Downey backs MacDonald (sort of)

The chair of the Minnesota Republican Party says the party continues to back its embattled candidate for Minnesota Supreme Court but said he won't allow her to campaign at the party's Minnesota State Fair booth.

"Michelle MacDonald is our endorsed candidate.  Period," Keith Downey wrote in a letter to the party's delegates and leaders.

But Downey said in his letter (below) that other problems plaguing MacDonald prompted party leaders and others to distance themselves from her, including the decision to block her appearance at the party's Fair booth. Downey said her 2013 arrest on suspicion of drunken driving and other legal issues have been a problem. He said he and the party’s executive committee stand by their decision to keep MacDonald away from the booth.

“Our job is to elect Republicans. It was the State Executive Committee’s decision that for the good of ALL Republicans’ chances, including her own, not having her appear at the booth was preferable," Downey wrote.

Downey also said MacDonald's campaign raised only $120, leading the executive committee to be “concerned that she and her campaign team may use the endorsement for their personal pursuits, which could harm other Republicans running for office.”

Downey has said little since he and other party leaders decided on Wednesday to ban MacDonald from the State Fair booth.

On Thursday party leaders and security guards were unsuccessful in their attempts to keep MacDonald away from the booth. Downey said MacDonald’s attempt to gain access to the booth and the media attention around it “created an unnecessary distraction from a fun and well-planned State Fair booth and our other statewide candidates on the first day of the fair.”

MacDonald’s actions have also prompted other Republican candidates to take a stand on her campaign. Jeff Johnson, the party’s nominee for governor, said he continues to back MacDonald but said her actions were a “distraction.” Scott Newman, the party’s candidate for Attorney General, said he’s backing Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug over MacDonald. He said MacDonald does not have the temperament to serve.

U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden told the Star Tribune that he will not vote for MacDonald or Lillehaug in November.

Politics.MN is reporting that Downey sent out the e-mail after an attorney connected to the party requested her to withdrawal from the race.

Here's Downey's letter:

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