MN GOP to continue backing judicial candidate

The Republican Party of Minnesota will continue to back Michelle MacDonald to run against Associate Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug in November.

MacDonald won the Republican endorsement last month, but party chair Keith Downey said he learned only later from a Star Tribune reporter that MacDonald had been arrested last year on suspicion of drunk driving and resisting arrest.

Party officials discussed MacDonald’s endorsement on Thursday night as a part of the regular executive board meeting. They issued a statement to delegates saying they are not in a position to look backwards or change a decision that was made under party rules.

The letter to delegates said they will work to improve the screening system moving forward.

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MacDonald maintains she is not guilty of drinking and driving.

Here’s the letter to delegates:

To all State Delegates and Alternates,

First, thank you for making our state convention a success and for all you are doing for our Party! We are stronger and more energized and united than we have been in a long time. And the momentum is growing with the launch of our Victory Centers and our new absentee ballot website

Because we have received inquiries from delegates and media outlets regarding the endorsement process surrounding the Supreme Court candidate at the Rochester convention, we wanted to update you all on the topic of your Republican Party judicial nominating process in case you hear about this during the campaign or in the media.

As you know, over the years our platform has taken a strong position in support of judges who respect and strictly construe our constitution. That principle led the party to establish a process for endorsing judicial candidates who our grassroots believe hold that ideal.

Because many judicial candidates don't actively seek partisan endorsements, the nominating process for them is a separate process as defined in our state party constitution. Unlike all other statewide candidates who come before the Nominations Committee and must meet a 2% delegate signature threshold before being eligible to come before the convention, judicial candidates are nominated by the Judicial Elections Committee and brought directly to the Convention for endorsement.

Also, other state candidates typically campaign for months to secure your support, but in this case, with only four days between declaring her candidacy and our state convention, there was little time for Michelle MacDonald to introduce herself and for you to understand her background and judicial philosophy.

Regardless of anyone's individual opinion on these issues, in a party which respects the rule of law and the constitution, we are not in a position to look backwards or change a decision which was made under the rules as they are.

However, delegates should have the same opportunity to evaluate candidates being nominated for judicial endorsement as is currently afforded for candidates seeking other statewide offices.

The State Party is constantly looking for ways to improve what we do and how we do it. We wanted to let you know that after the election we will work with the grassroots of the party to improve our system so that at a minimum the timeline of the judicial endorsement process is more in line with that of other offices.

The State Executive Committee,

Keith Downey, Chair

Chris Fields, Deputy Chair

Heather Todd, Secretary

Janet Beihoffer, National Committeewoman

Chris Tiedeman, National Committeeman

Dave Thul, CD1

Bill Jungbauer, CD2

Rick Weible and Chuck Roulette, CD3

Pat Anderson, CD4

Nancy Laroche, CD5

Andy Aplikowski, CD6

Scott Dutcher, CD7

Ted Lovdahl, CD8