Jim Schultz: Minnesota’s government is now just weird

Minnesota must return to normalcy.

Left: Sen. Nicole Mitchell appears before a Senate ethics panel May 7. (Minnesota Senate Media Services) Right: Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty speaks to the county board April 30. (Hennepin County)

Most Minnesotans are now familiar with the story of Sen. Nicole Mitchell, the state senator who was arrested in her stepmother’s home, charged with first-degree burglary, and has subsequently gone on to cast critical votes in the legislature, refusing to resign.

There are many things you could call the conduct of Sen. Mitchell and the DFL leadership who to date have refused to discipline her in any meaningful respect. Arrogant. Odd. Confusing.

I think among the best words to describe not only this event but our state government more broadly right now, is that it is just plain weird. Once a proud bastion of pragmatic governance and Midwestern sensibility, on event after event, issue after issue, Minnesota government has become weird.

Let’s take an inventory.

Over the course of Joe Biden’s administration, roughly 10 million illegal immigrants have entered the United States, a group of people nearly two times the size of Minnesota’s entire population. Given the national catastrophe that this represents, one might expect our state government to do what it can to deal with our illegal immigration problem and discourage illegal immigration. But no, Minnesota’s lawmakers are pushing to make Minnesota a sanctuary state, refusing to cooperate with federal officials in the enforcement of our immigration laws, while offering free health care and free college education to those here illegally. Refusing to enforce our laws and encouraging future lawbreaking is weird.

Or take the state’s financial mismanagement. Despite a historic $19 billion surplus — an amount larger than the entire budgets of several U.S. states and even some nations — Democratic lawmakers have splurged to such an extent that we now face a looming deficit. The most glaring example is the reconstruction of the State Office Building, with a staggering $730 million price tag. For perspective, this astronomical cost could buy the largest two buildings in downtown Minneapolis and is more than double the supposedly historic funding given last year to address the state’s police shortages. With a project as wasteful as the State Office Building, not to mention countless others approved last year, it’s little wonder that only a small percentage of citizens received rebate checks from the immense surplus.

Or take the immense failings of the Southwest light rail project. Now estimated to cost $2.77 billion for a track of just 14 miles, the project exemplifies fiscal recklessness. This sum of money is enough to fund the St. Paul Police Department for 15 years and is greater than the entire annual budget of the state’s largest county. Instead of frittering it away on this latest rail boondoggle, they could have left the money in the hands of citizens to invest in their families and businesses (I know, I’m a dreamer). Instead, Minnesotans are left scratching their heads at this incredible wastefulness.

Or take the case of Mary Moriarty’s wholly unjust prosecution of State Trooper Ryan Londregan. Trooper Londregan was forced to shoot Ricky Cobb II when Cobb tried to speed away during a traffic stop, endangering the life of Londregan’s partner. Moriarty’s own use-of-force expert (whose advice Moriarty previously referred to as “critical”) told Moriarty that Londregan’s use of force was reasonable. But Moriarty ignored that expert opinion and charged Londregan anyway, lying continually to the courts and the public about the case. And she engages in this malicious prosecution of a police officer who is a hero even as she enters into lenient plea deals with violent criminals.

We could all add many other weird things about our state. The defund-the-police movement embraced by the Minneapolis City Council and many state “leaders”; $10 billion in tax hikes from our state government despite the aforementioned $19 billion surplus; bizarre regulatory changes that will drive Uber and Lyft out of the state if they are implemented; proposing to ban gas-powered lawn mowers. The list goes on.

These actions go beyond political differences. Minnesota has long been a light blue state, often embracing policies that many of us have opposed. But the events and policies I have described above are different. For one, they are politically extreme, supported by a small minority of the population. Previous Minnesota Democrats like Hubert Humphrey or Walter Mondale wouldn’t recognize them.

And beyond being politically extreme, these actions are so strange. In what world does it make sense for a credibly accused felon to be voting on legislation with statewide importance (including whether or not she gets to vote in the first place), or to spend hundreds of millions on a random office building that the average Minnesotan couldn’t identify, or to manipulate our legal process to unjustly prosecute a cop who is doing his job while our state lives through the largest increase in violent crime in decades?

It’s all just weird. Minnesota must return to normalcy.

Jim Schultz is the President of the Minnesota Private Business Council and was the 2022 Republican nominee for Attorney General.


Jim Schultz

Jim Schultz is the President of the Minnesota Private Business Council and was the 2022 Republican nominee for Attorney General.