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Beating the air for Dario | Steve Timmer photo
by Steve Timmer
Oct 14, 2014, 2:00 PM

Dario Anselmo believes in the Tooth Fairy

There was an article by Lori Sturdevant in the Strib on Sunday, October 12th that discussed the race in HD49A between incumbent DFLer Ron Erhardt and the Republican challenger, Dario Anselmo.

Sturdevant’s article is a good exposition of the politics of Edina. The whole idea of politics in Edina sounds weird, I know, but a central tenet of local politics, as Sturdevant identifies, is that firebreathers and ideologues need not apply. The district soundly defeated the two constitutional amendments offered in 2012 by the Republican-controlled legislature. (Watching the Republican candidates, including Keith Downey, dance around the amendments at the 2012 candidate forum was a memorable moment of defensiveness and obfuscation.)

The district also chose DFLers for both the Minnesota House and Senate, Erhardt and Melisa Franzen, the first DFLers to ever hold the seats. (DFLer Paul Rosenthal served a term in the B side of the district before being defeated in 2010, by a Republican who decided that the whole thing was waaaay too much work and retired after a term; Rosenthal won the seat back in 2012.)

In order to win, you have to appeal to moderates in Edina. It is trending blue, all right, but you still need the moderates. Amy Klobuchar wins going away here; Al Franken did not, although I’ll bet he comes a lot closer this time.

Rep. Erhardt battled with his own then-Republican caucus for years on a variety of issues, until the Edina Republicans finally threw him out of the party in 2008 because he voted to override Tim Pawlenty’s veto of a gax tax increase; it was Rep. Erhardt’s bill, in fact.

The Republican caucus threatened, in a message delivered by, in addition to others, the elegant and refined Tom Emmer, to take away everything from Rep. Erhardt, including his key to the washroom. (Kidding; the washrooms in the State Office Building don’t have keys.)

But he — and Neil Peterson, with whom Erhardt shared the district, then identified as District 41 — voted for the override anyway. They lost their Republican endorsements and consequently their seats in the Legislature over it.

Rep. Erhardt was back as a DFLer in 2012, and won easily over the tea-stained Bill Glahn. It was the first race called by the AP on election night in November 2012.

Dario Anselmo has figured out that he’d better at least seem moderate to have a chance against the very well  -known and -liked quantity, Ron Erhardt. Ixnay on the edray eatmay, says Dario.

But it creates a dilemma for Anselmo, because the same clique that tossed Ron Erhardt out of the party is still around, and Anselmo can feel its hot, sour breath on his neck.

So he says as little as he can, hoping to fly under the radar and win on name recognition [chortle]. When he’s on the record, he’ll speak only in the broadest of generalities. At the candidate forum last month, Anselmo was for more transportation funding, for education, but for improving the business climate, which is a code for reducing taxes.

Anselmo said this to Sturdevant about transportation funding:

Anselmo says he’s a multimodal guy on transportation, but won’t say flatly that paying for the improvements Minnesota needs will require a higher gas tax. He’s eager to look for more efficient spending at the Minnesota Department of Transportation and is open to other revenue sources, he says.

Of course he won’t say we need a gax tax hike. The people in his party will come to his house and burn a pile of tea bags on his lawn.

If Anselmo wants to support education and transportation, but reduce income taxes, what other “revenue sources” are there? It’s reported that on the hustings Anselmo is unequivocally against a gas tax hike.

You can’t moan and groan about roads and bridges and blame the DFL for the problems, as the Minnesota Action Network does all over the state, and be against a gas tax increase. (The fuel taxes trust fund is the principal source of funding for roads and bridges.)

Unless you believe in the Tooth Fairy.

Update: It is reported that Anselmo was unequivocal in his opposition to a gas tax hike in responses to a questionnaire from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

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