Tom Emmer

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Tom Emmer
Tom Emmer official portrait 114th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Michele Bachmann
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 19B district
In office
January 4, 2005 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Dick Borrell
Succeeded by Joe McDonald
Personal details
Born (1961-03-03) March 3, 1961 (age 58)
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jacqueline
Children 7
Alma mater University of Alaska, Fairbanks
William Mitchell College of Law
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Campaign website

Thomas Earl "Tom" Emmer, Jr.[1] (born March 3, 1961) is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 6th congressional district, serving since 2015. Emmer also served as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2005 until 2011 and was the Republican nominee for governor in the 2010 election. He represented District 19B, which includes portions of Wright and Hennepin Counties and the cities of Otsego, Albertville, St. Michael, Rockford, Delano, Montrose, and Waverly.[2] Emmer was born in South Bend, Indiana, and grew up in Edina, Minnesota. On June 5, 2013, he announced he would seek the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by Michele Bachmann.[3] He won the November 2014 election and took office in January 2015.

Early life, education, and early political career

Emmer attended St. Thomas Academy, an all-male, Catholic, military, college-preparatory high school in Mendota Heights, near Saint Paul.[4] He then attended Boston College[2] and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks,[1] where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1984. Emmer also played hockey for both schools. In 1988 he received a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[5]

Before running for the Minnesota House of Representatives, Emmer was a member of the Independence and Delano City Councils.[2]

Minnesota House of Representatives


In 2004, incumbent Republican State Representative Dick Borrell, of Minnesota's 19B House District, decided to retire. Emmer decided to run and defeated Democrat Lori M. Schmidt, an attorney, 60%–40%.[6] In 2006, he won reelection to a second term with 61% of the vote.[7] In 2008, he won reelection to a third term with 61% of the vote.[8] In 2010, he decided to retire in order to run for governor of Minnesota.

Committee assignments

Emmer served on the Finance Committee, the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee, and the State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. He was also a member of the Finance Subcommittee for the Health Care and Human Services Finance Division, and of the Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Subcommittee for the Licensing Division.[2]

2010 gubernatorial election

The candidate wearing an "Emmer for Governor" shirt in 2010


Emmer officially announced his candidacy for governor of the State of Minnesota in July 2009.[9][10] In January 2010, Emmer came in second to Marty Seifert in a non-binding straw poll of Republican Party caucus participants.[citation needed] In April 2010, Emmer announced that his running mate would be Metropolitan Council member Annette Meeks. Emmer received the endorsements of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin,[11] Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau.[12] On April 30, 2010, the Republican Party of Minnesota officially endorsed Emmer as its candidate for governor at the state convention in Minneapolis. His main opponent, Marty Seifert, withdrew from the race and endorsed Emmer when it became apparent that Emmer was nearing the threshold for party endorsement. On August 10, 2010, Emmer won the Republican primary with 82% of the vote, a 75-point margin over Bob Carney.[13][14]

Corporate sponsorship

The race attracted national attention as the "first case in this election cycle of a company hit by national protests over a campaign donation".[15] Minnesota-based Target Corporation donated $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, a new political action committee paying for advertising that supported Emmer's gubernatorial election.[16] Emmer said he viewed Target's donation as an exercise in free speech and wanted to keep his campaign focused on economic issues.[17] Best Buy also donated $100,000 to Minnesota Forward.[18]


Emmer trailed his Democratic opponent Mark Dayton by 9,000 votes in the initial general election results, a margin small enough to trigger an automatic recount. Most analysts felt it was unlikely that the Emmer campaign could overcome such a deficit in a recount.[19] After the recount made little difference in the results, Emmer conceded the election on December 8, 2010.[20]

Post-2010 election activities

Emmer was a registered lobbyist in Minnesota,[21] and co-hosted a morning talk radio program with Bob Davis on KTLK in Minneapolis.

