GOP legislators urge state party to reverse decision on Otter Tail County delegates

The Republican lawmakers have called for the reinstatement of the 2024 delegates, claiming the party "unfortunately relied on conflicting and, in many cases, faulty information."

The ongoing controversy has drawn the attention of two state legislators, Rep. Jeff Backer, right, and Rep. Tom Murphy, left. (Minnesota House of Representatives)

On Feb. 27, Republicans and Democrats formed thousands of small, separate groups called “precinct caucuses” all across Minnesota. At these gatherings, participants supported their candidates of choice, discussed ideas, and elected delegates who are responsible for making political endorsements.

In Minnesota, receiving a party endorsement is considered a crucial part of winning elected office. Every election year, political parties hold conventions where these elected delegates endorse candidates. More often than not, winning a party’s endorsement is tantamount to becoming that party’s nominee for whatever office is being sought.

The delegates elected at precinct caucuses eventually help issue endorsements for a variety of different offices. In Otter Tail County, Republican precinct caucus meetings that occurred on Feb. 27 have become the subject of intense scrutiny.

Allegedly beset by incorrect documentation, failure to follow proper procedure, and a “loud and chaotic nature,” the Otter Tail County GOP precinct caucuses reportedly descended into chaos. Citing these supposed occurrences, Minnesota Republican Party Chairman David Hann notified Otter Tail County GOP caucus attendees that party leaders had “concluded that no legitimate elections occurred.”

As such, delegates who may have been selected at the allegedly chaotic meetings will no longer be recognized as delegates by the state party. In turn, Chairman Hann announced that delegates previously elected “in 2022 will continue to be delegates as no new delegates were elected.”

The chairman cited the constitution of the Minnesota Republican Party in his decision.

Action 4 Liberty, a conservative political organization, has been particularly vocal about its distaste for the state party’s decision regarding the Otter Tail County (OTC) situation. In a social media post, the organization wrote that “if the Republican Party of Minnesota truly wants to UNITE conservatives they’ll right this wrong and restore the obviously elected delegates in OTC.”

The ongoing controversy has also drawn the attention of two state legislators, Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, and Rep. Tom Murphy, R-Underwood.

Rep. Backer and Rep. Murphy both represent portions of Otter Tail County in the Minnesota House of Representatives. In two separate letters, the Republican lawmakers have called for the reinstatement of the 2024 delegates, claiming the party “unfortunately relied on conflicting and, in many cases, faulty information” in reaching its decision.

Among their statements, the legislators said grassroots conservatives “attended the 2024 caucus with the goal of effecting change within the county organization, a change they hoped would restore truth and transparency, revitalize grassroots participation in county operations, and protect the sovereign election rights of the people. These good folks showed up to support Republicans locally and statewide. It is paramount that the party prioritizes the decision of precinct caucus voters!”

In the pair’s second letter, dated March 26, the legislators said “grassroots members in Otter Tail County gathered for caucus elections. Acting in good faith despite multiple administrative failures, these members proceeded with the business at hand: successfully electing precinct officers, delegates, and alternates.”

Regarding the delegate elections, Rep. Backer and Rep. Murphy accused Republican Party leaders of attempting “to overturn the results of these elections by not recognizing the will of the voters and replacing their cherished right to representative government with the decisions of party leaders.”

“An election was held. The people have spoken. Now OTC Leaders, MNGOP, and party representatives can choose to silence their own base or practice what they preach and uphold the integrity of our election process,” they wrote.

Additionally, Minnesota Sen. Nathan Wesenberg, R-Little Falls, released a statement Friday in which he called on the state party to “immediately call an Otter Tail County convention and reinstate ALL delegates.”

“We say we are a party for the grassroots and encourage people to get involved at the local level to create change. Then when people get involved to have their voices heard, MNGOP does everything in their power to silence them,” he said.

Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, concurred, saying “the right thing to do is for the delegates of OTC to be restored.”

“The caucuses are meant for the grassroots and it’s the grassroots that shape our party and help Republicans get elected,” she said.

Alpha News reached out to the Republican Party of Minnesota for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.