‘Grassroots’ conservatives raise concerns about Republican party protocol in Otter Tail, Becker, Clay, elsewhere in state

By Louis Hoglund

Grassroots Republican party activists are challenging party officials to further investigate delegate lists in Otter Tail County—contending that the records from February precinct caucuses were falsified. 

Similar questions are circulating among Republicans in at least 18 other counties, including nearby Clay and Becker Counties. 

Raising questions in Otter Tail is longtime Republican volunteer Andrew Bradrick, Pelican Rapids. 

In a challenge presented to state Republican headquarters, Bradrick contends that Otter Tail party officials changed delegate lists in the weeks following the Feb. 1 precinct caucuses. Bradrick reviewed ten precincts, where 26 delegates and alternates were added. Among them, Erhard, Vergas, and several Perham, New York Mills, and Fergus Falls precincts. He suspects that further investigation may reveal more discrepancies in as many as 60 Otter Tail precincts. 

As early as April, Bradrick asked that the original caucus documents from Feb. 1 be reconciled against the final delegate list. 

Alterations on the list of delegates may have had an impact on the Senate District 9 endorsement convention, which was Apr. 23. 

Incumbent State House legislator Jordan Rasmusson was the top vote-getter for the State Senate District 9 nomination—over challenger Nathan Miller. 

Primary election to determine State Senate 9 Republican candidate 

But the challenge didn’t end at the endorsement convention, as Miller has filed for the primary election in August. The winner of the Miller-Rasmusson primary election will then be placed on the November general election ballot for State Senate District 9. Running on the Democrat side is Cornell Walker, a retired attorney from the Fergus Falls area. 

Pelican Republican Bradrick said his efforts “are focused on policy change so it doesn’t happen again.”

“Regardless of party or candidate, the integrity of the process has to be respected,” said Bradrick. “When the process is manipulated to achieve a specific outcome, there is a problem.” 

“Using the Vergas Republican caucus precinct as an example, there were six individuals in attendance in February—but none of them wanted to commit to being delegates to county, regional, and state conventions, said Bradrick. After the fact, somebody in the party chose to name the six as delegates or alternatives—even though they hadn’t agreed.” 

In Erhard city, an individual was added as a delegate—after the precinct caucus had adjourned. If a delegate isn’t confirmed at the caucus, it can’t be legitimate. 

Delegate selection for upcoming conventions is governed, in large part, by party policy—and not the state. “The state statute is relatively vague,” said Bradrick. 

Rasmusson campaign questioned 

With regard to Rasmusson specifically, Bradrick said there were “concerns raised with the way they conducted their campaign…they seemed to be willing to ignore the process as long as it achieved their objective.”

Among the concerns is the fact that Rasmusson’s wife is Otter Tail County Republican secretary, and the party chair is one of Rasmusson’s close personal friends. 

“Jordan is very organized, and his campaign gets a little carried away…He forgets he needs to bring people along with him,” said Bradrick. 

Bradrick has supported Rasmusson in the past, and he said his issues are not personal, “but I have some concerns about the way he runs his campaign.” 

“My main issue is that the protocol be corrected. I don’t care who the candidate is, if they are going against party protocol, they need to be called out on it,” said Bradrick.

While the allegations of delegate list tampering would appear to most observers as merely an internal squabble for Republican party insiders, the topic has gained statewide traction. 

Statewide group taking on Republican “establishment”

A political action group, calling itself “Save Minnesota,” has organized, with a web page and a call for donations.

“The future of our state is at stake and we are calling on all Patriots to join this fight to Save Minnesota,” states the website. “Your support and contributions will enable us to keep fighting for you and rebuild the Minnesota (Republican party).”

The rhetoric on the Save Minnesota website takes on dramatic tones. Among other claims, Save Minnesota states: 

• “Your vote was stolen,” apparently aimed at the alteration of delegate lists at the local and regional Republican organization level. 

• “They betrayed us,” states another passage.

• “(State Republican Party) Chairman David Hamm and his establishment cronies are drunk on power and out of control.” 

• Chairman David Hann’s repeated “authoritarian rule, illegitimate chair removals and replacements… trust in the Republican Party has eroded,” states the “Save Minnesota” website. 

• “Save our party from corruption,” is another contention on the “Save” site.

• There were several links and posts suggesting a range of impropriety, including state Republican officials maneuvering on behalf of “hand-picked” candidates. 

• In nearby Clay County, a shake-up in the Republican party grabbed headlines in the Fargo-Moorhead press, and heaped criticism on Republican establishment figures. 

RELATED: Coalition of conservatives pledge role up and down the ballot—from legislature to local county board, sheriff races