Candidate Anselmo led by the white flags of rhetorical silence | Steve Timmer photo
by Steve Timmer
Jul 7, 2014, 11:00 AM

Waiting for Dario

Shortly after he bested the, um, field for the Republican endorsement to run against the incumbent DFLer Ron Erhardt in House District 49A, I wrote a story here about the fact that little was known about Dario Anselmo, or his public views. I did say that Minneapolis mayoral candidate and resident (49A is essentially Edina) Cam Winton was Anselmo’s campaign manager; the campaign corrected me and said, “No, Cam Winton is a campaign chair.” I was grateful for the correction and offered it the story.

That’s the last I’ve heard from them, not that I haven’t tried.

Since I wanted to know more about the Man Who Would Be Rep, I sent the campaign an email on May 15th with nine questions, the answers to which I thought would be illuminating, not only for me, but for other voters in 49A. I said there would probably be more, but we’d start with these.

I waited a week, and got no response, so I sent a follow up. I have been doing that just about every other week or so from then until now. I have never even gotten an acknowledgement of my email, although through the miracle of the internet, I know that the messages have been received. I guess Mr. Anselmo and his campaign thought — naively — that if I was ignored, I would finally go away. But we know better than that, don’t we, my friends?

And it seems that Dario is talking to somebody.

Since candidate Anselmo is touted as moderate — I think he describes himself that way, too — I wanted to know his views on a number of issues that have had serious play at the legislature over the years, and are likely to resurface, especially if the Republicans regain control of the place.

This “moderation” business is important if you know anything about the recent history of the district. Ron Erhardt, the current DFL incumbent, represented Edina for nine terms as a Republican until, that is, he was defenestrated by the district GOP for the heresy of voting to override Governor Tim Pawlenty’s veto of a gas tax increase. (Ron, a transportation guru, had been advocating for an increase for years, and finally got it.) Neil Peterson, the Republican representative on the B side of the district, also got the boot for his override vote. That was in 2008.

The GOP endorsed Keith Downey who served for two terms, when SURPRISE!, Ron Erhardt won the seat back in 2012 as a DFLer.

Parenthetically, Downey had decided he was going relocate to the more luxurious surroundings in the Minnesota Senate, so he ran for the smoking crater left by the “retiring” Geoff Michel. In a stunning defeat — stunning to Keith Downey, that is — he was rejected by the voters in favor of the first DFL state senator that the district has ever had, Melisa Franzen.

But I digress.

Many people, including me, have told Ron Erhardt for years that he didn’t really belong in the Modern Republican Party. I am sure that Ron felt the same way.

As I say, he was told that explicitly in 2008. But it was hardly just his vote on the gas tax override. Erhardt was the last pro-choice Republican in the Minnesota Legislature. He favors gay rights, was opposed to conceal and carry, and is a friend of the environment. Rep. Erhardt was not a team player in the Republican caucus.

When Erhardt switched parties and ran as a DFLer in 2012, it was really the same moderate Ron, and the voters recognized that. The GOP ran the tea-stained Bill Glahn against him, and Ron’s race was the first one called by the AP on election night. In other words, it wasn’t even close.

The situation at present boils down to this: the Republicans had a great moderate voice from the district at the Legislature, but threw him out in favor of the simmering lunatic Keith Downey. Now the Republicans are saying, Hey, we’ve got a moderate candidate; come back to us!

But talk is cheap, and silence is cheaper, and probably more revealing. Dario Anselmo is a cipher. And he won’t answer some simple and straightforward questions that I put to him.

Over several upcoming stories here, I’ll repeat the questions I put to Dario Anselmo, and discuss the Republican caucus position on them, because that’s where he wants to be.

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.