The New House Republican Caucus gained a fifth member this week following the election of Erik Mortensen, who defeated Democratic Rep. Brad Tabke in House District 55A.
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.
Daudt was reelected to his leadership role during a House Republican Caucus meeting last Friday, which Mortensen claims he wasn’t invited to but attended anyway.
Mortensen said he plans to “pull back the veil” on what’s really happening at the Capitol and expose “how shady so much of this is.”
“I went into that meeting. They had no idea I was coming, which made it a lot of fun,” Mortensen said in a recent video. “They even tried to kick me out. They tried to pull me aside and say, ‘you need to leave or pledge that you’re going to join this caucus.’”
Mortensen won the Republican primary in August over former Rep. Bob Loonan, the House GOP’s preferred candidate for the seat. In his video, Mortensen said “establishment Republicans” spent “tens of thousands of dollars against” him, including the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, an organization founded by a former Daudt staffer.
“Unfortunately, that group elected the minority leader all over again, Kurt Daudt, and that person has lied to me repeatedly, he’s campaigned against me,” said Mortensen. “There’s no way I could look up to that person as a leader.”
In a recent email to his supporters, Mortensen confirmed that he will join the New House Republican Caucus when he’s sworn in, a decision he made after attending Friday’s caucus meeting.
“Unfortunately, Rep. Kurt Daudt was elected as minority leader again. Of course in his press release, Daudt made it sound like his support was unanimous but I can assure you that was not the case,” said Mortensen. “There was a lot of division in the room, other lawmakers even thanked me for speaking out against his leadership.”
Mortensen said his goal for his first term is to unite “conservative lawmakers in St. Paul” and shine a “spotlight on the professional politicians” who are “only concerned about their careers.”