In early 2011, he ran for an open Minnesota seat on the Republican National Committee, but lost that election to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.[22]

Emmer hosted a 2011 event promoting the launch of Representative Ron Paul's presidential campaign in Minnesota.[23]

U.S. House of Representatives

2014 election

Upon the surprise retirement of U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, Emmer was considered a possible successor in the Sixth Congressional District seat.[24] On June 5, 2013, Emmer officially announced he would seek the Republican nomination in the 2014 election. On February 4, Emmer received 67.9% of the vote in the 6th district straw poll.[25][26] On April 12, 2014, he received the Republican Party endorsement for the nomination on the first ballot with 76%, but he still faced a primary challenge from his two competitors, Anoka County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah and former state Rep. Phil Krinkie.[27] Emmer received the endorsements of the Tea Party Express, Young Americans for Liberty's Liberty Action Fund, and many Minnesota legislators.[28][29] He won the primary with 73% of the vote.

Minnesota's 6th congressional district general election, 2014[30][31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tom Emmer 133,332 56.3
Democratic Joe Perske 90,926 38.4
Independence John Denney 12,459 5.3

Committee assignments

Political positions

Pharmacy conscience clause

Emmer has supported "conscience clause" legislation that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception on the basis of "ethical, moral or legal grounds as long as the pharmacist notifies their employer in advance and the employer can ensure a patient has timely access to the drug or device".[32]

State Sovereignty

Emmer sponsored an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would allow the state to nullify federal laws.[33]


Emmer identifies as pro-life from conception to birth.[34]


Emmer strongly opposes tax increases. He has also proposed gradually reducing the state corporate tax, with the eventual goal of repealing it altogether.[35]

Minimum wage

In 2005, as a state representative, Emmer introduced an amendment that would have eliminated Minnesota's minimum wage law.[36]

"Tip credit"

On July 5, 2010, after visiting a restaurant in St. Paul, Emmer was asked during a press conference if he supported the idea of a tip credit, the policy of allowing businesses to subtract tips from a server's hourly wage. His response was "Yes... if you didn't have a minimum wage law..." Emmer argued that "...somebody could be taking home well over one hundred thousand dollars as a server" while the restaurant owner could be making much less.[37][38]

One week after that press conference, Emmer announced a proposal that would exempt the first $20,000 a server makes in tips from state taxes.[39] At the same press conference a protester dumped $20 in pennies in Emmer's lap.[40]

Drunk driving

In 2009, Emmer sponsored a bill that would shorten the period of license revocation for driving under the influence and for refusing to take a sobriety test. Additionally, though "suspected drunken drivers [currently] face revocation before they go to court," Emmer's bill would have delayed revocations until after conviction.[41] Supporters of Emmer's bill said "it's needed because pre-conviction revocations penalize drivers before proving they're guilty."[42] Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the head of the Minnesota DWI task force opposed the legislation[43] because it would allow arrested drivers to continue to drive during the time between their arrest and hearing.[44]

Emmer's own history became an issue in relation to his bill.[45] At age 20, Emmer received a driving under the influence-related ticket. In 1991 he pleaded guilty to careless driving while two charges for DWI and a license-plate violation were dropped.[46] Emmer denied that his own drunk driving and legal consequences played a part in the bill, stating, "We all come to the Legislature with life experiences, but it has nothing to do with this bill."[41] Emmer also stated that his sentence in 1981 should have been harsher. Had it been, Emmer felt that he "...probably wouldn't have taken the second chance" that led to his subsequent arrests and guilty plea in 1991.[47]

On May 13, 2010, Emmer was one of three legislators not to vote on a bill that would have provided such tougher penalties for drunk drivers. He said he missed the vote when a previously scheduled lunch ran long, and that he had "no idea" how he would have voted on the bill, but that he "assume[d]" he would have supported it.[48]

Same-sex marriage

Emmer supported a state constitutional amendment banning civil recognition of same-sex marriage or its legal equivalent, stating, "I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman."[49] In March 2007, Emmer introduced HF 1847, a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution "recognizing as marriage or its legal equivalent only a union between one man and one woman."[50] Voters later rejected this proposal.


