Gov. Walz’s emergency order clearly altered the nature of the Senate District 49 convention this year. The entire event was conducted online and on the telephone, facilitated by staffers from the MN GOP state party. Volunteers did not need to set up registration desks and designate precinct seating in the assembly hall at Bethany Church. At the same time, the opportunity to meet and talk with each other after a long winter was not possible, either.
The convention’s virtual doors opened on Saturday, April 18, at 2:30 pm. The convention officially convened shortly after 3 pm. By getting some of the business completed through prior email voting and by tightly controlling the time-limits for individual speeches, the convention was completed in about 90 minutes. Over 140 delegates and alternates pre-registered, and close to 130 participated, in one of the better-attended senate district conventions in the state this year. Almost all of the alternates participating were “seated” and allowed to vote.
Jason Lewis and Rob Barrett Jr. (candidates for US Senate), Kendall Qualls (candidate for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District), and Dalia al-Aqidi (candidate for Congress in the 5th Congressional District) spoke to the delegates and alternates for a couple of minutes at various points in the agenda. All of them will be seeking the Republican endorsement in subsequent conventions.
The convention voted to approve the slate of SD49 delegates and 1st alternates to the Congressional District 3 convention, the Congressional District 5 convention, and to the State convention. As approved by the Delegate Nominating Committee, the ranking of 1st alternates was assigned by randomly pulling numbers. The ranking will be used at the congressional district conventions and at the state convention for seating alternates if elected SD49 delegates are absent.
Given the limited time and visual display options available in the teleconference format of the convention, platform resolutions were not debated. The Resolution Committee reported that they had eliminated duplicate resolutions and brought forward all the rest for a single up-or-down vote. The delegates and seated alternates voted to forward all twenty-three unique resolutions forward to the Congressional District 3 and Congressional District 5 conventions.
Louis Tiggas, the chair of the convention, stated that the Candidate Search Committee has been interviewing candidates who may run for MN House seat 49-A or 49-B or for the MN Senate district 49 seat. He said that the committee has not yet completed its work and would not bring forward any endorsement recommendations at the time of the convention. However, an endorsing convention may still reconvene before the June filing period closes.
In response to a question about the endorsement of Hennepin County Commissioner candidates, Lynn Swon replied that a separate convention or conventions will be called for that purpose. Republicans will only hold endorsing conventions in the Hennepin County districts holding elections, and only in those districts where a candidate or candidates are seeking the Republican Party endorsement. Only the delegates and alternates in precincts that are in the applicable districts are eligible to participate. Currently, it would be the delegates and alternates elected during the precinct caucuses that would get the call. However, an amendment to the MN GOP Constitution/Bylaws may be proposed at the state party meetings in May that would change that to congressional district delegates and alternates living in those precincts.