The congressional campaign came up short by 15 percentage points against Walz. Six weeks later, Morrow announced he was resigning his seat at the Minnesota Legislature to take a job in Chicago.
Now Quist, rather than looking to join a Republican majority in the U.S. House, is seeking a seat in a state government dominated by Democrats.
Quist said that wouldn’t keep him from being an effective advocate for the district and for improvements in the way the state works. He repeatedly compliments the late Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich, saying he and Perpich shared goals on some issues and could work together to advance legislation.
Quist’s reputation is one of a strong conservative (he described himself as “a far right conservative” in last year’s congressional campaign) whose tenure in the Legislature was mostly focused on social issues. But he said his priority is boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs.
“I’m a conservative. I’m a Republican. But the bottom line is I’m a good-government guy,” he said. “I want government to work as it’s supposed to.”
Quist said the first thing he learned when he took office in 1983 was how much he had to learn.
“I was amazed at how little I, as a freshman, knew about how state government actually operates.”
But by his second legislative session, he was pushing a bill to change the state’s Department of Economic Security into the Department of Jobs and Training. The idea came Allen Sigafus, then the assistant director of human services for Blue Earth County.
“He had made the case to me that our welfare system was far too much oriented in handing out money and wasn’t oriented enough in helping people become employed,” Quist said.
It became law, largely because Quist and the Perpich administration could work together, he said. “We immediately formed a coalition because the Perpich administration wanted to do the same thing.”