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Vote ‘Yes’ Strategist Will Vote ‘No’

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A once powerful Minnesota Republican at the center of a sex scandal broke his 10-month silence. Michael Brodkorb lost his job after admitting an affair with then Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, and he’s now taking legal action for what he says was an improper firing.

In an interview with WCCO, Brodkorb discussed the scandal, and gave a surprising inside look at the gay marriage amendment.

Along with Voter ID, Minnesota Republicans made the gay marriage amendment a centerpiece accomplishment this election year.

But Brodkorb — once a powerful Republican insider — says a big reason it’s on the ballot isn’t family values. Top Republicans needed a way to get conservatives off the couch and into the voting booth.

Brodkorb hasn’t been back to the Capitol since the night 10 months ago when the scandal exploded.

“There’s still some good people on both sides of the aisle that I miss,” Brodkorb said.

He can’t get a job in politics now, but he wants to clear the air about the election this year. Brodkorb’s voting no on the gay marriage amendment, even though he helped develop the strategy that put it on the ballot.

“It provided a turnout opportunity for Republicans,” he said.

Brodkorb was former Deputy Chairman of the State Republican Party and top Senate staffer, and says GOP Senators knew a driving force behind the gay marriage amendment wasn’t morality. It was political reality.

Top GOP leaders thought they couldn’t beat incumbent Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Republicans would stay home.

“The belief was, the United States senate race was not going to be close, and that Republicans needed and social conservatives needed a reason to get to the polls in November,” he said.

The marriage amendment brought thousands of protesters to the Capitol, and it passed with all Republicans and only one Democratic vote.

WCCO talked with a number of Republican leaders Monday night who declined to talk on the record.

The main group opposing the amendment, Minnesotans United, made this statement Monday night: “It’s disappointing to hear this freedom-limiting amendment was pushed solely for political gain. Regardless, in just a few short weeks, Minnesotans are being forced to vote on whether we will permanently limit the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in our state. This amendment doesn’t represent our Minnesota values or what is best for our future, and we believe that Minnesotans will reject it.”

Brodkorb’s job with the state Republican party and the State Senate was to maximize the vote for Republicans, and he says many Senators saw this as a good way to do that. Ironically, he now says it’s a strategy that could backfire.

Opposition to the amendment is strong in the Twin Cities suburbs, and it could cause some Republican state Senators to lose.

Republican Senator Warren Limmer, (R) Maple Grove — the author of the marriage amendment — acknowledged GOP Senators did discuss some get-out-the-vote efforts “among many other amendment-related items.”

But Limmer denied ever hearing about a link to Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race, and said turnout history from other states does not demonstrate a voter “trailing effect” from gay marriage amendments.

“As many liberals turn out as conservatives,” Limmer said.

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