Gubernatorial politics have broken out at the State Capitol.
House Democrats were taking note last night of the absence of state Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, the Republican-endorsed candidate for governor. Emmer left the House floor at midnight and missed a key natural resources bill.
House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the DFL endorsed candidate for governor, said she was puzzled by Emmer's midnight absence, but she declined to comment further. DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich did instead.
Representative Emmer, over the course of the past week for sure, has shown a pattern of not being here for the votes, whether it be for the governor's budget, whether it be for entire budget solution and now for probably the biggest conservation vote," Sertich said. "He may have his reasons. They may be personal. They may be political. But now is the time for people who have a job to do their job."
Emmer missed another vote this afternoon on an interlock ignition requirement for convicted drunken drivers. He said he was tied up at a lunch meeting in Minneapolis, while his other absences were related to family and business matters. Emmer said if the votes are as important as DFL leaders say they are, then they shouldn't be scheduled in the middle of the night.
"Unfortunately, I'm not in charge," Emmer said. "The Republicans are not running the House. We don't set the scheduled. The Democrats do. When it comes to taking votes, I've done the job I'm supposed to do."
Emmer said Rep. Sertich and other DFL leaders should concentrate on solving the budget deficit rather than playing political games.
State DFL Party officials issued a news release and video today that claims Emmer has missed 65 votes since the GOP convention.