NEW ULM - Brown County Republicans focused their attention at Tuesday's precinct caucuses on regaining control in the State Capitol and sending more Republicans to Washington.
In a non binding straw poll, local Republicans showed a strong preference for former State Rep. Marty Seifert to unseat Gov. Mark Dayton, and for State Sen. Julianne Ortman to take on Sen. Al Franken.
Seifert, a Brown County native who was elected to the Legislature from Marshall, serving as House Minority Leader during the Pawlenty Administration, gained 63 votes from caucus participants in the county. His closest rival, Plymouth businessman Scott Honour, pulled only eight votes in the straw poll. Jeff Johnson had four votes and Dave Thompson and Rob Farnsworth had two each.
Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney
Brown County Republican Chairman Jim Hahn addresses attendees at Tuesday’s Republican precinct caucus in New Ulm High School
Ortman's margin was not as strong. She drew 36 votes from county voters, 22 from the caucusers in New Ulm. Businessman Mike McFadden had 21 votes. Anoka state representative Jim Abeler had 15 votes, and Chris Dahlberg had 6.
About 45 people turned out at New Ulm High School, which hosted the caucuses for the New Ulm precincts and several area townships.
Brown County Republican Chairman Jim Hahn said this was about the turnout he expected, given that it is a non-presidential year, and considering the weather.
Caucus attendees elected delegates to the county Republican convention, and voted on resolutions for the state party platform.
The candidates for governor and senate, whose letters were read at the caucuses, sounded the battle cry of repealing Obamacare, lowering the national debt and balancing the budget, and returning control of government to the states and to the people.
Abeler, in his letter, said "President Obama has taken the reins and acted like King George of England did in Revolutionary War times. It is as if Obama has declared war on the Constitution. ... Al Franken, as our senator, is not looking out for you and has done nothing to stop this power grab."
Other candidates sounded similar themes, lambasting Gov. Mark Dayton for increases in state taxes and spending, and the trouble-ridden MNsure program, the state's health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.
Hahn said Republicans this year are focusing on the Democrats lack of connection with the people they are supposed to be serving. He pointed to 1st District Congressman Tim Walz's votes for the farm bill, for instance, but his lack of action on the Environmental Protection Agency's lowering of the ethanol requirement in the federal renewable fuel standards.
"Walz did nothing. Franken did nothing," said Hahn.
Even if many Republicans don't like the idea of government subsidies for ethanol, the fact that they were removed by an administrative order from a government agency, rather than by Congressional action, is an example of Obama's power takeover.
Minnesota's taxes are so much higher than neighboring states that businesses are leaving Minnesota and taking jobs with them, said Hahn.
The state is probably going to repeal anti-business sales tax increases that passed last year, but Hahn said Dayton could have let them be repealed during the special session last fall. Meanwhile, businesses have had to deal with uncertainty over the future, "and one thing businesses don't like is uncertainty," he said.