Campaigns trade barbs, tout high-profile endorsements as GOP Senate primary heats up

Last week former U.S. Sens. Norm Coleman and Rudy Boschwitz and Gov. Tim Pawlenty wrote a statement supporting Joe Fraser. Royce White announced Tuesday that his campaign has the support of Kari Lake.

Left: Royce White/Youtube; Right: Joe Fraser/Facebook

Regardless of the fact that Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has won by 20 or more points in her three campaigns for statewide office, her two prospective Republican opponents this fall are engaged in an intraparty battle that’s heating up as an Aug. 13 primary nears.

Last week, Joe Fraser announced via social media that he had received the endorsement of former U.S. Sens. Norm Coleman and Rudy Boschwitz and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Meanwhile, White announced Tuesday afternoon that Arizona U.S. Senate Kari Lake has endorsed his campaign.

“As winning statewide Republican candidates, we understand the temperament, leadership skills, and values Minnesotans expect from their candidates and Joe has those traits big time,” Coleman, Boschwitz and Pawlenty wrote in a joint statement.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar speaking with supporters at a meet and greet at the Adel Pavilion in Adel, Iowa in July 2019 during her campaign for U.S. president. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

That news didn’t impress Royce White, who last month won the Republican endorsement at the annual statewide convention in St. Paul. Just days later, Fraser, who lost the endorsement to White in the first round, announced he will still run in the primary after pledging to abide by the endorsement.

During an interview with WCCO on Sunday morning, White responded to the Pawlenty, Coleman and Boschwitz endorsement of Fraser.

“It’s remarkable to me that they think he’s the stronger candidate,” White told WCCO. “Especially when the implications of winning any statewide election in Minnesota involve, or the strategy should involve, going into CD5 and CD4, and I’m obviously the better candidate to go into CD5 and CD4, not just because I’m black and those districts are densely populated with the minority community. But also because I’m young, and because I’m connected to a political world and political philosophy that’s much newer, and that’s all across the country.

“The Norm Coleman, Rudy Boschwitz and Tim Pawlenty style of Republican politics has never really been very successful in those areas. And to be honest, all three of them lost their last statewide elections and they are connected to over 30 years of statewide losses in the Republican Party,” White continued.

Former NBA star Royce White plays in a Big 3 game June 15 with “Free Trump” written on his head. (Big 3/YouTube)

And the barbs didn’t end there.

On Monday morning, White posted a screenshot of Fraser’s LinkedIn profile that he criticized for including “He/Him” pronouns on his bio.

“Putting pronouns that match your natural biology is just conceding to virtue signal,” White said. “These type of people do what they’re told. By the media, by mob rule and by special interest groups. This is my Republican primary opponent Minnesota … ”

All that came following a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month against White that alleges he “unlawfully converted campaign funds to personal use, and that his campaign committees violated federal reporting requirements.”

Campaign Legal Center, a D.C.-based 501c3 that focuses its work on litigation and advocacy of campaign finance reform, filed the complaint. Influence Watch classifies Campaign Legal Center as “aligned with left-of-center interests.” The organization is led by Trevor Potter, former general counsel for John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008. White, in an interview late last month with Alpha News, defended his 2022 expenditures during his primary campaign for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.

The complaint comes as the left-wing outlet the Daily Beast has published a series of articles on White documenting his 2022 campaign’s use of funds at a strip club and his alleged failure to pay child support, which White denied. “I’m current on child support payments,” he told the outlet.

Primary opponents still taking aim at Klobuchar

Even as the Fraser and White campaigns have engaged in frequent sparring this month, neither has pulled any punches in criticizing Sen. Klobuchar, each of whom believes they are better positioned to face in the general election this November.

“How about we stop taxing social security benefits? Oh wait … We have to send their money to Ukraine as well,” White said in a social media post Monday morning, responding to a statement from Klobuchar over efforts she says she’s made to help curb prescription prices for seniors enrolled in Medicare. “Just come out and say it Amy, this entire style of politics is pacify and punt. You’re a pacify and punt politician. You say one thing, then do another.”

In an interview last week with Fox News, Fraser said Klobuchar has “been silent on the border issue. She’s been silent on bringing jobs to Minnesota when it comes to the Iron Range and our mining capabilities that we have out there. We’re sitting on billions of dollars worth of revenue and jobs, and she’s done nothing to help.”

Navy veteran and banking industry exec Joe Fraser officially announced he’s seeking the Republican endorsement in February. (Photo courtesy of Joe Fraser)

While both candidates are increasing the frequency of their media appearances as the summer primary campaign season heats up, White is continuing to receive support from the Republican Party of Minnesota. The organization has continued to communicate with those on its email distribution list on White’s door-knocking schedule in the metro area this month, including events he held in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul on June 8.

“This location is significant to (White) as it is the neighborhood he grew up in, and he is also the first Black candidate to be endorsed for U.S. Senate in Minnesota,” the Republican Party of Minnesota wrote to supporters.

In related news this week, the Independence-Alliance Party of Minnesota announced it has received “ballot access” status for its endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate, Joyce Lacey.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.