The Minnesota New House Republican Caucus has parted ways with Rep. Erik Mortensen, a first-term lawmaker who has proven a controversial figure since narrowly winning the House 55A seat last November.
Mortensen, R-Shakopee, was removed by the New House Republican Caucus after a no-confidence vote earlier this week. The New Republican Caucus formed in December 2018 by four Republican lawmakers – Reps. Steve Drazkowski, Jeremy Munson, Cal Bahr and Tim Miller – who weren't happy with the GOP Caucus leadership. Mortensen was the fifth member to join the caucus.
And Mortensen apparently isn't welcome in the House GOP Caucus, either.
Mortensen is laying into Republicans for giving him the boot.
He posted on Facebook Tuesday, saying he was kicked out because of his mission to "expose the shenanigans in St. Paul" and show voters how lawmakers conduct themselves, such as calling for roll-call votes, so voters can hold their lawmakers accountable.
"So naturally what has happened is the pressure on these weak Republicans has become so immense that they're seeking to remove the pressure and they seem to think that I'm going to be easier to intimidate and break.
"And this is fundamentally what the New House Republican Caucus asked of me — to cave in and stop exposing the actions of phony conservatives so that they can go back to their safety blanket that their party bosses offer them and to keep the public in the dark about what actually happens in St. Paul."
Mortensen Tuesday night joined Action 4 Liberty, a PAC that worked to get Mortensen elected, live on Facebook, during which he and host Jake Duesenberg bashed House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, calling Daudt "toxic" and Gazelka a "weakling" in references to their leadership styles.
Mortensen said leadership uses procedural moves to "try to neuter people that don't fall in line with the leader that they worship." And if people don't "cave into leadership" there are consequences, so it makes them comply.
They also criticized the New House Republican Caucus, with Mortensen saying he recently questioned the caucus' vision and said he and the caucus disagreed on what they should be doing.
And apparently, Rep. Drazkowski told Mortensen he couldn't keep criticizing individual members because they were trying to work with them, as well as attract more Republicans to join their caucus but Mortensen kept attacking those they wanted to recruit.
Action 4 Liberty posted about his removal from the caucus earlier Tuesday, saying it appears the New House Republican Caucus cares "more about relationships with the political class than they do in standing behind the best member of their caucus."
The group added, "The New House Republican Caucus has shown their true colors today and will remain irrelevant in the grand political movement to restore liberty. Mort is the future and the champion that grassroots conservatives in Minnesota want leading the fight in St Paul. We stand with Mort."
Mortensen also joined "Redbeard" – aka Chad Rafdal – on Facebook live, where he expressed a similar sentiment as his Facebook post and in the Action 4 Liberty interview.
Mortensen has long been vocal about his displeasure with Republicans and Democrats, frequently name-dropping people, and he's come under scrutiny in his first months in office.
- In March, he was the subject of a campaign finance complaint for his alleged ties with the political nonprofit North Star Liberty Alliance.
- He was accused of doxxing a DFL colleague and hosting a party in violation of Gov. Walz's COVID-19 measures.
- He was one of just eight House lawmakers to vote against a resolution condemning the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
- He joked about the Minnesota House's human resources department filing a complaint against him on his first day in office.
What this all means
Former Rep. Brad Tabke, the Democrat who lost to Mortensen in November, explained in a Twitter thread on Monday why this could be bad for Shakopee's representation in the House.
Mortensen narrowly beat Tabke thanks to Legal Marijuana Now party candidate with ties to Republicans who netted 1,706 votes in a race that was decided by just 554, the Minnesota Reformer reported. And Tabke is planning another run for office.
However, Mortensen refuted Tabke's claim, saying in his Facebook post:
"Of course the DFL crazies are saying that I no longer have staff or researchers or ability to write bills. It's all nonsense. My ability to serve my district is fully intact. In fact I'm more empowered than ever to focus on district needs because no caucus leaders are telling me what to do or how to do it."
Mortensen says he'll continue to refuse to back down to intimidation tactics.