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Emmer picks Annette Meeks as running mate

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Tom Emmer, Annette Meeks
Republican candidate for governor Rep. Tom Emmer announced on Tuesday that he's selected Metropolitan Council member Annette Meeks as his running mate.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer today named Annette Meeks as his running mate. 

Meeks is a member of the Metropolitan Council and has a long record of writing position papers and studies for conservative groups. 

Emmer said Meeks is best suited to help him restructure state government. And she could help Emmer court Republican delegates at Friday's endorsing convention. 

Meeks has been a member of the Metropolitan Council since 2003, she served as deputy chief of staff to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, and she is a frequent conservative commenter on TV, radio and in newspaper editorials. She told reporters that she accepted Emmer's offer to run because she loves public service and public policy.

"I'm one of those behind-the-scenes people. I love good public policy and the more I thought about it, frankly prayed about, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Meeks said. "Minnesota is at a crossroads and we have a tremendous opportunity to shape state government for the next decade."

Emmer said Meeks will help him redefine state government. He's been calling for cutting government spending for social service programs. He also wants to focus state government on three things: public safety, infrastructure and education. Emmer said Meeks is in a great position to help him do that.

"Some people actually put out policy statements and three-ring notebooks and suggest this is the way to redo government," Emmer said. "This person has actually written the book."

That book Emmer is referring to is the Minnesota Policy Blueprint, which Meeks wrote in 1998 for the Center of the American Experiment. In it, Meeks calls for the elimination of the job she is now running for. Meeks wrote that she doesn't believe the job of lieutenant governor is a necessary function and should be eliminated.

Meeks also served on Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Stadium Screening Committee in 2004. That committee recommended a variety of tax increases and user fees to pay for new stadiums for the Vikings and the Twins. It also suggested the taxes be raised without voter approval, an issue that has already surfaced in the campaign for governor. 

Emmer's top Republican rival, Rep. Marty Seifert, has criticized Emmer for voting against a measure that would have required a vote by Hennepin County residents to approve a sales tax increase for a new Twins ballpark. Emmer has repeatedly said he didn't think taxpayer money for a stadium was proper under any circumstance.

Seifert named Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah as his running mate several weeks ago. He called Meeks a good person who has been around politics for a long time. But Seifert, who lives in Marshall, said Emmer's ticket doesn't provide geographic balance. 

"Having an all-metro ticket, I think some people may look at that. Some people will look at whether she's ever gotten votes before," Seifert said. "My running mate has won easily three times in a swing district in a large metro county commissioner district." 

Meeks could be an influence in Friday's endorsement convention. She's well-known among GOP delegates and could convince some undecided delegates to back Emmer. 

Friday's endorsement is critical since both Seifert and Emmer say they'll drop out of the race if they don't win party backing.