National Popular Vote sparks debate in Minnesota Republican Primaries

By KBJR News 1

July 11, 2014 Updated Jul 11, 2014 at 7:08 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN. (NNCNOW.com) --- National Popular Vote is an idea that would replace the Electoral College process when electing the President of the United States.

More than ten states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed legislation that would implement such a system.

National Popular Vote inched forward in the Minnesota legislature in 2014 and is becoming a contentious issue in Republican primaries across the state.

Joel Sipress, a professor of History at UWS, says the Electoral College encourages Presidential candidates to visit a handful of swing states, where the winner takes all.

"If the state isn't in play, why waste your time? Put your energy in Ohio and Florida, which are large states in play," Sipress said. "With National Popular Vote, every vote matters regardless of what state it is in."

Sipress says supporters of National Popular Vote are taking their case to state legislators across the country.

"It's so hard to amend the (U.S) Constitution," Sipress said. "Advocates of National Popular Vote are taking this other route by going through the state legislatures."

The debate on National Popular vote is not one sided.

Opponents of the movement say that small states and rural issues will be ignored if National Popular Vote becomes the law of the land.

"National Popular Vote is something that gives no voice to the Heartland," said Joey Gerdin, a longtime GOP political operative. "From the West side of Manhattan to the East Coast in California, if National Popular Vote is passed, we have no voice in the Heartland anymore."

During this election cycle, Gerdin is working with a third party group to ensure Republican lawmakers do not support National Popular Vote.

Gerdin criticizes Republican Congressional candidate, Tom Emmer, for his record on lobbying on the behalf of National Popular Vote efforts.

Emmer is being challenged in the Sixth Congressional District race by Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, who sent a letter to Republican lawmakers earlier this year urging them to vote against a National Popular Vote bill.

During a campaign stop in Duluth, State Senator Karin Housley renewed her support for National Popular Vote.

Housley is Scott Honour's running mate in the Minnesota Governor's race.

"I was a co–author on the bill in the Senate," Housley said. "As it turns out, he (President Barack Obama) cares about a couple of counties in Florida, and I believe it is very important that the President knows what the issues are here in Minnesota."

Meanwhile, a number of Honour's and Housley's leading challengers in the Republican primary strongly oppose the National Popular Vote effort.

"If we are going to put Minnesota first, we've got to stick up for the system that works best for Minnesota," Marty Seifert said. "So, I would be opposed to that bill and I will veto that bill should I be elected Governor."

Nick Minock