Eden Prairie GOP candidate Sheila Kihne criticized for not supporting family values group
While at the U of M, Kihne helped craft a budget that funded a GLBT group while leading two conservative ones out in the cold.
Rep. Loon (left); Kihne (right)
Twenty years ago, Sheila Kihne -- then known as Sheila Corbett -- served on the University of Minnesota's Student Services Fees Committee. The same academic year, she successfully ran to become the Minnesota Student Association president.
That's not news, obviously. But Kihne, now an Eden Prairie arch-conservative who's running in a controversial August 12 GOP primary against incumbent Rep. Jenifer Loon, has come under scrutiny from local conservatives for being involved with the student fees committee while it developed with a budget at odds with the brand of social conservatism she now espouses so forcefully.
According to Minnesota Daily articles sent to us by a source, the budget Kihne played a role in developing allocated $24,146 to a GLBT student group. (The group had requested $29,345.)
On the other hand, Kihne didn't support a $12,335 funding request from the J. Danforth Quayle Traditional Family Values Culture Center, which sought "to provide information to [pregnant] women who decide to keep their children," as the group's interim director put it at the time.
A separate $19,370 request from a group that wanted to bring conservative speakers to campus also was denied in the budget Kihne helped developed, according to the Daily's reporting.
It's unclear why Kihne didn't support the family values organization at the time, or whether she expressed any objections to the GLBT group. (That's doubtful, however, as one Daily article focuses on controversial funding decisions the student fees committee made during Kihne's tenure without mentioning any anti-GLBT stuff.) She didn't return a message we left her seeking comment, and the Daily simply notes she thought the programs proposed by the Quayle Center overlapped with services already offered on campus.
But conservatives who oppose Kihne's effort to take out Loon, who was one of only five Republicans to vote in favor of the marriage equality bill last year, note she's received at least $32,000 from the Minnesota Family Council, a social conservative group that lobbied against marriage equality.
"While Kihne says her run is not just about social issues [and] opposition to gay marriage, I think most believe that is the only reason she is running," one local conservative wrote to us in an email. The budget she supported is "inconsistent with the support from the Minnesota Family Council."
(For more, click to page two.)
Another local conservative pointed out that Kihne actually wanted to spend $50,000 more the U's Department of Recreational Sports than the other two candidates she defeated in the 1994 student president election. That position fits uncomfortably with her avowed fiscal conservatism.
In fact, the Daily notes that one of Kihne's opponents during her student president run put together a poster that said, "[Kihne] first voted to give [the student association] a 75 percent funding increase and then decided to run for president of it."
As far as GLBT issues go, Kihne recently told MPR Loon's marriage equality vote "was the straw that broke the camel's back" and convinced her to run against her in the primary.
"I am running as a conservative in this race, both socially and fiscally," Kihne continued, though she added she wouldn't push to repeal marriage equality if elected.
Loon didn't respond to a message seeking comment, but she told MPR she doesn't regret her vote in favor of marriage equality.
"I just think if people can understand the process, understand how much I wrestled with it, trying to be true to my own beliefs, to be true to what I felt my constituency was telling me," she said. "I did the best I could with a tough issue."
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