Sue Jeffers is known on campus for the restaurant she’s owned since 1979, Stub & Herbs. She’s known in Hennepin County for being outspoken against the smoking ban. And now, in Minnesota, she might be known as the candidate that gummed up incumbent Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s re-election strategy.
Jeffers, a 49-year-old resident of New Brighton, will run against Pawlenty in September’s Republican primary. The Republican Party has refused to endorse her and she has yet to select a running mate.
Jeffers said she’s running with hopes to see a smaller government and reduced spending. The new Twins stadium was “the single turning point for me to go after Pawlenty,” Jeffers said.
“I was a lifelong Republican, but I feel like they let us down, and I feel like the Democrats have let their people down, too,” she said. “You can hardly tell the difference between the two.”
“Put the heat on the governor”
University professor Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs’ Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, said Jeffers will try to “crowbar” Pawlenty back in a conservative direction before the general election in November.
“The risk for the governor is that he’s going to be pushed into more conservative positions than most Minnesotans would support, and it may end up hurting him in the general election,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said that without Jeffers in the race, Pawlenty would be able to take a more central position, garnering more support than he did in 2002.
“She wants to put the heat on the governor and try and get as many commitments as she can for him to move in her direction,” Jacobs said.
Michael Krueger, Pawlenty’s campaign manager, would not comment for this story.
Campus Conservative Cultural Program President Tom Meyer said having Jeffers in the race encourages debate within the party and more people to get involved.
“There are alternatives to Tim Pawlenty. He’s more of a big-government conservative than Sue Jeffers would be,” the neuroscience senior said. “It allows smaller-government conservatives someone to vote and push for.”
Small-government Republicans and especially Libertarians, whose endorsement Jeffers declined so as to have a go at Pawlenty, can find plenty to love in what Jeffers said would be her first action as governor.
“Start at the top”
“I would start at the top by auditing every level of government — every level,” Jeffers said. “There are so many layers, you could basically eliminate half of them. You know the state of Minnesota is the No. 1 employer in the state? It’s outrageous. The government’s role is not to provide jobs.”
Jeffers is also against increases in the state minimum wage, especially because Minnesota is bordered by states with lower wage standards.
“It cost me $40,000 a year with no increase in productivity (at Stub & Herb’s),” she said.
Jim Rosvold runs Campus Pizza in Stadium Village and is president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association. He’s been a member of the association for almost 10 years, over which time he’s worked with Jeffers as president and board member, two elected positions Jeffers has had.
“She’s a go-getter, she has a plan and she gets things done,” Rosvold said. “She’s given us some good insight.”
Jeffers said she does not support a new light-rail transit line through the University Avenue corridor, which she sees as “an obscene waste of money.”
The proposed line would link downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, with stops at the University.
But Jeffers said mass transit does not encourage new development, solve traffic congestion or pay for itself. Instead, she said, light-rail transit lines harm small businesses during construction and increase crime in the area.
Jeffers said University tuition under Pawlenty has gotten out of control. One way to keep college costs down is to reduce the amount of funding that goes to student groups through student fees, Jeffers said.
“Did you know the University has a goat club?” Jeffers said. “There’s a phenomenal amount of these clubs that are out there. Well, they need to be self-sufficient. If you want to have a goat club, then all the goat people get together, chip in your five bucks and you can have your goat club.” Jeffers said she heard about the club a few years ago from a bar patron.
“When did it become the University’s role to sustain student groups?” Jeffers asked.
Besides the parades, speeches and festivals Jeffers has to get through, she was able to reduce the remaining stages of her campaign to one step.
“Kick Tim Pawlenty’s butt,” she said.