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GOP district convention fails to endorse congressional candidate, but Munson claims win with most delegates

The convention pertained to the newly drawn 1st district, but it held advantages for special election candidates

2022 Midterm Election in United States of America
2022 Midterm Election in United States of America
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MANKATO, Minn. — Area Republicans delegates were unable to settle on an endorsed congressional candidate at a 1st Congressional District Convention on Saturday, despite seven rounds of voting that stretched into the early hours of the next day.

jeremy-munson.jpg
Jeremy Munson.
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Snaring the convention’s stamp of approval would have given the endorsed candidate a key boost in a crowded field of contenders seeking to fill out the term of GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died last February from cancer. A May 24 special primary and Aug. 9 election will decide who will serve the remaining five months of Hagedorn’s term.

The convention, held in Mankato, ended at 1 a.m. Sunday after delegates resolved that subsequent rounds of voting were unlikely to get any of the candidates across the 60 percent threshold necessary to win the endorsement

“By one o’clock, everybody was getting kind of grumpy,” said Bill Kuisle, one of the delegates.

Saturday’s GOP convention was meant to come up with an endorsed candidate for the newly redrawn 1st Congressional District. And while the convention did not technically impact the special election, which concerns the current 1st district, claiming the endorsement would have given the winner bragging rights and prominence as the special election approaches.

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In that sense, state Rep. Jeremy Munson emerged from the convention, declaring himself the winner, having claimed 55 percent of the delegates and led in all seven rounds.

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He was followed by Brad Finstad, a former state representative and state director for rural development in former President Donald Trump’s administration, who garnered 35 percent of the convention’s delegates.

By the fifth round, Munson and Finstad were the lone remaining candidates, the others having fallen out after failing to reach a minimum threshold of delegates. Hagedorn’s widow and former Minnesota Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan was among those who did not survive into the latter rounds.

Munson, a St. Lake Crystal business owner and a three-term state representative, touted his showing at the convention and the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, which he tweeted out during the convention. GOP U.S. House representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Thomas Massie of Kentucky have also thrown their support behind Munson.

“As the clear leader on each ballot, last night’s process was a win for my campaign,” said Munson in a press statement the day after the convention. “The delegates left energized and ready to keep our district in conservative hands. We are now best positioned to win the Republican primary on May 24 and take our America-First movement to Washington.”

The convention was also noteworthy for the new party leadership selected at the event. Aaron Farris, 19, became one of the youngest people to win the 1st district chairmanship, winning the leadership post by a commanding 82 percent to 18 percent margin.

Farris currently serves as chairman of the Young Republicans in the 1st district and vice chairman of the Freeborn County GOP.

There were more than 300 delegates and 150 alternates who attended the convention. Altogether, 20 GOP, DFL and cannabis candidates are running in the special election.

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“It was pretty packed,” Kuisle said about the convention. “They were seating delegates at midnight, because people had other commitments and had to leave. And so they were bringing in alternates and seating them.”

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or mstolle@postbulletin.com.
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