Can Tom Emmer’s Comeback Top His Epic 2010 Run?

State. Rep. Tom Emmer talks about the Minnesota governor's race in interview with Associated Press reporters Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010 in Minneapolis.
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Former Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer is making good on his promise. During the lengthy recount that followed his failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign, he vowed not to go away “regardless what happens.”

Emmer eventually conceded that race after weeks of legal wrangling, but he returned to politics Wednesday and announced his intention to run for the House seat Rep. Michele Bachmann is leaving behind. Loyal TPM readers will no doubt remember Emmer from his 2010 race, which even before it devolved into court cases and recounts, was a rather wild ride complete with talking dolls, coin-throwing attacks, and drinking drama.

Emmer is currently host of a talk radio show that features, among other things, musical parodies of pop hits like a version of Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” that mocked Occupy Wall Street and a hilarious Carly Rae Jepsen spoof entitled “Call Me Bath Salts.” When he announced his bid for Bachmann’s seat, Emmer said he will be leaving his radio gig to focus on the race. According to MinnPost, though Emmer is expected to face opposition, he is “the front-runner” to win the Republican nomination.

In 2010, Emmer ran into trouble before he received party support. As the state GOP convention considered its endorsement, one of his Republican rivals launched an attack highlighting Emmer’s history of DWI’s — and subsequent efforts he made in the state Legislature to relax penalties on drunk drivers.

Emmer made it out of the convention and began making a series of attention-getting statements. He defended the dubious legality of an amendment he supported in the Legislature that attempted to block any federal laws in that did not have the support of the state government, which would have essentially turned Minnesota into its own republic. Later on in the race, Emmer’s support for an anti-gay marriage amendment led Target to apologize for donating to his campaign.

Perhaps the greatest moment of Emmer’s gubernatorial crusade came when he declared war on waiters and waitresses by calling for Minnesota to lower their minimum wage. Emmer’s rationale for this proposal was that many waiters and waitresses earn six figures annually and, thus, should be more reliant on tips.

“With the tips that they get to take home, they are some people earning over $100,000 a year,” Emmer said.

Emmer’s plan sparked a massive backlash culminating in a protestor dumping a bag of pennies on Emmer during a town hall event.

“I have a tip for you too, Emmer!” they shouted.

Emmer eventually attempted to make peace in the war on waiters by serving as “waiter for a day” at a Mexican restaurant.

A penny-dumping would almost assuredly be the most ridiculous moment of many political campaigns, but Emmer’s gubernatorial bid was special. In October 2010, as the race was headed into its home stretch, a protester interrupted a debate to scream at Emmer while accompanied by a talking baby doll.

“Hey guys, it was better than the pennies,” Emmer quipped. “I got to say, that was easier than the pennies.”

Latest DC
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: