By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Tom Emmer ran for governor in 2010, conservative icon Newt Gingrich campaigned for him. When he announced his bid for Congress, former vice presidential candidate Sara Palin endorsed him.

Emmer easily won the seat vacated by Tea Party star Michele Bachmann and the party expected he would offer few surprises.

But Emmer has surprised just about everyone.

First, he openly criticized Republican leaders for tying up Homeland Security funding. That standoff nearly triggered a Homeland Security shutdown.

And just last weekend, local Tea Party leaders were furious when he skipped an Anoka County Tea Party gathering to be one of 23 Republicans to attend the anniversary of the Selma march in Alabama.

“These folks that were critical were more frustrated than anything else by where their country is going,” he said on WCCO Sunday Morning.

While Emmer has made waves for striking out on his own, his voting record shows he isn’t straying far.

An independent group that tracks how members of Congress vote shows Emmer sides with his party 97 percent of the time.

To see a full interview with Rep. Tom Emmer, in which he talks on the letter to Iran, the Selma march and President Obama’s executive orders, watch the video above.

Esme Murphy