Minnesota House minority leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, is playing an interesting game of chicken. And by interesting, we mean not very bright and ego-driven.
In a purely political move in the midst of woes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic collapse, Daudt is threatening to sink a bonding bill that has broad bipartisan legislative support unless DFL Gov. Tim Walz relinquishes his emergency powers.
It's a gamble borne of cognitive dissonance accelerated by existing in a bubble where the loudest voices are those of bar owners screeching about mask-wearing being the first step to tyranny and talk-radio callers stammering about "King Walz."
Over the weekend, Daudt was gleefully tweeting about a silly billboard purporting to show Walz with his head up his rear end. This is supposedly the GOP's best and brightest.
Bonding bills are critically important to every corner of Minnesota, whether they lean DFL or Republican. They provide money for needed infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plans and flood protection. That's why legislators from both parties enthusiastically support them. They bring home the bacon.
Things like a railroad underpass in Moorhead.
Things like a community center expansion in Alexandria.
Things like renovating a historic elementary school in Chatfield.
Things like a new government center in Proctor.
This year's bonding bill is a hefty $1.8 billion package, larger than usual owing to needed infrastructure projects and the jobs they'll provide. The governor is on board. So, critically, is Republican Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka. DFLers, who hold a majority in the House, are also in favor.
But bonding bills need a super-majority vote to pass, meaning this one needs Republican votes to get out of the House. So the bill failed to make it out of the second special session completed last week, collapsing when Daudt said he wouldn't provide Republican votes for it unless Walz agreed to give up the emergency powers he's taken since the start of the pandemic.
With COVID-19 growing nationwide and critical decisions like school re-opening still ahead, Walz is not about to relinquish his emergency powers. Nor should he. His decision-making, while sparking caterwauling from the right, has been mostly proper and measured. Minnesotans agree: A recent Fox News poll showed Walz with a 65% approval rating.
There will be another special session in August. Daudt will have another chance to correct his mistake.
Unless he's all-in on the political calculation that he can paint Walz, who is not up for re-election until 2022, as a heavy-handed dictator and that will help drag down DFL candidates on the ballot in November. It mirrors the Republican play nationally.
That means he'd be willing to scuttle $1.8 billion in local projects — even those in Republican-held legislative districts — to do it. Wonder how those GOPers whose hometown won't be getting a new bridge or sewer upgrade feel about that?
More important, how do the residents of Greater Minnesota feel about that? And we're talking about the reasonable ones, not the sliver who base their outrage on Facebook memes and talk-radio spittle. You know, like Daudt.