Does Donald Trump really think Minnesota is in play?

REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Hiring Mike Lukach as state campaign director was among a string of events that seemed to indicate that Minnesota is on Donald Trump's radar.

Around the same time Donald Trump hired a state campaign director for Minnesota, a Trump sign sprouted up in the neighborhood of my cabin in northern Minnesota. 

The timing of the sign’s appearance and the hiring were coincidental. What’s not coincidental is that the state campaign director, Mike Lukach, is the former campaign director for 8th Congressional District candidate Stewart Mills — experience that could help Trump mine (sorry) northern Minnesota for votes, thanks to Trump’s proposals on trade and immigration.   

Lukach, reached by phone, declined to give an interview other than saying he started on the job two weeks ago. But David FitzSimmons, chief of staff for Rep. Tom Emmer, confirmed that he met with Lukach last week. “I think he’s a definitely a professional guy, so he will know how to do the basics,” FitzSimmons said. “We talked about how to access not just Republicans but Democrats and independents who are not locked in.”

Lukach’s hiring was among a string of events that seemed to indicate that Minnesota is on the GOP presidential candidate’s radar, even if the state represents an unlikely pickup in November. Days after Trump hired Lukach, he also singled out Minnesota in a speech in Maine, calling Minneapolis a breeding ground for terrorists because of its Somali population. That came after an announcement that Trump will have a fundraiser in Minneapolis on Aug. 19, which was followed by a report in the The National Journal that the Trump campaign has requested ad rates for TV time in Minnesota (along with 16 other states).

One of the hosts of the fundraising event is Hubbard Broadcasting CEO Stanley Hubbard, who is not happy with Trump’s recent behavior — especially his comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan — and recently wrote the nominee to express his frustration.

Still, he’s standing by his commitment to host the Minneapolis fundraiser. “I forgot I said I’d do one of these and I was just reminded,” said Hubbard, one of 10 hosts of the Minneapolis event. Hubbard gasped at the $100,000 price tag for the top-tier event, but the minimum asking price of $1,000 “sounds reasonable,” he said.

The Minneapolis event will be the second fundraiser that week. On Aug. 16, Trump will be in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The fundraisers are independent of each other with a separate roster of hosts, although both events are coordinated with the Republican National Committee and potential area donors have received invitations to both. 

At neither event is there any indication that Trump intends to make a public appearance, though that could change given the recent history of the Trump campaign, which is nothing if not unpredictable. 

FitzSimmons hopes so. Trump’s positions could be very appealing to some swing voters in Minnesota, Fitzsimmons said, “but it’s hard to do stuff when you don’t have the person.”

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/08/2016 - 10:00 am.

    Trumpalooza for trumpalosers

    No, he does not believe Minnesota is in play. But the former pro-wrestling promoter can’t help but entertain us with some tag-team rasslin’ with the Somali terrorists he’s coming to identify. “In this corner, weighing almost 400 pounds — Tom Emmer and Stewart Mills III! And in this corner — America’s favorite scapegoats, two not-regular-American-looking guys we picked up off the street, weighing almost 300 pounds not counting their hidden explosives!”

    Yeah Stan, that’s what you forgot. A thousand bucks? You got it.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/08/2016 - 11:06 am.


    I don’t think Donald thinks in the ordinary way that you or I do. As a negotiator, he postures instead. As always, if a Democrat is in serious danger of losing Minnesota, the election has been thoroughly and completely lost elsewhere.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/08/2016 - 03:27 pm.

      Difficult to Tell

      We know he thinks strategically in business matters, certainly. We would expect him to use those faculties now.
      Trump did not plow through all those other candidates without a strategic plan, did he? Maybe he recognized many as cardboard candidates, in which case he needed only to blow hard. That worked. Is he more than a blowhard? Probably. I am conventional enough to believe Trump has a chest of more conventional tactics with his other baggage, perhaps for the late rounds. And, that’s the trouble with conventional thought. God forbid he might truly be what he certainly seems to be–just a very skilled cannoneer expert in firing grapeshot.

