Thompson seeks second term
Considers reviving “right-to-work” amendment push if re-elected
Republican state Sen. Dave Thompson, of Lakeville, came into office as part of a GOP wave that swept much of the country in 2010 in local and national elections.
Though the seat has been Republican for more than 20 years, 2010 marked the first time in more than 30 years that the GOP had control of the Senate.
In Thompson’s first term, he has become a popular leader of the freshman class, often defining his party’s policy goals amid an onslaught of media attention.
“I think that as a caucus in the Senate, as well as in the House, we raised a lot of arguments and talked about a lot of things that I think really hadn’t gotten an airing at the Capitol,” Thompson said, “such as the airing of concepts regarding the free market and economic freedom.”
Just talking about those ideas he says was an accomplishment.
“Before you enact policy, you have to convince people of the correctness of your ideas,” he said.
The lawyer and former talk radio host is seeking re-election this fall in the new Senate District 58. It would be the first time he would serve a full four-year Senate term (redistricting means this will be a half-term). DFLer Andrew Brobston, a first-time candidate, will challenge Thompson.
One of Thompson’s most ambitious bills, a “right-to-work” ballot initiative that would be a Constitutional amendment preventing employees from being required to join unions, never made it to a full vote in the Legislature.
The bill brought out protesters from both sides, in addition to spawning a debate about the place of unions in the 21st century, a discussion that has found an audience in a number of states around the country.
It also proved divisive within his party, when some Republicans voted against moving it along toward a full vote.
There was also a lot of support for the bill and Thompson said he intends to try to resurrect it if elected to another term.
Two other Constitution-amending ballot initiatives will go to voters in November: One requiring photo ID when voting and another that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Thompson sees getting the voter ID amendment on the ballot as a major accomplishment for his party.
“Not only are we preventing the kinds of fraud we’re concerned about that goes on when you don’t have requirements,” he said, “we’re also restoring the confidence in and perceived integrity of the electoral system.”
Thompson acknowledged that not all electoral irregularities are fraud, but he sees requiring photo ID the right thing to do.
“When you’re counting a couple million ballots there are going to be some mistakes. We are human beings and are never going to have a perfect system,” he said, “but what we want to do is prevent an error that is preventable.”
Thompson said that while he thinks government should get out of the business of marriage, he does support the passage of the marriage amendment.
“If government is going to be in the marriage business, then I think we have a right to define it,” he said.
Marriage, is a core issue in which “people have got to have their say,” he said.
One area where Thompson agrees with his opponent is an opposition to using money intended for schools as a means to balance the state’s budget. These “shifts” are eventually paid back to districts, but Thompson said he opposed the principle around them.
“It is once again putting off our financial obligations,” he said. In other words, it is an example of “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
Thompson said he isn’t one to have political heroes, but he does respect Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.
“I don’t agree with his budget line by line, but the fact that he is willing to take slings and arrows takes courage,” Thompson said. “Courage is a quality I admire most in people.”
Outside the Capitol
Thompson has spent most of his career in law. He graduated in 1987 from the University of Minnesota’s law school and has been an attorney both for himself and with law firms an as in-house counsel for corporations, a role he currently serves with Twin Cities Power, an energy trading firm.
He lives in Lakeville with his family. He grew up in East Grand Forks, Minn. He and his wife, Rhonda, will celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary in August. His daughter just completed her first year at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where her father obtained a dual bachelor’s degree in economics and political science in 1984. His son will be a junior at Lakeville South High School this fall.
Thompson enjoys golf, especially with his son.
“I love it and try to play as much as I can,” he said.
His indoor hobby is reading.
“I read a lot,” he said.
Thompson looks forward to another term in office.
“The really big argument in government and politics is are we going to have a system that promotes individual action and responsibility in the free market to produce economic outcomes, or are we going to have a government-centered system where individuals are subservient to the state (whether it is outright control or burdensome regulation)?”
“That,” he said, “is the great political argument in the sphere of economics.