May 12, 2022 - Politics

Trail mix: Endorsement battles and election integrity directors

Illustration of trail mix with elephant and donkey pretzels
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Trail Mix is Axios Twin Cities reporter Torey Van Oot's occasional column reporting on Minnesota's midterm campaigns.

Statewide races are in the spotlight this weekend, as Republicans flock to Rochester to pick their preferred candidates.

  • But the longest-serving member of Minnesota's congressional delegation is facing an endorsement challenge this weekend.

What's happening: U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and Amane Badhasso will go head to head for the DFL's backing in the St. Paul-based 4th Congressional District.

Between the lines: Badhasso, a community organizer and Ethiopian refugee, has raised serious cash and gained some national headlines for her bid against McCollum, who chairs a powerful House committee on defense spending.

Yes, but: McCollum has the backing of some of the state's most prominent Democrats, including Gov. Tim Walz, Mayor Melvin Carter and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

GOP hires "election integrity" role

The Republican National Committee is helping the state GOP hire an "election integrity director."

The big picture: Concerns about the election laws and administration, driven in part by false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, continue to be a motivating issue for some GOP voters.

Zoom in: GOP chair David Hann, who has previously said there's no question President Biden won in 2020, told Axios that the new hire's work will include recruiting Republicans to serve as election judges and on ballot boards.

What they're saying: "We think there are problems and we need to make sure that those [election] laws need to be adhered to," Hann said. "And, frankly, they need to be changed in some cases."

Bakk wades into GOP primary

Former Democratic Senate Leader Tom Bakk is throwing his support behind Republican attorney general candidate Tad Jude.

The backdrop: Bakk, a longtime Capitol power broker from the Iron Range, left the DFL to caucus with Republicans as an independent after the 2020 election.

  • Jude is one of several attorney general candidates jockeying for the GOP endorsement in Rochester this weekend.

What he's saying: In a statement, Bakk said Jude "is extremely qualified, and will know how to tackle rising crime across the state."

What to watch: Republican Sen. Paul Gazelka has said Bakk would campaign for him as governor. It's unclear if Bakk would do the same for other Republicans running against Walz as well.

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