Minnesota Republicans aren’t ready to throw in the towel in the race for president, but GOP state legislators are preparing to fold.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell might need a good night’s sleep.
In recent days the ardent Trump supporter and potential candidate for governor of Minnesota tweeted, “Wow! Donald Trump won in a landslide!” And he told the crowd at the “Million Maga March” in Washington: “We have to win, because this is a way of life.”
Days after the election he’d thrown a wet blanket on Joe Biden’s win in Minnesota, where the current president-elect amassed a more than 232,000 margin of victory, and he challenged the similarly large margin of victory of Sen. Tina Smith (D).
“I don’t know who would even vote for Tina Smith or Biden,” Lindell said. “People I talked to, everyone I know was voting the other way. I don’t know where this vote came from, I guess it’s this crazy liberal progressive stuff that starts downtown with the colleges.”
Of course Lindell, who chaired Trump’s Minnesota campaign, isn’t just trying to sell the idea of election fraud these days — he’s also pitching a potentially dangerous “cure” for the coronavirus.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who tested positive for COVID-19, revealed he’s taking oleander extract on Lindell’s recommendation. “Anybody who has ever gotten COVID and taken it, they are fine in five hours, and the next day are running around playing floor hockey in the hallway,” Lindell told the Washington Post.
Talk about running around: Lindell is now tweeting that he’s on board for a two-week “March for Trump” bus tour that starts right after Thanksgiving and will be coming to a city near you!
When it comes to standing by Trump, Lindell is far from alone among Minnesota Republicans, many of whom question the outcome of the election.
Michelle Fischbach, congresswoman-elect from Minnesota’s 7th District, also claimed a Trump victory.
“I pray that it will be handled correctly and that President Donald Trump will win, because I believe he did win,” Fischbach said. “When they didn’t win the votes of the American people, they’re just finding votes at this point.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan told party operatives that she was contacted by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who asked her and other GOP leaders around the country to recruit elected Republicans to help support Trump’s claims of election fraud.
“I’m going to be making calls to all of our leaders asking them to help us be a voice,” Carnahan said during the November 5 call with local Minnesota GOP party officials and activists.
But Republicans in the state senate are hedging their bets about who is going to be the next president. They’re playing some political chess to maintain their one-seat majority in the state Senate, a move prompted by speculation that Democratic US Sen. Amy Klobuchar might be in line for a cabinet position in the Biden administration.
It’s a complicated scenario, but should Klobuchar be offered and if she should accept a position in the administration, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz would be required to appoint someone to fill out the remainder of Klobuchar’s term. Among the names being circulated for the position is Democratic Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.
If Lt. Gov. Flanagan is appointed to the US Senate, state law in Minnesota says the position of lieutenant governor must automatically be filled by the president of the state Senate. That position was occupied until this week by Republican state Sen. Jeremy Miller.
To block this action and avoid causing the GOP to lose its majority, Republicans shifted Democratic state Sen. David Tomassoni into the president’s job for the remainder of the session. With Tomassoni as Senate president, the lieutenant governor’s job would go to him, thereby vacating a Democratic seat instead of a Republican one.
State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and his caucus are more confident that they could win a special election in Tomassoni’s increasingly Republican Iron Range district, compared with Miller’s southeastern Minnesota swing district.
The GOP is trying to avoid a replay of 2017 where then-Gov. Mark Dayton tapped then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill the remainder of Sen. Al Franken’s term after he resigned due to sexual harassment claims.
This led to the appointment of then-state Senate President Republican Michelle Fischbach as lieutenant governor and the elimination of the GOP’s one-seat advantage in the upper chamber.
Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Fibonacci Blue / Flickr (CC BY 2.0).