Rep. Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) is the new House minority leader.He defeated Rep. Randy Demmer (R-Hayfield) in the contest to replace Rep. Marty Seifert (R-Marshall), who stepped down from his leadership post to explore a gubernatorial run.
Zellers views himself as a coxswain, hoping to steer what he calls a “47-person rowing team” to greater success, while sticking to the recent party attitudes and ideas, including fiscal sanity and the state living within its means.
“We need to do a little bit better with a little bit less,” he said at a news conference. He said the caucus will continue to offer “positive ideas to move the ball forward.” (Watch)
“I remain committed to openness, transparency and a spirit of compromise in the Minnesota House and hope Rep. Zellers shares those goals,” said House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Mpls). “As was my practice with Rep. Seifert, I plan to meet with the new Minority Leader on a weekly basis once the 2010 session gets underway early next year.”
Zellers wants all 47 House Republicans involved. “I want everyone to pitch in,” said Zellers, who has worked for and with former U.S. Rep. And U.S. Sen. Rod Grams and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. “Every caucus is a chance for everyone to participate.”
His goal is to see the caucus membership increase to around 70 members after the 2010 election, two more than needed to regain control of the House. While it seems like a tough hill to climb, Zellers said that anything is possible. “A year from now is a long time.”
Candidate recruitment has begun, and caucus coffers are about where they are expected, he said. Zellers said he wants to recruit candidates that best fit their district and district demographics, and not use a “cookie-cutter approach.”
Zellers won a special election to the House in 2003 and has been re-elected three times. This session he was Republican lead on the House Commerce and Labor Committee. He also served on the House Labor and Consumer Protection Division, House Taxes Committee and House Transportation and Transit Policy Oversight Committee. He is not seeking higher office; something he jokingly said was rare in his caucus.