Six Republicans voted for the transportation bill last week and broke ranks again Monday, which allowed the veto override to go through. They realize it could jeopardize their political futures.
"This is my one veto override," says Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka. "Count 'em: One."
Abeler says he is not in favor of raising taxes, but this was a one-time exception. He feels this bill is the best way to solve the state's transportation funding problems.
"It's easy to do what's right when there's a large crowd of you and no one's arguing about it," he says. "It's hard to do what's right when one of us is a swing vote."
A jersey that says "Team Pawlenty" hangs in Abeler's office. It's tough to know if he's still on the team.
"You'll have to ask him that question," Abeler says.
Six House Republicans joined the DFL majority in the 91-41 vote, one vote more than the two-thirds majority needed and two more than the bill got Thursday. Two DFLers who had voted against the bill last week also supported the override Monday.
Representative Kathy Tingelstad, R-Andover, also voted against Pawlenty, calling it the most difficult vote in her 12 years in the legislature. She says she feels like "the ugly stepchild" in the Minnesota GOP.
The state Republican Party withheld endorsing Tingelstad this past weekend. Brad Carlson, a precinct chairman in her district, says the transportation vote was that important.
"I guess I wouldn't be surprised for someone to step forward and challenge her for the Republican nominee," Carlson says. "Right now I think the Minnesota Republicans would welcome it, as would I."
But Carlson says if she does get the endorsement, he'll support Tingelstad.
Tingelstad knows someone could challenge her but says she has no regrets.
"I voted for the people of Minnesota," she says. "And that was more important than where I am politically."
The transportation bill may have finally passed. But for six Republicans, the road ahead is uncertain.
"If it turns out I lose the endorsement over this, I have to respect what I believe to be true," Abeler says.
The Republican House caucus may also review staffing and committee positions for the six lawmakers. At least two of the dissenting Republicans will be leaving leadership posts on committees.
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