FitzSimmons bumped by GOP at convention

• Lucero gets nod after lawmaker announces that he won’t run

by Aaron Brom

ECM Sun Newspapers

After facing scrutiny for a same-sex marriage-legalization bill vote, Rep. David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville, announced Feb. 22, at the District 30B GOP convention that he would not seek a second term.

Dayton City Council Member Eric Lucero challenged FitzSimmons’ endorsement and then won it after FitzSimmons made his announcement.

FitzSimmons took heat during the gay marriage vote after he helped secure passage of an amendment giving churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages sturdier legal protection. FitzSimmons then supported the bill, which some constituents noted would have been passed anyway.

FitzSimmons said afterward that he knew there was a possibility his vote would “put me out of office.” But he said he would vote the same way again.

“I made the best long-term decision I could for my constituents,” he said in published reports. “If you don’t try to do what’s best for your constituents, it’s not worth being in office anyway.”

FitzSimmons was recently supported by high-profile elected officials in his district, including the St. Michael, Albertville and Otsego mayors, who wrote to Crow River News urging his support.

“Because of the efforts of local leaders, particularly Rep. David FitzSimmons, the I-94 capacity expansion project is finally a reality,” the mayors wrote. “In less than a year, David’s strong efforts helped progress I-94 expansion in our area from not being on MnDOT’s 20-year plan to having expansion construction now scheduled to begin in July 2014. As leaders in the cities most impacted by traffic conditions on I-94, we could not be more proud of the efforts of Rep. FitzSimmons and our community.”

An attendee at the Republican’s meeting Saturday heavily criticized her own party.

“This was negative campaigning at its finest,” said Amy Jones, of St. Michael. “I walked into that caucus believing that because I identify with conservatism and understand and support it from at least a financial or economic perspective that I should get more involved at the grassroots level to try to help change the image of the party.

“What I saw that night made me feel ashamed. Either the majority of the people in that room were simply not smart enough to understand FitzSimmons’ strategy to help the churches or they didn’t care to because there was clearly a lynch-mob there that was out to take him down regardless.”

Lucero, on the other hand, said on his website that “FitzSimmons breaks his word.” He has publicly stated that FitzSimmons did not accurately represent his constituents.

“At the time, voters had every reason to trust David FitzSimmons,” Lucero said on his website about the marriage vote. “David FitzSimmons later broke his word by voting to redefine marriage.”