Rochester, Minn. — With an optimistic eye toward November’s election, Minnesota Republican day-hards struggled to reach a consensus Saturday on which candidate they want to face. Tim Walz.
After three ballots, a three-way battle ensued with Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, former state Sen. Scott Jensen and former health care executive Kendall Qualls, all hovering between 30 and 32 percent.
After two ballots at the state convention inside the Rochester Mayo Civic Center, Jensen had a narrow lead over Qualls, followed by Murphy, dermatologist Neil Shah and state Sen. Paul Gazelka. Shah then threw his support behind Murphy as he climbed the field, and Ghazalka was thrown out of the ballot for not receiving enough support.
For the three leaders, the 30-32 percent vote of between 2,200 delegates was far from the 60 percent needed to garner support. This made the convention floor fertile ground for jockeying, harping and rallying in attempts to move voters from camp to camp.
As ballots continue, according to convention rules, low-performing candidates will be kicked out of the competition, increasing the likelihood that someone will reach the 60 percent threshold before the 6 p.m. deadline. . However, the prospect of no support – an outcome some candidates and delegates may have favored – also hung in the air.
Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek opted not to attend the convention or get support to ensure the August primary.
Saturday’s action comes a day after Republicans backed political newcomer Jim Schultz for state attorney general, Kim Crockett, conservative attorney for the secretary of state, and Ryan Wilson for state auditor.
In his appeal to delegates, Jensen, a former state senator and family physician for Chaska, reiterated his dubious claims that COVID deaths were exaggerated. Criticism of coronavirus policies and vaccine skepticism have been a cornerstone of Jensen’s campaign, which jumped into an early fundraising lead while spreading his message on social media as well as buying into COVID skeptics. On Saturday, he also reiterated his suggestion that Secretary of State Steve Simon be jailed, though he never clarified any unusual levels of fraud during the 2020 election.
Qualls, a former health care executive and military veteran, leaned heavily on his identity as a Christian Black Republican in Harlem on Saturday, arguing it was the best place for him to defeat Walz in a general election. gives. “My life is a testament to the failure of their agenda,” he said in a speech to delegates, later adding: “I think black people and all minorities are sick and tired of white liberals telling us that What should we be proud of… and how should we vote.”
Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy’s message to delegates focused on rising crime, the Minneapolis riots and “Covid nonsense.” Murphy sought to establish himself as the biggest champion of gun rights in the region. As mayor, he declared Lexington a “Second Amendment sanctuary city.”
Shah, a dermatologist from North Oaks and child of Indian immigrants, called Walz a “fraud in flannel.” He leaned heavily on issues of the culture war in his address to delegates on Saturday, at one point saying that when he graduated high school in 1998, “boys were boys, girls were girls, and no matter what your skin color.” Didn’t matter.”
In his speech, Gazalka – the least passionate speaker and arguably the most liberal in the field – appealed primarily to reason. The state senator from East Gull Lake argued that during his three years as Senate majority leader, he served as the state’s only stronghold against Walz and the DFL-controlled House agenda. Gazalka was the most “establishment” of all the candidates; He had a good base of support from allies in the legislature and the support of the Minneapolis Police and Peace Officers Association.
Legally speaking, there is no point in supporting the party. Candidates still have until May 31 to register their names on the August 9 primary ballots. The primary winners will face each other in the November 8 general election.