Last Friday night and Saturday morning brought much contention on the floor of the Minnesota GOP Convention in Duluth, MN. In what has been an almost two-week battle for delegates via email and social media, the delegation ruled in favor for an amendment that would strip the Judicial Elections Committee (JEC) of its power to hold conventions and nominate potential candidates.
The battle for delegates has mostly been a one-sided fight on behalf of the Judicial Elections Committee. Throughout the last week, the Committee has sent numerous emails to both alternates and delegates trying to sway the convention vote in their favor. The emails included information on who they are and what they do, but also attacked Minnesota Republican Party Chair Keith Downey by making him the face of the battle.
Keith Downey and the Minnesota Republican Party offered a rebuttal early Friday morning via email with a historical account of the Judicial Elections Committee and the process the Constitution and Bylaws Committee took in order to reach their conclusions.
Friday night led to a heated battle on the floor as the delegation began to hear both sides argue their position on what needed to be done about the Judicial Elections Committee.
The Judicial Elections Committee fought against the Party releasing a minority report written by attorney’s Harry Niska and David Asp claiming that the report was biased and unprecedented. Ultimately, the delegates voted in favor of hearing the minority report. In it, Asp and Niska expressed their disappointment in the deliberate concealment of knowledge that could not only hurt a candidate’s credibility to run but also hurt the party by who they nominate.
Delegates voted to suspend talks for the evening but were just as passionate Saturday morning. Larson, a delegate from Goodhue County spoke asking for a no vote stating that BPOU’s had the opportunity to have their voices heard but chose not to send delegates to their committee. Larson also said that the Judicial Elections Committee’s biggest job was to prevent the Minnesota State Legislature from adopting an amendment causing individuals to lose their right to vote (also known as the quie amendment). Jim Carson, Chair of CD4 spoke in favor of the amendment stating that any candidate who lost their race by 500 votes could blame the Judicial Elections Committee for the loss. He also went further in stating that the new amendment would require judicial candidates to go through the same vetting process as other candidates looking for the party’s endorsement.
State Senator Dave Thompson (who chaired the convention) called for a vote in which the aye’s had the overwhelming majority. As a result, the Judicial Elections Committee will no longer be allowed to hold conventions or nominate candidates running for judicial office. Any candidate that wishes to receive the party’s endorsement will now have to follow the nomination procedure just as any other candidate for office would.
MNGOP Chair Keith Downey was happy with Saturday’s outcome. In a press release from the State Party on Tuesday, Downey congratulated delegates on eliminating “the process of ineffective and controversial judicial endorsements.”