In a colorful speech delivered at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs on Wednesday afternoon, Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert (HD 21A-Marshall) discussed some of the differences between a ‘Marty Seifert Republican’ and a ‘Washington, D.C. Republican’ as well as drew some policy distinctions between himself and Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Seifert acknowledged, from the start, that he’s “unusual,” because he’s a Republican who was a former school teacher.

With regards to the Governor, the Minority Leader stated he was on board with the “basic framework” of Pawlenty’s policies, and that he’s with the Governor on “most” of his budget proposals. He added:

“I think the Governor is popular. I’m not sure if all his programs are as popular as he is personally, but I think he is a good standard bearer for our side.”

Seifert then drew some clear distinctions between the two GOP leaders, such as on education policy:

“I come from a different background than the Governor. I’m a rural kid, and I was a teacher, a public employee. No Child Left Behind – let’s be honest – it was a dumb idea. It was a horrible program in terms of trying to improve schools that weren’t broken in Minnesota. By and large – there’s problems in Minneapolis and some other schools – but, by and large I thought it was a big waste of time and money. The Governor’s kind of a fan of it – accountability and all that.”

Referring to the difficulties a Minority Leader faces at the State Capitol, and having to “beg” to get hearings on his issues, Seifert playfully likened his job as Minority Leader as being “Somewhat at the little kid’s table.” He later added, “I’m the waterboy and it’s a very heavy bucket at times.”

But when talking about the message of conservatism and how it has been delivered by Republicans in the Gopher State in recent years, Seifert said he has been “bold” in getting his message of conservatism out. However, he had some criticisms for the party’s leadership in D.C.:

“The message gets muddled. Washington D.C. Republicans are probably not the same as a Marty Seifert Republican from Minnesota. And I think that’s part of what’s poisoned the well: George Bush, Tom Delay, the scandals, the overstepping, the deficits, the war – all the things that kind of came to a big head. That had people who were longtime supporters back home that are like, ‘Is there a reason to vote for Republicans anymore?,’ because of all that’s going on in Washington – and that’s a difficulty we face.”

Seifert says the Republican Party needs to do more to “marry” libertarian conservatives and social conservatives together like Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s:

“That’s part of the problem the Party has faced. It needs to broaden the message, not change its philosophy and all the rest, but broaden its message to make sure people understand the main thing is the main thing: that we believe in opportunity, freedom.”

Seifert said the residual effects of the problems coming out of D.C. are related to image:

“There’s a lot of people I think that feel that Republicans are mean. They don’t care. Greedy. Lack of priorities. And scandals.”

Representative Seifert believes, however, it is the center-right coalition that will determine elections in Minnesota. It’s this coalition that the Minority Leader says reelected the Governor in 2006 and elected Erik Paulsen to Congress in 2008.

But, in the end, the ever humble Minority Leader revealed what it’s really like being a Marty Seifert Republican:

“The only person that agrees with Marty Seifert 100 percent of the time is Marty Seifert. My goodness, my wife doesn’t even agree with me all the time.”

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  1. Being Goode on April 3, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Marty is a great guy. He has a rough road to travel.

    Just go to a fundraiser for a Republican either locally or nationally. Its not a very diverse crowd. Somewhat akin to being in a “whites only club”

    I am not trying to be mean or throw bombs. It is my own personal observation and experience, both locally and nationally. With the demographics changing as they are, it is a sad state indeed for the GOP.

  2. Alan Roebke on April 3, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Is Marty a real conservative? See how he supports Minnesota Ethanol Subsidies that only “Enrich Profits and Dividends” for the privileged plants that receive them! See his comments at

    The following letter to the editor appeared on the Opinion Page in the Crookston Daily Times on Friday, March 20, under the headline, “MN ethanol subsidies only enrich profits and dividends” It can also be found under the “Opinion” and “Letters to the Editor” links at

    Alan Roebke (REB-key)

    Alexandria, Minn.

    A private audit has shown impressive ethanol success and no need for continued subsidies. A compilation of State data reveals the twelve plants we subsidize are truly the privileged plants in the industry, while the review shows only the plant in Winthrop grew to the size the state subsidies commissioned, for a just return on the state’s investment.

    The audit also questions many of the sweeping impact statements/reports by the Department of Agriculture and elected officials on industry benefit, such as the hyped job creation numbers and actual financial impact for greater Minnesota, even though the subsidy program clearly developed a very important ethanol industry needed in the state.

    The private audit shows the vast $300 million taxpayers invested should have delivered production larger than Nebraska, but is only about half their size. So the spoken political windfalls, as always, goes mostly to the investors and is great for the communities with plant locations.

    As an informed individual, I am trying to lobby for meaningful government change in a time of meltdown. I ask, why do we still subsidize this group of plants and why is this not front page news?

    Over the last four years they have enjoyed the following success: Average profit per year of $145 million, plus annual dividends to investors of $113 million, return on total equity of 38 percent! Yet our St. Paul clan sent them $17 million more each year, even as the employee costs reported by the plants were only a little over $7 million per year. My experience/research would say that does not include management/bonuses/perks. So an educated guess would say the $17 million in subsidies likely bankrolled their total annual payroll, if the bonuses/perks weren’t too big!

    You can review the complete reports at and I hope you pass a copy of this with your views, to the Governor and legislators, just as the ethanol lobby does.

    Minnesota and the nation still need a strong, corn-based ethanol industry and a 10 percent ethanol blend nationwide, just like Minnesota. But, hopefully, we are heading toward new policies for Minnesota, and America and not continued subsidies, that direct ethanol’s future.

    So with your help, I will continue the lobbying I started in 2005 to end the subsidies, by working to pass HF507 that ends the cash subsidy program but continues our needed ethanol mandate.

    I leave you with one final note that the ethanol lobby will focus on in St. Paul, and that is the profit drop in 2008 and 2009. Remember, the subsidized plants are mainly “corn farmer” owned. So the profit drop was mainly from high corn prices, which was really the goal/purpose of the state ethanol program in the first place.

    So don’t cry for the investors or condemn ethanol for high food and fuel prices. Rather, focus on the big picture, our disastrous energy policy and a national marketplace driven not by earnings but by speculation and borrowed money! That has lead to the mess we find ourselves in today.


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