GOP State Rep Apologizes For Snatching Mic From Female Dem Opponent During Debate

Screengrab from Rochester, Minnesota city footage of the debate on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018.
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October 10, 2018 3:03 p.m.

A Minnesota Republican state lawmaker issued an apology to his Democratic opponent on Wednesday after a video of him aggressively swiping a microphone from her and tossing it back during a local debate went viral.

“I respect Jamie (Mahlberg) and my actions at last night’s forum did not reflect that,” Rep. Duane Quam told the local Post Bulletin newspaper. “Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me with our timed responses and I was not as graceful as I should have been while we shared the microphone. My sincere apologies to Jamie and I look forward to continuing a positive campaign.”

The incident occurred during a League of Woman Voters-sponsored forum on Monday in Rochester, Minnesota. The candidates were asked a question about their views on the impact of inflation on the state’s general education budget and Quam answered first, and then Mahlberg, a psychology teacher running for office for the first time, offered her answer.

“I’ve seen the systematic disinvestment in public education,” she said. “I think we can do better than that, and we can start doing better than that by simply making sure that formula increases over time.”

As Mahlberg turned her head to await the next question, Quam snatched the microphone out of her hand, drawing gasps from the audience. After he finished his additional comments that involved harping on funding “success, not failure,” he tossed the microphone back at Mahlberg.

Mahlberg told the Washington Post she was in a “state of shock” when it happened, but said she had no plans to fundraise off of the viral video as other Democratic groups had done.

Mahlberg and Quam did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

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