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After redistricting, county GOP organizes for elections

Delegates to the Congressional District 7 and 8 conventions were chosen Saturday, March 5 at the Hubbard County Republican convention.

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Chaired by David De La Hunt, at left, the Hubbard County Republican convention chose congressional district convention delegates March 5, 2022 at Abide Vineyard Church east of Park Rapids.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Approximately 44 delegates and three alternates came together Saturday at Abide Vineyard Church in Park Rapids for the Hubbard County GOP’s basic political operating unit convention.

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The new boundary between Congressional Districts 7 and 8 is complicated, particularly where it runs across Akeley Township in Hubbard County. An interactive map is available for residents who want to verify which district they live in. <br/>Visit gis.lcc.mn.gov/redist2020/Congressional/C2022/interactive/map.html or pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/Default.aspx.
Minnesota Secretary of State's Office

Delegates heard from Republican candidates for Congress and statewide offices up for election this year. They also chose seven delegates and 12 alternates for the GOP’s Congressional District 7 convention, April 29-30 in Willmar, and five delegates and one alternate for the Congressional District 8 convention, April 9 in Duluth.

Hubbard County BPOU chair David De La Hunt discussed the redistricting recently announced by a panel of state judges. “Everything is split up,” he said. “We’ve got all sorts of things that changed for Hubbard County.”

Previously, all of Hubbard County was within Congressional Dist. 8. Starting with this year’s election, the townships of Todd, Straight River, Henrietta, Hubbard, Mantrap, Nevis, Crow Wing, White Oak, Badoura and part of Akeley Township will vote in Congressional Dist. 7, currently held by Rep. Michelle Fischbach.

De La Hunt shared a map showing the new congressional district boundary, and advised residents to visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website to confirm what district they live in.

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Asked whether the redistricting will benefit or harm conservatives, De La Hunt said, “I’ve heard both. … It’s the way it is, when the population changes and shifts like that. It’s a good thing to do, to make sure people get represented properly.”

By and large, he said, Republican leaders think the courts did a good job with the redistricting. “They tried to balance the population as best they can to the state norms for ethnicity,” he said, “so everybody feels they’re equally represented.”

Congressional candidates

“America has lost her way,” said Congressional Dist. 8 Rep. Pete Stauber in a pre-recorded video. Mentioning inflation, weakness at the borders, pressure to defund police, and the impact of mask and vaccine mandates on schools and businesses, he called on Republicans to take back the country.

Stauber sketched out party priorities, such as increasing employment, supporting law enforcement and service members, safeguarding gun rights, protecting the unborn, election integrity and parents’ rights in their children’s education.

Scott Fischbach spoke on behalf of his wife, CD 7 Rep. Michelle Fischbach.

“We’re very excited to have you as part of the 7th District,” he said, noting that “Michelle has taken off like a rocket in Congress,” with a seat on the agriculture, judiciary and rules committees. Also, he said, she has been working for broadband adoption, trying to curb government spending and co-chairing the Pro-Life Caucus.

Delegates also heard by phone from CD 7 congressional candidate Craig Bishop.

Legislative candidates

Nancy Utke read a written comment from her husband, State Sen. Paul Utke, who will be running for Senate Dist. 5. Utke said Senate Republicans’ priorities for the current legislative session include public safety, tax relief, workforce issues, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, mental health issues and election integrity.

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Bret Bussman of Browerville said he is challenging Utke for Senate Seat 5 because someone needs to hold career politicians’ feet to the fire. Calling himself a Christian constitutional conservative, Bussman stressed parents’ rights in education and urged them to pay more attention to what school boards spend on.

Delegates also heard from Sean Paulus, campaign manager for his father, Mike Paulus. The executive director of the Cass County Economic Development Corporation is running for State House Dist. 5A with Utke’s endorsement.

Sean described his father as highly dedicated to his community, working hard during the COVID-19 shutdown to help local businesses stay afloat. He said Paulus recognizes a need to reform the state’s tax code and address the inefficiencies of the Department of Human Services.

Mike Paulus later appeared in person, promising to build a strong economy and fight for individual freedom.

Lakeshore Mayor Krista Knudson, also running for House Seat 5A, said she will push to strengthen businesses by fighting unconstitutional mandates, forced closures and tax increases.

She vowed to push for voter ID, return surplus funds to taxpayers, cut the tax on social security benefits and protect Second Amendment rights and the unborn.

Delegates also heard from Rep. Steve Green, who is running for State Senate Seat 2.

Running for governor

A supporter of Mike Murphy’s campaign for governor said he considers election integrity the most important issue. He described Murphy as “an America First candidate, a Minnesota First candidate, right up and down the issues.”

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Christa Munson promoted State Sen. Scott Jensen for governor because he stood up for parents’ right to opt out of vaccination and mask-wearing for their children. “He wants us to have those individual rights and medical freedom,” she said.

Appearing by video, governor candidate Paul Gazelka credited Republicans with stopping the DFL party’s agenda in the State Senate, including a 20-cent gas tax, a tax hike and attempts to weaken gun rights and defund the police. He said people are ready to throw out Gov. Tim Walz after his executive orders shut down the state.

A speaker supporting Michelle Benson for governor said she understands rural Minnesota issues and described her as one of the most conservative members of the State Senate.

A representative of Kendall Qualls’ gubernatorial campaign described him as an outsider. “He is not from the St. Paul swamp,” she said. “He is not an establishment politician. He is different, and that’s why Minnesota needs Kendall.”

Other statewide offices

Kelly Jahner-Byrne, a candidate for secretary of state, said via phone that DFL incumbent Steve Simon’s office “is not making it user friendly for elections or for business” and vowed to deny him a third term.

She called for provisional ballots, voter ID and a forensic audit of the state’s voting machines. “We’re gonna make crime illegal again,” said Tad Jude of Maple Grove, a candidate for state attorney general (AG). He described incumbent Keith Ellison’s office as “hyper-partisan” and staffed with attorneys “planted in there by the Bloomberg Foundation out of New York.”

Another AG candidate, Jim Schultz stressed the state’s public safety issues. “We’ve gotta deal with the crime, deal with the violence,” he said. “Number two, we’ve gotta defend the constitutional rights of Minnesotans.”

Schultz said Ellison has made the state less free, fair and safe in the past three years, and vowed to prosecute election fraud and stop Simon from rewriting election law without the legislature.

MORE RELATED COVERAGE:
After swift early action on abortion and climate legislation, Democrats are starting work on another of their priorities: creating new laws aimed at curbing gun violence.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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