The tumultuous race to replace Tony Sutton as Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota will come to a close at a party gathering in St. Cloud on Saturday, and at least three candidates are actively campaigning to take the helm of the debt-ridden organization.
GOP operative Pat Shortridge, Second Congressional District Republican chairman Terry McCall and activist Todd McIntyre have all announced campaigns. Candidates will participate in a forum on Thursday at the Wentworth Library in West St. Paul.
Shortridge is garnering a considerable amount of support in the race since his late entrance in December. Since 2007, Shortridge has run a political consulting firm with clients that have included U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. His resume also includes stints as chief of staff and campaign manager to former U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy.
Shortridge was previously weighing a run for party chair, but opted to back candidate Brandon Sawalich instead. Sawalich dropped out in mid December, however, following an airport arrest for expired tabs. Shortridge jumped back into the mix shortly after.
McCall is also seen as a formidable candidate, as he has strong support from the libertarian wing of the GOP base. He’s vice chair of the party’s Liberty Caucus and currently sits on the state GOP executive committee.
McIntyre has been in the race since mid December, after he sent out a letter to GOP delegates announcing his bid. He has an active campaign Facebook page. McIntyre, a real estate agent from Plymouth, is active with Senate District 45 Republicans and ran Karen Nolte’s bid for House District 45A in 2008.
Other candidates for the party’s top post are still likely to emerge. Amid a meeting to elect a new Senate majority leader on Tuesday, six-term Maple Grove Sen. Warren Limmer told reporters that he is still weighing a bid for GOP Party chair. He is likely to make his decision sometime before Thursday.
Conservative talk-show host Sue Jeffers has said she is interested in the job, and there’s a draft movement seeking to recruit current RPM Deputy Chair Kelly Fenton to run for the party’s top post. Fenton said on TPT’s Almanac that she has not ruled out the possibility.
The next party chair will have to tackle a large debt load heading into the 2012 election season. On Wednesday, temporary GOP Party fix-it consultant Mike Vekich will brief the executive committee on extent of the party’s indebtedness. The party could be on the hook for more than $1 million following the departure of Sutton, who resigned earlier this month amid controversy over finances.