Mayor Mike Murphy accused fellow gubernatorial candidate Kendall Qualls of thrice rejecting an endorsement from then-President Donald Trump during his 2020 congressional bid. Qualls said this accusation is not based in reality.
Former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Dr. Neil Shah and Murphy took the stage at a debate Tuesday evening as they each vie to become the next Republican governor of Minnesota. Dr. Scott Jensen, former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Qualls did not attend.
Qualls’s campaign said he was at a prior speaking commitment with Mask Off Minnesota, Jensen offered pre-recorded answers to questions that were played on a projector screen, and Stanek is still recovering from a recent car crash he was involved in last month.
Despite his absence, the debate moderator posed several questions to Qualls. Murphy accused him of “[refusing] Donald Trump’s endorsement three times over” during his 2020 congressional bid. Shah also recalled how Qualls lost the suburbs “badly,” trailing by “double digits” during that campaign.
Although Shah is correct that Qualls did not win in 2020, Qualls told Alpha News there is no truth to Murphy’s claim. “[Murphy] should be ashamed for lying to delegates because I know for certain that I have never denied an endorsement from President Trump,” he said.
After Murphy’s attack, the debate moderator posed a series of questions purportedly submitted to Qualls by delegates. The questions accused him of not being pro-life and of having personal interests that prevent him from regulating Big Pharma. Qualls is a former Medtronic executive.
“These are questions we do not have answers for,” the moderator said — a claim Qualls also dismisses as a lie.
“I am 100% pro-life, have an adopted son and have lived every day with conservative pro-life values,” he told Alpha News, adding that his “background in the sales and marketing sector of the healthcare industry” does not impact his politics.
“These attacks are evidence that despite only being in this race for four months, my message is resonating with voters. I have won four straw polls over the last few weeks and just this last quarter I came in first in fundraising,” Qualls observed.
“I look forward to debating emergency powers, election integrity, defending the unborn and Second Amendment rights, as well as the rest of the issues in person at the Young Republican Debate,” he added.
This weekend, the Minnesota GOP will hold its state convention where delegates will endorse a candidate for governor. As the convention approaches, exchanges between candidates have adopted an increasingly aggressive tone. Just as Qualls was attacked, so he also launched harpoons aimed at his opponents: “My opponents’ records speak volumes. One actually helped put Tim Walz in office by donating to his campaign. Some have questionable pasts on issues like abortion, the Second Amendment, and loyalty to the Republican Party.”