Kieffer to step down from House; GOP's Fenton considering bid
Andrea Kieffer, the two-term House lawmaker from Woodbury who managed to retain her seat in 2012 against a statewide DFL tidal wave, then later broke Republican party ranks with her support of gay marriage legislation, will not seek a third term.
Kieffer announced Wednesday that the 2014 legislative session will be her last after first being elected to the House in 2010.
In an interview with the Bulletin, Kieffer said her reason for leaving the Legislature is a mix of frustration with the current political climate and a desire to spend more time raising awareness of mitochondrial disease, which afflicts her daughter.
“I just want to kind of see what direction the state goes after the next election,” she said. “I keep having hope in people and the voters, but they continually surprise me in this state.”
Kieffer said “political posturing” happening among Democrats, and, she said, some Republicans, has become “frustrating.”
“We’re missing out on what’s good public policy,” Kieffer said.
She said supporters urged her to reconsider, but she said now is the time to stand back.
“I never planned to this forever,” Kieffer said.
Kelly Fenton, a Woodbury resident and deputy chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, said she was saddened to hear the news.
“Andrea has always been well respected in the district,” Fenton said. “She worked tirelessly for the people of Woodbury.”
In the Legislature, Kieffer stood firm by her pro-business, small-government platform that she began championing during her first campaign. She currently serves on four House committees -- three of which address jobs, as well as the Public Safety Finance and Police Committee.
During her time in the House, Kieffer authored and successfully passed “Tyler’s Law,” which required carbon monoxide information to be included in Minnesota driver’s training following the 2010 death of a Woodbury teenager who succumbed to the toxic fumes while working on a car.
Kieffer later drew headlines in 2013 when she joined three other House Republicans in support of gay marriage legislation, which was later signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.
She entered the Legislature in 2011 after defeating former Rep. Marsha Swails, DFL-Woodbury. In 2012, Kieffer fended off Democratic challenger Ann Marie Metzger in the race for House District 53B, while other Republicans running in the district -- most notably, former Woodbury Sen. Ted Lillie -- lost their races.
All House seats will be up for re-election in 2014; so far, only Woodbury Planning Commissioner Kay Hendrickson has announced her candidacy for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement in House District 53B.
One possible successor on the GOP side is Fenton. She said “many people” have placed calls urging her to run after learning Kieffer is stepping down.
“It’s something I’m seriously considering,” Fenton said. “I’ve never, ever ruled out running for office.”
She said she hopes to decide on a possible House District 53B bid in the next month.
Kieffer said she has not endorsed any possible successors.
“I’m just going to let the process happen,” she said. “I just want to see quality people come forward and take this seriously -- like I took it seriously.”
Kieffer noted that she is not closing out campaign funds and that she will leave her options open for the future.
“People should always be considering the balance between family and work,” she said.