Friday, September 28, 2007
Elmer Lee Andersen
Elmer Lee Andersen (June 17, 1909 – November 15, 2004) was an American businessman, philanthropist, and the 30th governor of Minnesota, serving a single term from January 2, 1961 to March 25, 1963 as a Republican. At the time, the governor's term was only two years.
Born in 1909 in Chicago, Illinois, he lost his bid for re-election in the closest statewide race in Minnesota history. The election was held on November 6, 1962 but the results were not known until March 21, 1963. After recounts and court challenges, it was determined that then-Lieutenant Governor Karl Rolvaag had defeated Andersen by 91 votes out of nearly 1.3 million cast. Rolvaag collected 619,842 votes to Andersen's 619,751.
Before entering politics he rose from salesman to owner and president of the HB Fuller Company. After retiring, he published local newspapers. He also served as a University of Minnesota regent from 1967 to 1975. During his tenure as Regent, Anderson, as a regent, was sued for denying employment to James Michael "Mike" McConnell on the basis of McConell's sexuality in McConnell v. Anderson. McConnell, the partner of Jack Baker, a litigant in Baker v. Nelson, was fired from his job as librarian because "his personal conduct . . . is not consistent with the best interests of the university" (J. Murdoch and D. Price, Courting Justice, Basic Books, New York, 2001, p 166.) The Eight Circuit court of appeals eventually sided with Andersen and the regents in October 1971 and allowed the University of Minnesota to fire McConnell. A lifelong book collector, he donated over 12,500 volumes, some quite rare, to the university, which built a new library and named it after him. He wrote two books of his own, a 2000 autobiography called A Man's Reach, and a collection of newspaper articles titled Views from the Publisher's Desk,.
Andersen remained in the Republican Party for the rest of his life, but he became unhappy about how conservative the party had become. Even in the 1960s, his views were in the minority of the party. In a 2003 interview with the Saint Paul Pioneer Press he said, "I remind people I want to be known as a liberal Republican. If that's a dirty word, so be it." In 2004, he broke with party ranks to endorse John Kerry in his bid to unseat George W. Bush as president of the United States. He was so disenchanted with the Bush administration that he wrote a commentary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune claiming that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "spew outright untruths with evangelistic fervor" and calling Cheney an evil man who was the real decision maker in the administration.  He died in 2004 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Another similarly-named Minnesota governor was C. Elmer Anderson.
Posted by qwertyuio at 12:11 PM