Local lawmaker, attorney throws his hat into the ring
By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN When Tom Emmer’s sister passed away from cancer nine years ago, that moment not only changed his perspective on life, but also influenced his recent decision to throw his name into the running for the Republican endorsement to be the next governor of Minnesota.
“You’re not guaranteed tomorrow,” Emmer, 48, of Delano, said last week. “You need to go at every day like it’s your last and try to do some good.”
With an announcement last Monday, the three-term state representative and attorney entered a field that already includes a number of hopefuls. Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria, Sen. Mike Jungbauer of East Bethel, former state Rep. Bill Haas of Champlin, and Rep. Marty Siefert of Marshall have also announced their intent to seek the Republican endorsement for governor of Minnesota.
Emmer said it’s the support and encouragement that he is receiving that led to his decision to run for governor.
“It’s kind of like when I first ran for the state house seat,” Emmer said. “It’s flattering. People call you and tell you that you ought to do it. The first question is why? Then you start thinking about it and looking at the people in the race or talking about getting in the race, and then looking at your own person.”
And that’s just who he is running for.
“I’m not running against anyone,” Emmer said. “I’m running on my own behalf. It’s a good time to be talking about what we need to do in the state of Minnesota.”
Emmer said he is “sick and tired of career politicians getting in line because it’s their turn. That’s not the right attitude.”
“Now is the time for real leadership,” Emmer said in a statement. “We must turn the tide on the rapid growth of government. If our great state is ever going to return to the days of prosperity, the days when we attracted the best of the best, the most innovative and the most creative, we must fundamentally change our course.”
Emmer said it’s time to return to people first and government second.
“I keep being told the Republican party needs to decide if it wants to be a party of principals or a party that wins elections,” Emmer said. “I think it’s time that, rather than having self-serving politicians and people that are professional politicians, it’s gotta be about something more than that and what’s best for all of us.”
Emmer has a reputation for being one of the most conservative lawmakers in the legislature, but that’s not quite now he sees himself.
“I prefer to tell you I’m the most consistent,” Emmer said, noting he is open-minded and “always willing to learn and evolve.”
He lives by the quote, “You’ve got to stand for something, otherwise you’ll fall for anything.”
“We’re not all going to agree, but you’re always going to know where I stand,” Emmer said.
Emmer plans on hitting the campaign trail, and continuing to reach out to Minnesota. Because of his involvement with the sport of hockey and youth activities, he has been fortunate to have been in “almost every hockey arena” in Minnesota.
“Right now, the work is about getting out to the people and sitting down with them face to face,” Emmer said. “There is too much through cell or electronic mediums. It’s time to get in the same room and share thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. I’m pretty confident once that happens, you’ll see us at the end of the road as one of the folks that’s got a shot at this thing.”
For Emmer, he views running for governor as the chance to do something good, a learning process, and also just plain fun.
“We’re going everywhere,” Emmer said. “That’s the most fun part of the deal. I love people all people their backgrounds, stories, their wants and desires. It’s really fun to get to know people who live in your state. It fits my personality.”
On Friday, after the news of Emmer’s run had been out for about four days, he said the reaction has been very positive.
“From the Iron Range down to southern Minnesota, and even some points outside the state, the reaction has been very positive,” Emmer said. “People are hungry for people running for office who will take a stand.”
That stand, for Emmer, is simple. He said government is simply getting too large, with career politicians leading the way.
“Minnesota can no longer tolerate career politicians with no experience beyond the walls of our capitol or government bureaucracies,” Emmer said in his statement. “Over the past couple of decades, we have stood silently by as the public bureaucracies have grown at an astounding pace at the expense of our private economy. Our employers are leaving. Our jobs have been following them. This cannot continue if our children and grandchildren have any hope of enjoying the American dream here in Minnesota.”
For the time being, he has brought in several associates to run his Delano law firm, and said, “you can’t split your attention if you’re going to do this right.”
As to the future of his seat in Minnesota’s House of Representatives, Emmer said he will be able to see if he receives the Republican endorsement for governor before the filing period opens for the state offices, and will make a decision at that time. The election will take place in November 2010.
Tom Emmer’s story
Tom Emmer and his wife, Jacqueline, will celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary this month, and they are the proud parents of seven children Tripp, Jack, Bobby, Katie, Joey, Billy, and Johnny. The Emmer family also has a German Wirehair dog named Buzz Lightyear.
Born in South Bend, IN in 1961, to Tom and Patsy Emmer, Tom was raised in Edina as a member of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, attended Our Lady Of Grace Catholic grade school, and graduated from St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights.
Emmer received his juris doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in 1988, and a bachelor of arts in political science from University of Alaska at Fairbanks in 1984.
He played hockey at Boston College, in the USHL, and at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks with then Assistant Coach Don Lucia.
Emmer is active in the community as a member of the Delano Sportsmen’s Club, is a past president of the Delano Area Sports Arena, and is vice president of Minnesota Hockey District 5. He is also a member of the Delano Catholic Community and the Knights of Columbus.
Professionally, Emmer has represented insurance companies and self-insured entities for almost 20 years.
He began his career representing cities and counties through the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust and the League of Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust, where he defended police officers against excessive force claims.
Emmer represented volunteer firefighters, city and county inspectors, and handled a variety of land use issues. He has been certified as a civil trial specialist by the Minnesota Bar Association, and he is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Minnesota Law & Politics magazine has repeatedly named Emmer “Minnesota Super Lawyer.” Only the top 5 percent of all Minnesota lawyers are granted this honor, voted upon by their peers.
He has authored articles and spoken on a range of issues including the Minnesota Data Practices Act and numerous aspects of insurance defense and subrogation.
From 1994 to 2004, Emmer served on city councils in Independence, then in Delano. He worked with the Lake Sarah/Pioneer Creek Watershed District and various volunteer fire departments in Loretto and surrounding communities. He was involved in the building of the new police department and city hall in the City of Independence.
Emmer was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2004, and re-elected in 2006 and 2008. He represents House District 19B, which includes Otsego, Albertville, St. Michael, Rockford Township, Rockford, Franklin Township, Delano, Woodland Township, Montrose, Waverly, and Victor Township.
Emmer has served on the following legislative committees: regulated industries, public safety/civil law and elections (chair, data practices subcommittee), ethics (co-chair), health policy and finance, governmental operations, reform, technology and elections and the criminal records relief subcommittee.
Emmer authored a docket of legislation as a freshman representative, including the Corporations Act, truancy reform, sweeping health care reforms, and stringent penalties and alternative treatment options for the worst of the worst convicted sex offenders.
He also served regularly at the request of the speaker of the house as speaker pro tem.
For more information
For more information on Emmer’s campaign for governor, visit www.emmerforgovernor.com.