MN Republicans endorse Kim Crockett for secretary of state

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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Attorney Kim Crockett won the Minnesota Republican party’s endorsement for secretary of state Friday, setting the groundwork for a highly partisan Republican campaign with overtones of election falsehoods.

The office oversees elections.

Crockett earned the endorsement after generating an insurmountable lead in the first ballot during the Republican Party of Minnesota’s state convention in Rochester, besting businesswoman Kelly Jahner-Byrne.

The current state secretary of state, Steve Simon, a Democrat, was elected in 2018 and is seeking re-election. Simon is expected to receive the endorsement of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party at its convention next week, also in Rochester.

Crockett, an attorney who has served as an advocate for conservative causes, including as general counsel for the Center for the American Experiment, provided the most partisan rhetoric of convention thus far.

On Friday, a video for her campaign that played for the convention crowd showed financier George Soros as a puppet master for election figures, including Simon. Such imagery, based on conspiracy theories, has been widely criticized as peddling in the anti-Semitic trope of Jews controlling vast swaths of society.

Crockett cast the November general election in shades recalling the U.S. Civil War. “Can we as the party of Lincoln unite to defeat the party of slavery and tyranny?” she said, with the latter referring to the Democratic party.

As far as voting, Crockett echoed common Republican criticism of Simon: that he used the public health crisis of COVID to change election laws in violation of the state Constitution. Such changes, which loosened voting regulations to make it easier to vote absentee, have been upheld by courts.

On Friday, Crockett never outright repeated the false and baseless claims that any 2020 election result wasn’t legitimate, but she left the inference to be made.

“Simon used COVID as cover to change how we vote and then changed how the roll was counted,” she said, adding later: “We need to return to the civic traditions that unite us, like voting in person and rejecting the insecure chaotic absentee balloting system and vulnerable wireless equipment connected to the Internet.”

Jahner-Byrne, a South St. Paul native and 2001 Mrs. Minnesota, began her political career as campaign manager for the last successful Republican secretary of state, Mary Kiffmeyer, who is now a state senator. In her speech seeking the endorsement before some 2,200 delegates, Jahner-Byrne said she wanted to focus on the “business services side” of the office, which oversees professional and business licensing for the state. However, she also said of the 2020 election: “We can never repeat the lawlessness.”

Legally speaking, party endorsements mean nothing. Candidates still have until May 31 to file for their names to appear on the Aug. 9 primary ballots. The primary winners will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

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