Minnesota’s ‘McCain 14’ Split on House Tax Increase

Although House DFLers were able to push through a tax bill on Saturday to raise approximately $1.5 billion in revenue for the State of Minnesota, 20 percent of its caucus peeled off to join the Republicans in voting against the legislation.

The DFL was able to pass the tax hike (HF 2323) on a 68-65 vote, partly because a slight majority of the ‘McCain 14’ held with its caucus to vote for the increase. Back in December, Smart Politics highlighted the 14 DFL Representatives who were victorious in 2008 in districts carried by both John McCain and Norm Coleman.

Eight of these Representatives voted for the tax bill that would, among other provisions, raise the cigarette tax $0.54 per pack, create a new income tax rate of 9 percent for those joint filers earning in excess of $300,000 per year, as well as raise alcohol taxes by 3 to 5 cents per drink.

As the table below demonstrates, none of these eight DFLers who voted with their party are freshmen, and their average victory margin was 13.1 points last fall. The average victory margin of the other 6 members of the ‘McCain 14’ who voted against the tax hike was nearly half that – at 7.2 points.

‘McCain 14’ DFLers Voting for House Tax Increases

District
Rep.
Term
HD MoV
Coleman MoV
McCain MoV
01A-Thief River Falls
Dave Olin
2
5.0
15.1
4.0
02B-Park Rapids
Brita Sailer
3
8.3
4.1
1.5
08B-Hinckley
Tim Faust
2
1.5
6.3
7.3
12A-Brainerd
John Ward
2
30.0
5.4
4.0
13B-Willmar
Al Juhnke
7
7.6
10.8
5.6
14B-St. Joseph
Larry Hosch
3
34.3
16.1
10.5
17B-North Branch
Jeremy Kalin
2
6.6
13.7
9.7
30B-Plainview
Andy Welti
3
11.2
15.6
8.8
Average
3.0
13.1
10.9
6.4

The DFL needed nearly every one of these eight Representatives to hold with their caucus, as not only did six of the McCain 14 vote against the bill, but an additional 11 other DFLers as well. Norm Coleman carried 16 of these 17 legislator’s districts, winning by an average margin of 9.5 points in those 16 races. Only St. Paul veteran Gene Pelowksi (31A-Winona) represented a district carried by Al Franken of those DFLers voting with the Republican caucus.

House Republican Minority Leader Marty Seifert (21A-Marshall) has long predicted the DFL leadership would let off just enough of its (more vulnerable) members to vote with the GOP to narrowly pass controversial legislation, such as tax increases, or to defeat popular measures such as voter ID. Five first-term DFLers, with an average victory margin of 5.5 points in 2008, voted against the tax increase.

DFLers Voting Against House Tax Increases

District
Rep.
Terms
HD MoV
Coleman MoV
McCain MoV
11B-Long Prairie
Mary Ellen Otremba
7
4.9
14.2
11.9
12B-Royalton
Al Doty
2
0.4
13.2
16.4
16A-Milaca
Gail Kulick Jackson
1
0.4
12.0
13.8
26A-Owatanna
Kory Kath
1
13.9
11.0
6.1
31A-Winona
Gene Pelowski
12
35.6
-7.0
-22.1
37B-Rosemount
Philip Sterner
1
5.2
12.6
-2.3
38A-Eagan
Sandra Masin
2
5.0
1.8
-13.9
38B-Eagan
Mike Obermueller
1
2.5
10.9
-7.7
40A-Burnsville
Will Morgan
2
12.0
3.4
-5.6
41B-Edina
Paul Rosnethal
1
5.6
10.0
-8.8
42A-Minnetonka
Maria Ruud
3
16.6
7.5
-10.3
43B-Minnetonka
John Benson
2
11.2
2.0
-14.4
47A-Champlin
Denise Dittrich
3
18.9
11.4
2.1
53A-Shoreview
Paul Gardner
2
4.7
15.2
0.9
54B-Little Canada
Bev Scalze
3
22.5
2.1
-12.9
56A-Lake Elmo
Julie Bunn
2
5.6
12.0
-2.9
56B-Woodbury
Marsha Swails
2
10.1
12.3
-6.8
 
Average
2.8
10.3
8.5
-3.3

The average victory margin for the 17 DFLers voting against the new House tax measure was 10.3 points in 2008. The average victory margin for the other 70 DFLers in the caucus in 2008 is more than three times that amount, at 33.4 points.

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