Gubernatorial aspirant Dave Thompson (
by Steve Timmer
Mar 23, 2014, 7:30 PM

Where were you, Dave?

As I mentioned in a previous story, there were two Republican “no” votes in the Senate on the tax bill passed by the Lege and signed by the governor last week. One was Dave Brown, and the other was the Republican caucus leader, David Hann.

Reports are that Leader Hann led from the rear, being the last senator to record his vote on the board. (He didn’t mention, in a caucus meeting earlier that day, that was how he was going to vote.) Some of Hann’s Republican caucus members think that’s where they got it, too, in the rear, and there is a movement afoot to defenestrate him. (Mixed metaphor; sorry.) According to, there is a caucus meeting scheduled away from the Capitol to discuss the subject.

I think the last time such a meeting was scheduled away from the Capitol was when the Deputy (Geoff Michel) was stripped of his epaulets and brass buttons over the attempted palace coup he mounted a couple of years ago. So draw your own conclusions.

Almost more interesting, however, is the absence of three Republicans from the final vote in the Senate: Michelle Fischbach — the Paynesville Warbler — Torrey Westrom, and Lonesome Dave Thompson. Fischbach may have just been out for a cigarette; Westrom is running for Congress in the 7th District, and Lonesome Dave is running a flaccid campaign for governor.

Other than Fischbach’s nicotine addiction, what are we to make of this?

Recall that Ted Lillie’s Taxpayers (no apostrophe) League had already telegraphed that it wouldn’t “score” the final vote, but that it would score some of the amendments. This was a stunning bit of transparency by Lillie’s League. (This game is often afoot with groups like the League and MCCL, but they rarely tell you about it.)

You will never guess in a million years who was around for some of the amendment votes but wasn’t around for the final vote.

Yes, it was Lonesome Dave. But you knew that, didn’t you? (I don’t know if Westrom was there for any of the debate or not; I am looking into that.) It is pretty clear that Westrom and Lonesome Dave wanted some plausible deniability on the vote. You have to wonder if they were tipped by Lead-From-The-Rear Hann as to what he was going to do.

When asked where he was for the final vote, it was reported by the Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger (in a tweet that I cannot find for the moment) that Lonesome Dave said he was out of town — in Faribault — for a “meeting.”

That’s a little evasive, Dave, don’t you think? Perhaps it was a campaign event? Or perhaps Dave was just trying to get out of Dodge for a vote that he believed was a no-win deal for him?

At all events, the Republican Senate caucus didn’t exactly cover itself in glory the last few days. David Senjem, the MNSRC casts its lonely eye to you.

Update: Thompson is being cagey about the reasons for his absence. “I was excused,” he says. Senators are excused for a lot of reasons; it could have been constituent related; it could have been political. He was in Faribault. Here’s a map of Thompson’s district; find Faribault. MPR says this is the notation in the Senate Journal:

Senators Eaton and Fischbach were excused from the Session of today. Senator Gazelka was excused from the Session of today from 9:30 to 10:20 a.m. Senator Goodwin was excused from the Session of today from 9:30 to 10:40 a.m. Senator Thompson was excused from the Session of today at 10:30 a.m. Senator Westrom was excused from the Session of today at 11:45 a.m.

It is also interesting that Sen. Westrom was around to make the grandstanding votes on amendments that would be scored by the Taxpayers (no apostrophe) League, but not the final vote.

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