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Teamsters Pull Endorsement of Senator Roger Reinert

Updated: 05/24/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 05/24/2014 4:46 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Sunday liquor sales failed in the Minnesota legislature this year, but leading the charge has cost Senator Roger Reinert a political ally in the Teamsters.

The Teamsters Joint Council 32 has rescinded their endorsement of the Duluth Democrat in a letter released publicly earlier this week. Reinert called the decision disappointing, but said the feud won't discourage him from the fight for Sunday liquor sales.

The Teamster letter states this is the first time in over 30 years the group has rescinded an endorsement, but Reinert said he hadn't received a copy of the letter as of Friday. Reinert said he first heard of the issue on Twitter.

“It's disappointing what they did today, and it's disappointing that they weren't considerate enough to actually tell me that was the road they were going to take. It certainly will not help our relationship moving forward on any number of issues that may come up in at least the next two years that I'll be in the Senate,” Reinert said.

Reinert said he and the Teamsters agree on most issues, but a failed attempt to allow Sunday liquor sales caused the divide.

The Teamsters have said Sunday liquor sales would force them to renegotiate contracts with beer distributors, which includes matters of pay for union members.

In the letter, the Teamsters said they offered to show Reinert those contracts, but the senator denies that.

“I know they made some assertion in that letter that they had offered to show me their contract, which is not true. They never did,” Reinert said.

For that denial the Teamsters called Reinert dishonest and questioned his integrity in their letter. He said that is simply a response to the large public support for Sunday liquor sales.

“I think in the court of public opinion, you know, folks are not on their side and that's probably a difficult place for them to be right now,” Reinert said.

He said the dispute won't stop him or other politicians from pushing for reform on liquor sales.

“We had more energy and momentum on this issue than ever before in 2014. It's going to be a campaign issue in the fall for the House and the governor so we'll certainly be working on it again in 2015,” Reinert said.

The feud could cost Reinert and the Teamsters, but the ramifications likely won't be known until the legislature takes up the issue again next year.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Teamsters for additional comment, but calls were not returned on Saturday.

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