Next Minnesota House Speaker Wants More Politicians Who Aren’t Worried About Being Polite

Minnesota Rep. Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) was facing pressure to resign in 2017 after criticizing her “white male” colleagues for sitting in the “retiring room” during a debate, but now she has been selected to serve as the next Minnesota House speaker.

“I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room, but I think this is an important debate,” Hortman said during an April 2017 session on the House floor. The comments brought her some notoriety in Minnesota politics as she continued to double-down on the comment, saying she’ll “call b-s” when she sees it.

Now, after Democrats took back control of House, Hortman will become the second most powerful official in the state and continues to use the 2017 incident as part of her brand.

“I’m the person that is totally willing to say when the emperor has no clothes, and I think we need more people in public life who are not worried about being too polite,” she said Thursday, according to CBS.

After a closed-door meeting with her Democratic colleagues, Hortman announced that she had been selected as the party’s choice for speaker and discussed her top priorities with reporters.

“So we will get started right away looking at tax conformity, addressing the opioid epidemic, nursing home abuse and neglect, and other issues that were wrapped up in that 990 page bill that fell on the last day of session,” she said, expressing confidence that she can work with Republicans to get things done.

Rep. Ryan Winkler (D-Golden Valley) was designated as his party’s pick to serve as majority leader, but struck a slightly different tone than Hortman in a statement provided to MPR.

“My job as majority leader will be to make sure the Minnesota House reflects the values of Minnesotans: civility, cooperation, and advancing an agenda that serves people in all parts of the state and from all backgrounds,” he said.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]

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