Updated 1:15 p.m.
Republicans in Minnesota’s congressional delegation coalesced Wednesday behind former President Donald Trump in his bid to win back the White House.
A newly released statement included endorsements from Reps. Tom Emmer, Brad Finstad, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber.
The Emmer nod, which also came in a separate statement, is notable because Trump sharply criticized Emmer and helped derail the congressman’s run for House speaker in October.
Emmer is the House majority whip, the third-highest position in the chamber. He said in his statement in support of Trump: “It's time for Republicans to unite behind our party's clear frontrunner.”
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
The first votes of the 2024 nominating season come Jan. 15 in the Iowa caucus, where polls show Trump with a commanding lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
Minnesota’s presidential primary falls on March 5, part of Super Tuesday.
Emmer, who represents the 6th District in central Minnesota, was an early backer of Trump in 2016 and pushed for the incumbent’s reelection in 2020. But he didn’t join others in his party in trying to block certification of Democratic President Joe Biden’s win.
Trump is facing four criminal indictments and dozens of criminal charges, some relating to his alleged role in trying to change the outcome of the 2020 election.
Emmer drew Trump’s scorn for voting to certify the 2020 Electoral College results, along with Stauber among Republicans in the Minnesota delegation. When Emmer was nominated by Republicans in October to climb the leadership ranks to fill a speaker vacancy, he quickly withdrew after Trump and others lined up against him.
The leader of the Minnesota DFL, Ken Martin, responded to the GOP endorsements of Trump noting that Minnesota voters have repeatedly rejected Trump.
“Minnesota Republicans are now openly admitting what has been obvious for a while — they have become the party of, by, and for Donald Trump,” Martin said, adding that “Republicans up and down the ballot in November will have to answer for why they are abandoning Minnesota values and kissing Donald Trump’s ring.”
On social media, Trump said Emmer was “totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters” and a “Globalist RINO.” RINO stands for Republican in name only.
Trump lost Minnesota in both of his prior presidential campaigns, the last by a wider margin than his narrow defeat in the state in 2016. He told a Duluth rally late in the 2020 campaign that he wouldn’t return to Minnesota if he didn’t win here.
But Trump told Breitbart News Network this week that he sees the chance to expand the map in places like Minnesota if he’s the Republican nominee in the general election.
No Republican presidential candidate has won in Minnesota since 1972 — the longest party drought in the country.