Brandon Sawalich is no longer a candidate for Minnesota Republican Party chairman.
Sawalich, an executive at the Starkey Labs hearing aid company, was well positioned to succeed Tony Sutton as chairman. Sawalich had garnered endorsements from an array of party insiders and luminaries, including House Speaker Kurt Zellers, Senate Health and Human Services Committee chair David Hann, former party chair Ron Eibensteiner and top GOP strategist Pat Shortridge.
Sawalich’s departure comes after he drew media attention for his arrest Wednesday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for driving with an expired automobile registration. Airport police initially cited him for a gross misdemeanor. They have since lowered the charge to a petty misdemeanor.
Sawalich told The Association Press in the wake of the incident that he was reassessing his candidacy out of concerns of posing a distraction to the party. News of his decision moved over Twitter shortly before 3:40 p.m.
In a statement released to news media, Sawalich wrote, in part, “The time and dedication you put forth from the ground up is immeasurable and [we] cannot afford distractions for the uphill battle our party has in store…. It is for that reason I am respectfully withdrawing my name from this process. Our party must continue the path to unity and become one that is inclusive not exclusive. I intend to fully support the endorsed candidate for Chair and will continue to work hard to get Republicans elected in 2012.”