Politics and Government

Biden vs. Trump rematch doesn’t excite some Minnesotans

A person leans down by a park grill and smiles
Katie Kipka, pictured in Big Lake, Minn., on Monday, says she was a big fan of President Obama and voted for Joe Biden in the last presidential election but wishes Biden were not leading the Democratic ticket again.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Former President Donald Trump’s legal problems could be cutting into some of his political support.

While national polls show Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination next year, some who have backed him in the past are hoping someone else will end up as the Republican candidate. 

You can hear some of that ebbing support even in Minnesota’s Sherburne County, a Republican stronghold where Trump won big over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.

“Since everything, I’m kind of shying away from being a strong supporter as I used to,” said Kevin Lillo, 44, referring to the three criminal indictments Trump faces. 

Person smiles outside
Some Republicans lack excitement about another Trump run, among them 44-year-old Kevin Lillo, pictured in Big Lake, Minn., on Monday.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

But the discontent with the presidential frontrunners isn’t just on the Republican side. 

As she prepared for a picnic at Lakeside Park in Big Lake, Katie Kipka said she was worried about the direction of the country.

“We are one nation under God,” said Kipka, 40. “And for being indivisible, we are awfully divided.”

Kipka said social issues are important to her, including abortion rights and protections surrounding sexual orientation. She was a big fan of President Barack Obama and voted for Biden in the last presidential election, but she wishes Biden were not leading the Democratic ticket again.

“I feel like Joe Biden is well intentioned,” Kipka said, “But I also feel like he makes a lot of errors and he has a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth. He has a tendency to offend other world leaders and a lot of that, I think, is very attributable to his age and his health.”

In another part of the park, Gloria Simonson is also someone who has supported Trump but who’s hoping another candidate will rise up for Republicans.

“I think there might be somebody better,” Simonson said. “I like DeSantis and I just would be excited to see what the others offer.” 

Republican Congressman Tom Emmer represents central Minnesota’s 6th District, including Sherburne County. Emmer is also a part of the GOP House leadership team under Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

At a town hall meeting at the Big Lake Great River Regional Library this week, Emmer for the most part deflected questions about Trump. 

After the meeting, Emmer dismissed a question from MPR News about whether Trump was the right person to lead the GOP ticket next year.

“This is an official town hall where we talk about official business,” Emmer said. “I think I made that point earlier that we don’t do the campaign stuff here.”  

Despite that claim, during the meeting Emmer talked about the importance of winning elections and he framed the charges against Trump as a double standard that’s unfairly targeting the former president.

Person speaks to a room of people
Big Lake Republican Congressman Tom Emmer holds a town hall meeting in Big Lake, Minn., on Monday.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

While looming large, the 2024 presidential election is a long way off. The status quo with Trump and Biden as favorites for the top of the GOP and Democratic tickets could still change.  

Back by the lake, folks who typically support one side or the other in politics said even if they don’t like the choice put before them next year, they’ll likely cast their vote for the nominee of the party they typically support.

“We’re stuck in a position like the last election where it’s, which one of you do I dislike less?” Kipka said. 

And Gloria Simonson, who’s voted for Trump but is hoping someone else will emerge on the GOP side, suggested it’s unlikely she would end up backing a Democrat. 

“We support people that align with our values, our faith values, according to what God’s word says,” Simonson said. 

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