Delegates in Rochester selected Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, to compete for state attorney general and former Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert to run for state auditor in the first endorsements of the state party convention on Friday.
Both competed for the constitutional officer endorsements unopposed, and Newman had only officially launched his bid for attorney general on Thursday. Newman faces incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson in the fall elections. The second-term state senator, who was the architect of the failed Photo ID constitutional amendment that voters scuttled in the 2012 elections, touted those efforts.
He also called on Minnesota to elect a Republican attorney general, which hasn’t happened since 1966, and remove the politics from the state’s top lawyer’s office. “I will be your instrument,” Newman told his fellow Republicans.
Gilbert, an accountant by trade, criticized his DFL opponent, incumbent Auditor Rebecca Otto, for stymieing mining proposals in northeast Minnesota. He also pledged to put the focus on MNsure, the state health insurance exchange, which he says Otto has failed to do. Former U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills joked when he nominated Gilbert that it’s tough to run a race unopposed.
Swanson won her last election in 2010 by nearly 12 percent when she faced Republican Chris Barden. Otto took the 2010 election by just 1.26 percent, triumphing over former state Auditor Pat Anderson.