorsement by the Republican Party of Minnesota. FitzSimmons faced strong backlash at his convention for voting for same-sex marriage and announced that he would not seek re-election to the Minnesota House of Representatives.
When FitzSimmons was denied endorsement two weeks ago, the DFL almost immediately pounced on that result. In essence, their chanting point was how the MNGOP professes to be a "big tent" yet punctures that claim by continually showing intolerance for a specific segment of the population (i.e. homosexuals). It's complete crap of course, but nevertheless it's the narrative that's being pushed to voters who neither have the time nor the inclination for nuance. While I disagreed with what happened to FitzSimmons, the delegates at his convention felt betrayed in light of FitzSimmons not conveying his intentions to vote "yes" on legalizing same-sex marriage. Even though FitzSimmons said in the 2012 campaign that he would not take such a vote, circumstances changed when the DFL gained a majority in the legislature. And while I understood FitzSimmons' attempts to make the inevitable (i.e. legalization of gay marriage) more palatable to his constituents (53% of HD30B voters in November 2012 voted "yes" to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman), his lack of communication with his supporters was his downfall.
In the case of Loon's district, I'm less familiar with the dynamics. Did Loon ever make a claim on the 2012 campaign trail that she would not vote to legalize same-sex marriage if the issue were broached? I haven't heard that.
Here was her statement on her Facebook page in light of her May 2013 vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
Today the Eden Prairie News ran (a) news article on the same-sex marriage vote in the MN Legislature. I want to thank all who have contacted me regarding this important issue. It is a deeply personal issue that I do not take lightly and sought input from as many channels as possible leading up to the vote. As someone who believes strongly in limited government, I came to the conclusion that allowing my own or others’ religious beliefs to prevent the extension of civil marriage to same sex couples was not justified. To ensure protections for all under the law, I also supported efforts to strengthen religious liberty protections in the final bill. For those who disagree with my vote, I want to express my deep respect for your conviction. After a long and thoughtful process, I came to the conclusion my duty as a legislator was to honor my belief in limited government, equal protections under the law and the views of the people residing in 48B.The prior November, only 40% of voters in Loon's House District voted to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. That means the 60% who voted against the MN Marriage Amendment either supported same-sex marriage or preferred government not have any role in defining it. Given Loon's rationale for voting "yes" on the same-sex marriage bill combined with how her district voted on the issue would indicate to me that she accurately represented her constituents' views.
So why is it that Loon received an endorsement challenge? It appears that Kihne's challenge is based on her objection to one vote taken by Loon. And the fact Loon didn't receive endorsement further underscores the borderline laughable endorsement process we have in Minnesota. The idea that merely 60 Republican delegates (out of 100 total that attended the 48B convention) can decide the fate of an incumbent politician over an issue which, again, was in line with the majority of voters in her entire House District is somewhat alarming.
But I digress.
As someone who opposes same-sex marriage, I was relieved when the issue was settled last year. I maintained for some time that the gay marriage issue is more valuable to DFLers when they can use it as a cudgel to highlight Republicans' "intolerance." So when same-sex marriage was legalized last year, I was ready to move forward and focus on issues where the DFL was most vulnerable (e.g. MNSure, daycare unionization, massive tax increases on families & small businesses, etc.). Instead, some of my fellow Republicans continue to breathe life into the Dems' demagoguery machine. Maddening.