By Adelle Whitefoot
DULUTH — Make Minnesota Red was the theme of this weekend’s Minnesota GOP State Convention in Duluth.
“Everyone keeps saying that there is a blue wave coming across the country this year and that Minnesota will stay blue, but they couldn’t be more wrong because there is a red tsunami coming for Minnesota and a tsunami is bigger than a wave,” Minnesota GOP chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan told the convention crowd.
All of the candidates seeking endorsement on Friday and Saturday spoke to the movement that President Donald Trump started in 2016 in Minnesota. All of the endorsed candidates hope to use that momentum to turn Minnesota red by taking two U.S. Senate seats away from the Democrats and then come back in 2020 and — for the first time since 1972 — deliver Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes to a Republican president.
“The energy has been incredible and heard across the state,” Carnahan said. “What we’re looking at as a Republican Party is that we can move from three out of eight congressional seats to potentially five or six Republican seats on Nov. 6.”
Johnson headed to primary
The Minnesota Republican Party endorsed its candidate for governor Saturday in Duluth. Normally, that would mean the candidate would get to skip the primary and go straight to the November election, but not this election cycle.
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced three weeks ago that he would not be attending the convention and seeking the party’s endorsement. Instead he will challenge endorsed candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson in a primary election Aug. 14.
Though Pawlenty did not attend the convention this weekend, he announced Friday, the first day of the convention, that he would be making a tour around the state on Monday.
Constitutional office endorsements made
Three constitutional offices candidates were endorsed Saturday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center: state auditor, secretary of state and attorney general.
Pam Myhra was endorsed for state auditor. She is a certified public accountant from Burnsville, Minn. Myhra is also a former two-term Minnesota state representative. She is running on a platform of more transparency for government spending. Myhra is currently the state president of the Minnesota Federation of Republican Women.
John Howe was endorsed for secretary of state. He is a small-business owner from Red Wing, Minn., who is also a former Minnesota senator from District 28 and former mayor of Red Wing.
Howe is running on a platform that calls for streamlining the startup process for Minnesota businesses. One of the biggest duties of the secretary of state office is business registration and licensing. Howe said he believes there is too much red tape for new businesses in the state.
Doug Wardlow was endorsed for attorney general. He is a trial and appellate attorney from Eagan, Minn., who graduated from Georgetown University. Wardlow is also a former Minnesota representative from District 38B. Wardlow is running on a platform to promote job growth, stop what he calls government bullying, work to combat human trafficking, support and coordinate with law enforcement and put an end to sanctuary cities.
Congressional candidates rally crowd
Pete Stauber, 8th District congressional candidate, and 1st District congressional candidate Jim Hagerdorn spoke at the convention Saturday. Both candidates are running in districts where incumbent Democrats are not rerunning this year, and both seats are considered up for grabs.
“I will support our iron ore mining, precious metals mining and Enbridge Line 3, and there is not a single Democratic candidate that can say the same thing,” Stauber said to a thunderous roar of applause.
When Stauber, a Duluth native and Denfeld High School graduate, came on stage he was met with a standing ovation from nearly all of the 8th District delegates and loud cheers and applause. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party was not able to endorse a candidate for the 8th District at its convention in April and will head to a primary.
Hagerdorn entertained the crowd during his speech with a faux letter from Congressman Tim Walz to the Democratic-endorsed candidate for the 1st Congressional District, which started with “Dear Comrade” and received big laughs.
“Maybe one of the best things going for us is that we no longer have a candidate in Waltz,” he said.