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Tom Emmer

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Tom Emmer

Tom Emmer
Member-elect of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th district
Taking office
January 3, 2015
Succeeding Michele Bachmann
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 19B district
In office
January 4, 2005 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Dick Borrell
Succeeded by Joe McDonald
Personal details
Born (1961-03-03) March 3, 1961
South Bend, Indiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jacqueline
Children Tripp, Jack, Bobby, Katie, Joey, Billy and Johnny
Residence Delano, Minnesota
Alma mater University of Alaska Fairbanks
William Mitchell College of Law
Occupation lawyer, former radio talk show host
Religion Roman Catholic
Website official campaign website for governor
official campaign website for Congress

Thomas Earl "Tom" Emmer, Jr.[1] (born March 3, 1961) was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2005 until 2011 and the Republican nominee for governor in the 2010 election. He represented District 19B, which includes portions of Wright and Hennepin Counties and the cities of Otsego, Albertville, St. Michael, Rockford, Delano, Montrose, and Waverly.[2] He was born in South Bend, Indiana, and grew up in Edina, Minnesota. On June 5th, 2013, he announced he would seek the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by Michele Bachmann.[3]

Early life, education, and early political career

Emmer attended St. Thomas Academy, an all-male, Catholic, military, college-preparatory high school, located in Mendota Heights near Saint Paul.[4] He then attended Boston College[2] followed by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks,[1] where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1984. He also played hockey for both schools. He received a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1988.[5]

Prior to his election to the House, Emmer served as a member of the Independence and Delano City Councils.[2]

Minnesota House of Representatives


In 2004, incumbent Republican State Representative Dick Borrell, of Minnesota's 19B House District, decided to retire. Emmer decided to run and defeated Democrat Lori M. Schmidt, an attorney, 60%-40%.[6] In 2006, he won re-election to a second term with 61% of the vote.[7] In 2008, he won re-election to a third term with 61% of the vote.[8] In 2010, he decided to retire in order to run for Governor of Minnesota.

Committee assignments

He served on the Finance Committee, the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee, and the State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. He was also a member of the Finance Subcommittee for the Health Care and Human Services Finance Division, and of the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Subcommittee for the Licensing Division.[2]

2010 gubernatorial election

The candidate wearing an "Emmer for Governor" shirt in 2010


Emmer officially announced his candidacy for governor of the State of Minnesota in July 2009.[9][10] In January 2010, Emmer came in second to Marty Seifert in a non-binding straw poll of Republican Party caucus participants. In April 2010, Emmer announced that his running mate would be Metropolitan Council member Annette Meeks. Emmer received the endorsements of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, [11] Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau.[12] On April 30, 2010, the Republican Party of Minnesota officially endorsed Tom Emmer as its candidate for governor at the state convention in Minneapolis. His main opponent, Marty Seifert, withdrew from the race and endorsed Emmer when it became apparent that Emmer was nearing the threshold for party endorsement. On August 10, 2010, Emmer won the Republican primary by a landslide of 82% of the vote, a 75-point margin over the distant second place candidate Bob Carney.[13][14]

Corporate sponsorship

The race attracted national attention as the "first case in this election cycle of a company hit by national protests over a campaign donation".[15] Minnesota-based Target Corporation donated $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, a new political action committee paying for advertising that supported Emmer's gubernatorial election.[16] Emmer said he viewed the Target giving as an exercise in free speech and wanted to keep his campaign focused on economic issues.[17] Best Buy also donated $100,000 to MN Forward.[18]


Emmer trailed by 9,000 votes behind his Democratic opponent Mark Dayton in the un-certified election results, though the count was close enough to trigger an automatic recount. Most analysts felt it was unlikely that the Emmer campaign could overcome such a deficit in a recount.[19] On December 8, 2010, Emmer conceded the election.[20]

Post-2010 election activities

Emmer was a registered lobbyist in Minnesota,[21] and co-hosted a morning talk radio program with Bob Davis on KTLK in Minneapolis.

In early 2011, he ran for an open Minnesota seat on the Republican National Committee, but lost that election to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.[22]

Emmer hosted a 2011 event promoting the launch of Representative Ron Paul's presidential campaign in Minnesota.[23]

2014 Congressional election

Upon the surprise retirement of U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, Emmer was considered a possible successor in the Sixth Congressional District seat.[24] On June 5, 2013, Emmer officially announced he would seek the Republican nomination in the 2014 election. On February 4th, Tom Emmer received 67.9% of the vote in the 6th district straw poll.[25][26] On April 12, 2014, he received the Republican Party endorsement for the nomination on the first ballot with 76%, but he still faced a primary challenge from his two competitors, Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah and former state Rep. Phil Krinkie.[27] Emmer has received the endorsements of the Tea Party Express, Young Americans for Liberty's Liberty Action Fund, and many Minnesota legislators.[28][29] Emmer won the primary with 73% of the vote.

