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Minnesota GOP lawmakers hold back from endorsing Trump’s latest run for president

State Republicans are non-committal on the former president’s candidacy while Democrats defiantly recall the turmoil of the Trump presidency and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Robstown, Texas.
REUTERS/Go Nakamura

WASHINGTON – Supporters may be cheering former President Donald Trump’s decision to run for the White House again, but many congressional Republicans, including those from Minnesota, are much less supportive of the move.

Brad Finstad
Rep. Brad Finstad
“I am not going to get into the business of who should or should not be the nominee,” said Rep. Brad Finstad, R-1st.

Finstad also noted that other GOP candidates may also toss their hats into the ring.

Rep. Pete Stauber, R-8th, also said it is premature to decide on an endorsement.

“It’s all hypothetical right now,” he said.

While Stauber declined to embrace the first Republican who has announced a run for the 2024 presidential election, he did endorse Trump’s policies.

Rep. Pete Stauber
Rep. Pete Stauber
“If you look at those policies, they were very beneficial to the American people,” Stauber said.

There is no mystery about where Minnesota’s Democratic lawmakers stand.

“Donald Trump running for President again?” tweeted Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “I was the one walking over broken glass at 4 a.m. after the Jan. 6th insurrection with pages carrying the mahogany boxes of electoral ballots. Democracy prevailed that day. We will not go backwards and descend into his chaos again.”

Klobuchar’s comments harken back to Jan. 6, 2021 following the Trump inspired insurrection at the Capitol following his failed re-election bid.

Minnesota would not be the most fertile ground for Trump to garner support in his new bid for the presidency. In the 2016 state GOP caucus, Trump placed third, behind Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. Trump garnered just 21% of the vote.

In the general election that year, Hillary Clinton narrowly beat Trump and President Biden won the state by a larger margin in 2020.

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Trump announced his latest candidacy for the White House at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, on Tuesday night, even as votes were being counted in a midterm election where Trump-endorsed candidates lost up and down the ballot, denying the GOP a chance of seizing control of the Senate and handing Republicans the slimmest of majorities in the House.

“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” the former president said.

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Republican officeholders were conspicuously absent from Trump’s announcement.

“I think that we’re seeing a significant degree of skepticism,” said Jacob Rubashkin of Inside Elections. “(Lawmakers) are withholding judgment for the moment.”

Congressional Republicans were slow to embrace Trump when he first ran for president in 2016, but by the time Trump ran for re-election in 2020, nearly all of the GOP was behind him.

This time, Trump starts out with both some very ardent supporters in Congress, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who was re-elected House GOP conference chair on Tuesday, as well as some Republicans who would rather Trump leave the political scene.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-6th, also won a leadership post in those House Republican elections; that of majority whip. His office did not respond to a request for comments on Trump’s decision to run for president again,

But last year Emmer, who as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee helped recruit GOP candidates, seemed frustrated by the election-denying candidates Trump promoted, many of whom suffered defeats. When asked last year if the former president’s continued focus on the 2020 elections would be a distraction in the midterms, Emmer said “he’s a private citizen and he’s entitled to his own opinion.”

Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-7th, also failed to respond to requests for comment. But Fischbach declined to vote to certify the 2020 elections and promoted her Trump endorsement during her campaign for re-election.

Rubashkin said there’s good reason for Republican lawmakers to prevaricate.

“They want to avoid expressing any absolute or definite expressions of support as long as they can,” Rubashkin said.

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Some Republicans, however, did say they opposed Trump’s candidacy.

“We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood,” tweeted Mike Pompeo, Trump’s former secretary of state and a former Republican member of Congress.

Meanwhile, some GOP officials and big-money donors are now signaling they’re eager to support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who won re-election last week by a wide margin and has been credited for big GOP wins in Florida in the midterm.

Asked by a reporter for Politico whether she would endorse Trump, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., replied, “I don’t think that’s the right question.”

“I think the question is ‘who is the current leader of the Republican Party?’  Oh, I know who it is – Ron DeSantis,” Lummis said.

Rubashkin, however, said it matters little where member of Congress stand on Trump’s presidency.

“It doesn’t say very much about where the average Republican primary voter will be,” Rubashkin said.