During an October 9, 2010, televised debate, Emmer said he would oppose legislation to combat school bullying against gay and lesbian young people. Emmer, who in the past voted against anti-bullying legislation as a state lawmaker, said that teachers are most responsible for halting bullies, but suggested that the threat of lawsuits keeps them from doing so. "I don't think we need more laws; I think we need more understanding," he said.[51]


In 2009, Emmer voted against S.F. 247.[52] This Minnesota law states that by January 1, 2010, no manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler may sell or offer for sale in Minnesota any children's product that contains Bisphenol-A, except for used children's products which will be prohibited after January 1, 2011.[53] Emmer said he voted against the law because of fear of “increased costs.” As well-intentioned as people may be, he said, "they don't think about what this vote means five steps down the line."[54]

Personal life

Emmer's great-grandfather founded Emmer Brothers Lumber with his two brothers in 1910. It is now called Viking Forest Products LLC, an employee-owned company.[55] Emmer has seven children with Jacqueline Emmer, his wife of more than 20 years.[56] He is an avid hockey player, having played in college, and continuing to coach.[1] During the legislative session Emmer regularly rode the bus to the Minnesota State Capitol.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Helgeson, Baird. "Tom Emmer: Riding a new populist wave", Star Tribune, 11 July 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Profile of Tom Emmer at Minnesota's legislature's website
  3. Linkins, Jason (2013-06-05). "Republican To Join Race To Replace Bachmann". Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Biography at Emmer's gubernatorial campaign website
  5. "Emmer for Governor". Retrieved 2010-08-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "". Retrieved 2014-08-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Duchschere, Kevin. "Delano's Emmer plans run for governor", Star Tribune, 6 July 2009.
  10. "Emmer's gubernatorial campaign website". 2013-09-13. Retrieved 2014-08-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Sarah Palin Backs Emmer, Minnesota Public Radio News, 29 April 2010.
  12. "Molnau backs Tom Emmer in gov's race | Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ". 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2010-08-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "2010 Elections – Governor". 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2010-08-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  22. "Johnson defeats Emmer for RNC Seat".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Ron Paul will launch his Minnesota campaign in St. Cloud".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  25. [1][dead link]
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  28. "Tom Emmer". LibertyAction. 2014-02-04. Retrieved 2014-08-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  31. "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. “Pharmacists’ Conscience Clause” Goes To House Floor, Tom Emmer's office press release, 9 March 2006.
  33. Kleefeld, Eric (June 22, 2010). "Emmer Defends Nullification: 'Minnesotans Should Have A Say In The Laws That Govern Them'". Talking Points Memo.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. (May 3, 2010). "In voting records, Kelliher and Emmer mirror images". Hot Dish Politics. Star Tribune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Taxes – The Issues". Emmer for Governor. Retrieved 2010-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  39. Bakst, Brian; Mulcahy, Mike (July 13, 2010). "Emmer's latest plan: Don't tax tips". Minnesota Public Radio. Associated Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Van Denburg, Hart (July 15, 2010). "Tom Emmer doused with 2,000 pennies by protester [VIDEO]". City Pages. Village Voice Media. Retrieved May 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. 41.0 41.1 "Sponsor of DWI change has 2-ticket DWI record". 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2010-08-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  43. Foti, Jim. "Sponsor of DWI change has 2-ticket DWI record", Star Tribune, 29 March 2009.
  44. Scheck, Tom. "Seifert keeps up pressure on Emmer on DWI issue", Minnesota Public Radio News, 26 April 2010.
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  49. Social Values page at Emmer's campaign website
  50. HF1847 Status in House for Legislative Session 85 Minnesota State Legislature.
  51. Hoppin, Jason (October 9, 2010). "Minnesota governor hopefuls square off over bullying laws: Dayton, Horner support legislation; Emmer calls for teacher protections". Pioneer Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. "Roll Call on S.F. NO. 247 CALENDAR FOR THE DAY Passage – Minnesota House of Representatives". 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2014-07-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  54. Austin, Paul (2010-10-06). "Five Steps Down the Line". Retrieved 2010-11-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  55. About Us at Viking Forest's official website
  56. "Tom Emmer - Biographies – About the Team". Emmer for Governor. Retrieved 2010-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Minnesota House of Representatives
Preceded by
Dick Borrell
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from district 19B

Succeeded by
Joe McDonald
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tim Pawlenty
Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Jeff Johnson
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Michele Bachmann
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Debbie Dingell
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Ruben Gallego