On Tuesday, three conservative Republican Senate candidates defeated a few centrist GOP candidates in a primary where the party’s anti-establishment wing looked to be making a mark.
This anti-establishment wing was often backed by far-right Action 4 Liberty and libertarian-leaning firebrands such as Reps Steve Drazkowski or Jeremy Munson. It won victories in places such as Little Falls, Stillwater and Northfield.
The party’s insurgent wing won mostly in conservative areas. This may not have an impact on Republican chances of keeping control of the Minnesota Senate or flipping the DFL-led House. The results will likely shift the Republican Senate’s ideological center further to the right, and have an impact on the House.
“We’re talking about highly partisan and highly combustible candidates coming into the institution the Minnesota Senate,” stated Michael Brodkorb. He is a political activist who has criticized that part of the GOP.
Senate incumbents are still in power, but the anti-establishment campaign wins
Seven Republican Minnesota Senators defeated primary challengers on Tuesday, despite wins in open districts by anti-establishment candidate candidates. This included Sen. Gene Dornink from Brownsdale, in southern Minnesota; Sen. Mark Johnson in East Grand Forks, in northwestern Minnesota; and Sen. Eric Pratt in the Twin Cities suburbs.
Pratt, Sen. Paul Utke from Park Rapids had even lost Republican endorsements.
All three won by large margins. Pratt’s race in Senate District 54 was the closest. The legislator defeated nurse Natalie Barnes and won by almost 7.5 points.
Members of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Business Partnership and other political groups had intervened at many of the primaries in order to assist the current legislators.
Other Senate races saw traditional Republicans win, including the Moorhead-area Senate District 4 race where Dan Bohmer defeated Edwin Hahn, who was denying his election. Jordan Rasmusson (a Fergus Falls Republican who introduced a paid leave bill to the Legislature this year) narrowly defeated Nathan Miller of Battle Lake. Nathan Miller’s website criticizes “weak Republicans” and states that his personal protective gear during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a gun, wasn’t a mask.
However, the traditional Republicans and business groups lost to anti-establishment candidates
Nathan Wesenberg defeated Jim Newberger, an ex-lawmaker, in Senate District 10. Action 4 Liberty supports Wesenberg as a wildlife biologist. He supports term limits and has pledged not to vote for “omnibus” bills that he considers unconstitutional. These omnibus bills combine many pieces of legislation at the Capitol into one bill and are used often to pass budget deals at session’s end. Munson and Drazkowski both criticize the omnibus bills as being opaque and unethical.
Republican-endorsed Tom Dippel defeated Tony Jurgens, the state representative in Senate District 41. Dippel supports endorsements from Munson, Drazwkoski and Mike Murphy, a bombastic former GOP candidate.
Lastly, in Senate District 58, Bill Lieske beat Jake Cordes easily, in a district that also includes Northfield. According to Lieske’s website, he plans to fight the “political establishment”, and will sponsor legislation to limit term lengths.
The House saw several key races go to Republicans and their allies. This includes the Stillwater-area House District 33B, where Mark Bishofsky, the GOP candidate, defeated Tina Riehle. Sen. Karin Housley, Minnesota Chamber, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and many others had endorsed Riehle.
A political group linked to the House Republican Caucus spent money to defeat Bishofsky. He has been supported by Action 4 Liberty, and led Stop the Mandate MN which led rallies against COVID-19 restrictions. To protest the mandate for vaccines, Bishofsky quit his position as a respiratory therapist.
The Red Wing House District 20A saw Pam Altendorf, backed by Drazkowski, narrowly defeat Jesse Johnson. He was helped by funds from the Chamber.
In their third consecutive primary matchup, Bob Loonan was defeated by Erik Mortensen from Shakopee, a far-right candidate. Loonan was previously a lawmaker. Mortensen tweeted that he was drinking out of a cup and said: “RINO tears” (which is an acronym for Republicans In Name Only).
Today’s cup. pic.twitter.com/YrZklz2f94
— Erik Mortensen (@MortForHouse) August 9, 2022
Brodkorb stated that a few anti-establishment candidates might lose in areas he believes Republicans would otherwise win. He said however that this won’t likely affect GOP efforts to hold and retake Congress.
Next year’s Legislature will have a greater impact. The political shift in the Republican-led Senate was not evident in the primary elections.
Drazkowski and Rep. Cal Bahr are two members of the New House Republican Caucus, a breakaway group known for criticizing GOP leadership. They are expected to win in November along with Reps. Eric Lucero and Steve Green, who are among far-right House Republicans. (Only Bahr won easily in the primary. )
Republicans currently hold 34 out of the chamber’s total 67 seats. However, they have a five-seat advantage against the DFL when you add two independents from northeast Minnesota who are members of the GOP.
Brodkorb stated that the Senate’s anti-establishment members will have more influence than the New House Republicans, due to the fact that the GOP is in the House minority. Brodkorb said that a Senate leader may have difficulty negotiating a deal for a DFL-led House and Gov. Tim Walz, as those GOP politicians tend to be more conservative in their views about government spending.
If Republicans retain full control of the government, Kurt Daudt’s enemies in the Senate could clash with him.
Brodkorb stated that the leader will have to do a lot of work to keep the caucus on the same level and on the same plane. “The leader will have to do a lot to keep the caucus on the same level span>
The anti-establishment candidates often criticize compromise with DFL leaders and portray Republican leaders as corrupted from lobbyist influence.
Munson, who lost a congressional primary contest in southern Minnesota on Tuesday, is not returning to the Legislature. sent a Twitter warning to his ideological friendsspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. Munson stated that he will support him through the difficult days ahead. “Leadership will try to work you over and use peer pressure to drag you into St Paul Swamp.” “Be Strong! Resist the temptation !”
Wednesday’s Drazkowski stated that he considers Dippel, Wesenberg, and Lieske to be ideological allies. Drazkowski said Wednesday that he considers Dippel, Wesenberg, and Lieske to be ideological allies. However, he stated that he would support Senate Majority leader Jeremy Miller of Winona. He also said Miller would have to “adapt” to lead a more conservative caucus. MinnPost previously reported that the chamber was headed by a majority “very moderate Republicans span>
Drazkowski stated that the center of gravity, or the ideological graphic centre, will be farther to the right than in the current Legislature.
Drazkowski also hedged his position on Omnibus Bills, which his House caucus had railed against in past years. Drazkowski stated that he will not vote against an Omnibus Bill “just because it’s an Omnibus Bill.” He said that it would depend on the content of the legislation. While he acknowledged that reforms to the legislative process are being made in an effort to reduce the number of omnibus bill is increasing, he also noted that he has voted for many Omnibus bills in the past. He said that the majority caucus uses them to govern because they are “expeditious to do.”
He said, “If there is an Omnibus Tax Cut Bill I’m voting to pass it.”