The Minnesota Republican Party’s official candidate to succeed Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is looking ahead to a 2012 run for President, is a staunch conservative well to Pawlenty’s right who has a long history of “Tentherism,” the attempts by the far right-wing to invoke the Tenth Amendment and nullify federal laws on various liberal initiatives. He has even proposed a state constitutional amendment that would allow federal laws to operate in Minnesota only if they were consented to by super-majorities of the state legislature.
State Rep. Tom Emmer picked up the official Republican endorsement at the party’s convention this weekend, and he also walked away with the backing of Pawlenty himself. “We don’t have any doubt about what Tom Emmer stands for or what his values are,” Pawlenty said at the convention. “He is strong. He is steadfast. He is clear. … He is going to be the next governor of the state of Minnesota.” Emmer also has the support of Sarah Palin, who praised him just before the convention got underway as a “hockey dad” who once played for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks — a move that may have been a tipping point, according to the Star-Tribune.
Emmer was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2004. Just this past March, he was a co-author of a proposed state constitutional amendment that would, to borrow the words of Nigel Tufnel, turn the Tenth Amendment all the way up to 11, with Minnesota preemptively nullifying all federal laws unless a state supermajority consents to them. Here is the key quote from the amendment’s text: “A federal law does not apply in Minnesota unless that law is approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of each house of the legislature and is signed by the governor. Before voting to approve a federal law, each legislator must individually affirm that the legislator has read the federal law and understands it.”
Last September, Emmer proposed another state constitutional amendment that would prohibit any individual or employer mandate to carry health insurance in the state of Minnesota, if one were to eventually pass at the federal or state level (as it did eventually pass at the federal level). Here is a YouTube video of Emmer announcing his proposed amendment, courtesy of our friends at The Uptake:
“There have been some questions about the Tenth Amendment,” Emmer acknowledged, “and we all know that states have the rights to assert their Tenth Amendment powers and affirm those rights in the state constitution.” As for the skeptics, Emmer said that his amendment would protect Minnesotans from federal encroachment on health care, in the same way that the First and Second Amendments have protected freedom for the last 220 years.”
In addition to Tentherism, Emmer is to the right of Pawlenty on of other issues. As the Star-Tribune lays out in a recent news article: “Emmer appears to be to the right of Pawlenty. State government, he says, should shrink by a full 20 percent and the welfare system dismantled. He considers Arizona’s controversial new immigration law that has local police checking immigration status a ‘wonderful first step.’”
In another amusing Emmer moment, a year ago he tore into a Democratic state representative for wanting to copy elements of environmental science and regulations from California and Europe, which the Dem in question felt were superior to the status quo in Washington or Minnesota. To Emmer, this was an example of liberals hating America:
“Oh oh, hey by the way, we also apparently have to look at this country and be extremely critical of the United States of America, and start kissing the rear end of the people on the other side of the Atlantic,” Emmer said mockingly. “That’s ridiculous, and I’m sick and tired of hearing it. I’m hearing it out of Washington, now I’m hearing it here. This is a great country, Rep. Knuth.”
Minnesota political parties traditionally don’t hold real primaries, but instead go through a system of precinct caucuses, county conventions and a state convention. If a candidate can get a super-majority of delegates at the state convention, like Emmer did this weekend, the party then officially endorses that candidate and the opponents are expected by custom to drop out. The August primary will still be officially held, but would be a mere formality. Emmer is, practically speaking, the Republican Party’s official candidate now. (It should be noted that the Democrats, who have held their convention and endorsed a candidate, are still having a primary with some significant challengers.)