Supreme Court dismisses challenge to lawmaker in Austin-area GOP primary race

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Minnesota Republican Senator Gene Dornink will remain on the ballot in an intensely contested primary race for the Austin area.

State Sen. Gene Dornink


The Minnesota Supreme Court will meet Friday



rejected a petition



That Dornink didn’t move to Senate District 23 in the time required to meet residency requirements following the 2020 Census changes to his district boundaries.

Judy Kay Olson, a Glenville resident, claimed that Dornink lived in Hayfield while she claimed to be in Brownsdale. She cited evidence observations and other research from an investigative expert who was the campaign manager for Dornink’s Republican rival Lisa Hanson. Keith Haskell claimed that he visited Dornink’s homes several times between May and July. He took videos, chalked tires on cars to check for movement, and observed.

However, Dornink was first elected in 2020 and argued that the accusation was baseless and without meritspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. He stated that he had been living at Brownsdale since May, which was enough time to be eligible for Tuesday’s primary and the general election. A declaration from Dornink was sent to the court stating that his only overnight absences were due to legislative service.


Dornink stated in a statement Friday that he was grateful the court dismissed his baseless case so quickly.


Dornink stated that he will continue to run a positive and issue-oriented campaign. “I look forward winning the Primary this Tuesday, and the General Election in Nov .”


Steve Simon, the Minnesota Secretary of State and Dornink’s lawyer, claimed Olson filed her petition with “unreasonable delay”, violating a doctrine that states people shouldn’t wait too long to “assert a known right” if it causes legal prejudice to someone responding. Last week was 65 days after Dornink had filed for office. This was 35 days after early voting began and 12 days before Tuesday’s primary.


The court accepted that argument and said that a delay in filing a petition could be excused as a petitioner needs to gather evidence to challenge the candidate’s residency. An order signed by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea states that “the record here indicates that Olson didn’t act expeditiously and diligently in conducting her investigations.”


In fact, Olson’s friends visited Dornink in Brownsdale twice in the four days following his filing for office. They waited 18 more days before they could visit again. After visiting June 15-16, they waited another month before making their final visit.


Gildea wrote that Olson and her associates didn’t investigate for long periods.


Gildea stated that removing Dornink’s name from the ballot so close to election day would lead to “substantial prejudice” in the candidate’s favor. Hanson, one of many Republicans challenging current lawmakers from the right-leaning political party, is well-known for being imprisoned for defying the governor. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 restriction at her restaurant in Albert Lea was imposed on Hanson.

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