By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Top Republican leaders say they will file a formal protest against Democratic Minority Leader Melissa Hortman.

It all stems from comments about a card game in the House retiring room she made on Monday that they say are offensive.

In middle of an emotional debate, Hortman called out the “white male” lawmakers playing cards in the back room — a comment that is still making waves days later.

Lawmakers still come and go from the retiring room during debates, and it’s become the most famous resting lounge in Minnesota. Three days after Democratic leader Melissa Hortman broke up a gathering there.

“I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game…” she said on the House floor.

The Democratic leader isn’t backing down. She has regrets about how she said it, but not what she said.

“I regret the extent to which relationships have been damaged — yes, for sure — because I respect my Republican colleagues,” she said.

The private retiring room is an ornate, walnut paneled hideaway for lawmakers who need a place to relax during hours of debate. Republican leaders say Hortman should apologize — not for breaking the code of silence about what happens inside the room, but for the “white male” remarks some lawmakers characterized as “racist.”

“It sets a poor tone, and members are very angered by it,” Republican House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin said. “She’s been asked a couple of times to apologize. I don’t know if that’s happened. There’s a lot of feelings about it.”

Comments (13)
  1. Dan Larson says:

    Nothing will come of this. But if the situation were reversed, you know that the Democrats would be calling for a Republican to apologize and resign, and the media would be making a much bigger deal out of it.

  2. Gene Bovee says:

    What I want to know is what the heck are our representatives doing playing cards in a “secret room” while they are supposed to be working on our dime? Do your job!

    1. Wasn’t that essentially her complaint?

  3. The GOP don’t want to be labeled as “white male” which they mostly are, but they want to cut healthcare, freedom of speech, and economic & educational programs that goes to and benefit people of color. Their actions and not their “name calling” is what makes them racist. Welcome to power white men, please use it for good and not to complain.

  4. It’s not that she said something negative. What the Republicans mean to say is, “It’s okay until it happens to me.”

  5. I’m confused…how did this go from a gender/racial issue (and if it was all white males playing cards at the time, she is factually accurate) to a partisan issue?

  6. IMHO, she did nothing wrong. They should NOT have been playing cards. We don’t pay them to play cards, we play them to listen to speeches (no matter whose) and to do the work they have taken an oath to do. THEY should apologize for shirking their duty.

  7. Mary Chasin says:

    The Republicans look for any excuse to attack a Democrat. Their creating this issue where there is none is pathetic behavior. They are right about one thing. They were mischaracterized as white men. In fact, they are little boys looking for a pigtail to pull. Grow up and do the job WE are paying you for.

  8. Oh! The poor! poor! poor! snowflakes!

  9. So, the “nevertheless she persisted” came from a conservative Caucasian female. Yikes. The same demography that were able to overlook sexual assault and vote for the President in droves.

  10. .. is there any reasoned reason to apologize if the truth has been told? – if the absent-from-active-chamber legislators in the “retiring room” (sincerely wish they would retire!) were white males and many or all of them were playing cards, there’s absolutely nothing to apologize for –
    that’s called “saying it like it is” and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – those called out may not like it, but tough – they need to get acquainted with the truth, it would seem. Also, I think she has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the choice made to absent themselves during the presentations of 1) women, and 2) women of color. I sincerely doubt that is was coincidental. I support calling out personnel being paid by MN taxpayers to listen, learn and come to a vote fully informed as a result of exposure to differing interests, positions and beliefs.

  11. Democratic MUD SHARK Minority Leader Melissa Hortman. This broad needs to resign. What a disgrace to Minnesota.

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