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Gil Gutknecht

Gil Gutknecht
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Tim Penny
Succeeded by Tim Walz
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 30A district
33A (1983–1993)
In office
January 4, 1983 – January 2, 1995
Preceded by John R. Kaley
Succeeded by Fran Bradley
Personal details
Born Gilbert William Gutknecht, Jr.
(1951-03-20) March 20, 1951
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Catherine Keefe
Residence Rochester, Minnesota
Alma mater University of Northern Iowa
Occupation real estate auctioneer
Religion Roman Catholic

Gilbert William "Gil" Gutknecht, Jr. (born March 20, 1951) is an American politician. Gutknecht was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives first elected in 1994 to represent Minnesota's 1st congressional district, one of eight congressional districts in Minnesota. Gutknecht lost his 2006 reelection bid to DFL candidate Tim Walz, and his term ended in January 2007.


  • Background 1
  • Career in politics 2
    • Minnesota Legislature 2.1
    • U.S. House of Representatives 2.2
    • Events of 2006 and election defeat 2.3
  • Electoral history 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Gutknecht was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He graduated from high school in 1969 and was the first member of his extended family to attend college, graduating with a degree in business from the University of Northern Iowa in 1973.

After college, Gutknecht was a school supplies salesman for 10 years. He went to auction college in 1978 and conducted his first real estate auction in 1979.

Gutknecht is married to Mary Catherine Keefe. The couple has three grown children and has lived in Rochester, Minnesota for more than 30 years, where they are members of Pax Christi Catholic Church.

Career in politics

Minnesota Legislature

In 1983, Guteknecht was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he served until 1994. He was the Republican floor leader for three years.

U.S. House of Representatives

Gutknecht was elected to the U.S. House in 1994, running for a seat left open when six-term Representative Tim Penny (DFL) retired. He served six terms, in the 104th, 105th, 106th, 107th, 108th, and 109th congresses, but in the November 2006 election lost his attempt to continue for a seventh.

During his tenure in Congress, Gutknecht served as chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Operations Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry, vice chair of the Science Committee, and as a member of the Government Reform Committee.

In April 1995, The journal Science quoted Gutknecht's legislative aide Brian Harte as saying the federal effort to study AIDS based on the HIV/AIDS link "will be seen as the greatest scandal in American history and will make Watergate look like a no-fault divorce."

In August 2002, Gutknecht voiced his support for expansion plans by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad, despite opposition from many constituents in Mankato and Rochester who were concerned about noise and traffic problems.

He was the only Minnesota Republican to vote against the Central American Free Trade Agreement. He cited the sugar beet growers in his district as one reason to oppose the trade bill, which ultimately passed by a vote of 217–215.

He also sponsored legislation that would have legalized drug imports from other countries, despite opposition from the Food and Drug Administration. It passed the House but the provision fell from the final version, largely based on White House opposition and an administration report critical of imports.

In January 2006, Gutknecht also opposed his party's leadership when he called for new elections for all leadership posts except the speaker. He said Republicans needed to win back the trust of the American people in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

In mid-2006, after returning from Iraq, Gutknecht said that the U.S should partially withdraw troops from that country, again deviating from the Republican administration's stance.

Gutknecht was considered to be the third most conservative member of the Minnesota delegation in the 109th Congress, scoring 92% conservative by a conservative group[1] and 7% progressive by a liberal group.[2] Minnesota Congressional Districts shows the scores for the entire delegation.

Events of 2006 and election defeat

Gutknecht ran for re-election in 2006. During the 1994 campaign, he had signed the Contract with America, which called for a Constitutional Amendment to limit congressional terms to 12 years. The "contract" called for a vote on this amendment. "If we ever break this contract, throw us out."[3][4] In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton that congressional term limit laws are unconstitutional, so a constitutional amendment is the only way to implement term limits. Gutknecht voted for such a proposed amendment in 1995, which failed to muster the two-thirds vote for it to move on to the Senate.[5][6] After Gutknecht was elected in November 1994, he pledged to serve no more than 12 years.[7] In March 1995 he drafted a bill that would bar House members from accruing additional pension benefits after they have served for six terms. "The purpose is to provide one more incentive for people to stay no longer than 12 years," he said.[8]

In November 1999, Gutknecht said he was not sure he would abide by his past recommendation that legislators serve no more than 12 years. He said he still liked term limits in principle, but he noted that the topic was no longer a front-burner issue in the public mind.[9] According to the Associated Press, he "backtracked" from his 1995 term-limit pledge in May 2004, stating that the voters should be the ones making the decision. In March 2005 he announced he was running for a seventh term.[7]

