Kiscaden in trouble for anti-bickering remarks

By Matthew Stolle

ST. PAUL -- State lawmakers want to stop bickering, but like "The Godfather's" Michael Corleone, they just keep getting pulled back in.

State Sen. Sheila Kiscaden is the state Legislature's premier proponent of laying aside partisan differences and working together to get the state's business done. Yet on Monday, Kiscaden, I-Rochester, found herself apologizing on the Senate floor for any misunderstandings that might have been created over remarks she made at a news conference last week. In those comments, she described the state as becoming more partisan as the parties have become more "extreme."

"The moderates have been eased out, squeezed out and forced out," said Kiscaden, who last session was ejected from the Republican caucus by Senate Minority Leader Dick Day for what Day described as her lack of loyalty to the GOP.


Kiscaden made the comments hours before the start of a workshop she organized that focused on ending partisan gridlock. Her remarks prompted Day to fire off a statement accusing Kiscaden of speaking out of both sides of her mouth.

"In one breath, Kiscaden called for teamwork and good relations and then made a vindictive, personal attack on me and other like-minded people. Her actions do not bode well for civility and cooperation in the senate," Day said in the statement.

Calling the incident a "classic failure to communicate," Kiscaden on Monday apologized for any misinterpretation of her words.

Addressing her Republican colleagues, Kiscaden said she had nothing but respect for them.

"I'm really sorry that something I said last Thursday was interpreted in a way that goes far from what I actually believe," Kiscaden said.

Yet Kiscaden, who remains an Independent but caucuses with Democrats, didn't back off from her original complaint that the endorsement process is largely controlled by the party's ideological activists, which in turn leads to a more partisan body.

"That does not mean that I think that anyone in this body is an extremist or that I don't hold you in high regard," Kiscaden said.

Afterwards, Day said the incident was over.


"It wasn't a big deal. She said what she wanted to say. And I said what I wanted to say. She's an Independent, and she'll probably be a Democrat by the next election," Day said.

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