Who Will Be the 'Override Three?'

The budget crisis outlined at the Capitol earlier this month is of such historic proportions that it will likely only serve to further strain the already tense relationship between Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and the DFL-controlled legislature. In order to balance the budget, both sides will be calling for change: perhaps on the revenue side by the DFL and tough spending cuts from the Governor’s camp.

Pawlenty will not be daunted by the DFL’s numbers – he already holds the record for the most vetoes by a Minnesota governor in one year, with the 34 he issued in 2008 against a DFL legislature that was nearly as well stocked as the one taking office next session.

As the Senate remains veto-proof for the DFL, the question for Capitol-watchers in 2009 is which GOP legislators in the House are most likely to break ranks from their party (if any) to become the ‘Override 3’ to join 87 DFLers and overturn one of Pawlenty’s forthcoming vetoes.

The pressure from the Governor on the House Republicans to hold its caucus together will be immense, and the pressure on any potential member who seeks to stray from the GOP leadership even greater.

One need only look at the fate of the Override 6 from 2008: two retired and three others were denied the GOP endorsement (one lost in the primary, one lost in the general election, and one won re-election - Jim Abeler of Anoka in 48B).

Where we find the Override 3 will of course depend in part on the particular legislation at issue. But a good place to start such a search is to examine those Republican House Districts that were carried by the DFL at the top of the ticket in 2008. In other words, we need to look for red seats in blue or purple districts – those districts that may not simply be tolerant of an independent-thinking legislator, but ones that may demand it.

In fact, nearly one-quarter Republican Representatives elected in 2008 (11 of 47, 23 percent) hail from districts carried by Barack Obama: Morrie Lanning (09A), Tim Kelly (28A), Gregory Davids (31B), Tara Mack (37A), Keith Downey (representing former Override 6 District 41A), Jenifer Loon (42B), Sarah Anderson (43A), Tim Sanders (51A), Matt Dean (52B), Carol McFarlane (53B), and Denny McNamara (57B).

· While the average length of service by the Override 6 was 4.5 terms, the average length of service by the Representatives from these 11 districts is just 2.6 terms.

· Five of these legislators have no House voting record to predict future voting behavior as they are beginning their first term in St. Paul: Kelly (28A), Mack (37A), Downey (41A), Loon (42B), and Sanders (51A).

· Davids (31B) and Downey (41A) also represent districts that Obama carried by double-digit margins (11.8 points and 12.6 points respectively).

· Four rookie Representatives won their own House race by less than five points: Kelly (28A), Mack (37A), Downey (41A), and Sanders (51A).

· While none of the Representatives serve districts carried by Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race, Norm Coleman carried the districts of Lanning (09A), Kelly (28A), and Davids (31B) by less than 2.5 points each.

The fundamental question determining the potential formation of an Override 3 in 2009 is whether or not these young Republicans (assuming they are not in accord with the GOP caucus on the legislation at hand) will be too timid to take on their own party and vote with the DFL on an override and avoid the risk of losing their party’s endorsement in 2010’s primary.

Such a risk is great, as three much more experienced legislators from the Override 6 learned in 2008 when they were denied party endorsements: Ron Erhardt (9 terms), Jim Abeler (5 terms), and Neil Peterson (2 terms).

Then again, if an Override 3 is to form, it is possible it will come from an experienced and perhaps (over)confident Republican hailing from a district that was easily won by John McCain. After all, the Override 6 each represented districts that were carried by Pawlenty at the top of the ticket in 2006, and by an average of 11.1 points.

Minnesota GOP Representatives In Obama Districts

District
Legislator
Term
HD MoV
Obama MoV
Coleman MoV
09A
Morrie Lanning
4th
18.5
17.8
2.4
28A
Tim Kelly
1st
3.8
6.3
1.3
31B
Gregory Davids
9th
2.1
11.8
1.3
37A
Tara Mack
1st
4.6
5.9
7.7
41A*
Keith Downey
1st
4.8
12.6
8.6
42B
Jenifer Loon
1st
14.9
2.5
17.9
43A
Sarah Anderson
2nd
8.8
6.7
10.3
51A
Tim Sanders
1st
4.6
1.5
7.2
52B
Matt Dean
3rd
11.3
0.1
14.0
53B
Carol McFarlane
2nd
8.5
5.3
8.1
57B
Denny McNamara
4th
14.5
4.4
6.3
* Note: Home to Override 6 casualty Ron Erhardt.



Comments

Greg Davids isn't a first-termer... he's is returning to the seat he held for a number of terms (I don't remember how many) until he lost to Ken Tschumper, who Greg beat in this last election.

Thanks for catching that typo - this is, in fact, his 9th House electoral victory (his first was in 1991) - and all apologies to the former Speaker Pro Tempore. The information has been corrected in the table.

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The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.