Minnesota GOP endorses newcomer Jim Schultz for attorney general

Jim Schultz pulled off an upset victory Friday night over Doug Wardlow and Tad Jude to secure the Minnesota GOP's endorsement for attorney general. 

Jim Schultz speaks to a crowd of party activists at the Mayo Civic Center Friday night after winning the endorsement. (Rebecca Brannon/Twitter)

The Minnesota GOP will endorse candidates for statewide office this weekend during a party convention in Rochester.

A long line of attendees at the Mayo Civic Center delayed the start time by nearly two hours. Delegates will endorse candidates for secretary of state, attorney general, and state auditor Friday. On Saturday, they will pick a candidate for governor.

State Rep. Jim Nash welcomed the large crowd but criticized the delay as a “logistical error.”

The State Central Committee met Thursday ahead of the convention and failed to recertify statewide affiliate organizations.

“Due to time constraints, the State Central Committee was unfortunately not able to complete its work today in recertifying our statewide partner Republican organizations. We value the contributions these organizations have made to our party and want to continue our relationship with them to build and grow the Republican Party in Minnesota,” Minnesota GOP Chair David Hann said in a statement Thursday night.

Some reports have claimed that the State Central Committee intentionally prohibited people from recording the meeting so that it could remove Minnesota’s chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans from the list of affiliates. This group is designed to recruit LGBT Minnesotans to the Republican Party. The final result of the meeting was that no affiliates were recertified.

Alpha News was not able to independently verify these reports, but the move generated widespread condemnation on social media.

The affiliate groups that were not recertified Thursday included the Republican Seniors of Minnesota, Minnesota Young Republicans, Minnesota College Republicans, Log Cabin Republicans, Asian American Republicans, Minnesota Federation of Republican Women, Minnesota Republican Liberty Caucus, American Indian Republican Affiliate, Minnesota Organization of Republican Veterans, African Republicans of Minnesota, and the Republican Labor Alliance.

Kelly Jahner-Byrne, one of two candidates for secretary of state, said her campaign would continue to “support and recognize all MNGOP affiliates regardless of their certification status.”

“The multitude of reasons that have been discussed as the motivation for, and political techniques employed for this to have happened are many and beyond comprehension,” she said. “The truth is this should never have been allowed to happen.”

A list of prohibited items at the convention also generated social media buzz, with items like “hoards of insects,” “flamethrowers,” and “dry ice bombs” being disallowed.

The proposed agenda for the convention shows that the endorsement process will begin with state auditor, followed by secretary of state, attorney general, and governor.

Ryan Wilson is the only candidate for state auditor. Jahner-Byrne and Kim Crockett are seeking the secretary of state endorsement.

Candidates for attorney general include:

  • Jim Schultz
  • Doug Wardlow
  • Tad Jude
  • Lynne Torgerson

Candidates for governor include:

  • Scott Jensen
  • Kendall Qualls
  • Neil Shah
  • Mike Murphy
  • Paul Gazelka

Sen. Michelle Benson dropped out of the race before the convention. Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is also running but won’t be participating in the endorsement process.

Dennis Smith is also running for attorney general but plans to skip the convention and go straight to the primary.

A poll released by KSTP ahead of the convention shows Jensen and Gazelka within striking distance of Gov. Tim Walz. Former President Donald Trump has not weighed in on any of the races.

Update: Ryan Wilson was endorsed for state auditor and Kim Crockett was endorsed for secretary of state.

“My heart is full of gratitude to everyone who joined me in this battle to restore the public’s trust in our elections. The hardest work is yet ahead because the corporate media refuses to acknowledge or rationally discuss reasonable concerns and objections held by many citizens to Minnesota’s election laws and the policies adopted in 2020 under the guise of COVID,” Crockett said in a statement.

Wilson, running unopposed, said Minnesotans are “tired of massive scandals of waste and fraud.”

“I look forward to restoring a culture of accountability and transparency in Minnesota government,” he said. “Taxpayers across this great state want and need a real watchdog with the experience to get the job done.”

Update: Jim Schultz pulled off an upset victory Friday night over Doug Wardlow and Tad Jude to secure the Minnesota GOP’s endorsement for attorney general.

Lynne Torgerson was out after the first round. Jude dropped out of the race after the third ballot and endorsed Schultz. In the next round of voting, Schultz secured 58% of the vote, just shy of the 60% needed to win the endorsement. Wardlow then dropped out and a motion to endorse Schultz passed unanimously.

Delegates will reconvene Saturday to endorse a candidate for governor.

Check back for more updates.