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Did Murray live up to 2010 endorsement?

Published 9:50am Friday, October 26, 2012

Column: By Joan Anderson, Guest Column

Richard Murray is a nice person, and I am sure he has meant well as our state representative. When Murray ran in 2010, he received the endorsement of the Albert Lea Tribune, so now in, 2012, let’s review the selling points and see how they have held up.

Joan Anderson

The Tribune stressed that Murray lived in Albert Lea. I thought that was a surprisingly parochial view since the representative not only represented Albert Lea, but all of Freeborn County and part of Mower County prior to redistricting. Today our district includes Blooming Prairie and Hayfield. Murray made a plea to the committee in charge of redistricting claiming that Albert Lea had nothing in common with our neighbors to the east. I am not sure how well Murray has represented Albert Lea, but his commitment to areas outside of the city limits of Albert Lea has been questionable.

The Tribune endorsement claimed that Murray had lived in Albert Lea all of his life except for time in the Army, and, as far as I know, Murray never corrected the Tribune’s editorial writer. In this election of 2012, however, Murray says he was raised in Dodge County. I am sure that the Tribune accidentally got this fact wrong, but an unbiased reader might conclude that it suited Murray to claim lifelong residency in Albert Lea in 2010, and now that Hayfield, a part of Dodge County, is now within our district, it suits him to remind us of his ties to Dodge County.

The Tribune argued that Robin Brown, a teacher and union member, might have loyalties that would limit her ability to address education issues. The Tribune assured us that Murray had new ways to reform education. We now know Murray had no new ways to reform education, no new stances and no sensible answers, unless simply cutting aid to schools is reform. On the other hand, I am worried about Murray’s ability to deal with the tough budget issues ahead. Responsible Republican commentators insist that a balance of tax increases and cuts in spending are needed. Consider that Murray campaigned as a bipartisan candidate, but when he fell under the spell of St. Paul, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune quoted him as saying that he was now more conservative than ever. Can Murray turn his back on wealthy friends and raising their taxes?

The Tribune endorsement said that Murray was not going to toe any party line and would fight for local government aid (LGA). Some, mostly Republicans, say Murray has been bipartisan. Some, mostly Democrats, say Murray is very partisan.

How can both sides reach a different conclusion based on the same set of facts? The answer lies in how things are done at the Legislature. The Republican caucus enforced its authority over Murray as shown by his consistent early votes against LGA. In the end, Murray did indeed vote for LGA. So how is that suspicious? Well, it is a fact that the Republican caucus wanted to cut LGA and Murray was backing the changes. It is also a fact that the local chamber of commerce stood up for LGA and that Murray would have been in trouble if he voted against it. So what to do? The caucus counted noses, and knowing they had enough votes to pass their anti-LGA bill, and recognizing that Murray could face trouble voting against LGA, in the end they let him vote for LGA. It is just the way things are done up in St. Paul. Both parties do it. The same can be said of Murray’s votes on education. It is a stretch to say Murray was for LGA or education.

The Tribune endorsement promoted Murray’s experience as a financial adviser and his unique understanding of financial issues on a “local, regional and worldwide scale.” Such humility is impressive. I have talked to many local financial advisers, and none of them ever claimed such broad-scale knowledge. In fact, they hastened to say that I should not rely on anything they told me. I wonder if Murray says that to his clients? Murray is the local face of the type of big investment companies that got us into our current economic trouble. Does that makes him an expert economic issues? I doubt Murray claims that his clients did better than clients of other advisers, or does he? If so, he is wasting his time in the Legislature.

The Tribune endorsement claimed Murray cared about funding social services, early childhood education, roads, bridges and trails. Quality of life features require funding; without funds his support has proved to be just words.

The time is now. In fact. Time is up for Murray. Vote for Shannon Savick on Nov. 6.

Albert Lea resident Joan Anderson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.