Former Minnesota State Rep. Tom Emmer (R) was the first candidate to step up when Bachmann announced last month that she would be retiring from representing the state’s 6th congressional district at the end of her term. He is best known for unsuccessfully running for Governor in 2010, coming close enough to Democratic candidate and now-Governor Mark Dayton (D) to trigger a recount.
Here are a few things voters should know about Tom Emmer:
1. He opposed anti-bullying legislation because he doesn’t “want the government doing that for us.” Emmer voted against the Safe Schools for All bill, which included sexual orientation among fourteen different characteristics, and would have introduced consistent anti-bullying policies and mandated training for teachers and staff. During his 2010 campaign, he promised to veto it if it were to come across his desk as Governor, saying, “it’s up to the parents, Jacquie and I, to educate our children, how they handle that situation. We’re the ones who have to be the front line of defense for our children. I don’t want the government doing that for us.” The bill was proposed after a rash of gay teens in Minnesota committing suicide. Emmer has adopted virulently anti-gay positions throughout his political career.
2. He thinks waiters make too much, proposed cutting their minimum wage. At a campaign stop in 2010, Emmer said he had heard from local restaurant owners that “there are some people earning over $100,000 a year, more than the very people providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their families’ future.” He suggested that bartenders, servers, and other hospitality workers should get a “tip credit,” which would functionally lower their minimum wage. Although Minnesota is one of the only states that does not follow the federal minimum wage for tip-earners of $2.13 (it instead requires tip-earners be paid at least $5.25 hourly), the average food or beverage service worker earned an average of only $10.45 an hour in 2010. Emmer introduced an amendment that would have eliminated the state’s minimum wage laws altogether in 2005.
3. He was one of the first conservatives pushing unconstitutional nullification bills to undermine Obamacare. Even before healthcare legislation passed in Congress, Emmer was making the rounds on Fox News, pushing the idea that any form of federal healthcare program would be unconstitutional. In October 2009, he proposed a “Health Care Freedom Act” that would define Minnesotans as “sovereign individuals” in an attempt to prevent federal law or state law from affecting the health insurance of any individual. Soon after the Affordable Care Act passed, Emmer began advocating nullification of federal laws, an unconstitutional theory used by advocates of slavery before the Civil War, in his state.
4. He denies climate science is real. In addition to calling green jobs a “fancy marketing campaign“, pledging to withdraw Minnesota from a regional climate pact, and telling supporters of the EPA to vote against him, Emmer has publicly denied climate science, saying, “the empirical evidence does not support this and the other reps that have talked. There is another side. Just because we make these chambers available to Will Steger and the crowd that wants to rely on Al Gore’s climate porn doesn’t mean that that’s the way it is. … Folks, there is another side.”
Emmer’s views keep him in good company in the 6th district – Michelle Bachmann is also a climate denier.
5. He wanted to make English the official state language because of the supposed high cost of translating. In 2008, Emmer co-sponsored a bill that would have made English the official state language of Minnesota, in addition to imposing strict immigration status checks for renters and buyers of homes. The Star Tribune asked him about his support of the language component of the bill two years later, reporting, “Emmer said he co-sponsored the 2008 measure because his home county said the cost of producing signs in multiple languages ‘was killing them.’”
Emmer has also sponsored legislation that would have, if passed, imposed sweeping and restrictive voter ID laws in Minnesota, asserted that there is “no constitutional right to abortion“, and allowed for forced castration of sex offenders.
Kumar Ramanathan is an intern at ThinkProgress.