Political positions

Pharmacy conscience clause

He has supported "conscience clause" legislation that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception on the basis of "ethical, moral or legal grounds as long as the pharmacist notifies their employer in advance and the employer can ensure a patient has timely access to the drug or device".[30]

State Sovereignty

Emmer sponsored an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would allow the state to nullify federal laws.[31]


Emmer identifies as pro-life from conception to birth.[32]


Emmer strongly opposes tax increases. He has also proposed gradually reducing the state corporate tax, with the eventual goal of repealing it altogether.[33]

Minimum wage

Emmer introduced an amendment within the Minnesota House of Representatives that would have eliminated Minnesota's minimum wage law in 2005.[34]

'Tip credit'

On July 5, 2010, after visiting a restaurant in St. Paul Minnesota, Emmer was asked during a press conference if he supported the idea of a tip credit, the financial policy of allowing businesses to subtract tips from a server's hourly wage. His response was "Yes... if you didn't have a minimum wage law..." His reasoning for implementing the tip credit is that "...somebody could be taking home well over one hundred thousand dollars as a server" while the restaurant owner could be making much less.[35][36]

One week after his ‘tip credit’ press conference, Emmer announced a proposal that would exempt the first $20,000 a server makes in tips from state taxes.[37] At the same press conference a protester dumped $20 in pennies on Emmer's lap.[38]

Drunk driving

In 2009, Emmer sponsored a bill that would shorten the period of license revocation for driving under the influence and for refusing to take a sobriety test. Additionally, though "suspected drunken drivers [currently] face revocation before they go to court," Emmer's bill would delay revocations until after conviction.[39] Supporters of Emmer's bill have said "it's needed because pre-conviction revocations penalize drivers before proving they're guilty."[40] Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the head of the Minnesota DWI task force opposed the legislation[41] because it would allow arrested drivers to continue to drive during the time between their arrest and hearing.[42]

Emmer's own history became an issue in relation to his bill.[43] At age 20, Emmer received a driving under the influence-related ticket. In 1991 he pleaded guilty to careless driving while two charges for DWI and a license-plate violation were dropped.[44] Emmer denies that his own drunk driving and legal consequences played a part in the bill, stating, "We all come to the Legislature with life experiences, but it has nothing to do with this bill."[39] Emmer also stated that his sentence in 1981 should have been harsher. Had it been, Emmer felt that he "...probably wouldn't have taken the second chance" that led to his subsequent arrests and guilty plea in 1991.[45]

On May 13, 2010, Emmer was one of three legislators not to vote on a bill that would have provided such tougher penalties for drunk drivers. Emmer said that he missed the vote when a previously scheduled lunch ran long, and that he had "no idea" how he would have voted on the bill, but that he "assume[d]" he would have supported it.[46]

Same sex marriage

Emmer supported a state constitutional amendment banning civil recognition of same-sex marriages or its legal equivalent, stating, "I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman."[47] In March 2007, Emmer introduced HF 1847, a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution "recognizing as marriage or its legal equivalent only a union between one man and one woman."[48] Voters later rejected this proposal.


During an October 9, 2010, televised debate, Emmer said he would oppose legislation to combat school bullying against gay and lesbian young people. Emmer, who in the past voted against anti-bullying legislation as a state lawmaker, said that teachers are most responsible for halting bullies, but suggested that the threat of lawsuits keeps them from doing so. "I don't think we need more laws; I think we need more understanding," he said.[49]


In 2009, Emmer voted against S.F. 247.[50] This Minnesota law states that by January 1, 2010, no manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler may sell or offer for sale in Minnesota any children's product that contains Bisphenol-A, except for used children's products which will be prohibited after January 1, 2011.[51] Emmer stated that he voted against the law because of fear of “increased costs.” As well-intentioned as people may be, he said, "they don't think about what this vote means five steps down the line."[52]

