ST. PAUL -- As the Twin Cities braced for a potential fifth night of rioting, -- which officials pin on possible outside agitators -- the Minnesota Republican Party during its virtual convention took aim at Democrats in power for what they call a "failure of leadership" in the state.
In order to avoid a large gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic, the MN GOP held its convention virtually on Saturday, May 30, a rescheduled date since the first was postponed due to technological issues.
After several days of protests in the Twin Cities -- some violent, some peaceful -- responding to the death of George Floyd, MN GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan opened Saturday's convention calling for the resignations of Democrats Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
"(Walz and Frey) have failed Minnesota," she said. "(They) failed our business owners, both small and large. They failed our residents and families. They failed our police. They failed our National Guard. They failed our minority and non-minority communities. They failed us all. And most importantly, they failed George Floyd."
Carnahan, followed by Minnesota's Republican Washington delegation and state Republican leaders, said the happenings in the Twin Cities demonstrate a need to elect more Republicans in November.
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-District 6, said Minneapolis's three-decade-long blue voting record "clearly is coming to a head right now."
"You want to know whether leadership matters? Just look at what’s happening to this state today," he said. "There is a reason why Republicans offer the only hope going forward."
As for official party business of the day, members voted to endorse former-congressman Jason Lewis for November's U.S. Senate election against Democrat U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. Out of 1,066 voters online for Saturday's convention, nearly 73% voted for Lewis. Runners-up were Rob Barrett, Jr. and Forest Hyatt.
Lewis urged convention goers to unite on party platforms, noting that President Donald Trump only lost Minnesota in 2016 by about 44,000 votes.
"This is going to be razor thin no matter what. Every vote counts," Lewis said. "This state is up for grabs and it is one we must flip if we are going to keep control of the Senate and help President Trump."
Noticing 2016's thin margins, state and national Republican organizers have been eyeing Minnesota as a flip opportunity for months for both Trump and congressional seats. At his last Minnesota rally in October, Trump vowed to snap Minnesota's longest-in-the-country streak of voting for Democratic presidential candidates come November.