Saturday, March 01, 2008

Urdahl still feeling the heat

Thanks to a Ollie for pointing this out to me.
Urdahl, R-Grove City, accepted the position offered by House Minority Leader Marty Seifert of Marshall, but said he then had second thoughts. While he voted against the transportation spending package, Urdahl said he did not think the six House Republicans who helped put it into law should be punished. Seifert removed those six from committee and leadership positions.

Larry Schumacher reports a strange exchange between himself and Urdahl this week as well.

Apparently, Urdahl handed Schumacher his own press release stating "Urdahl Reconsiders Lead Position".

Urdahl's press release also posed the question "Wouldn't a retraction be in order?"

Schumacher posts:
Upon closer reading of the press release, however, things became even more confusing. A quote I'll reproduce below describes what Urdahl meant by "reconsiders."

"Today I announced to the committee that I view my new position as a caretaker role," Urdahl said. "It is my belief that Rep. Hamilton should not have resigned the position and that he should be reinstated. I do not condone any consequences for members based upon their votes of conscience."

So I called Urdahl to ask him to clarify. Was he resigning his seniority position?

"No," he said. "But I wanted to make it clear that I'm only holding it real temporarily."

So why the call for a retraction of a story or editorial that only pointed out he had taken the lead Republican spot on the committee?

Urdahl said the request for a retraction, which he no longer wanted, was based on a second-hand recounting to him of what was in the editorial. Upon reading it, he decided it wasn't so bad after all.

And why the press release if he's not resigning the position?

"I didn't want to condone what was happening and the consequences of it," Urdahl told me. "I regret what leadership's doing, but I felt obligated to take the position when Hamilton resigned."

Did I mention that Urdahl and Heidgerken share both an office wall and a legislative assistant? Or that his counterpart in the Senate, Steve Dille, R-Dassel, voted for both the bill and the override?

And did I mention that Urdahl voted for a similar transportation bill last year, but then voted against that year's override?

Pretty odd behavior.

Is he feeling the pressure of someone running against him? The Meeker County DFL convention is today and I am quite sure a strong candidate will emerge today to challenge Urdahl. Dean's lucky I've decided I will not run against him this year. It would be a fun race.

It's easy to take the high road on Seifert's demotions after the fact, after you've been rewarded for toeing the party line. As Schumacher points out, Urdahl has voted for a similar transportation bill before, only to flip flop under the pressure of Marty Seifert and Governor Pawlenty.

Urdahl had political cover in the district with the highly popular Senator Dille voting for the Transportation Bill and voting to override the Governor's veto. His flip flop last year blew some of that political cover, but Dille has always had a great explanation for his transportation vote.

Urdahl makes excuses.

Schumacher's post is very interesting. Urdahl's acting awfully odd right now.

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