Daudt to chair Walker’s Minnesota campaign

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has tapped House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, to serve as the Minnesota state chairman for Walker's presidential campaign in Minnesota.

Walker said Minnesota will play an important role in choosing the eventual Republican nominee.

“I’m proud to welcome Speaker Daudt to our team,” Walker wrote in a press release. “He is a fellow conservative who is fighting the good fight for Wisconsin’s neighbor to the west.”

Daudt’s endorsement of Walker doesn’t come as a surprise, since the two appeared side-by-side before the press when Walker was in Minnesota in April.

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But his endorsement this early in the cycle gives Walker a boost among Republicans who are still undecided in Minnesota. Daudt is emerging as the face of the Minnesota Republican Party, which has struggled to find a leader for after former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Norm Coleman left office.

Walker is seen as a divisive figure in the Upper Midwest. His policies on collective bargaining for public employees have been criticized by unions across Minnesota. But Daudt praised those efforts as standing up against “entrenched special interests.”

“In Minnesota, we’ve seen how our neighbor, Wisconsin, has been able to turn around under the strong leadership of Gov. Walker,” Daudt said.

Daudt’s decision to back Walker is another sign that Minnesota is starting to garner attention from the presidential field. Last week, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who lost a bid for governor in 2014, announced that he’ll serve as the Minnesota chair of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.