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Anti-Trump resolution fails at state GOP convention

DULUTH, Minn. -- A brief moment of parliamentary rebellion by some Minnesota Republicans against Donald Trump ended in failure Friday ahead of the state party's convention at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.

A resolution that aimed to reaffirm the right of party members to "focus efforts on races of their own choosing" -- that is, other than that of presumptive nominee Trump -- failed on a voice vote. About two-thirds of the members of the State Central Committee, the Minnesota GOP's governing body, appeared to vote against the measure.

There was low turnout at the State Central meeting, possibly because the Minnesota Legislature was still in the throes of heavy negotiations in St. Paul as lawmakers attempt to hammer out compromises with just days left in the legislative session.

The meeting also saw a bit of history-making for the party: it was the first instance of electronic voting. The committee used it to elect Janet Beihoffer and Rick Rice as national committewoman and committeman, respectively.

Electronic voting was almost used when the anti-Trump resolution was considered, but Chair Keith Downey reversed his earlier ruling and instituted a voice vote instead.

Walter Hudson of the 6th Congressional District said giving avenues for Republicans to focus on races other than the presidential would help preserve party unity.

"Donald Trump has exposed a fault line in our party, and there's a danger we could be split as a result of that fault line," Hudson said.

However, there was strident opposition to the resolution, with one attendee calling a "phoney baloney" measure.

Ken Cobb, Beltrami County GOP chair and member of anti-Trump group Conservatives for Candidates of Character, said he wasn't present for the vote itself but that it was disappointing. Nevertheless, he's told the anti-Trump Republicans that there are still down-ballot races to fight for, he said.

"My message to them has been 'you can't check out of the process,'" he said.

As for the Republicans who want to unify behind Trump, Cobb has told them they need the "#NeverTrump" Republicans too, he said.

Ideally, the party can rally around a particular presidential candidate, Cobb said.

"This year, it's not possible for us to do that," he said.


Also during the State Central meeting, Treasurer Bron Scherer also gave an update on the party's progress toward eliminating the more than $1.2 million in debt it holds. Total financial liabilities for the party were $1,241,653.77 compared to $1,466,637.89 the prior year, a decrease of about $225,000.

Scherer criticized the party members who he said posted on Facebook about the party being "broke."

"Those comments really don't help," he said. "The negative stuff's not going to get us votes."

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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