News that one member of a trio of DFL legislators who co-host a new political podcast was arrested for suspicion of DWI over the weekend didn’t halt the promotion of their first episode.
“New Libs on the Block” is co-hosted by first-term state house members Andy Smith, Kristi Pursell and Brion Curran.
On Monday, Smith, who represents House District 25B in Rochester, promoted the debut episode of “New Libs on the Block” on social media even as several Minnesota-based media outlets (including Alpha News) were reporting his podcast mate Curran had been arrested just hours earlier in rural Chisago County.
“My colleagues @Pursell4MNHouse, @brioncurran, and I have started New Libs on the Block, (a) podcast about #politics *and* people,” Smith posted on social media at 9 a.m. on Monday. That same hour Alpha News and a slew of other media outlets reported on Curran’s arrest just after 2 a.m. near the city of Harris.
More details emerged in the arrest throughout the day Monday and on Tuesday Curran was charged with two counts of gross misdemeanor DWI. That didn’t keep Smith from continuing his promotion of the podcast.
“First review for New Libs on the Block is a five star review!” Smith tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
Reactions to Curran’s arrest from within the DFL circles appeared muted on Tuesday. But one Twin Cities-based progressive political talk show host, Matt McNeil, took time during the first segment of his drive-time program to express his frustration upon hearing another legislator had been arrested for suspicion of DWI this year. McNeil, who often brings DFL elected officials on as show guests, shared his own story about being hit by a drunk driver last December.
“If you are a fan of this show you know I am no longer tolerant of a situation of people drinking and driving,” McNeil said. “I have zero tolerance … It is incredibly frustrating to have a situation where I see people who should know better … instead you decide to jeopardize people and endanger people, and I don’t care which party you’re from.”
First-term legislators talking about a DFL ‘trifecta’
In the “New Libs on the Block” episode that was posted on Apple Podcasts and Spotify on Saturday, Curran told listeners she first approached Smith with the idea of co-hosting a podcast together to talk about how they’ve navigated through their first term as legislators who were part of a historic DFL “trifecta,” where Democrats controlled the House, Senate and executive branch.
“Of course when we have a divided legislature, which often times happens … they see this arguing back and forth,” said Curran, who has a law enforcement background and represents Vadnais Heights, a portion of White Bear Lake and its surrounding communities. “They see some great ideas; they see some terrible ideas; and at the end of the day they see relatively no outcome that’s relevant to their own personal life.”
“When we all got in together and we all had this shared philosophy about how politics can be people centered,” Curran added. “That’s a part of how this (DFL) ‘trifecta’ really just took off and was so successful on putting people first.”
“We had a great (2023) session where we did all kinds of great things, from universal meals, we legalized marijuana, there’s just a huge list that we’ll talk about more.”
Pursell, who represents House District 58A in Northfield, said she was initially “roped in” to the podcast by Smith and Curran, but says she appreciates the unique backgrounds each of them comes from even as they have shared progressive ideals.
“I think that’s the beauty of being the ‘big tent’ party,” Pursell said, “is that those differences of ideas or just how to get to the shared idea, yeah, there’s lots of right ways. That’s the beauty of having some diversity within the party.”
“I think there is some diversity in our friends across the aisle too, but I think we are seeing more extremism really dominating the (Republican) party” in the state legislature, Pursell added.
“That is a really polite way to say that, Kristi,” Curran said in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
New episodes to come?
The trio arrived on the “New Libs on the Block” name for their podcast as a riff on the name of a popular boy band in the early ’90s and a reference to the fact that Smith, Pursell and Curran were all first-term progressive legislators who made their mark at a capitol that isn’t always friendly to newcomers.
They spent some time sharing their inspiration for running in 2022. They all agreed that their frustration with the presidency of Donald Trump was the spark.
“It’s sort of this feeling like, oh, if we’ve got top of the ticket folks who are bottom of the barrel candidates, where does that put me? And I think that puts me a whole lot higher on people who might be qualified to do this job and have the willingness to do it with a high sense of values, morals and representing our communities,” Curran said.
Before signing off, Smith teased they planned to release their second episode this week, with plans for new episodes twice a month.
“We thought we would start out slow with a very easy topic, with, abortion!” Smith kidded emphatically.
“Abortion!” Pursell echoed.
“Just a real simple, easy topic,” Curran chimed in.
Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.