“We took on Mark Dayton's keynote idea and we won. He wanted to raise taxes and we didn't.”
Zellers has also worked with Republicans from all over the state, showing delegates he has statewide experience, he said. Though Zellers won't bring a personal fortune into the race, he said he's a hard worker who will be able to raise small amounts of money from lots of people.
And he blames the governor, who he considers a “friend,” for the 21-day state government shutdown.
“We in the Legislature, Democrats and Republicans, didn't shut down government. Mark Dayton did,” he said.
That's because Dayton got the Republican offer on June 30, before the shutdown started, and signed the same budget to end the shutdown, Zeller said.
So, if the public supported Republicans' message in 2010, why did they vote so many out of office two years later?
Zellers blames factors beyond his control, such as Obama's 7.5 percent margin of victory in Minnesota. He downplayed the effect of the defeated constitutional amendments he helped put on the ballot. And he said people often forget how Republicans took both the Senate and the House in 2010.
As Zellers had lunch at Pub 500, he chatted with one of the owners, Tom Frederick Jr.
“Know full well I'm doing it for you,” Zellers said to Frederick.
As he did while announcing his candidacy Sunday, Zellers repeatedly emphasized his rural roots and middle-class lifestyle. And he echoed the arguments of Republican leadership this session that middle-class Minnesotans will see tax increases from the DFL budget.
In a statement, DFL Chairman Ken Martin said Zellers' "short tenure as Speaker of the House will be forever remembered for his lack of leadership and uncompromising partisanship which led to the longest government shutdown in our state's history."