MN Republican Activists Angry With GOP Lawmakers

State Primary Causes Rifts Between Activists, Leadership

The Republican Party of Minnesota has several high-stakes primaries a week from today. A contentious primary for republicans is in Senate District 31, where Minnesota’s highest ranking Republican, Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R-31A) of Crown, is facing a primary, and senior lawmaker Tom Hackbarth is forging on despite losing the local party endorsement and getting censured by party officials.

State Representative Tom Hackbarth (R-31B) lost the endorsement at his local party’s convention to Calvin Bahr. Hackbarth then went against his word by not honoring the endorsement.

A press release from the Senate District 31 Republicans Executive Board explains, “On April 2nd, the Senate District 31 Republicans held an endorsing convention for House District 31B. Both candidates, Representative Tom Hackbarth and Mr. Cal Bahr, agreed to abide by the endorsement process, stating so, to the nominations committee at the convention and publicly at a candidate forum mere weeks prior.”

The Executive Board said, “Representative Hackbarth going back on his word is especially egregious in that it directly defies the trust Representative Hackbarth traded upon with the organization’s most dedicated and active participants, affecting not only his individual race, but those of other Republicans up and down the ballot.”  The press release concludes with a condemnation of the incumbent, “Therefore, the executive board of the Senate District 31 Republicans has unanimously agreed upon a vote of no confidence in Representative Hackbarth.”

Despite the controversy, Hackbarth’s fellow lawmakers are continuing to provide him with support, including Speaker Daudt. Daudt was headlined on a Hackbarth fundraiser, angering many within the party.  Jack Rogers, who is a leader within the MN Tea Party Alliance, posted to his social media, he said “As the highest ranking Republican in the MN House, we would expect the Speaker to be the best example working with the endorsed candidates.”  

District 31 delegate and Deputy Chairman Tony Crego says, “It is very frustrating, and frankly it’s maddening, when on one hand, the party leadership is asking for unity, while at the same time, the speaker of the Minnesota House is actively campaigning for a non-endorsed candidate. I’m sure the Bahr campaign is grateful to have the support of party chairman Keith Downey, it would be great if other party leadership would follow his lead, respect the endorsement process, and honor the wishes of the people in the ‘candidate’s district.’”  

District 31 Chairman Dan Denno says several members within the party are angry with Speaker Daudt for helping the non-endorsed candidate, “As far as Daudt helping Hackbarth, I know most of the people that are regular members of the BPOU are very upset about it.”  

Denno expressed his own grievances, asking, “If the grassroots are expected to be loyal to the endorsed candidates, why aren’t the elected candidates loyal to the grassroots?”  

District 31 Vice Chair Jonathan Fisher says Speaker Daudt is being “hypocritical” in his request for support in his own primary, “I understand that Speaker Daudt believes that he has an obligation to the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC).  But, this is the kind of ‘establishment’-insider organization helping their own over the objections of the grassroots that seems to be especially despised this election cycle.  It certainly seems hypocritical that the Speaker isn’t supporting our endorsed candidate, yet he would expect that we will support him as the endorsed candidate in his Primary race.”

Disagreement in the 2nd Congressional District

Turmoil within the party isn’t showing up just at the state level. In Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District State Representatives Pat Garofalo (58B) and Drew Christensen (56A) are facing backlash from party leaders for not supporting Jason Lewis, the endorsed candidate for Congress.

Deemed a “battleground district,” the Second Congressional District is facing a high-profile four-way primary race in the Republican corner.  Lewis, a Nationally syndicated radio show host won the endorsement in May.  Former State Senator and business owner John Howe and business owner Darlene Miller lost the endorsement but decided to take Lewis to a primary.  Local veteran and business owner Matt Erickson threw his hat into the ring after the endorsement.  

Garofalo and Christensen do not support Lewis, and have been condemned by the district party. In a written release, the Minnesota CD2 Republicans proclaim “Be it hereby resolved that the CD2 Republican Party censures Drew Christensen and Pat Garofalo for their refusal to act in accordance to the standards of the Republican Party and support the Party’s endorsement.”

Garofalo isn’t commenting on the CD2 Republicans censuring him, but he provided Alpha News with the following statement regarding the CD2 primary:  “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Congressman Kline and support his endorsement of Darlene Miller. Republicans have two very good candidates to chose from in CD2. All conservatives should support the winner of next Tuesday’s GOP primary.”

Alpha News also reached out to the offices of Daudt, Hackbarth and Christensen and did not receive a response at the time of publication.  

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