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Minnesota GOP convention: What delegates have to say

Delegates at the GOP convention spoke about what issues they care about most.

Minnesota State Republican Convention
The Minnesota State Republican Convention is held on Friday, May 13, 2022, at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — When the Minnesota GOP state convention kicked off Friday, May 13, 2022, the focus was on the candidates.

But for many of the 2,000-plus GOP delegates who will make endorsement selections over two days at the Mayo Civic Center, the real issue was, well, the issues.

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From election integrity to inflation, foreigners buying up farmland to border security, or just good old-fashioned freedom; the delegates want to make sure the candidates – the races of governor, attorney general, secretary of state and auditor are up for grabs – that get endorsed work on these issues.

There are many other issues to keep an eye on, but the immediacy of action needed to be taken on those differs depending on who you ask.

Brenda Hiniker, Rochester

Brenda Hiniker’s focus at her first state convention was more specifically on the platform of the governor and attorney general.

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“The biggest issue for me is to get a governor and an attorney general that will stand by the Constitution,” she said.

She shared that she’s supporting Mike Murphy for governor and his running mate, Lacy Johnson, because they are “both very good patriots.”

Hiniker was impressed with the atmosphere at the convention and excited at the large showing of conservatives from across Minnesota.

“It’s nice to see so many conservatives, and so many people support the conservative values,” she said. “I’m very happy to see the representation across the state.”

Travis Dunn, Wabasha County

Carrie Schroeder and Debra Roschen are both delegates from Wabasha County. Schroeder, a first-time delegate, said election integrity is the biggest focus for her. Roschen, when asked the biggest issue she’s focused on this election, simply said, “Freedom.”

Roschen, who has been a delegate at least three times and has been involved in conservative politics in Wabasha County for 15 years, added that fiscal responsibility, medical freedom and border security are equally important.

As she talked about the “insurgence of grassroots organizations” and the changing of the old conservative guard into a collective that cares more about freedom and less about power, Travis Dunn, the leader of the Republican Party of Wabasha County, walked over.

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Almost immediately, Dunn said, “This will be the return to the party of Lincoln. Mark my words.”

Dunn didn’t endorse any candidates because it isn’t the role of the leader of the county party. He did say that Wabasha County would be “happy with any candidate that’s here because it’s in the Republican field.”

“We have many wonderful candidates, and honestly, as long as this state goes back to red like it deserves to be and should be, we’ll be in a good position,” he said.

Terrill Luhman, Wabasha County

Election integrity and border protection are on the list of priorities for Terrill Luhman, as well as parent’s rights in the education system. Luhman plans to run for school board in Lake City.

He’s also focused on stopping “Chinese or any foreign entity from buying American soil. It’s a big issue, especially since I’m a farmer.”

“Just taking care of America first in a lot of general ways,” he said. “That probably sums it up for me.”

Luhman hosted gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen at his dairy farm last September with a turnout of about 400 people.

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Debbie Seifert, Olmsted County

Debbie Seifert isn’t new to this convention – she’s been a delegate at least six times. The Olmsted County resident who lives halfway between Byron and Rochester highlighted numerous issues that are important to her, including election integrity and abortion.

“There's just a lot of issues that need to change. We got to have some common sense back into politics. We have to be able to have the freedom to make a working wage, have the freedom to go and vote, and have our vote count, have the freedom to be able to drive our car back and forth to and from work, and the freedom to have our children not be indoctrinated in school.”

Seifert also hopes to “have a lot of young people wake up and get involved and really come back and fight for America.”

Mike Fish, Rochester

In his second go-around as a delegate, Mike Fish echoed similar issues to Seifert and other GOP delegates, like election integrity, abortion, mental health and inflation.

Sitting a row in front of Seifert, Fish said, “I’m just going to copy exactly what she said. She just nailed it.”

Shannon Cox, Freeborn County

Shannon Cox was excited about the great candidates up for endorsement at the convention. He said there are several important issues, including taxes, an integral part of any conservative platform for decades.

“Inflation is out of control. Hopefully, we could try to do some stuff about that. Fuel prices are a big thing,” he said. “I would like to figure out what we're going to do about our law system. Right now, Minnesota is headed the wrong way. It seems like the criminals are able to get away with almost anything and hopefully we can bring back justice.”

Abby Sharpe joined the Post Bulletin in February 2022 after graduating from Arizona State University with a sports journalism degree. While at ASU, she created short- and long-form stories for audio and digital. Readers can reach Abby at 507-285-7723 or asharpe@postbulletin.com.
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