Personal life

The great-grandfather of Emmer, along with his two brothers, founded Emmer Brothers Lumber in 1910. It is now called Viking Forest Products LLC, an employee-owned company.[53] Emmer has seven children with his wife of more than 20 years, Jacqueline Emmer.[54] He is an avid hockey player, having played in college, and continuing the sport by coaching.[1] During the legislative session, Emmer regularly rode the bus to the Minnesota State Capitol.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Helgeson, Baird. "Tom Emmer: Riding a new populist wave", Star Tribune, 11 July 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d Profile of Tom Emmer at Minnesota's legislature's website
  3. ^ Linkins, Jason (2013-06-05). "Republican To Join Race To Replace Bachmann". Huffington Post. 
  4. ^ Biography at Emmer's gubernatorial campaign website
  5. ^ "Emmer for Governor". Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  9. ^ Duchschere, Kevin. "Delano's Emmer plans run for governor", Star Tribune, 6 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Emmer's gubernatorial campaign website". 2013-09-13. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  11. ^ Sarah Palin Backs Emmer, Minnesota Public Radio News, 29 April 2010.
  12. ^ "Molnau backs Tom Emmer in gov's race | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ". 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  13. ^ "2010 Elections - Governor". 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Hamburger, Tom (2010-08-17). "Gay rights group's talks with Target break down". Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  16. ^ Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. (2010-07-18). "New Ads and a New Nod in Minnesota's Governor Race". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  17. ^ Logn, Martiga. "The Associated Press: Liberal groups push to exploit Target backlash". Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  18. ^ Cummings, Jeanne (August 17, 2010). "MoveOn calls for boycott of Target". Politico. 
  19. ^ "Prelude to a recount". Politics in Minnesota. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  20. ^ Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. (December 8, 2010). "Emmer concedes; says Dayton is next governor". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  21. ^ Helgeson, Baird (February 14, 2011). "Emmer to lobby for effort he opposed as legislator". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  22. ^ "Johnson defeats Emmer for RNC Seat". 
  23. ^ "Ron Paul will launch his Minnesota campaign in St. Cloud". 
  24. ^ "Large field of Republicans will vie for Bachmann's seat". KARE 11. May 29, 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ "Emmer wins endorsement in 6th District". KARE 11. April 12, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  27. ^ Beldend, Doug (2014-04-13). "GOP endorses Emmer for Bachmann's 6th District seat". Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  28. ^ "Tom Emmer". LibertyAction. 2014-02-04. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  29. ^ "Endorses Tom Emmer for U.S. Congress in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District". Tea Party Express. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  30. ^ “Pharmacists’ Conscience Clause” Goes To House Floor, Tom Emmer's office press release, 9 March 2006.
  31. ^ Kleefeld, Eric (June 22, 2010). "'"Emmer Defends Nullification: 'Minnesotans Should Have A Say In The Laws That Govern Them. Talking Points Memo. 
  32. ^ Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. (May 3, 2010). "In voting records, Kelliher and Emmer mirror images". Hot Dish Politics. Star Tribune. 
  33. ^ "Taxes - The Issues". Emmer for Governor. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  34. ^ Bakst, Brian (2010-07-14). "Minnesota GOP hopeful Emmer tries to fix tip jam". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  35. ^ "GOP's Emmer Would Like To Cut Waiter Wages". YouTube. 2010-07-05. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  36. ^ Crosby, Jackie (July 5, 2010). "Emmer: Lower wages for tipped workers. The gubernatorial candidate says wages for restaurant workers are taking money from customers.". Star Tribune. 
  37. ^ Bakst, Brian; Mulcahy, Mike (July 13, 2010). "Emmer's latest plan: Don't tax tips". Minnesota Public Radio. Associated Press. 
  38. ^ Van Denburg, Hart (July 15, 2010). "Tom Emmer doused with 2,000 pennies by protester [VIDEO]". City Pages (Village Voice Media). Retrieved May 4, 2012. 
  39. ^ a b "Sponsor of DWI change has 2-ticket DWI record". 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  40. ^ Doyle, Pat (2009-03-27). "Plan puts brakes on penalties for DWI". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  41. ^ Foti, Jim. "Sponsor of DWI change has 2-ticket DWI record", Star Tribune, 29 March 2009.
  42. ^ Scheck, Tom. "Seifert keeps up pressure on Emmer on DWI issue", Minnesota Public Radio News, 26 April 2010.
  43. ^ Helgeson, Baird (2010-04-22). "Emmer DWI dustup, Day 2". Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  44. ^ Foti, Jim (2009-03-29). "Sponsor of DWI change has 2-ticket DWI record". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-02. 
  45. ^ Doyle, Pat (2010-04-21). "Guv's race: Underwear, dirty laundry". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  46. ^ Doyle, Pat (2010-05-13). "Emmer, MIA on DWI vote, ignites criticism". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  47. ^ Social Values page at Emmer's campaign website
  48. ^ HF1847 Status in House for Legislative Session 85 Minnesota State Legislature.
  49. ^ Hoppin, Jason (October 9, 2010). "Minnesota governor hopefuls square off over bullying laws: Dayton, Horner support legislation; Emmer calls for teacher protections". Pioneer Press. 
  50. ^ "Roll Call on S.F. NO. 247 CALENDAR FOR THE DAY Passage - Minnesota House of Representatives". 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  51. ^ "S.F. No. 247, 2nd Engrossment - 86th Legislative Session (2009-2010)". Minnesota Senate. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  52. ^ Austin, Paul (2010-10-06). "Five Steps Down the Line". Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  53. ^ About Us at Viking Forest's official website
  54. ^ "Tom Emmer - Biographies - About the Team". Emmer for Governor. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 

External links

  • Tom Emmer at Minnesota Legislators Past & Present
  • Representative Tom Emmer (R) official MN State Legislature site
  • Emmer for Governor official gubernatorial campaign site
  • Profile at Project Vote Smart
  • Voting record (2005-2008) at Minnesota Public Radio Votetracker
Minnesota House of Representatives
Preceded by
Dick Borrell
Minnesota State Representative from District 19B
January 4, 2005 – January 3, 2011
Succeeded by
Joe McDonald
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tim Pawlenty
Endorsed Gubernatorial Candidate,
Minnesota Republican Party State Convention

Succeeded by
Jeff Johnson
Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota
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