Minnesotans boosting Nikki Haley's campaign say they don't worry about blowback

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Less than a month from Minnesota's presidential primary on March 5, Nikki Haley's campaign announced a list of 19 local Republican elected officials and party activists who support her campaign.

One of the campaign's volunteer co-chairs, state Sen. Julia Coleman of Waconia, thinks there are many Republicans who prefer Haley to former President Donald Trump but aren't willing to speak up publicly.

"But they're scared of what the base might say," she said.

Coleman said she has found less political risk in going against Trump than she thought there would be. She expected blowback after she went public with her support for the Haley campaign earlier this month, but said she has not received one negative message — and several notes of encouragement from other backers of the former South Carolina governor.

"Do I risk an endorsement challenge? Yes," said Rep. Kristin Robbins, an assistant House minority leader from Maple Grove. Still, she said, she believes in Haley and thinks voters deserve to know where she stands.

"Yes, there's political risk," she said. "But I guess I am willing to take that on to do what I really believe in."

Robbins is serving as Minnesota chair of Haley's campaign, a volunteer gig that she said has so far meant serving as the local point person for people who want to get involved in the campaign, and starting conversations with other people she thinks could support Haley. Robbins started that work over the summer, and said she thinks the Haley campaign's ability to recruit campaign co-chairs for all eight Minnesota congressional districts shows Haley has appeal beyond the suburbs.

"She's the one who could win," Robbins said, citing polls that suggest a majority of voters do not want to see a rematch between Trump and Joe Biden in 2024, and some polls that show voters preferring Haley to Biden in a head-to-head matchup.

"I'm grateful to our team in Minnesota for putting in the work to get the job done," Haley said in an emailed statement. "They know better than anyone that Minnesotans are tired of the drama and the chaos, and we need to move forward with a new generation of conservative leadership."

Coleman sees local advantages, too.

"Under Donald Trump, we started to lose Eden Prairie, we started to lose Chanhassen, Chaska," she said. She thinks Haley could bring some of those suburban voters back to the Republican Party.

A spokesperson for Trump's campaign did not respond to an email Monday.