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Rebellion in the ranks over GOP-endorsed legislative candidate Eric Lucero

In Wright County, where endorsements are next to godliness, some are openly defying the GOP’s instruction to back the annointed candidate.

Eric Lucero
Eric Lucero

There is open defiance of the state Republican Party’s urging that all GOP activists support endorsed candidates, and it’s coming from the most unlikely setting —Wright County, heart of the Sixth Congressional District where endorsements are next to godliness.

The Wright County Republican Party has taken the unusual step of denying support to Eric Lucero, the Dayton City Council member who won the Minnesota House District 30B endorsement over incumbent Rep. David FitzSimmons in a contest that hearkened back to the 1980s culture wars of Republican politics.

“The board is not very fond of Mr. Lucero,” said Eric Boone, event coordinator and board member of the Wright County GOP. “It stems from how he attacked David FitzSimmons.”

The attack came in the form of a pamphlet, distributed by the Minnesota Family Council, at the county’s endorsing convention in March, decrying FitzSimmons’ acceptance of campaign contributions from groups supporting him for his vote in favor of same sex marriage in the 2013 legislative session.

‘An ugly attack’

“It was an ugly attack,” said one delegate who preferred not to be named. “They talked about Fitz getting paid off with ‘gay money.’’’

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Party leaders are equally upset with Lucero’s earlier campaign statements about the role of women. A section of his website (which has been removed) cited government “assault against the family unit,” including “gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle” and “blending the gender distinctions such as women in combat and homosexuals openly serving in the military.”

“The party really can’t afford that kind of embarrassment,” Boone said.

When Lucero approached the Wright County GOP board last week, he asked for some of that “gay money,” in the form of financial support for his campaign. He was turned down.

“It would be hypocritical of Lucero to take this,” said Boone, who said that FitzSimmons had given his contributions to the Wright County GOP and other county groups. “He would be asking for the money he criticized.”

Leading the charge

Lucero, who did not return a call for an interview, has a primary opponent. Kevin Kasel is a St. Michael City Council member and a FitzSimmons supporter who was approached after the endorsing convention. He or Lucero would face DFLer Sharon Shimek in November.

“Challenging an endorsed candidate is tough, but I heard from enough activists … that the endorsing convention was extremely divisive,” said Kasel. “I was asked to lead the charge.”

A pamphlet distributed by the Minnesota Family Council
A pamphlet distributed by the Minnesota Family Council decrying FitzSimmons’ acceptance of campaign contributions from groups supporting him for his vote in favor of same sex marriage in the 2013 legislative session.