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Minnesota GOP state convention to be held in Rochester next year

The convention will decide Republican opponent to face DFL Gov. Tim Walz.

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Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
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ROCHESTER, Minn. -- The Republican Party of Minnesota will hold its 2022 state convention to pick its candidate for governor to run against DFL Gov. Tim Walz at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan announced Thursday, June 10.

It will be the first time Rochester has hosted the GOP's endorsing convention since 2014. Party leaders were planning to host its statewide gathering in Med City last year, but opted for a virtual convention in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The two-day convention will run May 13 and 14.

"It's such an important part of the state. Third largest city. Obviously, now as Republicans, we hold this congressional district, and (will have) important legislative races on the ballot next year," Carnahan said during an interview at the convention center. "It made sense to be here."

ALSO READ: Minnesota GOP wants private school option; Governor Tim Walz, DFL push back Walz, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman agreed last month to a $525 million increase over the next two years for education spending, but House and Senate negotiators still have several disagreements on where the money should go.
In addition to endorsing a candidate for governor, the party will tap candidates for attorney general, secretary of state, and state auditor. Physician and former state Sen. Scott Jensen, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy and businessman Mike Marti have declared their candidacies for the party's endorsement.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and MyPillow's Mike Lindell have also publicly expressed interest in the job, but Carnahan said she doubted Lindell would run.

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"I don't think so," Carnahan said when asked about him.

When the estimated 2,500 delegates and alternates arrive in Rochester next year, the party will be in the midst of a 15-year drought in terms of electing GOP candidates to statewide office. The last time the party won was when Tim Pawlenty was re-elected as governor in 2006.

"I don't know that it's one key issue," Carnahan said. "Obviously, our big priority is on making sure we're turning out people to vote, Republican voters. Or we're swinging those independent voters our way."

In last year's presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden won the state by a hefty 7.1% margin, shocking GOP leaders and others who thought the state was more in play. The election saw Greater Minnesota throw their support behind Donald Trump, but suburban voters abandoned the party in large numbers. Carnahan suggested it was too soon to say whether those shifts were permanent.

Asked whether the election was "stolen" from Trump, Carnahan declined to say one way or the other, but said the "concerns that people have should not be overlooked."

"If there's ever any question or doubt, or people don't feel that they have the full transparency on enough things, what is wrong with just looking into things and answering those things?" she said.

Trump continues to baselessly gripe that the election was fraudulently taken from him. But officials who served under him, from former attorney general Bill Barr to FBI Director Christopher Wray, have said that they have not seen any fraud that could have affected the outcome. Biden won by 7 million votes.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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