Republicans at the GOP state party convention in Rochester did most of what they set out to do on Friday — and avoided some hurdles along the way.
After rejecting moves to require paper voting instead of using electronic tallying and denying delegates to party-affiliated groups — including gay Republicans — the 2,200 delegates endorsed nominees for the auditor posts. , Secretary of State and Attorney General.
Kim Crockett, a lawyer who actively contested the 2020 election results, has been named secretary of state. Jim Schultz won the Attorney General’s endorsement. And Ryan Wilson, the only candidate to seek party endorsement for the state auditor position, was also endorsed.
Approval requires obtaining the support of 60% of the 2,200 delegates to the convention.
Unlike the DFL, which nominated unendorsed candidates for governor in 2010 and 2018, Republican primary voters place a lot of weight on endorsements. Only once in the past thirty years has an unapproved Republican candidate for statewide office won the party primary.
The same convention is expected to endorse a GOP nominee for governor on Saturday.
Fastest selector prevails
But first, the convention had to find the answer to this universal question: paper or plastic?
Republican State Chairman David Hann wanted the convention to vote using an electronic voting system that has been used at previous conventions. Each delegate received a plastic clicker resembling an old cell phone or VCR remote. This would allow delegates to vote quickly, reducing the time it takes to go through multiple ballots for approvals.
“Statewide candidate endorsement is one of the primary functions of the state party. This is the reason above all others why we are here today,” said Hann. “Leaving this convention without approved candidates calls into question the value of our approval process and puts our electoral efforts at considerable risk of failure.”
The last time a Republican gubernatorial candidate who was not endorsed won a primary was in 1994. Whether endorsements would be completed before the convention was required to leave Mayo Civic Center at 6 p.m. Friday was “in the hands of the delegates,” he mentioned.
Electronic counts would be almost instantaneous. Each paper ballot could take up to two hours, Hann said.
“Paper. Paper, paper,” some delegates shouted.
Hann condemned as a lie a claim by the conservative group Action4Liberty that the party was using a “Dominion-type” system to conduct the convention. Dominion has been a boogeyman for Republicans, starting with former President Trump, based on unproven allegations of voter fraud in 2020.
“How hypocritical to use electronic voting,” said one delegate. “If we intend to be the Election Integrity Party in November, we must be the Election Integrity Party today.”
Other delegates, however, defended the equipment and backed Hann’s claim that using paper ballots would prevent the convention from approving all four statewide elected offices, starting by the governor.
After a 20-minute debate, the clicker option won out on a standing vote.
One of the system tests asked delegates how many of the 2,200 were first-time delegates. Nearly 56% clicked “yes”. Former managers of candidates seeking approval say a more typical percentage is 40%. Successful campaigns did their best to enlist the support of these newly active Republicans and likely helped motivate them.
If there had been paper ballots, Hann wanted to move the governor’s approval from the end of the agenda to the front. Although they opted for the clickers, delegates then debated whether to make the governor’s endorsement early anyway. Arguments for this decision surrounded the claim that the governor is the most important race in the state and should be decided with the maximum number of delegates. Those against feared the same thing, that the delegates would not remain in the lower offices of the attorney general, secretary of state and auditor.
The first two of these races are hotly contested. Like the gubernatorial race, candidates seeking the position pledge to drop out if another wins approval. Only if no one gets 60% of the vote are all free to stand in the August primary.
The motion failed, leaving approval in the governor’s race on Saturday’s agenda.
In a dramatic approval fight, GOP delegates picked Plymouth’s Jim Schultz for attorney general to take on incumbent Democrat Keith Ellison.
Doug Wardlow, who lost to Keith Ellison for AG in 2018 by nearly 4%, led significantly after the first ballot, but was nowhere near the 60% needed for an endorsement. He walked into the convention center with Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow who has been perpetrating false voter fraud theories since 2020. Wardlow is MyPillow’s attorney and is endorsed by Lindell.
Schultz was second after the first round, while former lawmaker and state judge Tad Jude was a distant third. But after lap three, Jude pulled out of the race and supported Schultz, who took the lead on lap four. Wardlow then withdrew, leaving Schultz to get the endorsement.
Schultz, 36, previously worked for Dorsey & Whitney, investment firm Värde Partners and served on a Hennepin County capital budget task force after being appointed by the county commissioner of Hennepin, Jeff Johnson. He went to Harvard Law School and majored in regulatory, business and compliance law.
Schultz laid out a broad platform for the conservative base, saying he is an overseas candidate who is endorsed by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. He criticized Ellison for enforcing COVID-19 regulations on businesses and churches while big box stores were open; said he opposed vaccination mandates and would prosecute voter fraud and endorse voter ID requirements. Schultz said “biological men shouldn’t compete in women’s sports” and that schools shouldn’t teach “extreme leftist theories.”
“A few elites – be it Keith Ellison, Tim Walz or Joe Biden, the corrupt corporate media or big tech – are ramming down our throats a far-left militant secularism antithetical to what America is,” Schultz said.
Rather than turn the AG’s office over, Schultz said, he would “take a hammer,” and he told reporters he would throw Ellison’s support for Minneapolis’ failed 2021 ballot measure. to create a Department of Public Safety and eliminate the minimum requirement. for officers an important part of the Attorney General’s campaign.
Wardlow, who had similar priorities, has faced criticism that he is ineligible since losing to an Ellison campaign that was marred by scandal, and he has since fully embraced the false allegations. Lindell election fraud. Wardlow argued that he was closer to beating Democrats than other Republican candidates for statewide office in 2018.
But that wasn’t enough to defeat Schultz.
“The fight against Keith Ellison starts tomorrow,” Schultz said. “We have in the Attorney General’s office the most radical and extreme Attorney General in history.”
Two candidates have sought endorsement for the position of Secretary of State. Kim Crockett, a lawyer who took part in national efforts to challenge the 2020 election results, beat Kelly Jahner-Byrne, a former Statehouse candidate.
“I worked hard to stop the wreckage of the 2020 election train and then examined the wreckage to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Crockett said. After winning the endorsement, Crockett said his efforts influenced the party’s gubernatorial and attorney general candidates.
“I have insisted on the integrity of the elections from day one. In the last few months of the campaign, it was so interesting, all of a sudden it seemed like everyone was running for secretary of state,” Crockett said. “They got the memo.”
For the state auditor, Ryan Wilson was endorsed but was also the only GOP candidate for the job.