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Will Republicans vote for taxes?

March 17, 2008

by Roz Kohls

Three of the rebel Republican legislators who voted with the DFL for the transportation tax increase were denied endorsement March 8 for re-election by their local caucuses. They are State Reps. Neil Peterson of Bloomington, Jim Abler of Anoka and Ron Erhardt of Edina.

Before you think, “those mean old Republicans are punishing these guys for voting according to their consciences,” think of what the Democrats did to US Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. in 2006.

The Democrats did exactly the same thing. That’s why Lieberman has an “I” after his name instead of a “D.”

Lieberman was so beloved by the Democrats in 2000 that he ran as US Vice President Al Gore’s running mate in Gore’s campaign for president.

All that changed in 2006, though. Lieberman was a strong supporter of both the Iraq war and Israel. The Democrats in Connecticut found this unacceptable, so they rejected him for their candidate for the US Senate. They chose Ned Lamont instead.

The rest is history. Lieberman ran as an independent, and the voters of Connecticut chose him over Lamont.

Abler, Peterson and Erhardt of might be able to do the same thing, especially if the voters in those districts think their taxes are too low and want to pay more. Erhardt was quoted in the Star Tribune saying the 123 people who chose not to endorse him don’t represent his district, and that the regular voters will return him to office in November.

I can’t imagine DFLers voting for these three, though, even if they now have a record of voting for a big tax increase. DFLers might think those votes were an aberration, and that maybe the three rebel Republicans won’t want to throw money at every problem that arises. As a result, DFLers will probably play it safe, and vote for another DFLer.

Only a handful of Republicans will vote to re-elect the three rebels, because there is always the possibility the rebels will side with the DFLers again.

It probably gets successively easier, the more often you do it, especially if the DFLers give you something in exchange for your vote. State Rep. Rod Hamilton, (R-Mountain Lake) got 22 lines of text in the transportation bill that specifically referred to Highway 60 and 14 in his district, according to the Star Tribune last Monday. Hamilton also was one of the Republicans who voted to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto.

The Republicans who want higher taxes will probably also play it safe, and vote for a DFLer. A tax increase then will be a sure thing.