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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage Endorse Paul Koering's Opponent

Brainerd Dispatch:

Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage backs Goedker
Associate Editor
Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage, a political action committee that has pushed for the Defense of Marriage Amendment, announced it has endorsed Kevin Goedker of Brainerd in his bid to win the Republican primary for the District 12 Senate seat against Sen. Paul Koering.

Jeff Davis, president of the group, said Friday the marriage amendment is not going to gain approval this legislative session and his organization has shifted its efforts to gearing up for the next Legislature.

"We're going to take people out," he said. "Our goal is to basically elect candidates this November that are going to support the marriage amendment - fully support it."

Koering told me that Davis called him up and asked him to sign the pledge. Koering refused. What's interesting is there are a number of other Republican senators who have refused to sign this groups pledge. Mr Minnesota 2020 , Geoff Michel is not one of these Republicans. Michel signed this anti-gay groups pledge to push for the Bachmann amendment. Paul Koering is the only one this group is going after.

Koering, Davis said, has a mixed track record on the marriage amendment; he has declined to sign the group's Marriage Protection Pledge; and he has publicly stated he does not support the current bill language.

"It's the fact that he (Koering) has failed to sign the pledge, the fact that he has a mixed track record on the issue and the fact that there's somebody running against him that's fully committed to the marriage amendment, who has signed the pledge," Davis said.

Koering said Friday he would let his legislative record speak for itself, noting he voted twice to pull the marriage amendment out of committee for a floor vote.

"That speaks louder than anything," he said. "A recorded vote in the Senate should state where I stand on the issue. All the pledges in the world that you sign aren't going to speak as loudly as a recorded vote in the Minnesota Senate."

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage once had identified Koering as part of a "Gang of 12" lawmakers that had blocked the marriage amendment. The group cited a vote Koering made in 2005 that did not support an effort to send the bill to the floor. Koering said he cast that vote because he did not feel the bill had gone through the committee process.

During this legislative session when Koering voted to send the bill to the Senate the organization took him off the list and took out a newspaper advertisement in the Brainerd Dispatch thanking him for the vote.

"Certainly, we added to the confusion (about Koering's record on this issue)," Davis said. "There's no question about that."

Davis said the group's public endorsement, which came late Thursday, hours after Minnesota Republican Chairman Ron Carey's endorsement of Koering, was not related to Carey's backing of the first-term senator.

Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage has a board of directors, but Davis said he made the decision to endorse Goedker.

Here's my question - did Senator Michele Bachmann work behind the scenes to engineer this endorsement? I wouldn't put it past her. Davis said on the radio that Michele Bachmann inspired him to start this group.

"I basically call the shots," he said.

Goedker, a Realtor and a Brainerd City Council member, announced his bid to challenge Koering in the Sept. 12 primary on Wednesday. He said he was pleased with the MCDM's support and took issue with the GOP state chairman's characterization of the political climate in the district.

"I'm obviously very pleased and I think there is support out there for me," he said. "I think there's a clear division and that's why there's a need for me to run, because people need that choice."

Goedker said if Koering was serious about supporting the Defense of Marriage Amendment he should sign the group's Marriage Protection Pledge.

Koering received 60 percent of the vote after seven ballots at the endorsing convention in Little Falls on April 25.

MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at or 855-5860.

I hope other Republican State Senators yank their names from this groups pledge in protest. I'd especially like to see Senator Day do this.

While I was at the 6th District Convention, I talked to Ron Carey. Carey told me he is continuing to try to convince Goedker to get out of the race and said the party was fully behind Paul Koering.