Al Quie Biography
Born on a farm near Nerstrand, Minnesota, Albert Harold Quie was a U.S. Navy pilot during World War II. He graduated from St. Olaf College in political science in 1950, clerked for his local school board (1949–1952), and supervised the Rice County Soil Conservation District (1950–1954). He also owned and operated his family’s dairy farm.
In 1954 he won a Minnesota Senate seat. When U.S. Representative August H. Andresen died in office in 1958, Quie won that seat in a tight race. During twenty years in the House, Quie advocated for and authored bills relating to education, agriculture, anti-poverty, and labor issues. He was a ranking minority member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. His reputation for integrity made President Gerald Ford consider him for the vice-presidency in 1974.
Quie’s deep religious beliefs showed in his politics. He supported the International Christian Leadership and befriended leading figures in evangelical politics. In 1975 President Ford called him “a diligent servant of God and of his fellow men.”
In the 1978 gubernatorial race, Quie defeated incumbent Rudy Perpich, part of a wave of Republican victories for statewide offices and legislative seats. Republicans took advantage of divisive politics surrounding the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Governor Wendell Anderson’s 1976 decision to appoint himself to the U.S. Senate, and DFL infighting over gun control and abortion.
A severe economic downturn triggered a state budget crisis that defined Quie’s gubernatorial years. When the DFL regained control of the state legislature in 1980, finding solutions became more difficult. Facing shortfalls, Quie rejected the deepest budget cuts and approved tax increases. This unpopular decision derived from his commitment to stabilizing state government, which cuts alone threatened. When he left office without seeking re-election, the state sported a budget surplus.
Ronald Reagan appointed Quie to the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations in 1982. In 1986 he became director of the Prison Fellowship Program for Minnesota and North Dakota, later serving as the organization’s national vice-president. Quie then retired and returned to live in Minnetonka.