Local party chairs weigh-in on Trump legal challenge in Minnesota

Published 2:44 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Local political leaders on Wednesday expressed their thoughts on the legal challenge attempting to block former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot, which was brought by a group of Minnesota voters Tuesday.

The petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court argues Trump is disqualified from public office under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause.”

Petitioners argue that anyone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution but engages in insurrection is barred from holding public office.

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“I’m really concerned about [Republicans] shutting the government down,” said Julie Ackland, chair of the Freeborn County Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. “They want to do that, they’re threatening to do that again.”

Ackland agreed with the petitioners that Trump should not be eligible to be on the voting ballot, citing what he did while in office, including Trump’s attempt to persuade Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn 2020 election results or find other votes that didn’t exist.

She felt Trump was paid to pardon certain people who donated to his campaign, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and financier Michael Milken, who had support from Trump’s friends and political allies, including GOP mega-donors, celebrities and Fox News personalities, according to the Associated Press.

Ackland was also worried about what a re-elected Trump could do.

“He said he’d come after all these people and … use the justice system for his own uses, go after people,” she said.

She also worried about voting privileges and disenfranchisement, noting in states such as Florida, Texas and Georgia, where Republicans control state government, voting restrictions have already passed, including criminal oversight initiatives, limited drop boxes, new identification requirements and more.

She was appreciative of Steve Simon, Minnesota’s secretary of state.

“I think he does a really good job of trying to tell people, ‘Be able to vote,’ and not disenfranchising people, [which] I see down South, these red states,” she said. “That’s what they want to do is disenfranchise people and make it harder for them to vote.”

She was also worried about restrictions placed on women, and cited Texas’ attempt to enforce a ban against physicians who end a pregnancy because of complications that create a risk of infection or are otherwise unsafe for a woman.

“They want to … not let women go across state lines, pregnant women, things like that,” she said.

Ackland was also worried Trump, if elected, would increase the nation’s deficit.

She believed the Republican Party could come up with a better candidate.

Freeborn County Republican Party Chairman Robert Hoffman, on the other hand, disagreed with Ackland.

“This is typical, out-of-touch overreach,” Hoffman said in an email. “Americans can choose who they want as their president — leave it up to them.

“The Democrats don’t seem to trust democracy or the voters to go their way this upcoming election so they are trying to win an election in the courthouse versus the ballot boxes. It’s overreach.

“There’s not a low too low that they’re not willing to go, this is just another example.”

David Hann, chairman of the Minnesota GOP Party, believed it was the voters who should decide.

“The Republican Party of Minnesota believes that voters in Minnesota should ultimately decide through voting which candidates are qualified to represent them in public office,” he wrote in a response to the challenge. “The Minnesota Supreme Court should reject this fringe legal theory ,which is purposefully designed to prevent voters from having a voice in our elections.”

MN GOP Executive Director Anna Mathews emphasized the challenge was unprecedented and was meant to bypass voters, and argued the elections were where voters decided if a candidate was fit for office.


— The Associated Press contributed to this story.