Oct 2, 2021 - Politics

Minnesota Republicans elect new chair following leadership shake up

David Hann Photo: Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota Republican Party delegates elected former state Sen. David Hann as the party's new chair on Saturday, capping a tumultuous two months of controversy for the state GOP and its leaders.

Why it matters: A series of internal and external crises since late summer have created a distraction and a PR problem for the state party as leaders and gubernatorial candidates gear up for the 2022 midterm election.

  • Yes, but: With little cash in the bank and a weakened infrastructure, candidates and independent political committees will likely have a bigger influence next year.

How we got here: The party's former leader, Jennifer Carnahan, resigned in late August amid questions about her relationship with GOP donor Anton Lazzaro, who was arrested on federal sex trafficking charges earlier that month.

  • Carnahan's decision to step down also followed mounting complaints about her alleged personal and professional misconduct.
  • The ousted leader, who is married to U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, has denied wrongdoing. She says she was unfairly pushed out by her political detractors.

Bio in brief: Hann, a former Senate minority leader, represented a suburban Twin Cities district for 14 years. He was narrowly defeated by a Democrat in 2016.

  • In announcing his candidacy for chair, he pledged to "restore the integrity and credibility of our party, not only among our members, but in the eyes of the citizens of Minnesota."

What's next: The MNGOP executive board previously approved an audit of the party's finances and an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations that surfaced at the end of Carnahan's tenure.

  • A review of the HR policies is also expected to occur.

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