Race tightens as Minnesota GOP picks nominee for governor | Health, medicine and fitness

By STEVE KARNOWSKI – Associated Press

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota Republicans met again on Saturday to support a candidate to challenge Democratic administration Tim Walz in November’s election, and three candidates were tightly packed after three rounds of voting.

Lexington mayor Mike Murphy took a paper-thin lead with 31.79% of the vote after dermatologist Neil Shah dropped out of support. dr. Scott Jensen, a vaccine skeptic and former state senator who led the first two votes, had 31.45%, followed by businessman Kendall Qualls in third with 30.45%. Former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka was forced to pull out after his support dropped to 6%. A candidate needs 60% to win the approval.

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All had pledged to honor the party’s approval and waive the right to participate in the August 9 primary GOP, assuming there was no standoff. Former President Donald Trump, still a powerful force within the party, has not endorsed anyone in the Minnesota races.

The 2,200 delegates had to finish their work by 6:00 p.m. on Saturday to leave the Rochester Mayo Civic Center, but Friday’s relatively quick and smooth electronic voting process seemed to reduce the chances of them running out of time and leaving without approval. Representatives and party leaders hope at least one of their candidates will become the first Republican elected statewide since Governor Tim Pawlenty was reelected in 2006.

Jensen, a GP from Chaska, got the earliest start in the race and raised the most money. He built a national following as he framed his skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine — and his opposition to masking mandates and school and business closures — as support for medical freedom. In his speech, he emphasized his efforts as a state senator to stand up to the way the Walz administration is handling the pandemic.

“Everyone in this room has understood to some extent that Tim Walz has failed. He’s ready. But who will come forward? Who will serve for the well-being, safety and protection of all people? Who’s going to help Minnesota find its way back to the bright and shining star of the north?” Jensen asked in a video before his speech. “The answer is you.”

Qualls emphasized his rise from poverty, going to college, becoming an army officer and a business leader. He said his life is a testament to the failure of the Democratic agenda and shows that the American dream is still alive.

“The radical left thinks I shouldn’t be here. The media thinks I shouldn’t be here. Tim Walz wished I wasn’t here at all,” Qualls said to loud applause. “And poor Joe Biden, he tells people who look like me that I’m not black, that we’re not black, that we didn’t vote for him. Well, after voting for Donald J. Trump for president — both times — and I’m still black. And I’m still Republican. And I’m going to be Joe Biden and Tim Walz’s worst nightmare.”

Gazelka, an East Gull Lake senator who emphasized his support for law enforcement, supported Qualls, as did Senator Michelle Benson of Ham Lake, who had run for office but dropped out before the convention.

Murphy, the mayor of Lexington, a small suburb northwest of Minneapolis, criticized Walz for both his handling of the pandemic and the sometimes destructive unrest that followed the 2020 Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

“When Walz shut us down, shut us out of our churches and masked our kids, I banned it in my city and shut it down by making my community a health-free city, free of all the COVID nonsense,” Murphy said. “When Walz and (President Joe) Biden attacked our Second Amendment, I defended it in my community by declaring my city a Second Amendment Sanctuary City and I will do that for the state.”

On Friday night’s fourth vote, the convention approved business attorney Jim Schultz for attorney general, an office that Republicans in Minnesota have not won since 1968. of ex-officer Derek Chauvin on Floyd’s death.

Schultz defeated Doug Wardlow, who was the party’s 2018 candidate and is a general advisor at MyPillow. That company’s CEO, Mike Lindell, has become nationally known for perpetuating the false claim that Trump won the 2020 election. Also losing were former Washington County judge Tad Jude and attorney Lynne Torgerson. Former lawmaker Dennis Smith plans to challenge Schultz in the GOP primary.

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