MN GOP should withhold campaign cash from Trump, group says

ST. PAUL -- A group of Minnesota Republicans hopes to take a stand against presumptive nominee Donald Trump at the state party convention this weekend.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

ST. PAUL -- A group of Minnesota Republicans hopes to take a stand against presumptive nominee Donald Trump at the state party convention this weekend.

They call themselves “Conservatives for Candidates of Character” and say they want to be a “bulwark against the ugliness and juvenile tactics ... that is sweeping the Republican Party nationwide.”

At the GOP state central committee meeting Friday, this group of anti-Trump Republicans will push a motion banning the expenditure of state party money on Trump’s behalf.

“We want to send a clear message that Republicans in Minnesota categorically reject the divisive candidacy of Donald Trump,” said Walter Hudson, a convention delegate and spokesman for the group, in a statement.

The stand will come despite the fact that all of Trump’s rivals for the presidential nomination have dropped out of the race and that he’s almost certain to be endorsed as the GOP nominee at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.


The so-called “Never Trump” movement includes Republicans who deeply oppose Trump for president, even as the GOP nominee, for reasons of ideology or temperament.

In addition to their intrinsic opposition to Trump, the dissident band of Minnesota Republicans have a more practical goal: “to save down-ballot (Minnesota) conservatives from losing by association” with the controversial businessman and reality TV star.

Democrats have claimed that Trump’s unpopularity among women, minorities and suburban voters could give their party a boost in areas such as the Twin Cities suburbs. That political battleground holds not only one or two competitive U.S. House seats but also the balance of power for control of the Minnesota Legislature. It’s uncertain whether Democratic predictions about Trump hurting down-ballot Republicans will prove true.

Keith Downey, the chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, downplayed the movement.

“This isn’t anything new or unusual on the heels of candidates who people supported very passionately not prevailing,” Downey said. “There’s always an adjustment period, and people questioning whether or not they can support the eventual candidate.”

Downey said he’s staying neutral in the presidential race until the state party picks the last of its national convention delegates on Saturday, but said “clearly our focus needs to be on defeating Hillary Clinton.”

Brian LeClair, a former lawmaker who co-chairs Trump’s campaign in Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District, cast the “Conservatives for Candidates of Character” as out of touch with voters.

“We are playing out the final games of the regular season, and the voters have made their decision clear,” LeClair said in a statement. “We appreciate the impressive level of party unity we have achieved so far, and look forward to the start of the post-season against Secretary Clinton.”


It’s unclear whether the anti-Trump resolution will succeed at Friday’s state central committee meeting. Party officials in recent weeks have urged Republicans to rally around the party’s presumptive nominee in the hopes of defeating Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton this fall.

An anti-Trump resolution failed in Nebraska at its GOP state convention Saturday, but Hudson argued the movement would have more success in Minnesota, where Trump finished a distant third place in the March 1 caucuses.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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