In March 2006, Gutknecht told a group of Minnesota State University, Mankato College Republicans and other students that the role they would take on in the elections in 2006 would be just as pivotal as the part played by Minnesota’s 1st Regiment to hold the line at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. “We’re asked to stand in that gap and there are big stakes in this election,” Gutknecht said. “And remember, had we lost the Battle of Gettysburg, we might have lost the war.”[10]

Gutknecht had always chosen to submit filing petitions when running for Congress instead of paying the $300 election filing fee, calling this a more fiscally conservative approach. Gutknecht was the only major party candidate in Minnesota to submit filing petitions in 2006. In August 2006, Louis Reiter of Elgin, Minnesota filed papers with the Minnesota Supreme Court seeking to disqualify Gutknecht from having his name appear on the September 12, 2006 primary ballot. The filing was prepared by DFL election attorney Alan Weinblatt, and argued that all candidates are subject to a time limit for petitions, and that most of the petition signatures were gathered before the July 4–18, 2006 period which the lawsuit claimed was applicable. Gutknecht filed the petitions on July 5, 2006, the first day possible for such filings. He had never previously been challenged on this point.[11] The state Supreme Court heard the case on August 22, 2006 and denied the attempt to disqualify Gutknecht the same day.[12]

On August 17, 2006, WCCO-TV News in Minneapolis reported that members of Gutknecht's campaign made edits to his WorldHeritage article. They replaced part of the page with his official congressional biography, removing references to his term-limit pledges.[13] Gutknecht's office used the account "Gutknecht01" to attempt previous edits on July 24; that account was then notified (via its talk page) of WorldHeritage policies against self-editing.

Gutknecht defeated Gregory Mikkelson in the Republican primary on September 12, 2006, 87%–13%.[14] Gutknecht was unsuccessful in his bid for a seventh term, losing to DFLer Tim Walz.

Electoral history

  • 1996 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 1st District
    • Gil Gutknecht (R) (inc.), 53%
    • Mary Rieder (DFL), 47%
  • 1998 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 1st District
  • 2000 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 1st District
    • Gil Gutknecht (R) (inc.), 57%
    • Mary Rieder (DFL), 42%
  • 2002 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 1st District
    • Gil Gutknecht (R) (inc.), 61%
    • Steve Andreasen (DFL), 35%
    • Gregg Mikkelson (G), 4%
  • 2004 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 1st District
    • Gil Gutknecht (R) (inc.), 60%
    • Leigh Pomeroy (DFL), 35%
    • Greg Mikkelson (I), 5%
  • 2006 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 1st District
    • Tim Walz (DFL), 53%
    • Gil Gutknecht (R) (inc.), 47%

See also


  1. ^ "Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005" (pdf). SBE Council’s Congressional Voting Scorecard 2005. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. June 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  2. ^ "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  3. ^ – Term-limit pledges get left behind Accessed August 12, 2006
  4. ^ Weak Republicans pick expediency over principle – Term Limits MyDD Accessed August 22, 2006
  5. ^ Library of Congress, Text of H.J. Res. 73, March 2, 1995
  6. ^ Roll Call of Votes on Term Limits Constitutional Amendment Clerk of the House of Representatives March 29, 1995
  7. ^ a b "Gutknecht won't seek U.S. Senate seat, announces House campaign", Associated Press, March 4, 2005.
  8. ^ "Minnesota delegation mostly backs term limits; no consensus on bills", Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 30, 1995
  9. ^ "Gutknecht reflects on drama, disappointments of Gingrich era", Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 29, 1999
  10. ^ Benjamin Marti, "Candidate Seeks Student Voter Action: U.S. Senate contender Mark Kennedy visits MSU, promotes political involvement", Minnesota State University, Makato, Reporter, March 28, 2006
  11. ^ "Court to hear challenge of Gutknecht: The secretary of state says the lawsuit over petition signatures has no merit, but other elections law experts see some validity", Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 16, 2006
  12. ^ Martiga Lohn and Brian Bakst, "Bid to scrub Gutknecht from ballot fails", Associated Press, August 22, 2006
  13. ^ "Gutknecht Caught Attempting To Edit WorldHeritage Bio", Associated Press, August 17, 2006
  14. ^ Congressional District 1 election results, September 12, 2006, Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Minnesota Legislators Past and Present

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tim Penny
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Tim Walz
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