The Potluck

New House Republican caucus gives Shakopee lawmaker the boot

By: - May 19, 2021 11:48 am

State Rep. Erik Mortensen, R-Shakopee, appears on Facebook Live on May 18 to explain why he was ejected from his caucus.

Troubles keep mounting for freshman state Rep. Erik Mortensen, the Shakopee Republican who can’t seem to get along with fellow conservatives. 

Mortensen has been kicked out of the New House Republican Caucus, previously a five-man group of conservatives who defected in 2018 to form a new caucus. 

State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, sent a letter to House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn, on Tuesday saying Mortensen “will no longer be part of the New House Republican Caucus.” 

The one-sentence letter gave no reason for the sudden ejection. The intraparty squabbling is a local example of Republicans grappling with their future after losing the White House and Congress in the 2020 election.

Mortensen took to Facebook Live on Tuesday night to share his side of the story. 

Appearing on Action 4 Liberty, Mortensen described a series of instances where he feuded with other House Republicans over efforts to force roll call votes on legislation, saying he wanted to hold conservatives accountable.

“People need to know what their legislators actually do,” Mortensen told Action 4 Liberty host Jake Duesenberg. “They talk themselves up, pat themselves on the back and make it sound like they are out there fighting for the people, but when you look at their voting records, it’s usually horse (expletive), and I’m trying to expose them.”

Mortensen in particularly critical of House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, and state Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, saying Daudt’s leadership is “toxic” and that Lucero is an “obedient lap dog” for Daudt. 

Mortensen says Drazkowski, who is leader of the New House Republican Caucus, had counseled him to get along with other Republican members of the House, emphasizing that effective lawmaking is predicated on good relationships. 

He says Drazkowski encouraged him to change his bombastic behavior, to which he responded: “I’m not going to change. I’ll change as soon as they stop their behavior, but if you want me to stop my behavior first, that’s not going to happen.”

A message left for Drazkowski on Tuesday was not returned. 

Brad Tabke, the former lawmaker that Mortensen defeated in last year’s election, said the development of Mortensen’s ouster from the caucus leaves Shakopee with ineffective representation. 

“Rep. Mortensen will be unable to hire staff to support his constituents; he will have no researchers to help build solid legislation for Shakopee; and most importantly, he will be further relegated to the back bench unable to collaborate and get any work done for our community,” Tabke tweeted.

Tabke is running for the seat again. 

Mortensen, who has been in office less than a year, has attracted attention for a number of political stunts, including inviting Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison to his home for a Thanksgiving weekend party last year during the pandemic, in defiance of public health orders at the time that discouraged multiple households from gathering to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

He narrowly won his seat over DFL Rep. Brad Tabke. A pot party candidate with ties to local Republicans may have played spoiler.

The Minnesota House human resources department has already received complaints about Mortensen, he’s said.  

He also doxxed a DFL colleague.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.

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