On Saturday, Andy Aplikowski, a longtime conservative activist and Republican party volunteer, won the GOP endorsement for the Senate District 35 seat. The district includes the northern suburbs of Anoka, Champlin, Andover, and parts of Coon Rapids. The seat is being vacated early by Senator Branden Peterson, (R-Andover), who is leaving before completing his term due to expire in January 2016, for family reasons. Aplikowski, 40, lead on four consecutive ballots at Saturday’s endorsing convention, and after two opponents dropped out, he secured 68% of the delegates. 60% is needed to secure the endorsement. Here’s a tally of the votes from Saturday:
In an unusual move by the local Republican party, the local nominating committee nominated the candidates, but placed “reservations” on Aplikowski for his past blogging, and candidate Don Huizenga for having past speeding tickets. Typically a nominations committee remains neutral and lets the delegates decide the nominee.
Senator Dave Thompson, (R-Lakeville) spoke on behalf of Aplikowski on Saturday and made the comment that because of his past radio show he probably would have been nominated with reservations as well.
Abeler had a long list of big endorsements including, Charlie Weaver, Executive Director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, who preceded Abeler as state representative, Rep Abigail Whelan, (R-Anoka), who succeeded Abeler as state representative. Rep Jenifer Loon, (R-Eden Prairie,) who is married to the head of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Doug Loon, also endorsed Abeler, as did Rep Ron Kresha, (R-Little Falls) who is Assistant Majority leader in the Minnesota House. Former U.S Senator Dave Durenberger and former Governer Al Quie made a video endorsing Abeler. A long list of City Councilmembers and Representatives also endorsed Abeler, but their support didn’t sway the local delegates signaling an anti-establishment mood in 2016.
Abeler, 61, is an Anoka chiropractor and was a member of the “Override 6” in 2008, a group of Republicans who voted to override Governor Pawlenty’s veto of a gas tax increase. The state rep was praised by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Minnesota for the move. Abeler was re-elected in his district that year with over 60% of the vote, after defeating Don Huizenga in a primary election. After spending 16 years in the Minnesota House, Abeler left to run against Mike McFadden for the U.S. Senate endorsement in 2014, which he lost with only 15% of the vote. He had a lifetime score of 52% from the Minnesota Taxpayers League. Abeler also worked to establish the state MnSure Health Exchange per MinnPost which Republican leadership is now calling to scrap.
Aplikowski, Chief Operating Office for his family’s manufactured housing community business, has signed the 2016 “No New Gas Tax” Pledge from the Minnesota Taxpayers League in addition to taxpayer protection pledges from the Taxpayers League and the Americans for Tax Reform.
Despite only winning the support of 30% of the delegates, Abeler will run in a primary election which will take place on January 12th. The special election for the seat will be held on February 6th. Based on the large number of endorsements for Abeler, it’s expected to be another costly primary for Republicans.