Veteran police officer aims to unseat DFLer Brad Tabke in House District 54A

Longtime Shakopee resident Aaron Paul has criticized Brad Tabke's "lock-step" support for the DFL trifecta agenda, including a new law impacting school safety.

Aaron Paul, right, says he aims to be “the independent voice Shakopee deserves at the Capitol.”

A veteran police officer who says he’s watched schools become less safe for students and staff following a controversial law change last year that impacted school resource officers has launched a campaign for the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Aaron Paul says he aims to be “the independent voice Shakopee deserves at the Capitol.”

“Shakopee needs a representative who will vote like the purple district that we are,” Paul said in a statement announcing his campaign this week. A police officer for nearly 29 years with the city of Bloomington, Paul has served in a number of different roles in his law enforcement career, including as a school resource officer.

The married father of three is a longtime resident of Shakopee. He will seek the Republican Party endorsement for House District 54A, where he intends to unseat incumbent DFLer Brad Tabke, who was one of 44 Democratic legislators (out of 104) in September to sign a letter opposing police officer associations’ request for Gov. Tim Walz to call a special session to amend a new law impacting school resource officers (SROs). Walz has indicated he has interest in examining fixes to that law during the 2024 legislative session that begins next month.

The DFLers, including Tabke, who signed on to that letter said they would oppose any efforts to repeal the law. Paul this week said that was a factor in his decision to run for the state House.

“Brad Tabke voted lock-step with his party that squandered a $19 billion surplus, and compromised the safety of our kids in school by forcing dozens of districts to pull school resource officers,” said Paul, who serves as president of the Association of Training Officers of Minnesota.

“I will be the independent voice that Shakopee expects and prioritize public safety, fiscal responsibility, and bringing balance back to the Capitol.”

The same day Paul announced he’s running for the House District 54A seat, Tabke made it official that he’s seeking re-election to preserve the DFL’s control at the legislature.

“Keep the Trifecta doing great work for Shakopee and Minnesota at our 2024 Tabke for MN Campaign Kickoff!!” Tabke wrote in a social media post.

Political ping pong effect in Shakopee

The Shakopee area’s state House seat has bounced back and forth between Republican and DFL representation for the last three election cycles.

In 2018, incumbent GOP legislator Bob Loonan lost an endorsement and then primary challenge to grassroots conservative Erik Mortensen. Mortensen was defeated in the 2018 general election by then-Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke.

In a 2020 rematch, Mortensen unseated Tabke after winning another GOP primary election against Loonan. In 2022, Mortensen and Loonan battled for a third time in a highly-visible primary campaign, with Mortensen coming out on top again before losing to Tabke by 8 percentage points in November.

Many who followed the GOP primary races closely in 2020 and 2022 noted the political factions who battled each other within the Republican Party, with Action for Liberty backing Mortensen, and more moderate Republicans supporting Loonan.

Paul says his campaign aims to rise above political partisanship.

“I’ve spent my career working to protect Minnesota families and serve our community as a police officer and school resource officer,” Paul said. “I hope to continue my service to my neighbors as a state representative who will bring balance and common sense every day to the Capitol.”


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.