      I do know this: as a guy long ago trained well in the techniques of public speaking (and listening), I must severely discipline my own mind to listen through his seemingly schizoid presentations obviously lacking in formal training. To call Trump’s mind “tangential” is to skim only his surface. He has reduced his volume and has added some intensity range in recent presentations. That’s about all he has modified, however.

      Too weird for those who believe we are reasonably sane.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 08/09/2016 - 12:28 pm.


        I don’t know that Donald has been much of a factor in business since his Atlantic City empire collapsed. What I know about him lately is that it seems that someone comes to him with an offer to license his name, and he says yes. There doesn’t seem to be any over arching strategy involved, if there is a promise of a little cash flow, he goes along.

  3. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 08/08/2016 - 04:29 pm.

    “We shocked the world” once, didn’t we?

    Maybe Trump sees Minnesota as a place where an unconventional “outsider” candidate won a statewide office in the not-too-distant past? I can see why it might seem not totally far-fetched… Of course, Ventura is from Minneapolis, was independent not Republican, and had previously held elected office. He also had a rather clever ad campaign, not Trump’s incoherent gloom’n’doom’n’dogwhistles act. And then there’s the fact that most Minnesotan voters will remember that Ventura did not get much done and played badly with others while he was in office. So it strikes me as very unlikely that we’d flip for Trump.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 08/08/2016 - 08:59 pm.

    No way

    Trump came in third among Republicans – and since then he has gone off the deep end with his bizarre thinking. Here are alternatives – he is crazy or lying. He has encouraged espionage. He has shown he cannot tolerate any criticism. He has been slow but to have cheated thousands of people. He says he women, when he isn’t busy insulting them.

    And he comes to Minnesota he charges $1000 to $100000 to attend. So much for those hard working conservatives who like some of the things he says. He may saying he is looking out for you, but given the chance to make a few extra bucks, he says “you’re fired” to American workers and brings in foreign workers. You don’t have the money to be heard and given that Trump uses and abided people for fun, don’t expect that to change.

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 08/09/2016 - 08:25 am.

    I will be surprised if Trump wins states

    that are slightly right leaning much less lefty states like Minnesota. Trump has shot himself in the foot so many times in the past 2 weeks I am stunned he is still standing up. Unless there are emails that show Hillary has secretly been a mafia boss (so far showing she has lied, been careless, not followed protocol and played the voters for fools hasn’t changed the liberal voters opinion) for the past 40 years, I can’t see Trump beating her. Clinton may be the worse politician I have seen in the past half century but Trump finds a way to push away conservative voters by the thousands.

    His re-boot speech on the economy was a start on the proper trail but I am afraid he has been off-road so long finding the main highway will be impossible. His ideas on getting the economy going (Obama’s 8 years of Big Govt trickle down has grown the 1% faster/bigger than ever, put more minorities in poverty, cut middle class wages by 4K a year, Dodd/Frank has made things worse, Obamacare is imploding, put more folks on welfare than ever, slowest growth since 1949, lowest house ownership in 50 years and the cherry on top doubled our national debt) are right on but will fall on deaf ears. Hillary is still between being the change agent or being Obama’s third term and no one seems to care. Hell, I am not sure what she is planning on doing to help the nearly 70% of folks who feel the USA in on the wrong track besides grow Big Govt. It won’t matter because Trump keeps unloading his pistol in his own foot.

  6. Submitted by Jim Million on 08/09/2016 - 12:09 pm.

    “The Godmother”?

    Oh, Joe, can I ever again watch my favorite Pacino/Brando film without this transference…ever? Yikes!

  7. Submitted by Joe Lopez on 09/27/2016 - 05:51 am.

    Guess What, Minnesota is in play

    Not only is Minnesota in play, but there isn’t much that ISN’T in play.

    Believe it or not, Trump now has a very good chance of winning and don’t forget, he has the silent majority crowd that’s set to roar on November 8th.

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