The Minnesota Senate voted Tuesday to confirm DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s picks for Metropolitan Council chair and state commerce commissioner, over the objections of many Republicans.
Senators voted 38-22 for Adam Duininck, who has headed the Met Council since January.
But Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, argued that Duininck is too political and doesn’t have the executive experience needed to hold the job.
“This is cronyism,” Osmek said. “His biggest claim to fame? Two things: bringing money to the DFL and to the governor, and being married to the governor’s chief of staff.”
Duininck is married to Jaime Tincher, who has been Dayton’s chief of staff since February 2014.
Osmek’s comment brought a quick rebuke from one lawmaker.
Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, said she found it "a little offensive" that Osmek would bring up Duininck’s spouse as part of his objection.
“They are separate individuals, with separate skills and abilities, and they’re both highly-qualified professionals,” Eaton said. “In this day and age, it’s a pretty archaic way of looking at things.”
The Senate voted 35-22 to re-confirm Mike Rothman as commerce commissioner, a job he’s held the past four years.
Republicans contend that during that time Rothman has made several missteps related to the setting of rates for the state health insurance exchange MNsure and the investigation of fiscal wrongdoing at Community Action of Minneapolis.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, accused Rothman of misleading the public about MNsure rate changes.
“That is not the role of the commissioner of commerce to play a political role in the governor’s political debates about the value of a policy,” Hann said. “He’s there to administer and policy and to do it fairly and honestly.
Senate Democrats praised the two cabinet members.
Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, said Rothman has done a lot of good work.
“I think Commissioner Rothman is probably the best commissioner of commerce we’ve had for a long time,” Goodwin said.