State Rep. Erik Mortensen was removed from the New House Republican Caucus this week, apparently because of his criticism of the “RINOs in St. Paul,” he told Alpha News.
The New House GOP was formed after the 2018 midterms by four Republican legislators who were displeased with the leadership of House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt. Mortensen, a first-term lawmaker from Shakopee, announced his intent to join the caucus shortly after his election in November.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski informed House Speaker Melissa Hortman Tuesday that Mortensen’s time in the caucus had come to an end.
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) May 18, 2021
“The New House Republican Caucus didn’t like that I was pulling back the curtain and showing Minnesotans what actually happens inside the Capitol. With their decision to kick me out of their caucus, they’ve signaled to grassroots Minnesotans that they would rather protect their politician friends in St. Paul than fight for the people who elected them,” Mortensen told Alpha News Tuesday.
“They begged me to stop shining a spotlight on the RINOs in St. Paul and threatened to kick me out if I failed to obey their orders. I told them I would rather be kicked out of their caucus than give up fighting for grassroots conservatives,” he added.
Mortensen has not shied away from criticizing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, most recently calling Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka a sellout for failing to reach an agreement with Gov. Tim Walz on ending the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.
In a recent interview with Alpha News, he attacked a GOP-backed bill for not going far enough in reforming Minnesota’s peacetime emergency laws.
“It’s literally just like a play. They go through their scripts, and the outcome is predetermined,” he said of the legislative process.
One of Mortensen’s favorite targets is Minority Leader Daudt, who confirmed Tuesday that Mortensen would not be welcome in the main Republican caucus.
The decision also means Mortensen will lose access to assistance from the New House GOP’s staff. Legislative caucuses are allocated staff based on the number of members they have, so the decision to oust Mortensen could cost some staffers their jobs.
Drazkowski, the leader of the New House GOP, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Legislators that are quick to listen, eager to serve, and unafraid to face challenges are exactly what this government needs,” Drazkowski said in January. “Rep. Mortensen embodies all of these qualities, and I am looking forward to serving alongside him in the Minnesota House of Representatives.”
Mortensen offered some additional context in a Facebook post Tuesday night. He said the decision to remove him from the caucus stemmed in part from his criticism of 11 Republicans who blocked a roll-call vote on his “Never Again” bill, which would strip the governor of his power to unilaterally declare an emergency.